Archive for the ‘Hartfordiana’ Category

4
Nov

19thC version of the e-mail string

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

In my previous post, I mentioned that the Charles P. Wells collection would be organized into three series: personal, business, and extended family. The personal series is the largest, comprising correspondence, Bible study notes, and other material related to Wells’ day-to-day life. The bulk of the correspondence dates from the 1830s and 1840s and is arranged alphabetically by author. Among those who wrote to Wells with regularity are his wife, Jane Strong Wells (when she was out of town), Henrietta Blake, Jerusha Clark, Emily Bond, Haynes Lord, S. Wells Williams (who spent time as a missionary in China), and H. W. Warner. It is a mixture of family and friends, as many of us have today. Nineteenth-century and 21st century correspondence have their similarities and differences, and the Wells collection provides the opportunity to examine some of these.

MrNLFosterOver the past few decades, as email has become part of our daily lives, we have grown accustomed to strings of messages gathered together. Pull up one message, and you can read all of them. Nineteenth-century correspondence lacked threads, and extant correspondence has a greater chance of being one-sided. This is not to say that you won’t find both (or all) sides of a conversation; it just isn’t as common as with our modern day communication. As I have sorted the correspondence, I found there are in fact pairs of letters within the collection.

There are certain conventions researchers will notice in most 19th century correspondence. While today we rely on date stamps, Wells and others would mention the date of the letter to which they were replying. This was key to determining the first matching set of letters.

Wells’ letterbook begins with a letter dated June 12, 1830 to Nathan L. Foster.

[MrNLFoster]

Looking through Foster’s folder, it was easy to see that this letter prompted Foster’s reply the following month.

[FriendCharles]

FriendCharlesFoster wrote that Wells’ “favour of the 12th ult” was in front of him. There are other hints that these two go together. Both mention procrastination and the concept of carpe diem. My favorite aspect of Foster’s letter is that he includes in his first paragraph a line that so many of us use all the time, “I was extremely busy.”

Though I have not yet had time to confirm a connection, there appears to be a draft of a letter to Jerusha Clark that matches with a reply in her folder.

It is quite possible for matching letters (or other writings) to be held by different repositories. As I researched Nathan L. Foster, I found that the American Antiquarian Society holds a collection of Foster’s diaries. I have no way of knowing if Foster mentions Wells at all in his diaries, but if I were a scholar of either, I might make a trip to the Society to find out.

There is far more to learn from the Wells correspondence than I can fit in a single blog post. When the collection is open for research, I encourage you to visit and explore it for yourself.

(If you are interested in properly archiving your personal email so that someone else can read it 150 years from now, the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program has a PDF with tips on preserving your own media.)

28
Oct

Processing the Papers of Charles P. Wells

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Jennifer Sharp M’11, a Project Archivist with the Watkinson Library]

IMG_5084A few months ago the Watkinson was fortunate to receive the papers of Charles P. Wells. The image shows the contents of one of the boxes of material when I started working on it. Now, after an initial pass through the entire collection, all the papers have been unfolded and placed in folders.

Objects that came with the collection are currently in a separate box.

The next task is to make sure the papers are organized in a way that will make sense to researchers, and will help them find information that is pertinent to their work. What seems to make the most sense is to group them in three series: personal papers, business papers, and papers pertaining to the extended Wells family.

After all the papers have been organized, I will put together a guide to the collection. Called a finding aid, it is like a table of contents for the collection. This will be available online, and anyone who would like to study Charles P. Wells will be welcome to research the collection.

Over the course of the next few posts, I will detail some of the items in the collection to give you an understanding as to what is available, and what you can learn about Wells and his life here in Hartford.

