Manuscript Family Records in Connecticut
Posted: February 1, 2002
For people working on Connecticut families, there are several places to find the research of other genealogists in the form of pedigrees, reports, and documents. The most famous of these must be the Ancestral File at the Latter-day Saints' Family Search website. This column, however, will describe the more old-fashioned manuscript resources available at five repositories in Connecticut.
The contents of the following collections were submitted by genealogists working on Connecticut families. Information contained within the collections should always be used as hints and not as final answers.
Ancestry Service Pedigrees at the Connecticut Society of Genealogists
The Ancestry Service is a collection of the pedigree charts of members of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists. These are kept in three-ring binders at the Society's library in East Hartford, and bound into a continuous set of volumes ordered by the membership number of the submitter. Three indexes cover the pedigrees, each focusing on a particular run of membership numbers. Each name in a pedigree chart is indexed to a membership number and the page within that member's pedigree chart. The index to the first series has been published. Currently, the Society's journal, The Connecticut Nutmegger, is publishing sections of the index to the first series in each issue.
The library of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is open both to members and non-members alike.
Connecticut Society of Genealogists Library
175 Maple Street
East Hartford, CT
Family Files at the Ferguson Library
The Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut, is the "home" library of the Connecticut Ancestry Society. There are six file cabinet drawers of family files as well as a local history collection. The Connecticut Ancestry Society also houses a pedigree collection at the Ferguson, the contents of which were contributed by their members.
One Library Place
The Julia Brush Collection at the Cyrenius Booth Library
The public library in Newtown, Connecticut, is the repository of the Julia Emeline Clark Brush collection of genealogical materials. Items of interest include transcripts of probate, land, vital, cemetery, and town records for many surrounding towns in western Connecticut and eastern New York. There are also family files and local history scrapbooks. This collection is housed in the basement of the library.
Cyrenius Booth Library
25 Main Street
Family Files at the Connecticut State Library
The family files at the Connecticut State Library are located near the reference desk in the History and Genealogy Reading Room. There are four dark file cabinets containing two series of folders, one for surnames and one for locations. The surname folders contain information submitted by patrons. Researchers know that they can find corrections to printed genealogies, short typescript treatments of families, and transcriptions or photocopies of Bible and family records within them.
On a recent trip to Hartford, I examined the contents of two of these folders to get a better idea of the sorts of materials they contained. The first folder was for the Hodge family, which contained three documents: two notes of correction to the Orlando J. Hodge genealogy of the family (one sent by me and approved by the librarian before insertion into the folder), and a transcription of Thomas Hodge's Bible.
The Warner family file was rich with Bible and family record transcriptions. Members of the Warner family that are referenced in the file include David H., Capt. Eleazer, Joseph, Chauncey, Francis, Benjamin, William, Gilbert, Seth, and Ichabod. Also included is a transcript of the obituary of Charles S. Warner.
The Connecticut State Library is open, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday until 7:00 p.m.; and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is located on Capitol Avenue in Hartford, right across the street from the state capitol building. The History and Genealogy Reading Room is located in the basement.
The Connecticut State Library also maintains an award-winning web site with ample descriptions of all elements of their collections. The website includes a page devoted to the History and Genealogy Reading Room , that contains much valuable information about their collections
Family Files at the Connecticut Historical Society
Surely the most extensive collection of unpublished Connecticut family manuscripts is to be found at the Connecticut Historical Society. Well-respected genealogists living in Connecticut and working on local families have been donating their research materials, correspondence, and written treatments of families to the Society's manuscript collection for more than half a century.
In most cases, the submitted materials are divided by family name before being placed in the manuscript collection. Research reports for each surname in the collection are likely to come from many sources. Authors represented in the genealogical manuscript collection are as diverse as Donald Lines Jacobus on Fairfield and New Haven Colony families; Henry A. Stiles on Windsor and Wethersfield families; Lucius Barnes Barbour on Hartford families; and genealogists Julius Gay, Homer Brainard, D.W. Patterson, and Edna Miner Rogers, to touch just the tip of the iceberg. The library has an excellent card catalog for their manuscript collection.
Besides the genealogical reports and family treatments, the Society houses additional source materials that can be a boon to genealogists. These include account books, periodicals, maps, and the Colonial Dames transcriptions of church records.
The research library at the Connecticut Historical Society is open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Use of the library is free to members. Non-members must pay six dollars for a one-day library pass (three dollars for children and seniors). The manuscript collection is available to both non-members and members. Visit the CHS website for more information.
In a new twist of high-tech expertise, the Connecticut Historical Society is also collecting material for use by family historians a century down the line. Called the Connecticut Visions Family Photo Project, this digitized database of family photos contains snapshots of Connecticut families that have been submitted to the historical society. There is Mary Louise Soper as a child in 1913, four generations of women from the Donahoe family, Amanda Lopez with her grandfather and grandmother, and many other treats. You can still submit your family photo to the historical society together with text describing the people and what they mean to you. At this writing, the Connecticut Visions home page was temporarily offline, but additional info can be found at the CHS Digital Showcase page.
Copyright © 2002, New England Historic Genealogical Society