Inside the CHS


“Once Upon a Time…”

December 5, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

As I mentioned several months ago in my special “Happy Birthday, Beatrice” post, Beatrice Fox Auerbach often received birthday gifts from her employees. For her birthday in 1945, the employees from one of her departments presented Mrs. Auerbach with a book titled “Once Upon a Time…” that presents a minimalist’s version of her life story…
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The Fox Way: Honesty, Courtesy, Service

December 1, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

As a store, G. Fox & Co. thrived for well over a century and outlasted all other department stores in downtown Hartford. Part of the reason for its enduring success has to do with Gerson Fox’s business philosophy, expressed best in his motto: “Honesty, Courtesy, Service.” This philosophy, and the principles it shaped, determined the…
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Thanksgiving at Fox’s

November 29, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Thanksgiving is generally a time for reflecting, with a sense of gratefulness, upon the good in life. For Beatrice Fox Auerbach, Thanksgiving was often a time to express her appreciation to her staff for their loyalty and hard work throughout the year. One example of this expression is seen in an issue of the employee…
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The “Scary” Side of the Store

October 31, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Happy Halloween, everybody! It looks like the G. Fox building once had a few bats in its belfry! (Not really, of course! Mrs. Auerbach wouldn’t stand for it!) Since there really isn’t anything Halloween-related in the G. Fox & Co. materials in our collection, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about the…
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Service Bureau for Women’s Organizations

October 24, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Today, October 24th, is United Nations Day and when I think about the United Nations, I always think about Eleanor Roosevelt because she was chairperson of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights. However, instead of writing yet another entry about Eleanor Roosevelt’s connection to this collection of G. Fox materials, I thought I would discuss…
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Moses Fox Club

October 17, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Because last week I wrote about the employee newsletter, Go-Getter, I thought it appropriate to quote from one of the early Go-Getters regarding the founding of the Moses Fox Club. The following excerpt is from the February 9, 1940 edition of the Go-Getter. Moses Fox Club Formed at Annual Dinner for Twenty-Five Year Employees At…
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Girl Scout diary

October 11, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Jean Harrison of Bridgeport kept a diary in 1946 and it recently found its way into the CHS library. The entries are written in what is entitled a Girl Scout Diary, with information on the history of scouting at the front, essays on safety toward the back, and historical tidbits sprinkled throughout the volume. I…
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The Go-Getter, Fox’s Employee Newsletter

October 10, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

G. Fox & Co. published and distributed a weekly newsletter to G. Fox employees called the Go-Getter. While our collection does not contain a complete set of the newsletters, we do have quite a few of them. The first issue we have is Volume II, Number 16, dated July 14, 1933 and the last issue…
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Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s Guest Books

September 27, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s guest books represent another unique and interesting part of the collection. (They also happen to be another personal favorite.) The four guest books collectively span the great majority of Mrs. Auerbach’s adult life. Beginning in 1914, three years after Beatrice Fox and George Auerbach were married, the books continue until just two…
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Rufus Raises a Ruckus

September 26, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Just arrived today is a terrific document, a complaint against Rufus Cheadle (1756-1816) of Coventry, Connecticut. The complaint is made by Joseph Talcott, Justice of the Peace, December 14, 1807. Cheadle has “fallen into scandalous offenses” and “has for a long time kept himself from the Communion table,” according to Talcott. Talcott then goes on…
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“My Holiday, 1949”

September 19, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

During each of her trips abroad, at least those taken in the latter part of her life, Mrs. Auerbach wrote detailed letters to her family to keep them informed about her activities. After each trip, these letters were typed and the pages bound to create books commemorating her experiences. The collection contains volumes from three…
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Albert Walker, magician, redux

September 12, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

At long last, Albert Walker, the magician of Glastonbury, Connecticut, has had his diaries reunited. Twenty-two volumes dating from 1867-1895 recently arrived on our doorstep. Unfortunately, they shed no additional light on his magic performances, with one exception. On April 20, 1867, he went to Hartford to see some Japanese performers. Inside the back cover…
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Connecticut Room Menus

Archives are full of surprises and there’s nothing quite like the thrill of finding a hidden gem! While searching through the library’s ephemera collection to answer a reference question on an unrelated topic, a box of advertisements caught my eye because the label had G. Fox & Co. on it. Unbeknownst to me, the library…
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Georgette and Dorothy: Humanitarians

