The subject tabs below provide an overview of the Town Archives.
The Town Archives & History Committee sets policies governing the Archives and oversees its operation. Appointed members serve 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, providing context for materials held in the collection; and acting as a liaison with other entities in town. The committee meets as needed 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 Recording Secretary and Treasurer.
The current 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 1853 Town Hall to hold town records; in 1896 a safe was added. When the 1918 Whipple Hall replaced the old 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 for the 1899 town history, was subsequently held by the Town Librarian. In the early 1900s, libraries across the state were encouraged to collect ephemera, and many of the local history rooms (or closets) still found in libraries date from that time. In 1914 a vault was installed at the Public Library to safeguard a 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 brought additional materials into the collection, then located in the basement of the 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, recorded and transcribed oral histories between 1962 and 1971, and it collected and copied historic photographs. In 1975, the New London Town Archives was formally 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 — a rarity among New Hampshire municipalities.
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 materials (including over 18,000 images) have been digitized and new images have been added in native digital format. Digital assets are neither stored nor available online; copyright status varies.
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 may lend to the interpretation of local events. Materials may be acquired by gift, bequest, purchase, or other transfer that passes title of ownership to the New London Town Archives. (For more, see Collections Policy.)