Hampton Vital Records Research at the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton, NH

Published sources of vital records

Sanborn and Sanborn -- The Red Books

In 1992 and 1998 George Freeman Sanborn, Jr. and Melinde Lutz Sanborn published their two volume work Vital records of Hampton, New Hampshire to the end of the year 1900. The Sanborns are both Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists, which is an honorary society limited to only fifty life-time members who are among the best genealogists in the country. As such, their work can be regarded as very accurate and reliable. [No such work is perfect, however, and some corrections can be found here]. Volume 1 contains governmental records including Hampton Town records, vital events from old Norfolk County records, census mortality schedules, marriages from court records in New Hampshire Province deeds, and other miscellaneous sources. Volume 2 contains all other available vital records, including church records, cemetery records, private records, and Bible records.

The index to volume 2 [which was NOT compiled by the Sanborns] had several omissions which was partially rectified by the publication of a 7-page supplement that is tucked into the back of the library's copies of the book in the New Hampshire room. These omissions were of people named on pages 108-109 and 164-173 of volume two. Also note that there are index problems with pages 13 through 80. If a name shown in the index cannot be found on the page listed, it almost certainly appears in the first few lines of the following page. Unfortunately the supplement did NOT index some other omissions, namely the authors' notes on the bottom of some of the pages of cemetery records, as well as the three pages of photos printed between pages 308 and 309. These names and their pages can be located on our corrections page.

On pages 473-514 of volume two is "A List of Deaths in Hampton". The originals of these records have been scanned and made available on our website.

Births, Marriages and Deaths from the Hampton Town Reports

Like many New Hampshire towns, Hampton publishes a list of all of its births, marriages and deaths in the back of its annual Town Report each year. This practice began in the year 1888 and continues to the present day. These records should be considered a secondary source, as they do contains errors, omissions and misspellings. All of these Town Reports are available in the library, although some of the earlier years are torn and incomplete.

In 1988 these records were republished by James K. Hunt in his Hampton Vital Records and Genealogy, 1889-1986, published for the Town of Hampton by Peter E. Randall, Publisher, as volume 4 in a set of Hampton historical works. Hunt arranged these records into three sections -- Births, Deaths and Marriages -- all listed alphabetically by surname. In the case of the marriage records, they are listed under the grooms' names, and, unfortunately, there was no separate index to brides included (a bride's index is now available online, as described below). Hunt's work serves as an index to births, marriages and deaths in Hampton between the years 1889 (he skipped 1888 for some reason) and 1986. At present there is no index to the entries for the years after 1986, so each year's Report will have to be searched separately.

In 2004 the library entered all of these Town Report marriage records (including 1888) into a database, with the help of a volunteer, and they are now searchable online on the library's website. They are searchable by the name of the bride, the groom, their parents, and by place names.

For the sake of accuracy it is recommended that, whenever possible, the original Town Reports be checked, as there are likely mistakes in Hunt's compilation and the library database. In addition, neither extracted every piece of information from the Reports. Occasionally you will find more information in the original.

Newspaper Sources of Vital Records

Hampton's first newspaper -- the Hampton Union -- began publication in 1899. Before that time, the Exeter News-Letter was the local paper of record. That paper began publishing in 1831. Before that point, the New Hampshire Gazette out of Portsmouth, first published in 1756, carried all local news. All three newspapers are still being published (the New Hampshire Gazette, in fact, claims to be the oldest continually published newspaper in the country). Microfilm copies of each of these papers are available at their respective public libraries (in Hampton, Exeter and Portsmouth). Both Exeter and Portsmouth published many other, shorter-lived, newspapers over the years, and many of these titles are also available at the libraries. In Hampton, we have microfilm of the Exeter News-Letter from its inception in 1831 through the year 1901, and the Atlantic News is also available on microfilm from September 1987 through August 14, 2009 (when it ceased publication.) A complete list of our local newspaper holdings is available.

Notices from the New Hampshire Gazette, 1765-1800 was published in 1970 and contains some obituaries of Hampton residents from that time period.

Scott Lee Chipman published a series of five books titled New England Vital Records from the Exeter News-Letter that cover the years 1831 to 1865. Many Hampton vital records are to be found here. Another researcher is currently involved in abstracting and indexing those records from 1866 to the year 1900, but these aren't publicly available yet.

There are no other published indexes available to these newspapers. In 1999 the library began indexing the obituaries, as well as the local news, in the Hampton Union and the Atlantic News, and continues to do so. We are currently working back in time with the Atlantic News as well. These can be searched on the library's website.

Most area newspapers now make their obituaries available online as well. The two with the most Hampton-area obituaries are those published by Seacoast Newspapers (including the Hampton Union) at seacoastonline.com and the Foster's Daily Democrat

When the date of death is unknown, the Social Security Death Index can frequently provide the information you need for those people who died since the late 1930s.

Unpublished sources of vital records

The Sanborn and Sanborn red vital records books (described above) describe the types of original vital records available for the town. In most cases, the originals of these records are kept with the original institution. Town records are kept in the vault of the Hampton Town Offices next door to the library. The first seven volumes of Hampton Town records have been digitized and placed on the website of the Hampton Historical Society. They have also created a detailed table of contents (which they call an index) to all of these records, making them much more accessible. Microfilm copies of the first two hundred or so years of town records are also available at the library. There is no specific vital records index to these original records and they are often difficult to read, so it is recommended that you find the entries you are looking for first in the Sanborn and Sanborn books, then use the cited page numbers to refer back to the originals on the Historical Society website or the library's microfilm. Vital records after 1901 are only available at the Hampton Town Offices or at the New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records in Concord. Access to post-1900 births and post-1947 marriages, divorces and deaths are restricted to "those individuals who have a 'direct and tangible interest' in a record in accordance with NH Statute". In most cases this means you have to be an immediate relative of the individual in question, or be their legal representative. A genealogist may be designated as an authorized representative by means of a notarized, written statement from the subject or a member of the subject's immediate family.

Church records are in the custody of the local churches. They, too, have been published in the Sanborn and Sanborn books.

Neighboring Towns

The library has several books of vital records published on neighboring towns such as Hampton Falls, Seabrook, North Hampton, South Hampton, Kingston, Rye and Portsmouth. They are of differing quality and completeness. Most are not as complete or well-done as the Sanborn and Sanborn books for Hampton. Also be sure to check the collections of the libraries in the town(s) you are interested in. They will quite frequently have unpublished manuscript collections of indexes to their town's vital records.