About This Exhibit

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In 2011 the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (VSARA) was awarded a $118,078 grant by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to partially fund an effort to preserve and provide access to archival court records. Vermont’s historic court records have long been threatened by physical deterioration, and difficult for the public to access.

The three-year project has served to preserve and open for research 650 cubic feet of records from the Caledonia, Lamoille, Orleans, and Franklin county courts, covering the years 1794 to 1945.  Moreover,  thanks to project publicity, other Vermont courts have reached out to VSARA to preserve their archival records. With the 2013-2014 addition of records from Essex, Rutland, Windsor, and Windham counties, eight of fourteen Vermont county court collections are now available for research at the state archives.  

Because the NHPRC grant permitted detailed processing,  it was possible to focus closely on the records from these four counties. Their cases have provided the source material for this exhibit. As court documents, they represent important themes in Vermont’s legal and judicial history, and are associated with prominent figures of the state’s bench and bar. As primary sources for history, they encompass a broader perspective, and offer wide-ranging research potential.

For the purposes of the exhibit, it was necessary to identify and select a small sampling of the social, economic, and legal themes that are documented in court records. It was a difficult choice! The chosen topics and cases are just highlights.  For information on research with court records, please see VSARA’S online reference guide Historical Research with Vermont Court Records.

All of these records are public documents, freely accessible to all.  Archival materials used in publications, research papers, films, exhibitions, and similar presentations must be properly cited and credited to the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration.

Please contact VSARA for specific information on any of the cases or other records included in the exhibit.

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This page was last updated: 2014-12-16