The New Hampshire Historical
Society was founded in 1823, making it the fifth oldest state historical
society in the country. In the early 1900s, Edward Tuck (1842-1938), a
successful international financier living in Paris, along with his wife Julia,
donated funds to build a new library. Guy Lowell, who designed the Museum of
Fine Arts in Boston, was engaged to design the library for the Society and the
classical building opened in 1911. The Society's Tuck Library in
Concord, New Hampshire has the largest collection of New Hampshire historical
information available in northern New England.
There are thousands of original source materials located in the Tuck Library,
many of which can be found nowhere else. Researchers that depend primarily on
genealogical information found on the Internet must realize that there is no
substitute for the original records. Even those items that have been transcribed
and published cannot be depended on for accuracy and completeness. And many of
the library holdings may never be transcribed, let alone scanned and placed on
Tuck Library Holdings
The Tuck Library's printed collection contains about 50,000 items focusing on
local history and genealogy including:
The library's manuscript collection consists of about 1.5 million pages of
manuscripts collected since 1823. These items cover differing aspects of the
history of the people of New Hampshire and are dated from 1620 to the late
twentieth century. The subjects covered include:
Special collections include:
Prepare for your Visit
So let's say you have decided to make the trip to aid in your family search.
As with any research trip it is recommended that the researcher make some
preparations before arriving. The first matter is to review the areas of your
research that you will want to expand. Prepare research aids for the trip,
either on paper or stored on your laptop. (Tuck Library has modem ports and
electrical outlets at each desk to aid the technologically savvy researcher.) Be
sure to be outline specifically and concisely just what information you are
looking for on each family.
Items to bring for your research trip include:
Search the Online Catalog Before your Visit
Next you should search their online catalog ahead of time to see what information may be
available to review upon your arrival. If you do not have access to the
Internet, this search can be conducted on the terminals located at the library
for just this purpose. Like most libraries, they have largely replaced their old
card catalog with computer terminals - three in the main reading room and two in
special collections. (Not that they will discard the cards. There are some very
good reasons for not doing that.) If you wish access to any items in their
special collections and you will be visiting on a Saturday, be sure to call
ahead to ensure your item will be available, as the special collections staff is
not available on that day.
It is useful to take an in-depth look at the library catalog. In 1996 the
catalog became "fully" automated - meaning that they have not added any cards at
all since then. With an automated catalog, you can perform many types of
searches that are not possible with cards. Say you want to find some recent
books on the history of New Hampshire. In the old catalog, you would look under
"New Hampshire-History" as a subject and find 272 items. Then where could you
go? You could decide to work in a smaller universe and look under "New
Hampshire-History-Colonial Period," and see 123 items. The only arrangement
available is alphabetical by author.
However, with the new catalog, you may utilize a function called "sort." This
is really just a way of changing the arrangement of the items. If you sort by
the date the item was published, you can instantly locate the most recent works
on a subject. You can do the same with genealogies. A search for books on the
Smith family reveals that there are sixty-eight in the library. However, let's
say you researched Smith ten years ago in the library, so you only want the most
recent works. Use "sort by date," and the most recent books appear at the
beginning of the list of results.
The other way automated catalogs can be searched is by keywords. This is
especially handy if you have an unusual word. Say your friend has told you about
a book called, she thinks, "Grandmother's Stories, Tales of my Grandmother, or
something like that - I can't quite recall." Use "grandmother" as a keyword and
you will find just four items, which you can instantly call up on the screen.
You can also use more than one keyword at a time. Say you want a book, and you
think the title is "The Lost Family." With a card catalog, you would not find
this book, because the title really is "The Family I Lost." "Lost" and "Family"
are both pretty common words in titles, but search the two together, and you'll
find the item quickly.
Librarians are your Friends!
The library staff is an important resource in locating all appropriate
materials at the library. Bill Copeley is the head librarian of the New
Hampshire Historical Society. He has held this position since the mid-1970s. His
expertise in New Hampshire families and library holdings is invaluable.
Technical services librarian Philip Abbott joined the library in 1993. Philip's
specialty is in computers, his background is in history, and he has orchestrated
the conversion of the card catalog to the electronic version used today. In
addition to the paid staff, trained volunteers are available to assist library
visitors. When requesting assistance it is important to keep the concise queries
prepared for the trip in mind. Though the researcher may be fascinated with lots
of details about the history of the family, the staff only needs to know enough
to direct you to the appropriate area of the library. Long side trips are likely
to confuse the matter at hand.
For those who cannot make a trip to the library, search services are
available. You may request searches by phone, letter, or email. The first
fifteen minutes are free and the fee for additional time is $20.00 per hour.
Photocopies are limited to copyright restrictions as well as condition of the
original and number of pages requested. The cost is twenty cents for members and
twenty-five cents for non-members per page. The Reprographic Services Department
is equipped to reproduce historic maps, photographs, broadsides, and other
images for you. If your request requires professional research, a list of New
Hampshire researchers can be provided.
Location, Location, Location
The Tuck Library is located at 30 Park Street in Concord, New Hampshire,
03301-6384. The phone number is (603)228-6688 and they can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The
hours for the library are 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The
Special Collections Department operates 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through
Friday. Visitors to the library who are not members of the New Hampshire
Historical Society are charged a $6.00 library user fee. There is no fee for
members, full-time students, or visitors who only want to search the catalog
To get to the library take Interstate 93 to exit 14. Northbound - turn left
at the light at the end of the exit ramp; Southbound - turn right at the light
at the end of the exit ramp. Move into the left lane in order to take a left
onto North Main Street. Take the next right onto Park Street (a one-way street
that goes up the right side of the State House). At the stop sign, continue
straight; the New Hampshire Historical Society's Tuck Library is the large
granite building on the right. Metered parking is available on surrounding
streets. Library researchers and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of
free parking at the Museum of New Hampshire History just three blocks away.