Inside the CHS is moving!

MovingEDIT 1982_61_286In 2006 Barbara started the Manuscript blog on WordPress, talking about all the collections and her experiences working at CHS. She has kept it going mostly on her own, until the rest of the staff volunteered to help out, turning the manuscript blog in to Inside the CHS. Our staff has done an amazing job blogging daily about their passions and experiences working the the museum field. After over a year of growth on WordPress the blog is ready to come home to

However, we have even bigger news! We are not going to simply add Inside the CHS to the current site, we built a whole new  We are all working hard to get the site ready for launch in the next couple of weeks, so you might see a little down time here on Inside the CHS. To get ready, all our writers are taking a little summer time break. They are recharging their blogging batteries and to taking some time to learn how to use the new

This blog will still be here, but all new posts, as well as our archive, will be moving to the new So enjoy some of the older posts, discover a new author, or send us some idea for new posts.

See you soon on the new

Who is Alvin?

Signature of D.F. Johnson on the letter. Ms 101848

Signature of D.F. Johnson on the letter. Ms 101848

One of the things I really like about working with manuscripts is trying to identify the people mentioned in a document. For example, we recently received a letter that was written June 12, 1864 from Willimantic, written by D.F. Johnson to his mother and referring to “our Alvin that was reported wounded”. Okay, it is 1864, so Alvin must be a soldier, but there are probably a lot of men named Alvin who served in the Civil War. So, where to look now?

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Henry Ward Beecher

Henry_Ward_Beecher_circa_1875In 1872 Henry Ward Beecher, a noted and popular, although often controversial, minister in Brooklyn, New York, was accused of having an affair with one of his parishioners, Mrs. Tilton. She alternately confessed and retracted her confession while Beecher consistently stated his innocence. To clear his name, he appointed an investigative committee composed of friends and supporters in the church. Their findings were unsurprising–he was innocent. Today, his guilt or innocence remains unresolved.

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Connecticut Globeskirters: Gertrude Barnum’s Travel Diary

“With the first day of my journey, I commence this first page of my diary; hoping that the whole jaunt will be as favorable to my compositive powers as this beginning:”

So begins the travel diary of sixteen-year-old Gertrude Barnum, who left Danbury, Connecticut for a trip across the Atlantic to Paris and London with her mother, Sarah, on June 11, 1850. Her diary, along with her mother’s passport (Gertrude did not have her own passport, but traveled on her mother’s), are in the CHS manuscript collection and demonstrate the participation of Connecticut women in travel and tourism—a trend that would only grow as the century progressed. Continue reading

10 Eggs, a Pint of Brandy

One of our current exhibitions is Cooking by the Book: Amelia Simmons to Martha Stewartan exploration of food in Connecticut from the colonial times to the present. The developers read any number of cookbooks in preparation. In the collections here at CHS we have a large assortment of both printed and manuscript recipes gathered by individuals or organizations, like those produced by a church or civic organization. Continue reading

I do hereby sell

No matter how many times I see one, I still get chills. A recent acquisition includes a bill of sale for a slave girl named Dinah. Not only is there the bill of sale, but there is also a certificate of birth attesting that “Dinah a female child born of the body of a female belonging to Zachariah Drum . . . 26th day of June 1808.” Dinah was sold six years later by Drum to Ebenezer Punderson of Red Hook, New York. I think I am saddest about the fact that we don’t know the mother’s name.

The top document attests to Dinah's birth, the bottom one is the bill of sale. Ms 101749, Folder 2.

The top document attests to Dinah’s birth, the bottom one is the bill of sale. Ms 101749, Folder 2.

We have many items in our Research Center, both manuscript and object, that relate to the Punderson family. Click on one of the links and explore what we have on this interesting family. They were most noted for being Loyalists during the American Revolution.

Let it snow

CHS Snow StormNow 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 downtown Hartford looked like. Continue reading

The threat builds

Good Flying Weather CHSThere are times when pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Today I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Continue reading

Prison reform in Connecticut

In 1839 a committee was charged with examining the current Windham County Jail and making recommendations for improvement. We recently acquired a broadside that contains the committee’s report, which is very similar in intent to national efforts at prison reform in the early 19th century. Continue reading

The Last Will and Testament

Can a church have a will? Well, recently we acquired a remarkable document, full of sarcasm, in which the Second Society of Lyme did just that. Or was it, in fact, members of the Society, or was it someone totally disaffected by this particular church or by religion in general? Continue reading