Inside the CHS


Bicycling in Hartford

May 16, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

Hartford has a long history of bicycling, both that of its citizens riding and of manufacturing. To celebrate National Bike Month I thought we would take a look at some of the bicycling related manuscripts in the CHS collections. Colt Bicycle Club At the meeting of the Colt Bicycle Club on February 29, 1892, uniforms…
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Colt’s sold hay forks?

May 9, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

I know it is a good day when I learn something new. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Colts Patent Fire Arms Company made and sold hay forks! We recently acquired two documents, one giving exclusive rights to C.E. Warner to sell horse hay forks throughout the United States, with the exception of New…
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What is his name?

April 3, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

In 1752, William Hooker purchased a Negro Man from Willis & Stocker. An image of the bill, which is part of our collections, is shown below. Can you make out the name of the Negro Man? The last four letters are “ford.” We have some thoughts, but are uncertain about the first five. Leave a…
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Transcribing Hannah’s Diary

March 27, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

This entry was written by Student Intern Mike Ericson whose assignment was to complete the transcription of an 18th century young woman’s diary.        Hannah Hadassah Hickock was born in 1767 in Southbury, Connecticut. Her diary spans the years 1784 to 1786 and gives a glimpse into what life was like in the late eighteenth…
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Alexander Carrington

March 19, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

Alexander Carrington was the patriarch of an African American family in Norwich, Connecticut. By profession Carrington was a cook, and his services were often used for events at halls in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A scrapbook he created between 1882 and 1886 recently came to the Connecticut Historical Society. The scrapbook contains advertisements, tickets,…
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President Garfield shot!

February 29, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

Little bits of history keep popping up as we continue to catalog the manuscript backlog. Last week I  happened upon a folder that simply stated, “telegram, E.K. Winship to J.R. Hawley, 1881”. What I had found was a message concerning the assassination attempt on the President! On July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau took two shots…
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New Fort for New London Harbor

February 21, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812. That summer, as the war got underway, Secretary of War William Eustis wrote to Capt. C. D. Wood in New London, Connecticut. “Sir, You will immediately commence the repairs of the magazine at Fort Trumbull and the block house at Fort…
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Civil War Substitutes

February 15, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

During the Civil War, men in certain states, who did not want to fight, were able to pay for a substitute. This is what F. Bill, a Connecticut resident, had in mind when he wrote home to H.C. Holmes. (Click the above images to enlarge) Bill was writing from Cleveland, Ohio. He intended to buy…
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Making Connections: Ann Frances (Darling) Ibbotson

January 24, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

Though I have not specifically mentioned our NHPRC funded project lately, it certainly continues. Yesterday we completed our 2400th record. That leaves us with 600 to complete in the next seven months, definitely an achievable goal. Since we began this project in September 2008, over 5400 collections have been cataloged (3000 during the first two-year…
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Gold Street and the Ancient Burying Ground

January 4, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts

“But for you Gold Street would still be a blot on our beautiful city, and we all owe you a debt of gratitude. Now if those stables could go, there would be nothing to offend the eye when the street is finished.” These words were written to Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe by Elizabeth Hart Jarvis…
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Bevin Bells

December 27, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

East Hampton (them Chatham), Connecticut has long been known as Belltown. Beginning in the 19th century, many bell manufacturers set up shop there. All but one of those factories, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co., has shut down. Bevin, the only American company still producing only bells,  has been making the news recently. Last year there was…
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Brainard Field

December 13, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

If you live in Hartford and want to take an airplane flight, chances are pretty good you will find yourself departing from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks. However, long before Bradley, Hartford’s Brainard Field was the only municipal airport between New York and Boston. The dedication of Brainard Field was held on June 11,…
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Breakfast with Napoleon

November 30, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

*This post was written by Archives volunteer Marie Jarry. In my ongoing expedition through the miscellaneous boxes here at CHS, I continue to come across many an anonymous letter. Many are addressed “Dear Friend” or “Loving Mother” or not addressed at all. If they are signed, it’s usually with just a first name or something…
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November 29, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

