Inside the CHS

Civil War correspondence

February 22, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

A 19th century love story is contained in the letters between Frederick Allen Lucas and his “dear friend” Sarah Jane Wadhams, both of Goshen, Connecticut. He was serving with the 2nd Regiment of Heavy Artillery, Connecticut Volunteers and longed for news of home. Tentative at first, the letters gradually reveal more personal information and insights…
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Getting packages to POWs

February 27, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Today we hear about packages going to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq with relatively few problems. In 1862, Eugenia Monroe wrote to General Wooll asking for his assitance in getting a package of clothing to her brother, Austin G. Monroe. Austin, of Norwich, served with the 2nd Infantry Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers, Rifle Co. B…
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Little-known gems from the era of the Revolution

March 15, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Although we have an “American Revolution Collection”, there are still many important documents found in other collections or by themselves. Here are a few examples. From February 25, 1780, we have an account of the State of Connecticut with Joshua Elderkin, Commissary for cloth sent to the Northern Army and to the Ship O. Cromwell,…
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Tavernkeeper’s account book

April 18, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Sometimes in the archives world I feel as if I am in a time warp.  Yesterday it was the Connecticut’s 9/11 Memorial Board and today, I am back in the 18th century!  A very recent purchase is an account book kept by Ichabod Brewster of Lebanon, Connecticut from 1752-1762.  Yes, another account book, but Brewster…
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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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Auerfarm is Now Our Farm

August 1, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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March in the Archives

March came in like a cataloging lion! Barbara and I managed to complete 177 records this month which, if not a record, is pretty close to it. Instead of lions and tigers and bears, however, please read on to learn about our collections related to governors and buttons and ships. Oh my! Barbara worked with…
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Who ya gonna call?

Today I found an account book from the Essex Central office of Southern New England Telephone Company. SNET was founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1878, and this account book demonstrates that by 1890, telephones were still not found in every home and office. Phones were rented to customers for at least $5 a quarter,…
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Woman suffrage in Wyoming Territory: A letter to Mrs. John Hooker

“…and could not be induced to return to the old, barbarous system of disfranchisement of a portion of our citizens any more than our nation could be persuaded to return to allegiance to Great Britain.”

September in the Archives

Highlights this month: Town records, First Church of Windsor, and the Tyler family.


October 22, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

“As this is my first attempt at an editorial…I of course tremble at the idea of having so great a responsibility resting upon me” Hattie Seymour and her Hartford, Connecticut schoolmates self-published a paper called Excelsior. Volume 1, number 4 was edited by Hattie, the previous three having been edited by others in the class….
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New ways to explore our collections

December 23, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Things have been busy for the CHS staff this month, so blogging has been light. However, I wanted to make sure you are aware of two great new tools available through our website. Diane, our Collections Manager, worked long and hard to bring us eMuseum. Over 8000 of our museum objects may be viewed on…
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Transportation and the Imagination

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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Mary and Stephen Tilden: Marital Woes in the 1730s

“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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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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Barbara and I have been cataloging our backlog for close to four years now. We are on our second, two year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). I have lost track, but I believe our goal for the first grant was to catalog 900 manuscripts and account books. We surpassed that…
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An eye for capturing history (through a lens)

September 27, 2013 · Collections ·

In this age of smart phones and Instagram, photography and sharing photos is all within the palm of our hands. Most of us are equipped with cameras on our phones that eclipse the bulky cameras of yesterday on many levels.

Giving Thanks!

November 8, 2013 · Education ·

It is that time of year (I can’t believe that November is already here) when everyone begins to think about the things that they are thankful for. I want to give a big thank-you to the following for making 2013 such a great year!

Before Black Friday…there was G. Fox

November 29, 2013 · Collections ·

For decades now, the day after Thanksgiving has been referred to by many as “Black Friday”, the first day of the holiday shopping season. It’s a day of transition from a season of autumn and Thanksgiving to a season of holiday shopping and festivities; a day of drastic sales, crowds and madness at retail stores….
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To support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Connecticut Historical Society is closed to the public through July 31. All on-site programs and events are canceled during this time. Our Annual Meeting has been postponed until September 14. Click here for CHS's digital programs.