Archives & Special Collections reading room closed for holidays

American Brass Company employees singing Christmas carols, 1955

Our reading room will be closed from Monday, December 19, 2016, through Monday, January 2, 2017. We will open at 9a.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2017, and resume our regular hours of Mondays through Fridays, 9a.m. to 4p.m.

In the meantime we’ll sing Christmas carols with these employees of the American Brass Company in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1955.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from all of us here in Archives & Special Collections!

Greater New Haven Labor History Association Collection

Sewing Department, D&I Shirt Company, New Haven, ConnecticutThe Greater New Haven Labor History Association’s mission is to collect, preserve and share the history of working people in the New Haven, Connecticut, area. For years they gathered the historical records of labor unions that served New Haven businesses, conducted oral history interviews, and constructed traveling exhibits to disseminate this history. Recently they’ve had to close their office and offered to Archives & Special Collections the labor history records they have collected through the years. Working with their archivist Joan Cavanagh we’ve received many records in batches in the last several months, with more to come.

Collections we have received so far include those of the following labor unions:

Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Local 125/International Ladies Garment Workers Union Local 151

Typographical Union of New Haven

American Association of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1939

New Haven Council for Unemployed Workers

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 299

and the papers of local labor activists Nicholas Aiello, Dorothy Johnson, Joseph M. Rourke, and David Montgomery.

You can find out more information on the materials in the collections through the finding aid.


Railroad Photography Exhibits

In the past few weeks we’ve put up three exhibits in the Dodd Research Center in preparation for our hosting the Conversations Northeast 2016 meeting of the Center for Railroad Photography and Art on October 29. The exhibits are available now for anyone visiting the building.


The Call of Trains: Railroad Photography by Jim Shaughnessy, is available in the Dodd Research Center corridor until the first week of November. It shows the work of this extraordinary photographer who has spent his life traveling the country photographing trains and railroad scenes. This is a traveling exhibit created by the CRPA.

uconn_asc_2006-0195_box9_folder857_huntingtonave_boston_maDepots by the Number: The Legacy of Lewis Herbert Benton and Irving Newell Drake was created by two guest curators — railroad historians Richard A. Fleischer and Robert Joseph Belletzkie — showing and describing in detail photographs of Mr. Benton, who took thousands of photographs of railroad stations in New England from about 1910 to 1936 with the aid of an assistant, Mr. Drake. This exhibit will be available in the public lounge off of the lobby through fall semester.


Railroad Photographs in Archives & Special Collections of the UConn Library shows the work of ten photographers whose work is held in the Railroad History Collections. The photograph above was taken by photographer and author J.W. Swanberg and is one of many showing the impact and beauty of railroads in our region. This exhibit is now in the gallery and will be up through fall semester.

All are invited to attend the conference on October 29. You can find information about the conference and how to register at

Many photographs from the exhibits can be found in our digital repository at


Finding the Artist in His Art: A Week with the James Marshall Papers

By Julie Danielson

James Marshall (called “Jim” by friends and family) created some of children’s literature’s most iconic and beloved characters, including but certainly not limited to the substitute teacher everyone loves to hate, Viola Swamp, and George and Martha, two hippos who showed readers what a real friendship looks like. Since I am researching Jim’s life and work for a biography, I knew that visiting the James Marshall Papers in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Connecticut’s Northeast Children’s Literature Collection would be tremendously beneficial. In fact, Jim’s works and papers are also held in two other collections in this country (one in Mississippi and one in Minnesota), which I hope to visit one day, but I knew that visiting UConn’s Archives and Special Collections 017revwould be especially insightful, since Jim made his home there in Mansfield Hollow, not far at all from the University. Indeed, I spent my evenings, as I wanted to maximize every possible moment during my days for exploring the collection, talking to people there in Connecticut who knew and loved Jim, including his partner William Gray, still living in the home they once shared.

The collection is vast and impressive, just what a biographer needs. I had five full days, thanks to the James Marshall Fellowship awarded to me, to explore the archives and see, up close, many pieces of original artwork, as well as a great deal of his sketchbooks. I saw manuscripts, sketches, storyboards, jacket studies, character studies, preliminary drawings, dummies, proofs, original art, and much more from many of Jim’s published works, including a handful of his early books — It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House, Bonzini! The Tattooed Man, Mary Alice, Operator Number 9, and more. To see sketches and art from his earlier books was thrilling, because I’m particularly fond of many of those titles. (Bonzini!, I learned in the sketchbooks, was originally titledCairo.) Also on hand in the collection are sketches and art from his more well-known books, as well as books published at the end of his career (he died in 1992), including the popular George and Martha books and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which received a 1989 Caldecott Honor.  Read more…

Looking Back and Looking Forward

No matter where your political allegiance lies it is impossible to deny the significance of Hillary Clinton’s ascent towards the Democratic nomination for president.  It is also a time to acknowledge the importance of women who came before her. Through the generous donation and support of one of her family members we are lucky to have the personal and professional papers of one such woman, Vivien Kellems, in our care.

