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Saturday, June 29, 2013

A letter from the New Hampshire State Library, 1898

Here is a typed, hand-signed letter from Arthur H. Chase, Librarian at the New Hampshire State Library, in Concord, NH in 1898. 


The library letterhead includes a nice image of what the building looked like at that time. I found recent images of the library at the Web site for Meridian Construction, who did an extensive renovation on the building in 2009. The Web site included photos, as well as text, to document the changes. You'll notice that the upper-floor tower has been removed, but that may have happened well before the recent renovation project.

Of Arthur H. Chase, I have very little information. His name pops up numerous times in Internet searches, but usually associated with library bulletins and reports that are in the archives. So even though there's not a lot to write about, I just liked this letter for its design (color and illustration) and origin. New Hampshire figures prominently in my family history. And it appears that family history was the subject of this letter, which leads to another observation about this letter.

Mr. Chase was writing to answer a query for information on a certain person from New Hampshire who served during the War of the Rebellion. South of the Mason-Dixon line, you might hear it referred to as the War of Northern Aggression. We all know it as the Civil War. But Mr. Chase had no luck searching for an Edmund Noyes in the state library's records on the Rebellion. 

This kind of correspondence from more than a century ago underscores the power of the Internet and the Information Age we live in today, which many of us probably now take for granted at times, if not all the time. A few taps on the keyboard and a few mouse clicks will produce a lot of material to study on an Edmund Noyes from New Hampshire who served during the Rebellion. Librarian Chase may well have spent the better part of a morning or day retrieving the records in his library and searching through them. 

I suspect Arthur H. Chase would be pleased to see how far library science has evolved as much as he would enjoy seeing how little his old library building has changed in appearance, minus that tower of course.

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