Inside the CHS

Hartford Orphan Asylum

March 28, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

It never fails to amaze me what materials still show up for sale. This week we purchased an indenture, dated June 7, 1854, for a child from the Hartford Orphan Asylum. George Bartow was “surrendered in writing by the father” to the Asylum and then bound out to Lucian Bidwell of Canton to learn the…
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Sanborn maps of Hartford, up to 1960

April 27, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

The CHS library has recently acquired a new, complete set (4 vols, 1922-23) of Sanborn  Fire Insurance maps for Hartford with updates through 1960.  The Sanborn fire insurance maps were originally compiled to help insurers assess the value of property, identify risk factors, and underwrite losses.  The company mapped approximately 12,000 cities and towns, beginning…
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Griswold family of Hartford

May 25, 2007 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

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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Miss Wheeler’s School

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Hartford’s Mayor Mortensen

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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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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October in the Archives

November 4, 2009 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

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

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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Joshua Leffingwell

Joshua Leffingwell, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, seems to have enjoyed wintering in a warmer climate. Leffingwell was an architect and builder in Hartford. According to the Leffingwell Record (a genealogy published in 1897), Joshua and his brother, John, built a number of buildings, including the Hartford Bank, Center Church, and the Old State House….
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Buy war bonds!

Scrapbooks chronicling women’s organizations that sold savings bonds during World War II.

Passports, Papers, and Politics

Col. Samuel Colt’s passports!

First Church collections book

Recently I cataloged an account book kept by one of the collectors for the First Congregational Society in Hartford. It is a small volume, only partially filled, and was used for the fifth district.  The district’s limits were “North of, but not including State St, East side of Main St. & Windsor St., and all…
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This Week in the Archives: Mary K. Talcott, Genealogist

Collection of genealogist Mary Kingsbury Talcott.

Roberts’ Opera House: Finest Place of Amusement in New England

September 30, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

In January 1869 the Roberts’ Opera House opened on Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut. In an article announcing the event, the New York Times called it the “finest place of amusement in New-England.” Today I was cataloging a ledger with listings of performances at the Opera House between 1871 and 1886. Each entry includes the…
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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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Making Connections

December 10, 2010 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Every Friday I take the list of  records we have created over the past week as part of our continuing NHPRC grant-funded project, and search our collections database (The Museum System) to see if we have any museum objects attributed to the creators of the manuscripts. Often I will not find anything, but today I…
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Connecticut Wide-Awakes

In 1860, Republicans across the country were eager to have one of their own elected President of the United States. Those in Hartford and Waterbury, Connecticut were no exception. In both cities, clubs were formed to support this goal. Republicans in Waterbury first met on February 21, 1860, naming themselves the Red, White, and Blue…
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From selling socks to insurance: Lucius J. Hendee

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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Holly Ball: Hartford’s Debutantes are Presented

“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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Cold Water Army

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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“We saw Main St. as we never saw it before.”

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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This week’s curiosities

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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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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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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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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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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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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Gold Street and the Ancient Burying Ground

“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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Bicycling in Hartford

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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Silent Glow does its part for the war effort

September 25, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

A very nervous potential donor walked in the door at CHS carrying a treasured scrapbook. He doubted if we would be interested, but took his chances. Well, I must have spent close to an hour with the donor oohing and aahing over this scrapbook. It was created by Rose Chorches Gold, an employee at Silent…
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Society news in Hartford and Springfield

January 16, 2013 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

The Connecticut Historical Society is pleased to announce the recent launch of a new resource available through its web page. They are scanned images of the pages of 52 scrapbooks kept by Mary F. Morris, the wife of an insurance executive in Hartford. Although many of these articles (ones from the Hartford Courant) are available…
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Let it snow

February 11, 2013 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Now that almost everyone has been plowed out, shoveled, and used the snow blower, it is time to heave a sigh of relief. This was a huge storm, but not compared to the Blizzard of 1888. You think your snowbanks are high? Take a look at some of the images from our collection of what…
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Summertime and the living is easy

June 17, 2013 · Collections ·

I just got back from a trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, which got me thinking about the value of parks. National parks are the crown jewels in our country’s network of public spaces, but state and local parks are great alternatives when all you’ve got is a weekend or an afternoon. One…
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Clan Gordon

September 4, 2013 · Collections ·

Anyone who has been at CHS for any length of time knows I enjoy and teach Scottish Country Dancing. I love the bagpipes, kilts (my husband wears one!), Scottish fiddle music, in fact, just about anything related to Scotland. I even like the vegetarian version of haggis. So imagine my delight when we were given…
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