Inside the CHS


Using Census Data

March 19, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

I admit to being very disappointed when I read my Census form earlier this week. It certainly accomplishes its goal of counting the people, but will offer little else to future researchers. I use the census data from 1790-1930 on a daily basis. Often I will have an account book with little identifying information. On…
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It is the story that counts

March 8, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

We are always trying to find an interesting story to tell with items in our collections. Our latest acquisition was, in a way, its own story. We purchased a letter written January 23, 1863,  by George N. Downs who was serving with the Company B of the 22nd Connecticut Volunteers. The letter was  to his…
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February in the Archives

March 5, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

It is time once again to recap the month’s processing activity. All of the records for our NHPRC project have been uploaded to our online catalog and the materials are ready for you to research! Frederick Curtis‘s silver manufacturing company is considered the first to manufacture German silver (Nickel silver) in the country. An account book…
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Rev. William Weston Patton

February 18, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

It isn’t too often that I start cataloging a collection and find that the subject has his own Wikipedia entry. That was the case yesterday as I worked with the diaries of Rev. William Weston Patton. Patton was born in New York on October 19, 1821. He graduated from the University of the City of…
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I David Barlow, of Sherman

February 12, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

A very recent addition to the collection had me hopping up and down with excitement. We now have  copies of two wills, one written by David Barlow in 1814, and the other by his wife, Sarah Barlow, written in 1822. The couple lived in Sherman, Connecticut. My original interest in these documents was that David…
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January in the Archives

February 2, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

Records added to the Connecticut Historical Society’s online catalog during January 2010.


January 22, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

Two letters were brought to our attention yesterday by our volunteer, Raquel, who is processing the Rowland Family letters, 1764-1860 (Ms 66917). The collection measures 1.5 linear feet (3 boxes) and contains correspondence to and from several members of the family. In November 1827, Mary Elizabeth Rowland (1805-1845), living in Exeter, New Hampshire, wrote a…
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January 15, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

Teasel: 1. A plant of the genus Dipsacus, comprising herbs with prickly leaves and flower-heads; esp. fullers’ teasel, D. fullonum, the heads of which have hooked prickles between the flowers, and are used for teasing cloth (see 2); and wild teasel, D. sylvestris, held by some to be the original type, but having straight instead…
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December in the Archives

January 8, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts

As the year ended we continued cataloging materials for our NHPRC project. Here are some of the treasures we were able to add to our online catalog last month: The Greene & Park minute book is a small booklet recording an 1806  “cheese” voyage by the Sloop Lady Washington for the firm Greene & Park…
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A Look Back: Part II

December 30, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

A look back at 1986.

A look back

December 24, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

We tend to use the holiday season as an excuse for many things — overeating, overspending. Today I am going to use it as an excuse to talk about a printed document, one that is not part of our project. Fear not! There is at least one tie-in.  It is also a time of year…
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Bald? Try Onions!

December 10, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Dr. Howell Rogers of Colchester, Connecticut recorded a cure for baldness. It involved onions.

November in the Archives

December 4, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

There was no turkey coma in the CHS manuscript department this year. We have prepared another 145 records for the online catalog! All of these collections are open for research, so please stop by. While you are here, <shameless plug> do  some of your holiday shopping! We have several books for sale in our store…
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Rose paper and a bottle of ink

November 24, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Account books, a merchant, and a state heroine!

A messy divorce, 19th century style

November 11, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Sometimes, our volunteers and interns have all the fun!  If you can call divorce fun.  In the papers of Augustine Harlow (Ms 68508), processed by Zac Mirecki, are a series of letters from Augustine’s sister Flora Barry who was living in Boston.  The letters date from 1872-1873,  and in them she details the actions of…
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October in the Archives

November 4, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Highlights of Connecticut Historical Society’s manuscript cataloging efforts in October

Welcome home, Willie!

October 29, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Cpl. William L. Norton, Company B, 10th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry missed his sweetheart.

Learning from the Collections: UN Day Poster

October 23, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

October 24 is United Nations Day

What are you working on?

October 13, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

This is a question I am asked routinely by family, friends, and co-workers. Admittedly, I often struggle to come up with something more profound than, “Uh…um…you know, stuff.” I encounter great material every  day, and it is so hard to remember all of it! The larger collections are usually easier to recollect, simply because they…
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September in the Archives

October 2, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

In September 2008 CHS embarked on a two year, NHPRC grant funded, project to catalog a backlog of 900 manuscripts and account books. Today, 13 months into the project, we have been able to create and add more than 600 catalog records to our online catalog. Some of the highlights from the past month include…
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April 16, 1701

May 22, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, in her book Good Wives, uses the term “deputy husband” in describing one of many roles a woman assumed as a wife.   Sarah Butler was acting as a “deputy husband” when she gave her consent to William Gaylord to propose marriage to her daughter Hope.  A remarkable letter written by Sarah Butler…
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Hartford’s Mayor Mortensen

May 8, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

William Mortensen was born in Hartford in 1903, the son of Danish immigrants. He attended Antioch College in Ohio and took classes at the Hartford College of Law.  For 40 years Mortensen managed the Bushnell Memorial Hall. Upon his retirement, well-wishers included Carol Channing, with whom he had posed for a photograph when the actress…
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Stonington, Connecticut.

