A behind the scenes tour

Aerial view of The Hartford's main building on Asylum Street in Hartford.

Aerial view of The Hartford’s main building on Asylum Street in Hartford.

On Tuesday a number of CHS staff had a cook’s tour of the archives of The Hartford, one of Connecticut’s premier insurance companies. I never realized that behind the imposing main building that is on Asylum Street, there is an entire campus of buildings and facilities.Our host, Barry Kramer, toured us through the main building but I got excited when we actually got to the storage areas. Who but an archivist can get excited about grey boxes? The archives are in two rather small rooms but they have metal shelving and an ordered array of those boxes, all neatly labeled and inventoried. One of the treasures in the archives is an insurance policy for his house in Arlington, Virginia, signed by General Robert E. Lee. The collection also includes internal newsletters (one of my favorites), payroll records, and early account books.

While we are a collecting institution, we are also concerned that other organizations preserve their own history. I have been on two “consulting” ventures in the past few weeks to assist a library and a non-profit organization manage their collections. We do not need to “have it all” in our possession; if we did we would be full to overflowing. It is nice to know that The Hartford is preserving its history in its own repository.

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