September 5, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Last week, I wrote about Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s two daughters, Georgette and Dorothy, but this week I want to focus on one aspect of her daughters’ lives: their humanitarianism. Georgette and Dorothy were both deeply committed to serving their community, a trait most likely inherited from their mother. In fact, they worked with their mother…
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Beatrice’s Girls

August 29, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Of all of her many accomplishments (and there is quite the lengthy list), Beatrice Fox Auerbach was probably most proud of her role as a mother and, later, grandmother. Mrs. Auerbach had two daughters, Georgette and Dorothy. Georgette was born on May 14, 1916 when the family was still living in Salt Lake City, Utah…
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Theresa Stern Fox and her Eyeglasses

August 22, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Theresa Stern Fox was the wife of Moses Fox and mother of Beatrice and Fannie. In my opinion, the neatest thing we have that belonged to Theresa is her eyeglass prescription along with a pair of her old lenses. I don’t know how historically significant this item may be, but I think it’s still incredibly…
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Moses Fox’s Household Expenses

August 15, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s father, Moses Fox, became president of G. Fox & Co. upon the death of his father, Gerson Fox. Like his father before him, Moses Fox was a pillar in the Hartford community. Very few materials concerning his private life have made it into our collection, probably because he was an extremely private…
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Confused sexual orientation

August 9, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Pearson Kipp was a bank loan officer who lived in Wallingford and commuted to New Haven in the 1940s. The Historical Society just acquired two of his diaries, from 1947 and 1948. On March 14, 1947, he wrote “On the train coming home there appeared to be a strange reversal of my traditional yearning. I…
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The Ephemeral Side of Fox’s

August 8, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Ephemeral is not generally a word that comes to mind when thinking about G. Fox & Co.; afterall the store was in operation until a few months after its 145 anniversary! Fox’s was a Hartford institution. And yet, despite the fact that the store was a fixture in downtown Hartford for such a long time…
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Tauber Co. and Tauberlak kefir

August 1, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Articles have been written about the Jewish farmers of Connecticut, but it was only recently that the CHS received its first related records. Benjamin and Mary Tauber operated a farm in Uncasville. In the 1930 census his primary language is listed as Yiddish and hers was Russian.  These Russian immigrants developed a “honey malt tonic”…
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Housatonic Valley Pomona

It seems agriculture is really on the wane in this state given the closing of local and regional granges. The records of the subordinate or local grange in Gaylordsville were the first to be preserved at the CHS. And now we have the records, 1902-2006, of the regional grange known as the Housatonic Valley Pomona….
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Auerfarm is Now Our Farm

In July 1925, George Auerbach, Beatrice Fox Auerbach’s husband, purchased a 220-acre farm property on West Simsbury Road in Bloomfield. After his death in 1927, Mrs. Auerbach took charge of the farm. Under her leadership, the farm thrived. Mrs. Auerbach even received accolades for her award-winning Guernsey cows! The milk and eggs produced on the…
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Mrs. Auerbach, Dog Lover

July 25, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

As an animal lover myself, I was especially delighted to learn that Beatrice Fox Auerbach was one as well, especially when it came to dogs! I discovered various references to different dogs who were in the Auerbach household interspersed throughout the collection. One of my favorites is the American Kennel Club Registration Certificate for Mrs….
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Gerson puts the ‘G’ in G. Fox & Company

July 18, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

I would be remiss if I didn’t spend at least one entry talking about the man who started it all, Gerson Fox. I hope I don’t bore you by sharing a little of his history here before I talk about one of my favorite items in the entire collection, Gerson’s account book. Gerson Fox was…
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July 12, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Conspiracy theories abound, it seems, even in the 1860s. A new collection arrived last week, and the most fascinating documents in it were a transcript of a state Supreme Court case against Austin F. Williams who was accused of adultery, and his rebuttal. Both date from 1864. The transcript is hard to decipher, but includes…
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“My dear Friend”

July 11, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Last week, I wrote about the friendship between Beatrice Fox Auerbach and Eleanor Roosevelt, as evidenced through their correspondence. I thought it might be fun this week to include a sample letter from the collection. Here are the scanned images of a letter Mrs. Roosevelt wrote to Mrs. Auerbach on June 17, 1960: If you…
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Happy Birthday, Beatrice!

