Background Sources for New Hampshire

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This entry was originally written by George F. Sanborn Jr., FASG, and Alice Eichholz, Ph.D, CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the New Hampshire Family History Research series.
History of New Hampshire
New Hampshire Vital Records
Census Records for New Hampshire
Background Sources for New Hampshire
New Hampshire Maps
New Hampshire Land Records
New Hampshire Probate Records
New Hampshire Court Records
New Hampshire Tax Records
New Hampshire Cemetery Records
New Hampshire Church Records
New Hampshire Military Records
New Hampshire Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
New Hampshire Archives, Libraries, and Societies
New Hampshire Immigration
Native Americans of New Hampshire
New Hampshire County Resources
New Hampshire Town Resources
Map of New Hampshire

Town histories are abundant, particularly for southwestern towns of New Hampshire, with over 100 containing excellent genealogies of families stretching the generations back to the point of debarkation. The largest collections are held by the New Hampshire State Library and the New Hampshire Historical Society, located next door to each other (see New Hampshire Archives, Libraries, and Societies for addresses).

Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, 3 vols. (1784'96) is an excellent history of the state including the complicated and conflicting land grants up to 1796. It has been reprinted many times and is available on microfilm. The second edition (1812) included all three volumes, but John Farmer revised the first two volumes in one (Dover, Del.: n.p., 1831), with copious notes added to the text. This one-volume edition was reprinted in 1862. Volume 3 of the 1812 edition has been recently reprinted as Gary T. Lord, ed., Belknap's New Hampshire History: An Account of the State in 1792 (Hampton, N.H.: Peter Randall, 1973), with a new introduction and notes on this classic perspective of New Hampshire history.

  • Copeley, William. Index to Genealogies in New Hampshire Town Histories. Concord, N.H.: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1988. Updated and comprehensive, this index lists any family for whom more than three generations are covered in New Hampshire published town histories.
  • Hanrahan, E. J., ed. Hammond's Check List of New Hampshire History. Somersworth, N.H.: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1971. This bibliography of published New Hampshire history has been superseded by Haskell and Bassett (see below), but some items were not carried over.
  • Haskell, John D., and T. D. Seymour Bassett, eds. New Hampshire: A Bibliography of Its History. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1979. A scholarly bibliography, it indicates background sources of value to genealogists.
  • Hunt, Elmer M. New Hampshire Town Names and Whence They Came. Peterborough, N.H.: Noone House, 1970. This gazetteer provides a good place-name index indicating etymology.
  • New Hampshire State Papers. 40 vols. Concord and Manchester, N.H., 1867'1943. Although published under various titles, its official title is Documents and Records Relating to New Hampshire, 1623'1800, as described in R. Stuart Wallace, 'The State Papers? A Descriptive Guide,' Historical New Hampshire 31 (1976): 119-28. Published versions of numerous records are included in the extensive forty-volume collection. Probate (to 1771), town, and military records are among them. Wallace's descriptive guide can provide a general overview.
  • Noyes, Sybil, Charles T. Libby, and Walter G. Davis. Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire. 1928'29. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983. This is a highly creditable attempt at compiling family genealogies of every family established in New Hampshire and Maine by 1699.
  • Turner, Lynn Warner. The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983. Covered in this readable text are the events and developments after the Revolution.

Excellent county histories and gazetteers can aid in locating particular family surnames and providing good background for local research. Some notable ones are:

  • Child, Hamilton. Child's Cheshire County Gazetteer, 1736'1885. Syracuse, N.Y.: Journal, 1885.
  • . Child's Grafton County Gazetteer, 1709'1886. Syracuse, N.Y.: Journal, 1886.
  • Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. Philadelphia, Pa.: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1885.
  • Merrill, Georgia Drew. History of Carroll County. 1889. Reprint. Somersworth, N.H.: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1972.
  • . History of Coos County. 1888. Reprint. Somersworth, N.H.: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1971.

Guides that will be helpful for genealogical research in the state include:

  • Dearborn, David C., 'New Hampshire Genealogy: A Perspective,' The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 130 (October 1976): 244-58. An interesting perspective on migration is included.
  • Melnyk, Marcia D., ed. Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research. 4th ed. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999. Major collections, repositories, and town formation information are presented.
  • Towle, Laird C., and Ann M. Brown. New Hampshire Genealogical Research Guide. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1983. Details of resources available are provided.