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Town Meeting

By Sarah Rooker on December 18, 2013 in Flow of History

Overview: Town Meeting minutes can teach students about how a community was settled, how individuals were involved in government, and how a community might have responded to national issues and crises. In most town offices, the minutes can be found in bound volumes, arranged chronologically. Each town meeting will begin with a warrant listing the items to be discussed at the meeting. Following the recording of the warrant will be the minutes.

Focusing Questions

What were the responsibilities of citizenship in early Vermont communities?
What institutions were most important in the eyes of town organizers?
How did towns govern themselves? How is this similar to or different from today?

Topical Understandings

Officers, who conducted town business such as fence viewing and collecting taxes, were elected at town meeting.
It was the responsibility of citizens to be involved in town meeting and to be town officers.
Early communities supported the churches.
Like today, schools and roads were important topics of town meeting.

Background Information

What did the early settlers do to organize their towns?


Town Meeting Interactive
Glossary of town meeting officers to guide student work.


  1. Either print out the online town meeting record or complete the town meeting interactive in class.
  2. The town meeting interactive introduces students to the concept of an involved citizenry with many different responsibilities by asking them to list all the town offices recorded in the minutes. As a class, review the list of town offices and generate questions about the duties of these offices.
  3. Assign small groups of students to research these duties.
  4. Discuss their research.
  5. Either attend town meeting or review a current town meeting warrant. What has changed? What has remained the same?
  6. Invite your town clerk to visit your class with some original town meeting record books for students to examine.