Front page > Meet VSARA: Archives
Meet VSARA: The State Archives Unit
Agency and department records officers and liaisons who have made visits to VSARA's Middlesex facility have had a glimpse of some of what we do beyond records analysis. We'd like to use this space to acquaint you with the other units, activities and people that are VSARA.
The Vermont State Archives is made up of those public records that have been identified as having enduring value to the State of Vermont. Because these records document the rights of citizens, the actions of government, and the history of the state, they will be retained permanently. These records have been transferred from the legal custody of the creating agencies or individuals to the State Archives — an important distinction from those records stored at the State Records Center, which are still the property of the agencies which created them. And unlike the records stored at the State Records Center, the records in the State Archives are made available to the public.
The Vermont State Archives documents state government from its creation in 1777 to the present. These records are searchable in an online database, Archival Records in the Vermont State Archives (Record Series), and can be accessed through VSARA's reference room, open Tuesday-Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm. Reference room staff are available to respond to questions about the state's archival records,and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 828-2308.
While the most used records in the archives are vital records valuable to genealogists tracing their family histories and legislative records helpful in developing and interpreting state statutes, a number of historic state agency records have been transferred to the State Archives to be preserved and made available to researchers. Among these are a large number of Agency of Transportation records, including early maps, plans and photographs of Vermont's roads.
As we consider the effects of the recent flooding in Vermont, a review of Transportation reports and data from the 1927 flood can shed some light on how the state responded at that time, and influence what happens today. Agency and legislative records held in the archives often are a reminder that most of the issues the state wrestles with are not new, and having the opportunity to study decisions made and data gathered in the past allows us to better prepare for and understand similar situations in the present.
As Secretary of State William Slade put it in 1823,
"Every government…should possess, and should place within reach of the people, a complete history of its own legislation. Without the possession of such a history, and a practical regard to the lessons it inculcates, legislation will be, at best, but a succession of experiments, and as a necessary consequence, every operation of government will be characterized with instability and want of wisdom."