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About Local History Research at Brooks Memorial
Local History Room and Materials
The Local History room on the mezzanine is available to all researchers during regular business hours. It contains approximately 5000 book volumes and clipping files on the history of Brattleboro and neighboring towns, plus town directories, cemetery records, military rosters, and more. This collection is separate from the collection of the Brattleboro Historical Society, whose offices are next door to the library in the Brattleboro Municipal Center. Many researchers consult both collections for a comprehensive search.
All local history materials, including clipping files, are searchable in the the library’s online catalog. To access the actual contents of the books and files, researchers should visit the library. We are able to provide some limited assistance to researchers outside the Brattleboro area, such as retrieving specific pieces of information from books and files, but we cannot undertake complex research projects. If you need remote research assistance, please fill out the AskLibrarian form or call the Reference Desk at (802) 254-5290 ext. 1220.
Though the room contains some resources of interest to genealogists, most of the library's genealogy resources are online; see links below. For a physical collection of New England genealogy materials in the Brattleboro area, we recommend the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene, NH. For professional help with genealogy, you might try the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
Access to Newspapers
The library's local historical papers are available on microfilm, but there is easier access through a searchable archive of Vermont Historical Newspapers from Newspapers.com. This archive, made available by the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, is free to all Vermonters who create a free myvermont.gov account. Out-of-state visitors who would like to consult this archive should check with a reference librarian for assistance.
Many early (pre-1922) Vermont papers, including Brattleboro's Vermont Phoenix and Windham County Democrat, are also accessible through the Chronicling America website at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project. Chroncling America has some different search features and is free to all, in Vermont and beyond. It also includes papers from communities all over the United States.
Some notable Brattleboro Newspapers
Brattleboro Reformer, 1876-current
The Reformer is available in the Vermont Historical Newspapers archive, and the library has a full run on microfilm, from the paper's beginnings to the current day. Also, many Local History files contain clippings from the Reformer, so it's worth searching your subject by keyword in our catalog. A reference librarian will be happy to help with your subject search.
The library also subscribes to an online archive of recent Reformer articles (2003-current); see our News and Current Events section for more information.
Vermont Phoenix, 1835-1955
Many years of the Vermont Phoenix (1836-1922) are accessible through Chronicling America at the Library of Congress, and there's a full run (through 1955) in the Vermont Historical Newspapers database. The library also has a full run on microfilm.
Other early newspapers
Several issues of the Windham County Democrat, edited by the influential feminist author Clarina Howard Nichols, are digitized and accessible through the Chronicling America website. Scattered issues from other early papers, such as the Vermont Record and Farmer and the Semi-Weekly Eagle, are available on microfilm.
As a major town in southeast Vermont, Brattleboro's newspapers often include news from surrounding towns, including Guilford, Dummerston, Newfane, Vernon, Putney, Bellows Falls, and others. These communities also have their own libraries and historical societies, so check with them as well for a comprehensive search.
See our News and Current Events section for information on current newspapers in Brattleboro, throughout the U.S., and abroad.
Though the library has many years of Brattleboro newspapers on microfilm, the Vermont Historical Newspapers archive via newspapers.com, described in the Historical Newspapers section above, is often the most efficient and highest-quality source. If you have any questions about your best access, please consult with a Reference Librarian.
Here are some video clips to assist with threading and navigating the microfilm reader and saving articles:
Vital Records and Obituaries
Brattleboro’s vital records are maintained by the Town Clerk, whose offices are next door to the Library in the Brattleboro Municipal Building. The records are open to the public. For help with vital records from other towns, try the directory of Vermont Town Clerks. The Vermont State Archives and Records Administration has more information about vital records in Vermont.
Researchers outside the Brattleboro area who are seeking obituaries are welcome to contact the Reference department through the AskLibrarian web form or by phone: (802) 254-5290 ext. 1220. Though we can't undertake long searches, we will do our best to help with obituaries when we can.
Porter Thayer Photographs
The Porter C. Thayer photographs collection at the Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI), University of Vermont, contains 1300 photographs made by Porter C. Thayer, scanned from silver gelatin prints, held in the collection of the Brooks Memorial Library. "Thayer perfectly fits the archetype of the town photographer. He traveled the narrow dirt roads in his buggy, eventually visiting all towns within a 25 mile radius of his home in Newfane." The prints were made in 1980 from the 5x7 glass plates negatives created by Porter Thayer. Time Period Covered: 1906 - 1920 (notes courtesy of the CDI)
Online Local History and Genealogy Resources
= Library Card Required
= Free Website
= Free by Publisher Donation
= In-Library Use Only
= In-Library by Publisher Donation
= Sponsored by the Friends of Brooks Memorial Library