November in the Archives

November is always a month of elections and Thanksgiving. Going with that theme, this month’s “in the Archives” post is going to focus on the papers of a politician and of a Native American.

Of the 130 catalog records we created in November, three relate to the papers of Roger Sherman. Sherman, a native of Massachusetts, moved to Connecticut in his early twenties. Over the years he had several occupations, including store owner, surveyor, lawyer, and mayor of New Haven, Connecticut. Sherman is also well known for his participation in the formation of the government of the United States. He is the only person to have signed all four of the following: the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.

Sherman’s governmental work is evident in his 1779 diary (Ms68355). A small almanac, the pages opposite each month’s calendar served as notepaper for Sherman (this was a common practice). Some have notes about taxes and the Continental Treasury. There are also more mundane notes, such as the amount of butter he purchased.

In his role as Clerk of the First Ecclesiastical Society in New Milford, Sherman signed a certificate (Ms 80283) in December 1754 certifying the process of the construction of a new meeting house. The certificate describes the frame (sixty by forty-three feet), notes that the roof had been added, and mentions the tax that will be levied on the citizens of the town to finance the construction.

Also cataloged this month are a letter and a writ signed by Sherman, one dated July 1781 and the other September 1782 (Ms 44831). The letter, dated 1781, was sent to John Lawrence, Esq. and provides an account of the surrender of the British in Augusta, Georgia. Sherman signed the 1782 writ as a justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court. It was summoning Alling and Huldah Carrington to appear before the court “to hear read, the Record, Process of Judgment had & rendered in a certain Cause” between the Carringtons and Asa Huntington.

Roger Sherman diary

Roger Sherman diary, 1779, Ms 68355. Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT

Gladys Tantaquidgeon was a medicine woman and active member of the Mohegan tribe. She studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and published about Native Americans and medicine. The University of Connecticut and Yale University both awarded Tantaquidgeon honorary doctorates for her accomplishments. Among the many honors she received, Tantaquidgeon has also been inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Other jobs she held include working with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and librarian at the Niantic (Connecticut) Women’s Prison.

In 1933 Tantaquidgeon, in association with the University of Pennsylvania, compiled an eight page document detailing the designs of Mohegan-Pequot basketry (Ms 44083). She described the types of baskets, materials, techniques, and design elements. The paper includes three pages of drawings of the designs used. Among our museum collections we have a number of baskets made by members of Tantaquidgeon’s family.


Basket, 1860-1880, 1950.479.0, Connecticut Historical Society collections.

The basket and the manuscripts are all available for research. Come visit! While you are here, or from the comfort of your home, buy a membership for yourself or someone else on your holiday gift list. Memberships, some of our recent publications, and other items are available for purchase through our store.