April 23, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

One of the largest collections cataloged for our grant project was the Stonington selectmen’s records, 1792-1903.  The collection, measures 30.25 linear feet (61 boxes) and dates from the entire 19th century, the bulk of the records are from the 1880s and 1890s. Earlier records, from the 1820s, have yielded names of colored people (a term…
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Connecticut composers

April 15, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Herman Katims, and his wife Miriam Lapin Katims,  were pianists and composers who lived for many years in the Rowayton section of Norwalk, Connecticut. The couple each had several pieces of music published. The collection contains copies of their copyright registrations with the Library of Congress. Copies of their songs, including “Caprice and Fuge”, “No…
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Anchors and figureheads

April 9, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

Although small in size, the collection of Noah Scovell shipping papers, 1768-1812, is filled with some fascinating information.  The collection consists primarily of correspondence and bills and receipts of a Saybrook, Connecticut, ship captain and shipowner and his son. Letters discuss such topics as trading in the West Indies and Portugal, purchasing anchors in New…
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Bells in East Hampton.

April 2, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts

As part of our NHPRC-funded cataloging project, archivists are looking through collections that have never been cataloged and adding records for our online catalog.  One recently cataloged collection is N.N. Hill Brass Co. Records, 1893-1917, Ms 100549.  The collection consists of cash books, sales records, labor accounts, ledgers, invoice books, factory order slips, factory inventories,…
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Founding Fathers

November 26, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

I have been unnaturally quiet recently, working feverishly on cataloging at least 900 collections before September 2010.  I am not doing this alone, however.  I am ably assisted by Project Archivist Jennifer Sharp, several volunteers, and CHS’s Assistant Archivist Cyndi Harbeson.  Since September 1 we have created more than 150 catalog records.  We are off…
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Two notable families

July 17, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

We just acquired a particularly rich family collection that we hope researchers will use a lot.  It consists of correspondence among members of the Terry and Bacon families of Hartford and New Haven, respectively.  Nathaniel Terry, the progenitor of the family, married Catherine Wadsworth.  Nathaniel was mayor of Hartford and a Congressman.  His sons were…
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Eli Whitney orders supplies for his armory

July 8, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

Eli Whitney, best known for inventing the cotton gin, was also a pioneer in mass-producing firearms.  There is little documentation, however, about this aspect of his engineering prowess. In a letter CHS recently acquired, Whitney himself provides some specifics. The letter was written to John Adam of the Forbes & Adam foundry in Canaan.  Whitney…
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Boy Scout Jamboree, 1953

May 28, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

I have not posted to the blog for ages; too many things got in the way, I am afraid.  But I am back! On Thursday of this week, we received the most remarkable scrapbook. It was created by a young man from Wethersfield, Connecticut, Andrew Twaddle, who in 1953 took a cross-country train trip to…
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March 21, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

No matter how many I see, I still get the chills when reading and handling a bill of sale for a person.  We recently acquired just such a document.  Benjamin Payne of Hartford sold a Negro Woman named Minnah to Samuel Forbes of Canaan for fifty-two pounds, ten shillings.  This particular bill of sale caught…
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Librarians and War Bond Workers

March 8, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

While perusing an unprocessed collection last week, I came upon a fascinating pamphlet published by the War Finance Committee.  Its title is “A New Way for Librarians and War Bond Workers to help their communities help their country win the War.”  Connecticut is used as one of the examples of how the program works. “Public…
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Iron industry in Litchfield County

January 29, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

There are so many topics for research in this collection, I don’t know where to start. We just acquired 48 account books that belonged to John Adam and Samuel Forbes, both individually and as the partnership Forbes & Adam. These two men were instrumental in developing the iron industry around East Canaan, Connecticut. Adam lived…
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Pomfret helps a prisoner of war

January 18, 2008 · Collections, Manuscripts

Things have been a bit hectic here as we reorganize the operation of the library and museum, and our accessions have not been as fast and furious as usual.  However, we did acquire in December a fascinating document related to a Revolutionary War prisoner.  Evidently William Dodd, of Falmouth, Maine, who had been held prisoner…
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An Auerbach Family Christmas

December 26, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

During the holiday season, Beatrice Fox Auerbach sent out Christmas cards as was the custom at the time, a practice that is widely continued to this day. In our collection of Fox materials, we have a scrapbook that contains the Christmas cards she sent to friends and associates between 1929 and 1966. All of the…
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Christmas at Fox’s

December 19, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Beatrice Fox Auerbach may have been Jewish, but she was also an exceptionally adept businesswoman and, as such, catered to her mostly-Christian clientèle by turning her store into a virtual wonderland every Christmas season. The children’s department was transformed into Toyland, much to the delight of children all over Connecticut. And, of course, Santa Claus…
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Shay’s Rebellion in Connecticut

December 17, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

An obscure bit of New England and constitutional history recently came into our collections. Colonel David Humphreys of Connecticut was charged with raising a small army to suppress Shay’s Rebellion in Massachusetts. In a letter to Governor Samuel Huntington, dated December 18, 1786, Humphreys informed the governor “of all the resignations which have taken place,…
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Look Who’s in the News!

December 15, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

As a premier in Hartford’s world of retailing, G. Fox & Co., and those at its helm, frequently made headlines. Many of these stories have been preserved in scrapbooks of newspaper clippings. In most cases, clippings concerning the store were kept in separate scrapbooks from those concerning the family, but there is some overlap. A…
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The Tobé Award

December 12, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

In 1947, the same year that G. Fox & Co. celebrated its centennial, Beatrice Fox Auerbach was honored with one of retail’s most prestigious awards. At the 13th Annual Tobé Bosses Dinner, the fifth annual Tobé Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Retailing was bestowed upon Mrs. Auerbach “for demonstrating that a department store can…
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Richard Koopman Joins the Fox Family

December 8, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

On June 21, 1940, Richard Koopman became a member of the Fox/Auerbach family when he married Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s daughter, Georgette Auerbach. Two years later, on October 18, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps. In 1946, after being discharged from the service, Richard Koopman became a member of another Fox family when he…
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