During Vermont’s Sesquicentennial year in 1941, the Westminster Historical Society was formed. Interest ran high, as 64 charter members adopted a mission statement and elected and appointed the following residents as officers: President, Mrs. Stuart Simons; Vice-President, Edwin Gorham; Secretary, Mrs. Nan Wood; Treasurer, Fay Wright; Curator, Lynn Fullam; Assistant Curator, Emil Matson; Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mrs. Bertha (Miller) Collins; Membership Committee, Fay Wright, Chairman, Charles Hitchcock, Mrs. Elbert Hindes, Mrs. Lynn Fullam and Harlow Barnes.
The Society was officially incorporated on April 2, 1962, under the donated legal guidance of Attorney, Osmer Fitts of Brattleboro, Vermont. It continues its standing as a federally approved 301c not for profit organization.
The affairs of the Society are managed by a Board of Trustees which number not less than six or more than fifteen who are elected for terms of three years. This Board meets monthly to conduct the regular business of the Society. The officers of the corporation consist of the Trustees elected by the members and a President, Vice President or Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer and such Assistant Secretaries or Treasurers as may be determined by the Trustees, all to be elected by the Trustees. The President and each Vice President must be a Trustee at the time of his election and throughout his term of office. Each officer, except the Trustees, shall hold office until the first Trustees’ meeting following the annual meeting of the members and until a successor is elected and qualified.
The original collection of the Westminster, Vermont, historical artifacts was begun in 1926 when the Westminster Institute was completed. George Dascomb had assisted in the building of this social center and library for the people of the East Parish of Westminster. The large brick building had a room designated as the “Historical Room”. Townspeople gave and lent objects, books and papers pertaining to the history of the Town of Westminster, which had been in their families for 100 years and more. This group of items is “on long-term loan” from the Westminster Institute and is an important part of our collection. It is also the exception to our policy of not accepting artifacts on long-term loans.
During 1967, when the Westminster Town Hall was undergoing renovations, Mrs. Katherine (Hooker) Palmer, a staunch supporter of the Society, gained permission to move most of the historical collection from the Institute to the “kitchen area” of the Town Hall. In 1970 the new Bellows Falls Union High School was completed. The Westminster Annual Town Meetings which used to be held in the large open room on the second floor of the town hall, were then held in its auditorium. This change left the hall on the second floor of the Town Hall empty and no longer used for public meetings. Again, Mrs. Palmer saw the opportunity for growth for the Society. She gathered volunteers to move the collection here, to its current home. The United States Bicentennial was the catalyst that matured the Westminster Historical Society and its museum to its present state.
The public has continued its support and interest in the Westminster Historical Society with its generosity through donations of artifacts and money. We are grateful for their faith in our efforts.
Objectives and Goals
The purpose of the Westminster Historical Society museum and archives shall be to collect and preserve information and objects of historical, pre-historical, cultural, artistic or scientific interest which can serve as a resource for study and interpretation of our community, businesses, organizations, its environment and its people by present and future historians, scholars or other interested persons and the people of Westminster. The Society collections will also be used to actively communicate to the students and residents of Westminster their historical heritage.
In 2011, the Westminster Historical Society, Inc.’s collections numbers close to 6,000 artifacts and documents, including architectural renderings and fragments; costumes and textiles; agricultural and household objects ; paintings, prints, photographs, sound recordings and videotapes; organizational, institutional and personal archives; original manuscripts and documents, including letters and diaries and a variety of published materials.
Westminster Historical Society primarily collects those objects, including scientific or natural history specimens, archaeological artifacts, and recorded historical information pertaining to the specific history and environment of the Westminster, Vermont community. It may collect such other objects or recorded information of more general cultural, historical or scientific significance as may be judged to be of special importance to the community.
Use of Collection and Archives by the Public
Most items in the collection and archives may be seen, by appointment, by researchers, without prejudice. Taking of photographs by the public of items in the collections must be approved in advance by the Westminster Historical Society Board of Trustees or in an emergency, approved by the Executive Committee. Otherwise, none of the objects in the collections may be photographed for individual public or private use.
Those desiring to use the archives materials in the collections must request an appointment. The application will be mailed promptly to the person requesting the appointment. The applicant will fill out the “Application” in duplicate, with one copy returned to the Westminster Historical Society at least one week in advance of the appointment. All rules listed on the “Application” will be strictly enforced. The date of the appointment must be agreeable to both the Society volunteer and the applicant.