 

IMG_0734IMG_0735

9
Sep

Gift: Papers of Roger Clarke

   Posted by: rring

Roger ClarkeThe Watkinson is very pleased to announce the gift of the professional papers and working library of CT-based architect Roger Clarke (1936-2011). Clarke was born in England (Castleford, Yorkshire), studied at Liverpool University, apprenticed in Germany, worked in London for several firms, and in 1963 met Marjorie Donnelly, an American who was in England making her way back from the Peace Corps in the Philippines as part of the first wave of volunteers sent by JFK. They hit it off and wrote to each other but time and distance took its toll. In 1967 Clarke took a job in Philadelphia, and later moved to New York City, where he worked for two prestigious firms, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Edward Larabee Barnes. Marjorie was working as a book editor in New York where they reunited and were married. They moved to Collinsville, CT in 1972. He worked for Henry Shadler in West Hartford, then opened a firm in Collinsville in 1974 with architect Richard Swibold. They were at the forefront of the “green” movement in the 1970s, which was in its infancy, designing houses with passive solar heating systems and other efficiencies. Through his work on The Old State House, Clarke began to develop his deep interest and enthusiasm  for historic preservation.  He worked on properties such as the Charter Oak Temple (the state’s first synagogue), Gillette Castle, the mansion at Harkness Memorial State Park, the Butler-McCook House in Hartford, the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, and dozens of other projects.

The donor of the collection is Marjorie Clarke, and it will be processed for research as soon as possible.

25
May

Early Hartford family archive

   Posted by: rring

WellsWe are very happy to announce the gift of an archive of family papers related to early 19thC Hartford from former Trinity College President (1981-89) James F. English, Jr. (H ’89) of Noank, CT. Jim is also an emeritus member of the Watkinson Library Board of Trustees, which he served to our great benefit for 12 years, from 1997-2009.

The papers mostly relate to Charles Pitkin Welles (1811-1876), although other members of the Welles (or Wells) family are also represented. The archive includes correspondence, ephemera, objects, and other documents (like report cards from Hartford High School ca. 1850, insurance policies, invitations, bills, etc.), poetry, diaries, and printed chapbooks and newspapers.

 

img166According to his obituary in the Hartford Daily Times (March 4, 1876), “his peculiarly self-contained and reserved character, and his thoroughly domestic and retiring habits” made him almost a stranger in his own town. Born of Quaker parents, “the slow and unruffled Quaker calm not only asserted itself in his ever cool and even blood, but led him away from the stirring outward life” but rather, to the “quite and genial atmosphere of his books.”

“It is related of him that once, when word was brought to him, down town, at night, that his place of business (he kept a drug and medicine establishment, not far from the Main and Asylum street corner) was on fire, he deliberately arose, carefully dressed himself, and adjusted his necktie with his usual care. It did not suit him, and he took it off, and getting another, arranged that to suit him–and then walked up town to see what was going on at the fire.”

img165

27
Apr

Hartford Medical Society Library

   Posted by: rring

HMS deskRecently I was given a tour of the Hartford Medical Society Library, a local cultural/historical gem which (admittedly) is a bit tough to get to, at the UConn Health Center in Farmington, but well worth it.

The HMS was founded in 1846. The Society’s rules, adopted September 15th of 1846, state: “The object of this Society, is to maintain the practice of Medicine and Surgery in this city upon a respectable footing; to expose the ignorance and resist the arts of quackery; and to adopt measures for the mutual improvement, pleasant intercourse, and common good of its members.”

HMS stuff2Aside from the historical collections of books and manuscript material, which are fascinating, there are a number of artifacts, many of which are described in a catalogue that the HMS published in 1979.

To learn more about the library and its collections, I urge Trinity students and faculty to contact the Librarian, Jennifer Miglus, who is both friendly and helpful!

HMS stacks

3
Dec

Old school campaigning

   Posted by: rring

Jackson1On this day in 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president.

I thought it would be good to put up this little piece of ephemera–related to the Connecticut push to get Jackson elected.

“The Committee-men should take it upon themselves, personally, to see that every Jackson man is at the polls.”

As was the custom at the time, neither candidate personally campaigned, but their political followers organized many campaign events. Most interesting are the notes of the political stance of Connecticut figures on the back.

Jackson2

14
Sep

Re-discovering the archives!

   Posted by: rring

[Posted by Peter Rawson, Associate Curator of Archives & Manuscript Collections]

IMG_3248While conducting a survey of the archives I came across two 19th-early 20th century collections.

