Inside the CHS


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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Happy International Women’s Day!

Lately I have had the opportunity to catalog several friendship albums. These journals, kept by women in the nineteenth century, contain poetry and stories written for them by their friends. Though the albums were owned by women, the contributors were both male and female. The owner of the album shown below is unknown. However, the…
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March in the Archives: Civil War collections

It has been a while since I wrote a [Month] in the Archives post, but with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the number of related collections we cataloged in March, it seems like a good time to return to the series. Scholars of the Civil War may already know of these collections; most…
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March in the Archives: Part II

When I reviewed the catalog records from March, there were just too many worthy of being mentioned. This is a great problem to have! I therefore decided to split my report in two. If you missed the first part, about Civil War documents, you may read it here. Catalog entries for these, and many more…
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An epic poem about a dastardly man

April 19, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

We find some really amazing material while we catalog our manuscript backlog with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. My least favorite part of all of this discovery, however, is finding something really neat that has no author and no record of how we acquired the item! Such is the case with…
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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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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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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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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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Bevin Bells

December 27, 2011 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

East Hampton (them Chatham), Connecticut has long been known as Belltown. Beginning in the 19th century, many bell manufacturers set up shop there. All but one of those factories, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co., has shut down. Bevin, the only American company still producing only bells,  has been making the news recently. Last year there was…
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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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Making Connections: Ann Frances (Darling) Ibbotson

January 24, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Though I have not specifically mentioned our NHPRC funded project lately, it certainly continues. Yesterday we completed our 2400th record. That leaves us with 600 to complete in the next seven months, definitely an achievable goal. Since we began this project in September 2008, over 5400 collections have been cataloged (3000 during the first two-year…
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New Fort for New London Harbor

February 21, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812. That summer, as the war got underway, Secretary of War William Eustis wrote to Capt. C. D. Wood in New London, Connecticut. “Sir, You will immediately commence the repairs of the magazine at Fort Trumbull and the block house at Fort…
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President Garfield shot!

February 29, 2012 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

Little bits of history keep popping up as we continue to catalog the manuscript backlog. Last week I  happened upon a folder that simply stated, “telegram, E.K. Winship to J.R. Hawley, 1881”. What I had found was a message concerning the assassination attempt on the President! On July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau took two shots…
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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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Dear Sir

Between 1865 and 1868, naturalist John Burroughs maintained correspondence with S.W. Adam of Canaan, Connecticut. The collection, now among our manuscripts (Ms 78678), is primarily letters from Burroughs to Adam, with a few written by Adam. While the bulk of their conversation pertains to birds, Burroughs managed to unwittingly stumble into a side conversation. As…
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Getting collections online

March 5, 2014 · Collections ·

Hurray! We just received our official award letter from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the granting arm of the National Archives. This $35,000 grant is going to fund the digitization of eleven manuscripts collections that have already been microfilmed. Microfilm is still the best option for preserving manuscript collections, but we all know…
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A Who’s Who of the Early Republic

May 14, 2014 · Collections ·

Working with the papers of Oliver Wolcott Jr. really is like reading a Revolutionary War/Early Republic who’s who, as I mentioned in my previous post about our grant-funded project. I keep running across letters to or from the likes of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Noah Webster.

How many copies does it take?

July 23, 2014 · Collections ·

Sometimes you just don’t realize what you are looking at. I was reviewing the Wolcott papers to make sure I put the right volume- and object-numbered document in the correct “folder” of the finding aid (just one step in the project funded by NHPRC to get our manuscripts online through Connecticut History Online). I kept…
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