Connecticut Historical Society

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Connecticut Historical Society
A two-and-a-half story stone building with slate roof and portico entrance.
Connecticut Historical Society
Established 1825
Location 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Type History museum, library, archive, education center
Director Jody Blankenship[1]
Public transit access

Connecticut Transit Hartford 11 Simsbury-Granby Express

72 Asylum Av

The Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) is a private, non-profit organization that serves as the official statewide historical society of Connecticut. Established in Hartford in 1825, the CHS is one of the oldest historical societies in the nation.[2]

The Connecticut Historical Society is a non-profit museum, library, archive and education center that is open to the public. Its mission is to connect you and the story of Connecticut. The CHS houses a research center containing 270,000 artifacts and graphics and over 100,000 books and pamphlets.[3] It has one of the largest costume and textile collections in New England.[4]


In 1825, the Connecticut General Assembly was presented a petition signed by Connecticut citizens including Thomas Robbins, John Trumbull, Thomas Day, and William W. Ellsworth stating the importance of creating a society for preserving historical materials.[5]

After approval from the General Assembly, the Connecticut Historical Society was created to collect objects related to the history of the United States, specifically Connecticut.[6] The first elected officers were Trumbull, Day, Robbins, Thomas Church Brownell and Walter Mitchell.[6]

With the rise in prominence of Hartford in the 1820s, the Society's committee decided to house its first meetings in the city.[7] Yet despite a flurry of activity, the Society became inactive after 1825 and it was not until 1839 when new interest regained.[8] The first official quarters for the CHS was over a store at 124 Main Street in Hartford.[9]

The CHS' new ideals and direction were spearheaded by educationalist Henry Barnard, who recommended that the Society enroll members from around the state, encouraged a history and genealogy magazine and retrieved speakers for lectures who could address groups throughout Connecticut.[10]

With its growing collection of books, pamphlets and objects, the CHS moved its home to a room in the newly built Wadsworth Athenaeum in 1843.[11] By 1844, the collection of Society grew to 6,000 pamphlets, 250 bound volumes of newspapers, manuscripts, coins, portraits and furniture.[12] New officers were elected including David D. Field.[13] The CHS appointed Thomas Robbins as its first librarian because of his extensive book collection and antiquarian expertise.[14]

Under Robbins' tenure, the new quarters were open six days a week and interpretive tours of objects were given.[15] Some early objects in the collection were a chest of William Brewster, a tavern sign of General Israel Putnam and a bloodstained vest worn by Colonel William Ledyard at the Battle of Groton Heights.[15] After the death of Robbins in 1856, Connecticut historians James Hammond Trumbull and Charles J. Hoadly contributed to the CHS through various published research and lectures.[16] The first woman elected in the organization was Ellen D. Larned in 1870.[17]

In 1893, the Society hired Albert Carlos Bates as a full-time librarian and it was under his tenure that membership doubled, the annual income increased five-fold and the collection grew.[18] To accommodate the growth, the CHS purchased the house of inventor Curtis Veeder at Elizabeth Street in the West End of Hartford.[19] Alterations to the building in the 1950s-1970s included the addition of book stacks, auditorium, exhibition galleries and reading room.[20]

In the early 2000s, the CHS hired Bruce Mau[21] and Frank Gehry to design a new museum near Trinity College, but lack of funds prevented the project from happening.[22] From 2003 to 2007, CHS operated the Old State House and created a permanent exhibit "History Is All Around Us".[23][24]


Permanent exhibits include "Making Connecticut", about the history of Connecticut,[2] and "Inn & Tavern Signs".[25] There are also galleries for temporary exhibitions.

Recent exhibit topics include women and needlework,[26] the Kellogg brothers lithography firm, women's basketball,[27] the Amistad,[28] a history of cleanliness,[29] the Civil War[30] and Eliphalet Chapin, an 18th-century furniture maker.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fillo, MaryEllen. "CHS Has New Executive Director". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2014-04-14. 
  2. ^ a b Catlin, Roger (May 22, 2011). "'Making Connecticut' Explores State's History". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Condon, Tom (12 July 2001). "Our History Needs a Home". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Eiseman, Alberta (29 October 2000). "Exploring History's Closet: They Were What They Wore". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Bickford, Christopher P. (1975). The Connecticut Historical Society, 1975 : a brief illustrated history. Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society. pp. 7–85. 
  6. ^ a b Bickford 1975, p. 7.
  7. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 12.
  8. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 19,23.
  9. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 27.
  10. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 25.
  11. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 33.
  12. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 32.
  13. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 26.
  14. ^ Wilkie Jr., Everett C. "Rev. Thomas Robbins, Connecticut Historical Society". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Bickford 1975, p. 37.
  16. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 50.
  17. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 54.
  18. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 69.
  19. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 71.
  20. ^ Bickford 1975, p. 85.
  21. ^ "Society To Mix Sparkle and Scholarship". The Record Journal. 28 April 2002. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  22. ^ Puleo, Tom (9 June 2003). "Museum Project Fades Away; Historical Society Rethinking Future". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  23. ^ Condon, Tom (17 Sep 2006). "Hartford's New Time Machine". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  24. ^ Bloom, Larry (18 March 2007). "In Saving A Heritage, The Past Calls". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  25. ^ Liebenson, Bess (21 January 2001). "For Tavern Signs, A Fitting Tribute". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  26. ^ Catlin, Roger (8 October 2010). "Two Exhibitions Highlight Historic Connecticut Needlework". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  27. ^ Valin, Jeff (2 April 2009). "She Shoots ... She Scores!". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  28. ^ Eiseman, Alberta (22 March 1998). "The Amistad, in Multimedia Rendering". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  29. ^ Cohen, Jeffrey B. (28 February 2005). "Big East Tourney a Tryout for City". Hartford Courant. 
  30. ^ Libenson, Bess (9 September 2001). "Civil War Unfolds Item by Item". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 
  31. ^ Stevenson, R.W. (31 July 2005). "Cultural History Found in a Cabinet". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°46′23″N 72°42′19″W / 41.77293°N 72.70525°W / 41.77293; -72.70525