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I am looking for listings or names of men who were paupers in the Nashua or Hillsborough County poor farms (aka pauper farms aka town farms aka poor houses) in 1855-1857.

Does anyone know if records that mention their names exist?

I have looked at Town Reports, Town histories, and censuses for 1850 and 1860.

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Rather than answer your question directly, this answer will outline a research process for finding the records, using Nashua as an example, so anyone with other towns in New Hampshire can use it as a model for their own searches.

Determine when and where records might have been created

Check the historical statutes for each locality to find the date that the poor farm or poor house was established for each locality. See Kimberly Powell's guide What Was the Law? Historical U.S. Statutes Online.

The description of a talk “Cared for at the public expense”: A brief history of New Hampshire’s Poor Farms and State Institutions, hosted by the New Hampshire Alliance for Preservation in 2018, says that towns in New Hampshire began creating poor farms "[s]tarting in the 1820s".

The New England Historical Society's page A Poorhouse in Each New England State says:

Unlike the other states, which made their towns care for the poor, New Hampshire by 1866 required the county to provide for them. Each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties had a county poorhouse.

FamilySearch Research Wiki

The FamilySearch Research Wiki article New Hampshire Town Records says that town records may include "care of the poor". You may have to look for general collections of town records, rather than a database with "poor records" in the title. The article has an overview of what might be available on microfilm, and suggests other sources for informatiion such as historical societies and town historians.

The Wiki also has a useful overview of New Hampshire Statewide Online Genealogy Records, with a link to tips on Locating Online Databases.

Unfortunately as I write this (24 Dec 2020), the article Nashua, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Genealogy is mostly an outline with very little information, though it does have the address of the City Clerk and a link to the town's website.

FamilySearch Catalog

Do a place search in the FamilySearch catalog, and a keyword search for each jurisdiction. See Two Hidden Secrets to Find a Ton More Results from the FamilySearch Catalog from The Ancestor Hunt for tips and screenshots.

Using the keyword search "New Hampshire Poor" doesn't turn up any obvious poor records for Nashua in the listings, but you can mine the titles in the search results for further Google Searches.

Do a place search for Nashua and read the catalog entry and Film Notes for any town records to see if they mention records about the poor. Also note anything listed under Inventories, Registers, and Catalogs such as this Catalogue of New Hampshire town records. This film has the camera and key icon, so you'll have to view it at a FHC or at an affiliate library once we have access again. However, any time you have an exact title for any microfilm or book from the Family History Library, you can search for copies online or from other libraries using Worldcat.org.

Under town records for Nashua, the Catalog has Town records, 1639-1840 which does not cover the date range you're looking for.

The collection New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947 does not include a waypoint for Nashua under Hillsborough County.

New Hampshire State Archives

Archival Holdings lists several categories of records. Under Town Records, there are two entries, Municipal Records (not online) and Road and Highway Layout Records (some are online). Check the research guides on that page, the general guide for researching at the archives, and the genealogy guide. Search your county and town of interest for local archives and repeat the process.

New Hampshire State Library

The Town Records Index gives the following data for records for Nashua held at the library:

NASHUA

County: Hillsborough

Dates for Town Report: [1837+

Current vital statistics in Town Reports: No

Compiled Town Vital Records: Yes

Dates: 1887-1935 [Births only] Call No. G 929.3742 N17n

City Directories: Yes

Call No. Date 917.428 N17 [1850, 1853] 917.428 N17g [1864, 1866, 1868-1870, 1872-1885, 1887-1889, 1891-1984] 917.428 N17ga [1988-1991] Cemetery Records: No

Town Register: No

Other resources can be found in the left-hand sidebar. See also their page about special collections.

Other Libraries

Historical Societies

Other Archives

For holdings in other archives, try ArchiveGrid and NUCMC.

Newspapers

To find historical newspapers, which may have articles about the poor farms and the people there, use resources like these:

Genealogical Societies

Try contacting local people who have research in the area. See the FamilySearch Wiki article New Hampshire Societies, try local pages on Facebook, etc.

Publications

Search for articles about New Hampshire's poor farms in genealogical publications and in academic works, and look at the bibliograpies to see what sources the researchers were able to find. You can locate articles by using:

In addition to these, try looking for research guides, finding aids, books about the poor farms, and local histories using:

Related Questions

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  • Thanks for the detailed information! After spending a lot of time with the town records and such, I am despairing of finding the info, so this is quite a feast of sources to plow through. – rougon Dec 24 '20 at 21:04
  • @rougon I think your best bet for clues is to find research about the poor farm itself and see what resources other researchers were able to find, and go from there. Be on the lookout for keywords that can inform new keyword searches, etc. – Jan Murphy Dec 25 '20 at 1:20
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    Yeah, sadly, this is a very understudied aspect of society at the time. There is some,scholarship but it is very generalized. – rougon Dec 25 '20 at 1:22
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    Other resources that might guide research can be found at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog: e.g. Don't Overlook Almshouse & Poorhouse Records & New York Almshouse Records Online and other posts. Lorine also responds to queries. – bgwiehle Dec 26 '20 at 13:54

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