Legation of the United States, St. Petersburg

I knew Marshall Jewell had been Governor of Connecticut from 1869-1872 but I was surprised to see a letter for sale on eBay that was written by him from St. Petersburg, Russia. He was serving as minister to Russia, a post he held for only seven months. Well, we just had to have it! Continue reading

Boxing Day


Detail of Pieced Quilt. 1876. Gift of Susan Goodrich Motycka in memory of my father John Quincy Goodrich. 2013.74.1.

Quite a bit happens behind the scenes here at CHS that most people never see (unless you come on a behind-the-scenes tour!).  It is usually all those seemingly small, unglamorous tasks that make it possible for us to share our great collections with all of you. Tuesday, Diane Lee, our Collections Manager, and I spent an entire day doing one such seemingly small, unglamorous task.

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Illustrating Stylish Travel

Often times at the CHS, we write articles, present programs, and give tours based on our collections.  Many times these articles, programs, and tours are based on information and items we already know we have in the collection.  However, sometimes the topic comes first, and the illustrations come second.


Cheney Album. Volume 5. 1991.28.5.

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January in the Archives

The cataloging has continued here at CHS. Here is a sampling of some of the records making their way to the online catalog.


Ok, maybe not that kind of alien. One of the collections cataloged last month was the Governor John Treadwell papers. The papers include incoming and outgoing correspondence and several speeches of John Treadwell while Lieutenant Governor and then Governor of Connecticut.  The incoming letters discussed such issues as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the election of 1800, the use of gun-boats for national defense, and the early talks of Union secession over the institution of slavery. Correspondents include Lyman Beecher, Henry W. Dessasure, Chauncey Goodrich, Governor Roger Griswold, James Hillhouse, Ebenezer Huntington, Joseph Lyman, Timothy Pitkin, Benjamin Tallmadge, Uriah Tracy, Jr., Benjamin Trumbull and Rev. Newton Skinner.  Treadwell’s speeches include his acceptance as Governor and those given at the opening of the General Assemblies during his term. (Ms 22445)


An unusual piece Barbara uncovered is a handmade booklet, primarily consisting of newspaper clippings about witchcraft in Connecticut and Massachusetts printed in the Hartford Evening Post and The Union and Advertiser of Rochester, NY.  Along with it is a handwritten letter from Jules to Pat (no last names) about witches in Windsor. The booklet is titled Witches of Windsor, and the Witch-hunters of Hartford and was written by David Williams Patterson.  (Ms 10732)

Why the teacher always told you to put your name on the paper!

Ten of the account books we cataloged this month have unknown authors. They include several merchants and storekeepers, a dressmaker, a weaver (more below), a bricklayer, and two butchers.  We have many anonymous account books, which is really too bad. The information can be quite interesting and it would be great to be able to give the authors credit.  For example, the Dressmaker’s account book records the sale of shoes, hooks and eyes, dresses, undersleeves, hats, hair pins, whalebone, welting, yard goods, lace veils, and aprons. Charges were for cutting, fitting, making and basting dresses.  The customers, mostly women, lived in the Norfolk, Connecticut area.  There was, though, also an account with Joseph Battell & Co. (Account Books/2010.002)


Lately Barbara has started venturing into our genealogical manuscript collections. Among these is the collection of Donald L. Jacobus genealogy correspondence, research, and personal diaries.  The collection consists primarily of correspondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, related to Jacobus’ genealogical research. Correspondents include Helen G. Carpenter, John I. Coddington, Meredith B. Colket, Jr., George Dudley Seymour, Helen Turney Sharps, Frank Farnsworth Starr, Clarence A. Torry, and the publisher Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor.  There are also notebooks, abstracts of vital and cemetery records, newspaper clippings, index cards for his sources, research on the descendants of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and a selection of book announcements, sent to him either in his capacity as editor of The American Genealogist or as an independent researcher. Included are manuscripts for two of his books, one on the families of New Haven and the other on the Waterman family. Of note are diaries kept by Ida Wilmot Lines Jacobus and her son, Donald Lines Jacobus, which provide insight into their private lives. Both Donald and Ida lived in New Haven, Connecticut. The volumes from 1905-1907 and 1922-1948 were kept by Ida Jacobus. When she became ill at the end of 1948, the diary was continued by Donald. With the exception of one entry in 1952, Donald kept the diaries from 1903, 1952, and 1963-1969. On February 27, 1952, Donald noted his mother’s death. Ida’s diary entries were more in depth than Donald’s, but both wrote of day to day activities. Also of interest is Donald’s baby book and several posters, in Russian, promoting socialism over capitalism. (Ms 97520)

