For a general overview of the Town Archives, explore the subject tabs below.
The Town Archives Committee sets policies governing the Archives and oversees its operation. Appointed members serve the Archives in a variety of ways: providing help with collecting, cataloging, organizing materials; assisting researchers in finding and interpreting materials; offering local or first-hand knowledge, adding context to materials held in the collection; and acting as a liaison with other entities around town. The committee meets as needed (generally in October) to review acquisitions and current projects, to discuss preservation issues and archives policies, and to address any other items raised by members. The committee is chaired by the Town Archivist; other officers are the recording secretary and treasurer.
The present Town Archives was formed in 1975 through the merger of two archival collections: public town records and private historical manuscripts.
From 1779 to 1975, all town records were held by the Town Clerk and Board of Selectmen. In 1878 a locked room was built within the Town Hall (constructed in 1853) to hold town records; in 1896 a safe was added. When Whipple Hall (built 1918) replaced the former town hall, its design also included a room for the town safe and other records on the basement level.
The historical manuscript collection, much of which was gathered in preparation for the 1899 town history book, was subsequently held by the town’s Librarian. In the early 1900s, libraries across the state were encouraged to collect ephemera, and many of the local history rooms still found in public libraries date from that time. In 1914 a vault was installed at the New London Public Library in order to safeguard the growing collection, which included the papers of New London’s first minister, Rev. Job Seamans (1748–1830). Research related to the Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1929 and the 1952 town history book brought additional materials into the collection, by then located in the basement of the renovated Tracy Memorial Building.
The Town History Committee continued working on projects in anticipation of the town’s bicentennial in 1979. The committee erected roadside markers, conducted oral histories from 1962 to 1971, and collected and copied historic photographs. In 1975, the New London Town Archives was established by transferring inactive town records from custody of the Town Clerk to the renamed Town History and Archives Committee. For the first time, historical town records and manuscripts were united under a single entity charged with their care.
The Archives occupies approximately 1,025 square feet on the basement level of the New London Town Offices. The space is divided into the following areas: reading/processing (30%), primary collections (45%), and other storage (25%). The current fixed shelf capacity of the Archives is 535 linear feet; moveable wire shelving provides another 65 feet. With reasonable assumptions about utilization and density, the current collection is estimated at between 300,000 and 500,000 pages. This number excludes the contents of bookshelves (118 feet), file drawers (32 feet), and large-format storage drawers for maps, artwork, and oversize materials (127 feet). The current total storage capacity across all material types is approximately 880 linear feet.
The town records collection includes annual reports, vital statistics, cemetery records, tax records, property records, school reports and ephemera, committee minutes, and records of town building projects. The manuscript collection includes all other forms of written and printed materials related to New London’s residents, businesses, and organizations: genealogies and obituaries; scrapbooks, yearbooks, and photo albums; newsletters and newspapers; artwork, diaries, correspondence, ledgers, memoirs and oral histories; posters, maps, certificates, signs and plaques; audio tapes, video tapes, movies, photographic prints, negatives, and transparencies.
Since 2008, our digital collection has grown rapidly, as selected materials (including over 18,000 images) have been digitized and new items have been added in digital-only format. Digital assets are neither stored nor available online since their copyright status is often uncertain.
The focus of the collection remains on people, property, and activities within the town New London, New Hampshire. Anything considered useful in documenting the government, businesses, organizations, and residents is collected. A limited number of items related to the county, state, and nation are also collected for general reference or for the broader historical context they lend to local events. Materials may be acquired by gift, bequest, purchase, or other transfer that passes title of ownership to the New London Town Archives.