Farmington Valley Links to entrust African American heritage archives to the Connecticut Historical Society

October 28, 2015 · Press Releases

Records are first collection provided to the CHS by an African American organization in Connecticut

The CHS will receive archives during November 5 ceremony and reception

[HARTFORD and WEST HARTFORD, Conn., October 28] – Thirty-six years ago Farmington Valley resident Norma Smith saw a need to help the region’s growing black community retain their heritage while making it a part of the region’s life and culture. Smith organized the Farmington Valley Links, Connecticut’s first suburban chapter of The Links, Incorporated, an international organization that strives to enrich the culture and work of people of African ancestry.

To share their history with all Connecticut residents, The Farmington Valley Links will turn over their historical records to the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) during a ceremony and reception at the CHS, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, on November 5 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. “We are honored to receive what will be the first archive from an African American organization and welcome the many others we hope will follow,” said CHS Chief Executive Officer Jody Blankenship.

The records include minutes of meetings, correspondence, reports, photographs and program files documenting the group’s numerous projects in the community. During the November 5 ceremony, Farmington Valley Links President Gwendolyn Iloani will present a symbolic piece of the collection to CHS Archivist Barbara Austen and CHS Board President Bichop Nawrot, who will offer remarks.

The Farmington Valley Links’ many service projects in the region originally included early initiatives such as a canned food pantry, volunteer work at the McLean Nursing Home in Simsbury, Connecticut, and planning for the first of many fundraisers. Today, their areas of activity and interest include support of women’s issues, the arts, services to youth (including scholarships), national and international trends and services, and health and human services.

About The Links

The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. Membership consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 281 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

Members of The Links, Incorporated are influential decision makers and opinion leaders. The Links, Incorporated. has attracted many distinguished women who are individual achievers and have made a difference in their communities and the world. They are business and civic leaders, role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work towards a common vision by engaging like-minded organizations and individuals for partnership. Links members contribute more than 500,000 documented hours of community service annually – strengthening their communities and enhancing the nation.

About The Farmington Valley Links

The Farmington Valley Links was the first suburban chapter in Connecticut, becoming an official chapter in 1979 under the leadership of Norma Smith. The historical significance of the founding of this organization was related to the growing black community in the Farmington Valley and efforts to improve the quality of life of this growing population by keeping the African American heritage a part of their lives and making that heritage a part of the life and culture of the Valley.

About the Connecticut Historical Society

A private, nonprofit, educational organization established in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society is the state’s official historical society and one of the oldest in the nation. Located at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford, the CHS houses a museum, library, and the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center that are open to the public and funded by private contributions. The CHS’s collection includes more than 4 million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical materials accessible at our campus and on loan at other organizations. The CHS collection, programs and exhibits help Connecticut residents connect with each other, have conversations that shape our communities, and make informed decisions based on our past and present. For more information, visit

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