D.L. Jacobus

Genealogist D.L. Jacobus in his early years (Donald L. Jacobus Genealogy Correspondence, Research, and Personal Diaries, 1903-1969, MS Jacobus. CHS, Hartford, CT)


In addition to the Anonymous weaver’s account book, I also cataloged the Lippitt Manufacturing Co. weaving book and the White & Robinson weaving book. All three seem to be from Rhode Island, though the clients recorded in the anonymous book resided throughout central Connecticut.  The Lippitt volume has an interesting twist. In addition to listing the names of the weavers, as well as information on the amount and type of work they performed and their pay, the volume was used to record sales of lottery tickets for the Fairfield (Connecticut) Episcopal Society. Most of the purchasers were from the Pomfret, Connecticut area. Geographically, Pomfret and Fairfield are about as far apart as any two Connecticut cities can be! (Oversize/Ms 64633, Ms 66336-12, Account Books/Ms 66336-22)

All of these collections are open for research. Come visit!

October in the Archives

October was a busy month for the CHS manuscript catalogers. As part of our NHPRC grant funded project, we completed over 120 entries for the online catalog! Here are some of the highlights.

Three of the entries pertain to the Hartford Bridge Company (Account Book collection/Ms 32203,32205,32206) . CHS has a number of items from the Hartford Bridge Company, so while these particular lists of stock shares and tolls collected may not be the most exciting information in our archives,  the company as a whole could make an interesting research topic.

In the spirit of Halloween I will mention the Boston and Albany Railroad Co. Surgeon’s record (Ms. 36423).  This is a record of incidents occurring on railroad property.  Each entry contained the name of the injured individual, their position with the company, what happened,and where they resided (if they survived). Injuries reported included fingers being crushed, ankles being twisted, and more gruesome occurrences, such as bowels being torn open.

What happened in 1802 that caused many members of the Turkey Hills Ecclesiastical Society of East Granby to leave the society and join the Episcopal church? Perhaps the answer is among the Society’s papers (Ms. 100769). Dating between 1737 and 1910, the papers include meeting minutes, treasurers’ accounts, a record of admissions, births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, correspondence, statements of admissions and withdrawals,  documents related to inviting or dismissing pastors, warnings of society meetings, financial records, sales of slips and pews, and documents related to disciplinary actions taken by the society, including complaints, responses to allegations, confessions, and testimony.

Upon her 1862 graduation from the Hartford Female Seminary, Annie B. Wadsworth‘s mother gave her an autograph book (Ms. 46297). A precursor to today’s yearbooks, Annie filled the pages with photographs of her Seminary classmates and gathered their signatures.

In 1845 Sarah Coit Day and her daughter Catherine traveled to the Brattleboro (Vermont) Water-Cure for treatment. Day kept a journal (Ms. 47047), writing about taking tepid baths, walking, the view of the Connecticut River, and other people who were also at the facility. Though not mentioned in the journal, the Brattleboro Water-Cure was attended by many well-to-do people, including Harriet Beecher Stowe and her sister, Catharine Beecher.

Just a quick update to a previous post… Rich, our fearless Head of Collections, sent along this bit of information regarding Solomon Porter:  Solomon Porter also became surveyor and and collector of revenues for the port of Hartford in the 19th C.  He was also engaged in the West Indies trade. We have a nice miniature of him in the collection, as well as one or two portraits of his lovely daughter Rebecca Porter Conner. By the way, he married his first cousin!

This Satuday, November 7, is the first Saturday of month. Here at CHS that means FREE admission from 9am to 1pm. Come visit! And while you are here, become a member!!