The mission of the Manchester Historical Society is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the story of Manchester, Vermont, through the research collection, exhibitions, programs, and publications.
In the summer and autumn 1897 Hermione Hitchcock Canfield, Julia Frances Hawley, and Wilhelmina Douglas Hawley discussed forming the Manchester Historical Society. By October officers were appointed, a meeting was held, and a constitution decided upon.
The first officers were President E. J. Hawley, First Vice-President Julia F. Hawley, Second Vice-President Anna J. Purdy, Corresponding Secretary Hermione H. Canfield, Recording Secretary Wilhelmina D. Hawley, and Treasurer Theodore Swift.
Incorporation in the State of Vermont followed in 1898 with the stated purpose “of collecting and conserving information and documents relating to matters of historic interest; locating and marking, and if deemed advisable, acquiring title to places where historic events have occurred and placing thereon monuments or other memorials, and of receiving and holding in trust money or other property appropriate to the purpose of the Society; and providing a genealogy of the early settlers, and a convenient and reliable source of information concerning the town.”
Topics at these early meetings often consisted of the reading of a family genealogy or a lively discussion of the occupants of houses that were familiar to everyone. During the 1920s the society put on three costume balls, presented an exhibit of old articles to help Vermont’s Sesquicentennial, and sponsored an historical play “The Tin Peddler.”