New Hampshire Town Records

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Introduction

In New England the town clerk is the principal record keeper at the local level. The earliest records are called proprietors’ records. Town records generally begin with the founding of a town and are still maintained to the present.

Town records may contain records of births, marriages, burials, appointments, earmarks, estrays (records of stray animals), freemens’ oaths (men becoming eligible to vote), name changes, surveys, mortgages, care of the poor, voter registrations, and "warnings out" (of town); cemetery, land, and school records; tax lists; and town meeting minutes. Birth, marriage, and death information found in town records is described further in New Hampshire Vital Records.

Records

As in most New England towns, the original records are kept in the town clerk’s office of each town. Many town records are available on microfilm and can be found at the New Hampshire Historical Society and the Family History Library.

A few of these microfilm sources are:

For a book that gives a detailed description of 18 kinds of town records, shows some examples, and tells how they help family history researchers, see:

Warnings Out

A unique section of the town records of northern New England are the records of "warnings out." Warnings out permitted the local authorities to issue warrants requiring newcomers to leave town. The town was responsible for all the inhabitants, and if a person or family moved into town who could not qualify as a desirable member of the town, or show personal means of support, they could be warned out by a warrant from the town constable. The original records were kept by the town clerk of each town, but information and lists have been published. For more information see:

Town Historical Societies and Town Historians

In New England, town historical societies and town historians are a very important source for town records. Most New Hampshire towns have a town historical society. Some also have a town historian. These organizations or persons may have many books and manuscripts that have never been published.

The Association of Historical Societies of New Hampshire has an online directory of local historical societies.

The staff at the historical societies, or town historians, probably know more about the townspeople and their records than anyone else. Since the historians change from time to time, contact the town historical society or town library and ask if they currently have a town historian.

To locate specific information and records for each town, see the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

NEW HAMPSHIRE- TOWN RECORDS

NEW HAMPSHIRE, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- TOWN RECORDS

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