Alexander Carrington was the patriarch of an African American family in Norwich, Connecticut. By profession Carrington was a cook, and his services were often used for events at halls in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A scrapbook he created between 1882 and 1886 recently came to the Connecticut Historical Society. The scrapbook contains advertisements, tickets, ball programs and dance cards, programs for musical performances and for events held at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, correspondence, a hand-drawn business card, invitations, and menus.
Alexander Carrington was born in 1851 in Virginia and his wife Manzella was born in Maryland in 1857. They moved to Norwich in the 1870s and they had two children, Nanette and Alexander Harrison. While the children were growing up, Alexander worked as a cook for steamships and special events. The following illustrations show a letter of recommendation from the captain of the Steamship City of Norwich as to Carrington’s abilities and character, and a printed menu signed by Carrington, implying he was the cook for this particular party.
There are still many questions that need to be answered about Carrington based on items in the scrapbook. Who were the individuals who wrote to him on a regular basis? What was his relationship with the University of Massachusetts? Who are the two women in a photograph placed in the volume? How many of the invitations and dance cards and menus were for events Carrington attended as a guest, and how many represent his work as a cook? A terrific research project for someone interested in African American families in Connecticut at the end of the 19th century.
Additional information on the Carrington family and photographs of the children, Alexander, and Manzella can be found at www.cthistoryonline.org.