Vermont Historical Society

109 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05609-0901
802-828-2291


Tuesday - Friday 9 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday 9 am- 4 pm
Closed state holidays.

Open to the public. $2.00 suggested donation, members free.

Photocopying service available.

Materials do not circulate. No interlibrary loan.

General Description of Vermont Collections: The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) maintains one of the major Vermontiana collections in the state. It collects printed, manuscript, audio, and photographic materials that document the history and people of Vermont, and to a lesser degree, New England, New York, and eastern Canada.

Books: Ca. 40,000 Vermont titles dating from the 1770s to the present, covering all aspects of Vermont history. The books are cataloged in a card catalog; a computer database for staff use contains the most recently cataloged books. Special catalogs, such as "Vermont Biography" and "Vermont Imprints," are available. The Vermont Society of Colonial Dames genealogy collection is shelved separately but is included in the main catalog. Some books are in restricted access areas but may be paged for use.

Newspapers: The VHS collects newspapers very selectively: early, Montpelier area, landmark events (floods, ends of wars, deaths of governors, etc.), and issues not held by Department of Libraries. Some are included in the card catalog; others are listed in inventories by size. The VHS should be considered a source of last resort for newspapers.

Serials/Periodicals: Historical society newsletters from around the state and a variety of other general-interest Vermont periodicals. We catalog Vermont subjects from non-Vermont periodicals in our card catalog. We publish indexes to our own publications, Vermont History and Vermont History News, and have an annually up-dated card file index to Vermont History in the library.

Documents: The VHS collects state and local documents very selectively. Those that we have are included in the card catalog. We depend on the collections of the Department of Libraries for state documents and town reports.

Maps/Atlases: Ca. 1,000 maps of Vermont including Beers's atlases, Walling's county maps, railroad maps, United States Geologic Survey topographic maps, highway department county maps, and copies of early town maps (Dewart Collection). Most maps are included in the card catalog. An annotated copy of Cobb's Vermont Maps Prior to 1900 is available.

Broadsides: Ca. 8,700 Vermont broadsides, posters, and flat paper ephemera, late 18th century – present. All broadsides prior to 1820 and “significant” broadsides are in card catalog; others are arranged by size and subject. A separate subject heading list is available.

Manuscripts: Ca. 1,200 linear feet of personal, organizational, institutional, and business records from the European settlement of Vermont through the present. Among the larger, more important collections are the papers of Royall Tyler, William Jarvis, Ebenezer J. Ormsbee, Achsa Sprague, Coolidge family, Canfield family, and Fairbanks family, and the Allen Stratton Champlain Islands collection. Most of the collection is indexed in the "Brigham Index" (a card file system) and "Brigham Calendars" (descriptions of calendars in loose-leaf binders). Some collections are cataloged in the main card catalog. A project to update and automate the cataloging of the VHS manuscript collection is under way.

Photographs/Pictures: Large collection of Vermont photographs from 1845 to present arranged by size and subject. Stereoviews and postcards are filed separately. Subject heading list and index to portraits are available. Photographic duplication service available for a fee; fee schedule available. Patrons are not permitted to make photographic copies in the library.

Film/Video: Approximately 130 videotapes and about 120 films from the 1920s to the present. There is minimal cataloging of these collections. We have separate computer databases for each collection for staff use. We do not presently have proper facilities for viewing these collections.

Oral histories: Approximately 200 audio tapes of oral histories, programs and conferences, and Vermont-related music. Most of the oral histories were conducted in the 1970s. Collection includes some historic speeches. Collection also includes about 80 records. Cataloging is minimal for these materials although card files exist which can aid staff in locating items.

Music: See above for information on recorded music. The VHS also has a large collection of about 300 pieces of Vermont-related sheet music. It is all cataloged in the main card catalog; a separate user’s guide is also available. Cataloging includes a chronological index.

Vertical files: 22 drawers of vertical files on Vermont and non-Vermont, library, conservation, museum, and other issues. The files are available for use by the public, but assistance from the staff is advisable.

Other Vermont Collections: Approximately 300 reels of microfilm, many of items not in the collection. Microfilm reader available, although it does not have a printer. Most microfilms are cataloged. The VHS also has a collection of about 225 bumper stickers built around a collection started by Robert Hagerman. Message/sponsor indexes are available. The VHS has a small collection of architectural drawings and plans. The collection includes drawings of the second and third Vermont Statehouses and Lawrence T. Hess’s designs for Vermont ski chalets in the 1950s and 1960s. The VHS museum maintains a collection of Vermont-related artifacts which are available for research use by appointment with the curator or registrar.