Tuesday, 6 May 2014

So You Wanna Take a Genealogy Research Trip to Vermont?

 Have you been considering making a genealogy research trip to Vermont? I can’t say that I blame you! Vermont is an excellent place for genealogy research. There is a state-wide open records policy, meaning you can go into just about any town or city clerk and say, “Hey, I’m here to do genealogy,” and you’ll be lead to the archive vault. No questions asked. Occasionally you will find a town clerk who is a bit protective with their records and will want to bring you the books directly, though I have found this to be an uncommon occurrence.

Vermont Historical Society (Credit: commons.wikimedia.org)
 The first step in planning your research trip is searching online databases for your Vermont ancestors. FamilySearch.org, a free database, has many of the same records that are found at the Vermont State Archives & Records Administration in Middlesex. Do as much research online as you can so that you will have more time to focus on looking for records not available online once you get to Vermont. At this point you may be asking yourself if it is worthwhile to pay a visit to the state’s archives building since so many records are available online for free. Unfortunately, I don’t have a definitive answer. If you have the time, then it could very well be worthwhile to pay a visit and see if you can uncover new vital records. You may also be interested in exploring the other resources that are available, such as naturalization records, probate court records, and military records (a more complete list of records is available at the Vermont state archives’ website at www.vermont-archives.org).

If you know which town a record is located, or have a pretty good hunch, I recommend you plan a visit to the town clerk. As I previously stated, you will usually be granted unrestricted access to the archives vault at most all town clerk’s offices throughout Vermont, and most often it won’t cost you a dime (unless you want to make photocopies). There are some town clerks that charge a small fee for researching, but it’s not much more than $1 or $2 per hour. Because Vermont is such a rural state with lots of very (VERY) small towns, there is often only one person working at a town clerk’s office, and as such, the town clerk may not always be open during posted business hours. It’s a wise idea to call ahead and make sure someone will be around to let you in (I once drove almost an hour and a half to the tiny little town of Belvidere only to discover the town clerk wasn’t open due to staff shortage).
Ethan Allen Homestead, Near Burlington, Vermont (Credit: Doc Searls, Flickr.com)

Be sure to take some time to explore each town you visit. Vermont is filled with interesting museums, parks, and historical landmarks. You may want to pay a visit to the local historical society, where you may even discover more records about your ancestors, the cemetery where your ancestor is buried, or the town’s library to thumb for information in old newspapers or local history books. Take a walk through Main Street and strike up conversations with the locals (many Vermonters love to share their stories of yesteryear, and you never know who may even remember your ancestors).

Some genealogy points of interest in Vermont:

State of Vermont Archives 7 Records Administration
1078 Route 2, Middlesex
Montpelier, Vermont 05633-7701
Phone:  (802) 828-3700
Reference Room Hours:  Tuesday – Friday, 9:00am– 4:00pm
Fees: Free

Leahy Library of the Vermont Historical Society
60 Washington Street
Barre, Vermont 05641-4209
Phone: (802) 479-8509
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 9:00am-4:00; Wednesday 9:00am-8:00pm ; Second Saturdays 9:00am-4:00pm
Fees: $5 for non-members, Free for members

Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society
377 Hegeman Ave. (Across from St Police)
Fort Ethan Allen
Colchester, Vermont
Phone: (802) 482-3075
Library Hours:  Tuesday 3:00pm-9:00pm, Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm, and by appointment
Fees: $5 for non-members, Free for members


  1. I have one line that I suspect stayed in Vermont for a while. I would love to visit and know WHERE they were and WHEN they were there. Thank you for a lovely write up on Vermont research.

  2. Sounds wonderful. If only I had some Vermont ancestors!


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