Public Records in Private Hands

Periodically, we become aware of municipal records which are for sale by dealers or private individuals. In NH, as in other states, government records are the property of those governments and may not be sold or alienated. Under NH RSA 41:68: “All municipal records belong to the public in perpetuity and shall not be destroyed, maliciously damaged or retained by any person not entitled to keep them. Any natural person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and any other person shall be guilty of a felony.”

Examples of records which must be retained by a municipality include the following: ledgers recording the official business of cities, towns, or districts, such as minutes of meetings, charters or records of organization, ordinances, tax records, etc. This notice is intended to acquaint dealers about the law and to help them, and us, avoid embarrassing and costly problems.

Contact Us
If you believe that a Nashua municipal record is being offered for sale, please contact us by email. View the Joint Statement on the Sale of Historical Public Records through Online Auctions, issued by the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the Society of American Archivists.