Introduction to the Archives
Division of Records Management and Archives, an agency under the
administration of the Secretary of State, houses several million
archival items and nearly sixty thousand cubic feet of current public
records created by two hundred state government agencies.1
It is located at 71 South Fruit Street in Concord, NH 03301. The
purpose of the Archives goes way beyond genealogical research to support
many functions of state government. Director and State Archivist Frank
C. Mevers, Ph.D., has served at the Archives for twenty-three years. His
dedication to making the historical records available to the public is
evident to any visitor of the facility.
Records and Archives building was constructed in 1963 on the grounds of
the New Hampshire Hospital and named in 1983 for author, reporter, and
legislative historian, Leon W. Anderson. The facility contains a
climate-controlled archival vault, work areas, a records storage area
(expanded in 1974 and 1996), and a micrographics area (expanded in
There are many collections of genealogical
interest housed there. New Hampshire takes great pride in making the
records available to the public. The ability to access the original
documents created by the settlers of this state and making copies of
them for personal records is an invaluable asset. The staff is very
knowledgeable and helpful in locating documents that will assist the
genealogist in conducting family research. Not all of the records have
been processed, which means a search of unprocessed records may not
always be feasible. If you are coming from a long distance just to see
documents at the Archives, it may be helpful to call ahead to determine
if the record you are interested in will be available for you to review.
A few records of interest to genealogists are not located at the
primary facility, and there may be occasions when you will need to make a
second trip to review a specific record. Call (603) 271-2236 or email
for more information.
The staff has provided
a list of collections that are of significant genealogical interest to
the New Hampshire researcher. What follows is that list with an
explanation of these collections and the value they can add to the
family historian. There is a guide to the records available online and
hyperlinks are provided to the appropriate section to find each
collection in the guide. The guide is in Adobe Acrobat format and the
link takes one to the top of the section. Some time is required to load
each section and users should be patient to allow loading to be
completed. Special thanks go to Frank Mevers and Brian Burford for
assistance with the following information.
RecordsProbate records (pg. 51) from several sources are
housed at the archives. Probate files are probably one of the greatest
genealogical sources of information next to vital records. New Hampshire
does not have all vital record information in one central location.
Registration of births, marriages, and deaths to the town or state was
not required until the 1800s. This factor makes the probate record an
important source for confirmation of the children of a given individual.
It can also provide the given name for the wife, which otherwise would
not be known. Other times the name will indicate a match to a given name
from a first marriage, or to a new given name, indicating a second
The earliest period available is
contained in the Provincial probate records (pg. 53) covering the years
between the 1630s through 1772. These are comprised of the original
records in file boxes that go beyond those contained in the published
New Hampshire State Papers (a copy of which is also housed in the
Archives). The published New Hampshire State Papers are available in
reference libraries around the country, but these original documents are
not. What is unique to the Archives is the card index file. This index
allows easy location of any probate record included in the State Papers
or the original files.
The Rockingham County
probate records (pg.
10), covering the years of 1772 through 1918, is a valuable part of the
probate collection. These records contain the individual files
available on microfilm as well as the filmed index. Merrimack County
probate records (pg. 13) are indexed and
span the years 1827 through 1984. The record volumes 1 to 421 are along
the west wall of the addition and the individual files are alphabetical
on microfiche. In addition, the Grafton County probate records,
consisting of individual files, can be found covering the years 1775
through 1899. Cheshire
County probate records (pg. 12) are
available for the years 1771 to 1899 and are indexed through the card
index with box numbers for the individual files on microfilm. The
printed index to the probate records of Hillsborough County (1771-1883)
can be viewed there as well. The actual Hillsborough County probate
records are housed in Nashua, NH and cannot be accessed through the
Land RecordsThe next
item to consider is the deeds collection (pg. 4). Deeds can give the
genealogical researcher many valuable clues to family matters. Family
relations are sometimes revealed in these documents when parents deeded
property to children or when a wife signed off her dower rights. It is
also important to note the witnesses to any deed. These witnesses can
give valuable clues to family and associates of a given ancestor. The
deeds collection at the Archives consists of the following records:
These deeds are indexed and available on
Petitions to the governor, council and legislature
are filed at the Archives. These documents give the researcher some meat
to hang on the framework of vital records for a family. The interests
and pursuits of the early settlers of New Hampshire can be learned from
these petitions. This resource will provide an example of original
signatures, as unlike deeds and probate, the petitions are original
documents rather than transcribed copies made by clerks. The petition
collection covers the period from 1679 to 1850 and is partially indexed.
