Conscious that the achievements of its past leaders were becoming fast fading memories and concerned that the artifacts chronicling Manchester’s growth from a village to an industrial city could soon vanish, a group of citizens established the Manchester Historic Association in 1896, fifty years after Manchester became New Hampshire’s first city.Its founders began to collect, preserve, and share Manchester’s history so that the growing, changing city would retain ties to its past.
Initially, the Association had no permanent home but existed through the regular meetings of its members who gathered in borrowed space.The organization soon acquired a small space in the city library to meet and store its collections.In 1931, through the generosity of local businessman and philanthropist Frank P. Carpenter, the Association built and opened its present Research Center and headquarters building on Amherst Street, facing Victory Park, in the heart of the city.
In 2001 the Historic Association opened the Millyard Museum in one of the renovated mill buildings of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.It is home to the permanent exhibit, Woven in Time, 11,000 Years at Amoskeag Falls, that tells the story of Manchester from the time of the earliest settlement to the present time. This, and the museum's changing exhibits, include selections from the organization's vast collections. The Research Center, renovated in 2006, houses the Association's library and archives where the records of the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company can be found along with archival collections of Manchester families, businesses and organizations.The Research Center maintains a large photograph collection, and has a collection of books, oral histories, ephemera, artwork ,manuscripts and other materials. Researchers may also access the Association's collections of Native American artifacts, and other types of historical objects through the auspices of the Research Center. The Association also provides educational programs for children and adults and organizes historic preservation initiatives.
The Manchester Historic Association is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions and a significant force in Manchester’s economic and cultural growth. The organization is active in the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and it collaborates with other nonprofit organizations in many ways. It is supported by its members and other donors in the community, and also by corporate, government and foundation grants. The Manchester Historic Association also relies on the generosity of its volunteers and interns from local colleges and universities.