The Leahy Library of the Vermont Historical Society is one star in the constellation of research institutions that most researchers need to visit when doing Vermont genealogical research.
The Leahy Library, a non-circulating library open to the public four days a week and one Saturday a month and staffed by two professional librarians, has a strong collection of family and town histories from around New England. It also has published vital records and transcriptions of Vermont cemeteries, subscriptions to genealogical periodicals, and genealogical reference books. Other materials not necessarily genealogical in nature, such as Vermont manuscripts, maps and photographs may also be useful to the genealogical researcher.
The Leahy Library has a large collection of published family genealogies. Some are listed in the online catalog; the card catalog should be consulted for additional titles that are not in the online catalog. Our library houses the genealogy collection of the Vermont Society of Colonial Dames, which is strong in family histories. The collection is cataloged in the online catalog. The Colonial Dames collection includes The American Genealogical-Biographical Index, a multi-volume work that indexes published genealogies, many of which are in the VHS library
The VHS's Leahy Library attempts to collect anything that is published about Vermont towns. Small portions of those Vermont town histories are listed in the online catalog; the remainders are listed in the card catalog in the library. The library has several copies of Abby Maria Hemenway’s Vermont Historical Gazetteer (often called Vermont Historical Magazine), the most important collection of early Vermont town histories. Town histories often contain genealogical information. Scott Andrew Bartley has compiled Genealogies Found in Vermont Histories (Ref. 929 V59ge) to guide researchers to town histories with significant genealogical content. See also Vermont: A Bibliography of Its History (Ref. 016.974 N42b) for books that may not be at the VHS. The VHS library has histories of towns in other New England states.
Vital records and cemetery records
The Leahy Library contains published vital records for New England towns. The early vital records for most Massachusetts and Connecticut towns have been published; very few Vermont towns have published vital records. However, the VHS library now has a microfilmed index to Vermont vital records to 1870. In addition, many Vermont cemeteries have been inventoried and those listings are added to the library collection whenever possible. Two guides to cemeteries, Index to Known Cemetery Listings in Vermont (1999), which includes VHS call numbers and other locations (Ref. 929.3 V59bgn), and Burial Grounds of Vermont (1991), by the Vermont Old Cemetery Association (Ref. 929.3 V59bg), are indispensable in the research process. The VHS also has a card file created by the WPA during the 1930s that lists the men with military service buried in Vermont. Lists of the names of Vermonters who have served in our nation’s wars are available in the Reference Room of the VHS library.
Subscriptions to genealogical periodicals
The Leahy Library subscribes to several major genealogical journals, including New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. The library also subscribes to the genealogical publications of the genealogical organizations of the six New England states.
Genealogical reference books
The primary guide to genealogical research in Vermont is Collecting Vermont Ancestors by Alice Eichholz (Ref. 929.1 V59). Also of use may be Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Ref. 929.1 N448). A Bibliography for Vermont Genealogy (Ref. 929.1 US V592L) by John Leppman is a useful source. Access to U.S. Census information is available at the library through computer databases. The library has a collection of genealogical handbooks that are shelved in the Reference Room. The VHS owns a complete set of typescript books created by the Vermont DAR (Ref. 929.3 V59dar). These annual volumes contain transcriptions of various records including family bibles and cemeteries. Volumes 1 through 33 are indexed in the card catalog; a separate index (in an orange binder) has been compiled for the entire set.