The word Wohelo stands for Work, Health, and Love. Per the Camp Fire USA website, when Camp Fire was founded in 1910, “Wohelo was coined as the organization’s watchword.” Three years after Camp Fire was founded, in Vermont, it had made its way to Hartford. Louise Blair was a member of the Suckiag Camp Fire…
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South School Gang

November 15, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

If you had attended the South School in Hartford, Connecticut during the 1880s, you were eligible to join the South School Association of the Eighties. The concept was not new, and an association for those who attended the school in the 1870s already existed. The eighties group met for the first time, in the Assembly…
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Touching History

November 1, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Even after too many years to count being an archivist, I can still get a chill up my spine when I encounter certain documents. That happened this past month when I came across an admission of guilt by two men, Daniel Young and John Elderkin of Norwich, Connecticut. They admitted in June 1776 to the…
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A letter from William Gillette

October 27, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

William Gillette was a native of Hartford, Connecticut, growing up in the Nook Farm neighborhood. An actor, playwright, and stage manager, Gillette is best known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. By the 1930s, when this letter was written, he had retired to a home in Hadlyme, Connecticut. Today his house is known as Gillette’s…
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A letter from Lewis

October 4, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

With much of the U.S.  focused on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it seems letters and diaries from soldiers are being discovered in attics on an almost daily basis. Obviously, however, not all letters are alike. That is why we were particularly excited when we learned that a letter written by a soldier…
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The Book Club with No Name

September 27, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

On January 18, 1935 the following ladies met at the home of Mrs. Rex Ganter to discuss the formation of a book club: Mrs. J. Quinter Miller, Mrs. William Hamm, Mrs. Burdette J. Buck, Mrs. L.M. Dawson, Mrs. J.H. Westbrook, Jr. Mrs. R. J. Schramm, Mrs. Rex Ganter Miss Alice Barlow Mrs. Ganter requested Miss…
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Historical Surgeries

August 25, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Dr. Howard Franklin Smith, assistant house surgeon at Hartford Hospital, kept a  notebook from April to June of 1897 recording his patient’s ailments and treatments. Many of these cases are a little unusual! Dr. Smith noted his patients’ professions and countries of origin. He saw people from all walks of life, from saddlemakers to school…
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This week’s curiosities

August 17, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Every week there are one or two items that, while I find them incredibly interesting, hardly warrant their own blog post. So this afternoon, with a few minutes to spare, I thought I’d share some of my recent finds. Ms 76796: Marriage certificates were as necessary in the early 1800s as they are today. What…
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Who was Albert Sharp?

August 4, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Ebenezer Punderson, Roger Risley, Albert Sharp, James Terry…any of these names familiar? Whether they are or not, you may now read more about these men via our finding aids. Finding aids are guides to collections. They are more in-depth than an online catalog record might be, helping researchers to locate the material in a collection…
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“We saw Main St. as we never saw it before.”

July 28, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Many of the great programs offered today by one of our sister institutions, the Hartford Public Library, are rooted in the work of Caroline M. Hewins. During her 50-year tenure as librarian at the Hartford Public Library, Hewins ran many programs for Hartford children, including the City History Club. In 1910, at least two of…
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The CHS “Junk Drawer”

July 20, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

This post was written by Archives volunteer Marie Jarry. All of us have that drawer at home for items we don’t know what else to do with–the junk drawer, the miscellaneous drawer. Perhaps you have a shoebox designated as such or even an entire closet. Well the Connecticut Historical Society has their own version of…
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Best tin pail…67 cents

July 19, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Lucy Skinner was born in Granby, Connecticut in about 1801. Twenty years later she married Alexander H. Griswold (1792-1881), also a native of Granby. The only other detail about Lucy’s life I have been able to find is that she died in 1845. For women’s history, this is fairly average. Women’s history may be hidden,…
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Dear Miss

July 14, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

I know that if I had received a letter like this from my intended husband, I would have canceled the engagement immediately! Sometime before 1767, John Talcott wrote a letter (or a treatise?) to his future wife Abigail Ledyard. The letter was ten pages long and filled with sage advice, or what he termed “my…
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July 12, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Sir you will gow to room Number three & as you gow in, on your right – hand you will find an old pillow on an under birth Where you may find concealed the contents, etc – etc  Between the case & tick that holds the feathers. This unsigned note is one of several documents,…
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Cold Water Army