Military indices (pg. 16) consist of the following
This is probably the most heavily used collection
of the Archive for genealogical purposes, according to Director Frank
Mevers. In addition to providing the location of an individual at the
time of enlistment, military records give the age and sometimes even the
physical description of an ancestor. This may be the closest thing to a
picture available to the researcher.
The court records found at the
Archives are an excellent source of information about the lives of the
people of the state. Like the petitions, these are original records.
Because not all records are processed or
indexed, finding specific records could be difficult and time-consuming.
are limited census
records (pg. 7) filed as well. “Constructed” censuses exist for the
years 1732, 1765, and 1776. The latter are the association tests that
the state required each town to construct showing fidelity to the cause
of American independence. There are important nuances to each of these
censuses and the staff of the Archives will cover those with the
researcher at the time of a visit. The Federal census books are housed
there for the years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.
town records collection is not indexed. A search may be done to see what
items are available to the researcher on a particular town in the guide. For example, doing
a search for Deering, New Hampshire shows that marriage
intentions (pg. 6) from c 1770 to 1850 is among a list of other
items not especially relevant to the family historian. This actually
represents a separate file of miscellaneous intentions listed under each
town to ensure notice by those researchers interested in matters of a
given town. Also listed are three volumes of town books. These are the
original town records, which contain meeting notices and records of
meeting transactions, tax lists, and vital records for the early town.
Other towns have kept the original records books in the possession of
The Miscellaneous Records of the Secretary of State (pg. 7)
are comprised of a wide variety of interesting items covering early
times to present that would be hit or miss for the genealogist. There
does not appear to be any particular genealogical information contained
in the file box other than folder 36, which has a dozen letters of
genealogical queries to the commissioner. These appear to be rather
broad in nature and may serve as examples of how to not compose a query
as opposed to a source of any real information.
New Hampshire has the largest House of
Representatives of any state in the nation, and it is the third largest
parliamentary body in the English-speaking world. Only the U.S. Congress
and Britain’s Parliament are larger.3
Initially the House was comprised of 87 members, each representing 100
families in 1776. Today there are 443 representatives covering our small
Because of this large representation, it is much more likely the
subject of research may be located on the Roster of the New Hampshire
House of Representatives and Senate for each year covering the period
from its inception to the present day.
Executive Council Minutes (pg. 8) covers the period from the late
1600s to the present. If your ancestor conducted any business with the
New Hampshire Executive Council they would appear in this index.
Name Change Index (pg. 1). The Index to Laws of New Hampshire
(1679 – 1883) and Chapter Laws Index (1885 –1913 cover this category.
After 1913, the legislature did not change individual names by statute.
The photographs collection (pg.
9) may aid the researcher with filling out the lives of ancestors, as
they were involved with State or local offices and institutions. This
collection covers people and places. An index of the photographs can be
viewed by following the link above, to see if your ancestor is included.
Various naturalization records, petitions, and
declarations are housed at the archives.
superior court records, petitions, and declarations may be found in most
instances giving place and date of birth, and place from where they
migrated. Family relationships can often be determined through these
To reach the Archives from I-89 take
exit 2 (Clinton Street). At the end of the ramp head towards Concord,
then take a left at the traffic light by the Salvation Army (South Fruit
Street). You will then turn at the second entrance on the right
directly across from Memorial Field (State Office Park South). The
Archives building will be directly on your left.