Unity receives $10,000 Moose Plate Grant

UNITY, N.H. – Governor Sununu and the Executive Council have approved a $10,000 Moose Plate Grant to the Town of Unity for the conservation and digital imaging of three nineteenth century Selectmen’s record books. The application for the grant was submitted by Unity’s Town Clerk Ramona Labrie and was written by Jim Romer of the Unity Historical Society with help from Deputy Town Clerk Kevin Brenker.

The three volumes to be conserved in this project cover the years 1849 to 1897 and contain not only the annual property tax invoices, but also a great variety of day-to-day actions taken by the selectmen regarding matters such as highway layouts, perambulation of town boundaries, support of the poor, appointment of town officials, and much more.

The conservation of these volumes will be undertaken by Works On Paper of Bellows Falls Vt. (Carolyn Frisa owner and head conservator) and bookbinder Malcolm Summers of the Chester Vt. Bookworm. Works On Paper will produce the digital images and from these images Backstage Library Works will make preservation microfilm.

Works On Paper and the Chester Bookworm have just finished conserving and imaging three earlier volumes for the Town of Unity, work paid for by a Moose Plate Grant awarded in 2021. In 2016 Works On Paper conserved a number of nineteenth century voter checklists (then in the custody of the Unity Historical Society) and in 2021 six vital records volumes, including two of late nineteenth and early twentieth century births and deaths at the Sullivan County Home.

Moose Plate Grants for records conservation are funded with money received from the sale of conservation license Plates and are administered by the New Hampshire State Library.

The State Library, in forwarding Unity’s grant application to the Governor and Council, observed that the “Town of Unity has been working diligently in recent years to preserve their historic documents and records.” In fact, this diligent work started in 1993, with the establishment by the Town Meeting of a capital reserve fund for the preservation of old town records. One thousand dollars was put into the fund that year, with additional amounts every year since.

Town Clerks Peggy Austin (1991 to 1999) and Rosemary Heino (1999 to 2022) used this money wisely to fund the conservation of approximately twenty volumes of early town records.

The two Moose Plate Grants awarded to the Town (in 2021 and 2022) cover the cost of making digital images of the records conserved, as will any future Moose Plate Grants. Unfortunately, no digital images were made of the records conserved before 2021, and Moose Plate Grants will not pay for the retrospective imaging of these records.

Thus, unless some kind person or business, recognizing the effort that Unity has put into conserving its records over the past three decades, should come forward with a grant to help, all of the approximately $12,000 needed for this imaging will have to come from the Town Clerk’s fund.

In addition, money from the fund may be needed to supplement Moose Plate grants, as happened last year ($930) and this year ($431), and for incidental expenses of records conservation and preservation, such as archival supplies and additional shelving in the Town Clerk’s vault.

Thus, the capital reserve fund established in 1993 will still have a role to play in conserving Unity’s records.

Town Clerk Ramona Labrie is determined that the town will move ahead to conserve and make accessible all of its historic records, using a combination of town and state funding and possibly some philanthropic assistance.


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