July 7, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Beatrice Fox Auerbach was born on July 7, 1887, which means today is her 120th birthday! I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of an appropriate (and fun!) way to commemorate the occasion. I started wondering how she had celebrated her birthdays and realized that the collection doesn’t really offer any glimpses into that…
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Missionary to Hawaii, Amos Cooke

July 5, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

A collection we have had for a while but has never been fully processed consists primarily of letters from missionary Amos Starr Cooke and his wife Juliette to Amos’s sister Mary Keeler Seeley of Danbury, Conn. The letters from Hawaii start in 1837 and the last one is dated 1854, although Amos did not die…
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Hartford’s “First Lady” and the First Lady of the World

July 4, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

In many articles I’ve read about Beatrice Fox Auerbach, she has been nicknamed Hartford’s “First Lady,” probably because of her positive impact on its community. For similar reasons, Eleanor Roosevelt has been dubbed the “First Lady of the World.” And between 1946 and 1962 these two “First Ladies” corresponded with one another. Their early correspondence…
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G. Fox Oral History Project

June 27, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

One of my favorite parts of the G. Fox collection is the Oral History Project that is currently being completed by oral historians Bruce Stave and Sondra Astor Stave, pictured here. They have been interviewing former employees of G. Fox & Co. as well as some of the descendants of Beatrice Fox Auerbach. The final…
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Larrabee Fund

June 26, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

When I was in graduate school the first time, I developed a course to study social movements of the 19th century, including abolitionism, womens’ rights, etc. There were a lot of women’s groups formed to help more unfortunate women. But today, I finished cataloging the treasurer’s records for a charitable fund created by a MAN….
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Leena Cravzow Lippman

June 22, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Leena Cravzow (1913-2006), the daughter of Russian Jews, was an accomplished pianist in Hartford. She attended Julliard School of Music and also took lessons from the noted pianist R. Augustus Lawson. Lawson, who was African American and Indian, was born in Kentucky but moved with his family to Hartford. He studied at Fisk University and…
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G. Fox & Co. Collection Highlights

June 20, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

In January, I began processing a collection of G. Fox & Co. materials, including both company records and family papers. It’s a rather large collection so once a week for the next several weeks, I’m going to be highlighting a different part. I’d like to begin this week, though, with a brief overview of the…
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Frank Smith correspondence

How would you feel if your younger son went off to war? Annie Smith of New London, was nearly beside herself when son Frank joined the Quartermaster Corp in 1918. Her letters to him, part of the many letters sent to popular Frank, are filled with comments about how much she misses him, how she…
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Edward Steele diaries

June 15, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

It is so exciting to find diaries that actually give details about daily life.  Four volumes we recently received do just that.  The writer, Edward Steele, was a day laborer who lived in Wethersfield.  His spelling indicates he was not too well-educated, but he noted when he and his wife Maggie went to the theater…
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Ancestry now available to patrons

In an effort to better help our patrons find the information they need, visitors to the CHS library now have access to the genealogy database Ancestry from our public computers. provides access to federal census records, military records, the social security death index, state indexes and censuses, immigration data, and a host of other…
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Hartford surprises

June 13, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

In our stacks are numerous black boxes that, like the ones in airplanes, can yield amazing information.  One such box was labeled “Hartford deeds, land and probate records” with everything filed in chronological order.  A volunteer spent several days going through the files and identified some very interesting documents.  One of these is an estate…
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Miss Wheeler’s School

May 25, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Earlier this week, we received six scrapbooks containing samples of the work of Mary (Peggy) Parsons while a student at Miss Wheeler’s School in Hartford.  Mary Parsons was born about 1897 and attended first through sixth grade at Miss Wheeler’s School.  The scrapbooks contain photographs of her class and schoolmates and various friends, plus samples…
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Griswold family of Hartford

Every once in awhile I get the chance to go through some collections we have had for years but that have never been processed before. When I do, I always find something intriguing, or at least interesting. So, last week I started going through the Ogden Griswold papers. However, there are more letters between his…
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William Gillette gives instructions for his will

May 8, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts

Yesterday, I was moving items around in the manuscript stacks and came upon an envelope that had printed in large block letters “Sealed unitl 1990.”  Well, since that was 17 years ago, I figured I should take a look.  What I found was correspondence between actor William Gillette and his lawyer at the firm Shipman…
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