Vermont Historical Society

The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) was founded in 1838 to preserve and record the cultural history of the US state of Vermont. Headquartered in the old Spaulding School Building in Barre, the Vermont History Center is home to the Vermont Historical Society's administrative offices, the Leahy Library and a small book shop. In Montpelier the Society operates the Vermont History Museum in the Pavilion building, just east of the Vermont State House.

Vermont History Center
Location60 Washington Street
Barre, Vermont, United States
Coordinates44.196°N 72.498°W / 44.196; -72.498
OwnerVermont Historical Society
Vermont History Museum
Location109 State Street
The Pavilion
Montpelier, Vermont, United States
OwnerVermont Historical Society


The Vermont Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects residents, scholars, educators, and students with Vermont's rich heritage and with one another. It strives to set a high standard for statewide work in Vermont history and provide leadership in Vermont history education by providing access to the Society's collections and programming.


"The Vermont Historical Society engages both Vermonters and "Vermonters at heart" in the exploration of our state's rich heritage. Our purpose is to reach a broad audience through our outstanding collections, statewide outreach, and dynamic programming. We believe that an understanding of the past changes lives and builds better communities."

Quick facts

  • Vermont Historical Society was founded in 1838 to preserve and record Vermont’s history and culture.
  • Vermont Historical Society is guided by 22 trustees and five officers, who are elected by the members at the annual meeting and conference.
  • There are approximately 2,500 members.
  • It has 11 full-time and 4 part-time employees


Named after Howard and Alba Leahy, the Leahy Library opened to the public in July 2002 and is a valuable resource for individualized research. The library offers access to 50,000 catalogued books and serial titles, 1,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 30,000 photographs, 8,700 broadsides, more than 1,000 maps and an online public access catalogue. In addition, the library has the largest printed genealogical collection in the state.

Vermont History Museum

Vermont Historical Society also operates the Vermont History Museum, which is located in Montpelier and housed in the Pavilion building next to the state capital. It boasts a collection of 20,000 artifacts including fine arts, crafts, household goods, clothing, agricultural tools, and industrial products from the pre-contact period to present.

The Vermont History Museum's award-winning permanent exhibit, "Freedom and Unity: One Ideal, Many Stories," allows visitors to walk through 350 years of Vermont history (1600s–present). Opened in March 2004, the multimedia exhibit fills 5,000 square feet (460 m2) of the Pavilion building in Montpelier. Visitors move through a visual timeline and experience such recreations as a full-sized Abenaki wigwam, the Catamount Tavern where Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys gathered, a railroad station complete with a working telegraph and a WWII living room furnished with period music and magazines.

This exhibit is also presented online.

Vermont History Center

The Vermont History Center is the home of the Vermont Heritage Galleries, located in the beautiful historic Spaulding school building at 60 Washington Street in Barre, Vermont. The three exhibit galleries offer rotating exhibits on various aspects of Vermont history. The center also houses the Society's library and museum collections, administration offices, and a public meeting space.


The Vermont Historical Society offers many programs, workshops and conferences on Vermont history. A full calendar of programs and events and links to all Vermont Historical Society programs, auxiliary websites and projects are available on the Vermont Historical Society website.

Vermont History Expo

From 2000 to 2016 VHS presented the Vermont History Expo, a weekend-long celebration of the state's rich heritage in scenic Tunbridge, Vermont. Each Expo featured a variety of themed attractions and events, including exhibits from 150+ local historical societies, museums, and heritage organizations; music; family activities; food; presentations; performances; and more.

Family and school programs

Vermont Historical Society's education department provides a wide range of programming for families, teachers, and students. Students and teachers can experience history with free field trips to the museum, history lending kits, and Vermont History Day, which allows students to delve thoroughly into a historical topic.

The Vermont Historical Society also offers an auxiliary website, Vermont History Explorer, geared to help children and teachers explore Vermont History. It includes maps, documents, approximately 150 photographs, and over 200 grade-appropriate articles about Vermont history.

Vermont Women’s History Project

The Vermont Women's History Project is a program that highlights the role women have played in shaping Vermont's history. By providing resources and programs, Vermont Historical Society makes this important information available to students, researchers, and anyone interested in Vermont women and their accomplishments.

League of Local Historical Societies & Museums

Since 1943, the Vermont Historical Society has provided outreach and support to Vermont's local history community through the League of Local Historical Societies and Museums. The League partners with all 192 of the state's small public libraries and 200 local museums and heritage organizations to provide free consultation on collections care and using technology to enhance rural access to historical information. This technical assistance includes collections care, e-newsletters, achievement awards program annual conference, and a publication listing all of Vermont's local historical societies.


The Vermont Historical Society publishes History Connections: Vermont Historical Society News and Notes, a quarterly newsletter and the semi-annual journal Vermont History, the Proceedings of the Vermont Historical Society. The Vermont Historical Society also publishes books and exhibition catalogs on aspects of Vermont history, such as Freedom & Unity, The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777–1810, by Harvey Amani Whitfield; The Vermont Difference, published with the Woodstock Foundation; and Moses Robinson and the Founding of Vermont, by Robert A. Mello, which focus on important aspects of Vermont history.

The Vermont Historical Society also offers two e-newsletters: the weekly Local History e-News, and the quarterly general history interest e-newsletter.


AASLH (American Association of State and Local History) Awards of Merit:

  • 2012 Vermont History Explorer website
  • 2012 A Very Fine Appearance: the Vermont Photographs of George Houghton
  • 2004 Freedom & Unity museum exhibit
  • 2002 Vermont History Expo

2010 Yankee Editor’s Choice—museum exhibit and Vermont History Expo. 2007 National Medal of Honor, IMLS (Institute of Museum & Library Service)—one of ten awards given for outstanding community programs.


  • The Vermont Historical Society
  • Duffy, John J., et al. The Vermont Encyclopedia. University Press of New England: 2003. ISBN 1-58465-086-9.
  • Informational handouts. Vermont Historical Society. September 2011.
  • Spaulding School Building
  • Vermont Explorer
  • Freedom and Unity
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