Weaving 101

The latest exhibition to open at CHS is a selection of items woven by members of the Handweavers’ Guild of Connecticut entitled Time Warps: Textiles from Today’s Weavers. Continue reading

Alexander Carrington

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.


Menu signed by Alexander Carrington. Ms 101450 Carrington Scrpabook

Letter of recommendation for Alexander Carrington, 1882. Ms 101450 Carrington Scrapbook.

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.

Touching History

Even after too many years to count being an archivist, I can still get a chill up my spine when I encounter certain documents. That happened this past month when I came across an admission of guilt by two men, Daniel Young and John Elderkin of Norwich, Connecticut. They admitted in June 1776 to the crime of selling Bohea tea for more than 3/4 of a dollar per pound, a price established by the Continental Congress. They acknowledged that their behavior was “Injurious to the Publick, and brings contempt upon the Congress and ought to be Detested by all who are well wishers to the American Cause.” By admitting their guilt, they were spared from “being held up to public view”. Sure, I have heard of the Boston Tea Party and the hated tea tax imposed by Great Britain, but this event, while perhaps less exciting than the Tea Party, happened right here in Connecticut. Decisions made by the Continental Congress had a direct impact on the lives of two men in Connecticut. Making all history local is what we always try to do here at CHS with documents just like this.

Statement of Guilt from the Norwich Town Papers.

Getting packages to POWs

monroe-letter.jpgToday we hear about packages going to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq with relatively few problems. In 1862, Eugenia Monroe wrote to General Wooll asking for his assitance in getting a package of clothing to her brother, Austin G. Monroe. Austin, of Norwich, served with the 2nd Infantry Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers, Rifle Co. B and was captured in the battle at Falls Church, Virginia. He was paroled a year later. Evidently the logistics of getting packages to prisoners was difficult even with the opposing parties in the same country.