June 29, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

The drink, that’s in the drunkard’s bowl, Is not the drink for me; It kills his body and his soul; How sad a sight is he! But there’s a drink that God has given, Distilling in the showers of heaven, In measures large and free; Oh, that’s the drink for me. ~H. Reed The verse…
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Holly Ball: Hartford’s Debutantes are Presented

June 21, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

“The Holly Ball was originated in 1950 by a small group of congenial friends for the purpose of honoring their daughters at a formal and private dance, with no commercial or civic obligations.” That sentence intrigued me as I stumbled upon the records of the Holly Ball (Ms 73446). I continued to read and soon…
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Mary and Stephen Tilden: Marital Woes in the 1730s

June 14, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

“I do believe he hath committed ye sin of fornacation [sic] with Sarah Ellis,” explained Mary Tilden in a letter to the pastor of the First Church of Lebanon, Connecticut. Tilden wrote of her husband, Stephen, with whom she refused to live following his transgression. A committee of church members had been formed to advise…
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Know All Men by These Presents

May 10, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

A recent addition to our collection is a deed in which the widow Easter Smith of Middletown, Connecticut, transferred all her rights, title and interest in the real and personal estate of her late husband Rev. Joseph Smith, to their only son Joseph.  Included in the transfer is “also all the right, title or interest…
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From selling socks to insurance: Lucius J. Hendee

May 3, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

One of the aspects of my job that I truly enjoy is the unpredictable nature of the materials I work with. The other day I was skimming through the Hendee Family correspondence (Ms 69688).  Though in a relatively new box,  the folders were old, and I knew it had been some time since the collection…
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Camp Near Pollock’s Mill, Virginia

April 28, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

We made another great discovery as we continue to catalog our backlog (thanks to NHPRC), and it is yet another document without any author or provenance. This one is a map of what appears to be a Union camp along a river, sometime and some place during the Civil War. The handwritten key to the…
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An epic poem about a dastardly man

April 19, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

We find some really amazing material while we catalog our manuscript backlog with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. My least favorite part of all of this discovery, however, is finding something really neat that has no author and no record of how we acquired the item! Such is the case with…
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March in the Archives: Part II

April 12, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

When I reviewed the catalog records from March, there were just too many worthy of being mentioned. This is a great problem to have! I therefore decided to split my report in two. If you missed the first part, about Civil War documents, you may read it here. Catalog entries for these, and many more…
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March in the Archives: Civil War collections

April 8, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

It has been a while since I wrote a [Month] in the Archives post, but with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the number of related collections we cataloged in March, it seems like a good time to return to the series. Scholars of the Civil War may already know of these collections; most…
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Transportation and the Imagination

March 24, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Morgan Bulkeley Brainard (1879-1957) was a prominent Hartford resident. The Bulkeley and Brainard families have been established in the area for generations. A successful businessman, Brainard was President of the Aetna Life Insurance Company, a company founded by his grandfather,  Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley, for over 40 years. During that time, Brainard also served a term…
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March 14, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

It is funny how things seem to come in batches. Recently, as part of our NHPRC grant, I cataloged several documents related to the War of 1812, one right after the other.  The most interesting document, at least to me, was what appeared to be a draft of a message written by Marsh Ely, commander…
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Friday Fun: Newgate?

March 11, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

Newgate Prison, in East Granby, Connecticut, began as a copper mine in the 1700s. It became a prison during the Revolutionary War, and continued in that capacity until 1827. In 1976 Newgate became a National Historic Landmark,  and remains a very popular museum in the state. Perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I found…
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Uncle Tom’s Cabin

March 8, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts

On November 25, 1882, the public was invited to attend two performances of the “Standard Combination” version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin at Roberts’ Opera House in Hartford, Connecticut. We recently acquired a ticket to the performance, a bright yellow rectangle of cardboard with the ticket information on one side and a vignette of slaves dancing…
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