Our Director of Library Operations, George F. Sanborn Jr., oversees Collection Development at NEHGS. He and the staff of the Technical Services Division select, order and process all materials coming into our collections through gift, purchase or exchange, and manage the special funds created for this purpose. They stand committed to making the “HistGen” collections second to none in targeted collecting areas.
Because our collections of vital records and other genealogical materials are so large, this colunm will discuss different regions of interest to researchers. This article will treat new resources at NEHGS for Northern New England research. Because of the paucity of published records for much of this area, many of the Society’s new holdings are essential for solving Northern New England problems.
The Society recently acquired microfilm copies of all pre-1892 vital records of the 80 cities and towns which early in this century submitted their VRs to the state office in Augusta. While only about one-fifth of all Maine municipalities submitted such records, several important early communities, such as the city of Portland, are included. These vital records are arranged alphabetically by type of event (birth, marriage, or death), on a year-by-year system. Soon to come are the pre-1892 county marriage registers on microfilm.
Another important resource now at NEHGS is Dr. John E. Frost’s abstracts of York County, Maine probate records prior to 1801.
Enormous strides in our ability to provide assistance with New Hampshire problems have recently been made, thanks to generous contributions for this purpose from Mr. and Mrs. Dean Crawford Smith of Portsmouth, N.H. and Mrs. Ethel Farrington Smith of Hull, Massachusetts.
We have just added microfilm copies of the statewide vital records for all events reported prior to1901, and in the case of divorces, through the end of 1937. A bride’s index to pre-1901 marriages is included, as are records of exhumations and reinterments. Arranged by type of event, New Hampshire’s vital records are grouped according to the first and third letters of the surname, rather than in strict alphabetical order, and this system is a sort of crude early “soundex.” Patrons may not make copies of the New Hampshire vital records on the reader-printer, according to our agreement with the Registrar of Vital Statistics in Concord. For this reason, these microfilm rolls are mounted on red plastic reels which signal that photocopying from them is prohibited. Handwritten transcriptions of the information contained in these records may, of course, be freely made. We hope soon to add microfilm copies of all individual town records from New Hampshire, up to the mid-1800s, together with a microfilm copy of the New Hampshire State Library’s WPA index to town records.
Also available now in our collection are microfilm copies of the Meshech Weare Papers (a Hampton Falls family of prominent magistrates and judges who kept copies of legal papers of area residents); microfiche copies of all original New Hampshire probate papers up to 1771; the Elder Enoch Hayes Place diaries, chronicling deaths, marriages and local affairs from the Strafford/ Barrington/Rochester area throughout much of the last century; microfilm copies of the Revolutionary War pension abstracts of New Hampshire veterans; and microfiche copies of New Hampshire’s Civil War enlistment papers, which provide much unexpected personal data about the enlisted men. In the near future we expect to add microfiche copies of all original petitions to the legislature, to about 1785 (not all such petitions appeared in the 40-volume New Hampshire State Papers series).
The Society has microfilm copies of all Vermont vital records reported from 1760 to 1908; births, marriages and deaths are intcrfiled and arranged alphabetically by surname. Also of interest to Vermont researchers are the Province-wide Québec church records on microfilm, arranged by denomination within judicial district. Numerous Vermonters turn up “au dclà de la frontière!”
In the not-too-distant future we hope to acquire microfilm copies of Vermont probate records to ca. 1850. Donations of money for this purpose would be greatly appreciated, and could be sent to our Development Department with a note of explanation.
In the next issue, “Acquisitions News” will focus on Southern New England. --GFS