The first are the papers of the Reverend Frederick William Harriman, D.D, Class of 1872. Harriman served for over thirty years as the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Windsor, CT, retiring in 1920.  The collection contains several of his hand-written sermons, information pertaining to his father, the Reverend Frederick Durbin Harriman, Class of 1845, personal correspondence, and family genealogy.
The second are the papers the Reverend Abner Jackson, Class of 1837, and eighth President of Trinity from 1867-1874. The papers contain three of his diaries from 1860-1864, personal correspondence, 1840-1874, certificate of ordination as a priest by Bishop Brownell (first President of Trinity), and a published volume of his discourses, 1875.
Both of these collections give us insight into Trinity’s early roots in the Episcopal Church, and the lives and perspectives of members of our community in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

26
Feb

Old Trinity’s view of the city

   Posted by: rring

img128About 15 years ago we acquired this “carte-de-visite” photograph, taken in the early 1860s, of the “View from Trinity College of the City of Hartford.” This is from the site of the old campus, now inhabited by the State Capitol, looking down across Bushnell Park towards Main Street.

Prescott & Gage (the photographers) were in business from 1861-1865, and Trinity moved its campus from the site in the 1870s.

img130

29
Apr

He Wrote the Book on Trinity

   Posted by: rring

8.  brownell statueFrom the Archivist’s Perspective: Feature Columns and Articles by Peter Knapp in the Trinity Reporter, 1976-2012

The Watkinson Library and Trinity College plan to publish a volume honoring the retirement of College Archivist Peter Knapp, which will occur on August 29, 2014.  Mr. Knapp is himself a Trinity institution. Graduating with the Class of 1965, he received his M.A. in History from the University of Rochester and a Master’s in Library Science from Columbia University. He was hired by the Trinity College Library in 1968 as Head of Reference.

In 1972 Mr. Knapp also took on the development of the College Archives, and soon began writing articles on Trinity’s history for the Reporter.  He would ultimately collaborate with his wife, Anne H. Knapp, to produce Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: A History (2000), intended as a second volume to Glen Weaver’s 1967 History of Trinity College.

The prospective publication of 40 short essays concerning Trinity history that Mr. Knapp wrote for the Trinity Reporter, including a few excerpts from Peter’s book-length study, also includes one original contribution never before published, on Trinity men who served in the Civil War (on both sides!).

More information about this publication is forthcoming!

1.  t r roosevelt (frontispiece)Theodore Roosevelt speaks at Commencement

7.  chapel

Building the Chapel

17
Jan

Diary of Edward Watkinson Wells

   Posted by: rring

Page 1Our most significant acquisition this year came from a dealer in Philadelphia.  It is a 450-page diary written over 10 years (1841-1851) by Hartford artist and dilettante Edward Watkinson Wells (1819-1898), one of the many nephews of our founder, David Watkinson (1778-1857).

Edward was immersed in Hartford’s cultural life in the 1840s, exhibited his works at local fairs and gave lessons to the locals. He portrays an active involvement with with his large extended family, which often crossed and re-crossed the other prominent families of Hartford (i.e., Barnard, Channing, Dexter, Ely, Gallaudet, Gill, Goodrich, Hudson, Rockwell, Silsbee, Tappan, Terry, Tracy, Trumbull, Van Renselaer, and Wadsworth).

Edward describes dancing and costume parties, soirees, teas, dinners, and receptions in private homes and public venues. He meets Charles Dickens and his wife when they come through Hartford in 1842, and describes brushes with other luminaries, such as Col. Thomas L. McKenney (who lectures on American Indians), and the Unitarian clergyman Rev. Henry Giles, who gave a pro-Irish speech.

Other entertainments included a balloon ascension, exhibitions of mesmerism and hypnotism, parades, and performances by well-known groups.  He also chronicles the progression of the construction of the Wadsworth Atheneum, and touches on his father’s far-reaching interests in the business world–canals, railroads, factories, and real estate.

The cost of this valuable document of mid-19thC Hartford was generously underwritten entirely by a  member of the Watkinson Trustees.