Since its founding in 1963 the Dorset Historical Society has been collecting artifacts, books, ledgers, photographs and manuscripts concerning local families and businesses such as the local stores, marble quarries, inns, the Dorset Playhouse, etc. Since many families or branches of families left the area for the western frontier, we have received many requests from descendants of Dorset families for information about their ancestors or the family members who remained in Vermont.
Our collection includes 1790-1850 census records for Dorset, mid-19th century maps showing location of homes and businesses, Dorset cemetery records to the 1970s, some of the existing local church records, Revolutionary and Civil War rosters, correspondence files, and similar records. Many families have shared their family research with us.
Many Dorset residents married individuals from neighboring towns in Vermont, especially Manchester, Danby, Pawlet and Rupert. We have some information on these towns, but only as it relates to Dorset families.
THE PRATT GENEALOGIES
The Rev. Parsons S. Pratt, D.D., was pastor of the Congregational Church in Dorset Village from 1856 to 1896, and pastor emeritus until his death in 1906. During those years he prepared genealogies for most of the members of the church. Some have only a half page, while others have more than fifty pages tracing lines back to the immigrant ancestor, with obituaries, photographs and other interesting pieces of information. The original handwritten papers, in thirteen 3-ring binders, have been given to the Dorset Historical Society. While there is some information on families from the other villages of Dorset, (South, East, North), it is often limited in scope. Most of the information is undocumented, and has not been verified by the Dorset Historical Society. There are some errors, but the genealogies are very good starting points for research. We also have Dr. Pratt's marriage register and diaries.
Visitors wishing to research family or local history are welcome at the Dorset Historical Society during our regular hours, and appointments may be made for other days or times.
Those coming from a distance may wish to make an appointment to assure that one of our genealogy consultants is available. Photocopies of most material may be made for a nominal fee.
We have no set fee for doing research at the Dorset Historical Society, other than asking requesters to cover costs of photocopies and postage. Many choose to become members of the Society or otherwise donate funds to support our expense of acquiring and preserving documents, books, equipment, etc.
As with many of the small organizations in Vermont, we rely on volunteers to support and maintain the society. We have one part-time staff member who, in addition to answering research requests, has several other responsibilities. Therefore we are unable to conduct extensive genealogical research. We will review our files and send any information found.
Although we have e-mail, we prefer to receive initial research requests by letter. Please include as much information as possible - lineage charts and/or family group sheets. Also supply known alternate spellings of the names. Research is performed on a time available basis and in the order received. Often we will be able to respond with many pages of photocopied material. We may also be able to suggest other sources of information. You may wish to include your e-mail address, should we need to get back to you with questions. Do include a SASE so that we have your correct mailing address.
For research on Dorset families at other local facilities, arrangements may be made with a local genealogist for a fee of $20 per hour, plus expenses, again on a time available basis. Please contact us with your questions for an estimate of costs. This service is limited to research on families who lived at one time in Dorset. We are unable to accept commissions for research in other areas of Vermont. We can supply a list of researchers who work for a fee, or other sources of information in the area on request.
We would like to receive copies of your family information, particularly to learn where Dorset families who left the area relocated. Several family associations have held reunions in Dorset, with special programs and events. We are happy to assist those interested in making such arrangements.