Kellems on steps

Born in 1896 Kellems (or ‘Viv’ as we fondly refer to her) is a gem of Connecticut women’s history.  She owned and dedicatedly operated Kellems Cable Grips company first out of Westport and then Stonington.  The company produced and sold her brother Edgar’s invention for stringing electrical wiring.  She ran for senate a total of four times in the years 1950, 1956, 1962 and 1965.  She also made a run for governor of Connecticut in 1954.  Although she was unsuccessful in her campaigns, Kellems was in no way defeated.

Believing the tax system to be unfair both to small business and unmarried individuals Vivien Kellems very publicly fought for tax reform; publishing a book on the subject in 1952 “Toil, Taxes and Troubles”.  She also headed the formation of a group of like-minded individuals dubbed ‘The Liberty Belles’.  Yet another campaign for Vivien was a call for voting reform – deeming it unfair Americans be forced to vote along party lines only and not for individual candidates.  In demonstration of her protest Kellems camped out in a voting booth for hours only having to leave when she fainted.

Currently her papers including family, business and political correspondence are being thoroughly processed and digitized.  You’re invited and encouraged to keep checking in on the progress through this link.  As we celebrate the accomplishments of our contemporaries let’s also remember that women have always been bold and remarkable.

Oh and Viv also has pretty fabulous handwriting.

American Montessori Society Archives Committee meeting


Thanks to the Archives Committee members of the American Montessori Society for their visit yesterday to Archives &  Special Collections, to conduct a meeting, learn about the digital repository, and help identify images in the collection. The AMS donated their records in 2006 and the Society’s Archives Committee has advised us on the records since then, frequently adding important documents and media. The finding aid and selected documents from the records are available in our digital repository, as well as a full run of their publication The Constructive Triangle.

Present at the meeting, as shown in the photograph, are (seated) Robert Rambusch (husband of AMS founder Nancy McCormick Rambusch) and Marilyn Jean Horan, (standing) Maria Gravel, Matty Sellman, Archives Committee chair Marie Dugan, Carolyn Dodd, Susan Kambrich, Phyllis Povell, Laura Smith, Keith Whitescarver, and Natalie Danner.

Introducing Our New Website

We have a new website! There you’ll find links to the digital repository, our finding aids, and to information for researchers about our collections and services. It all begins at

We’re also moving our finding aids into the digital repository so they will look a bit different from what you’re used to. A search in the digital repository on any name or keyword can bring up a photograph, an audio file, or a document, as well as a finding aid.

We also have online forms for our Application for Use of Materials and for Reproduction Requests, to make it easier to let us know when you’re coming to visit the reading room or to tell us about reproductions you may want from the collections. Whenever there is any doubt about our collections or services you can always contact us at

Let us know what you think of the new website! and have a great time exploring Archives & Special Collections.



March is Women’s History Month!


This photograph from 1918 shows women previously employed as telephone operators for the Southern New England Telephone Company getting ready to serve in the United States Army during World War I as Signal Corps operators in Europe. These women, all of them operators in Hartford, were specifically chosen for their positions because they were fluent in French.

On April 28, 1918, this Signal Corps class marched in a Liberty Bond parade in Hartford, holding the flags of the United States, France, Belgium, and Great Britain. The SNET company magazine, The Telephone Bulletin, cheered the women for their patriotism and bravery in preparing to go to the war front, writing “…the enthusiastic reception given these young women was wholly deserved, for with heads erect, shoulders thrown back and with martial tread, they made a striking appearance as they marched past the dense crowd on the sidewalks.”

We are celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing a photograph from our digital repository each day on our Facebook page!  Check out our posts each day to see the history and awesomeness of women at UConn and around our beautiful state of Connecticut.

Anniversary of Colt Armory fire

Colt Armory, Hartford, Connecticut

On February 4, 1864, the East Armory of the famous Colt Patent Fire Arms Company, built in 1855 in Hartford, Connecticut, was completely destroyed in a fire, incurring $2 million in damages. Elizabeth Colt, Samuel Colt’s widow, had insured the factory buildings and the structures were quickly rebuilt, including the distinctive blue onion dome.  Today the armory is part of a National Historic Landmark District.