As indicated in Wikipedia, Storrs, Connecticut, is a village and census-designated place in the town of Mansfield, within eastern Tolland County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 15,344 at the 2010 census. It is dominated economically and demographically by the presence of the main campus of the University of Connecticut.
From the Pequot and Mohegan people who originally inhabited the region to the legal incorporation of the Town of Mansfield in 1702, the area around the University of Connecticut’s Storrs campus has a long and eventful history.
The Storrs name first became associated with the area in the seventeenth century. In 1663, Samuel Storrs left Nottinghamshire, England, to begin a new life in North America. Landing first in Massachusetts, he moved to what is now Mansfield, Connecticut, in 1698, where he founded a family farm in the area around UConn’s present-day campus.
The more proximate connection between the Storrs family and the University of Connecticut centers on brothers Charles and Augustus Storrs. Descendants of Samuel Storrs, the Storrs brothers were born in the early nineteenth century and raised to work on the family farm just as members of the Storrs family had done for generations. As young men, though, Charles and Augustus left the farm for New York, where both became successful businessmen.
In 1880, the Storrs brothers offered $5,000 and 170 acres of land and some buildings to found an agricultural school in Connecticut. After some investigation, the General Assembly accepted the offer and established the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881. In the following decades, the school continued to grow and change. During the 1930s, the agricultural school completed its transformation into a modern research university and after several name changes became known as the University of Connecticut in 1939. Since then, the University has continued to expand and adapt to the needs and interests of the state, the student population, and the wider landscape of higher education.
But some lineages of the late nineteenth century still remain. For example, the original Storrs post office, run by the Whitney family, still stands near Mirror Lake (though it’s not currently in use). The Storrs Brothers are still around too. Both are buried in the New Storrs Cemetery located along North Eagleville Road.
If you’d like to know more about the history of the Storrs area beyond the confines of the University, one place to look is Archives & Special Collections. Among some of our relevant collections are:
Women’s Club of Storrs Records. The Women’s Club of Storrs was founded in 1903. Originally called the College Club, the purpose of the organization was to promote literary and social culture. Membership consisted of women associated with the University of Connecticut, including some of the university’s female faculty and the wives of male faculty members. In 1917, the club changed its name to the Women’s Club of Storrs and opened membership to any women in the local community interested in joining. The collection comprises the organization’s working papers, including meeting minutes, reports, bulletins, yearbooks, as well as photographs and newspaper clippings concerning the Club’s activities. The yearbook (membership directory) of the organization is restricted for ten years from the date of publication. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/755
Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station Records. The Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station is one of the first of its kind was established in 1888 with Wesleyan University Professor Wilbur Olin Atwater as its director. The station conducted research and experiments to further agricultural science in Connecticut. The station published its findings in bulletins that were made available to local residents. Field experiments were conducted at Storrs Agricultural School, while laboratory work was performed at Wesleyan. In 1903, Professor Atwater resigned and the station became associated solely with the University of Connecticut. The collection comprises substantial information on the early history of the station, especially correspondence between station staff and local farmers and businesses interested in their findings. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/40
World Federalist Association, Mansfield (Connecticut) Chapter Records. The World Federalist Movement emerged in the 1930s and 1940s out of concerns about the perceived inadequacies of the League of Nations. Members hoped to create a world government that would abolish war and ensure peace by using international law to manage global problems. The Mansfield Chapter of the World Federalist Association, the oldest continually operating chapter in the United States, was founded in 1948. The collection comprises pamphlets and newsletters from both the national association and the local chapter; material on the arms race, nuclear winter, and other topics; as well as correspondence, membership lists, memos, and statements. The collection also includes the personal files of Lawrence Abbott, who ran the chapter for many years. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/743
Storrs Congregational Church Records. The Second Ecclesiastical Society, creator of the Storrs Congregational Church, was authorized by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1737. Its parent church was the First Congregational Church of Mansfield Center. The first meeting house was built in 1745-1746 on the site of the current church, the present corner of North Eagleville Road and CT Route 195. Situated adjacent to the campus of the University of Connecticut, the church has served the town and the university jointly since the creation of the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881. The collection comprises administrative records and historical documents of the Storrs (Connecticut) Congregational Church. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/684
Edwin O. Smith High School Records. In 1955, the Connecticut General Assembly authorized funding for the construction of a junior-senior high school in Mansfield, Connecticut, to be administered by the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the school was to provide secondary education in the Town of Mansfield, as well as to train teachers for schools throughout Connecticut. The school opened in the fall of 1958 as a division of the UConn School of Education. The University named the school after Edwin Oscar Smith, who served as acting-president of UConn in 1908. In 1987, the University formally transferred the property and buildings to the Town of Mansfield. The collection comprises administrative records and correspondence from the early years of the school, as well as blueprints from a building addition to the school in the mid-1960s. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/361
Storrs Family Photograph Collection. The collections contains photographs of the property of Augustus Storrs in Mansfield, Connecticut, that is now part of the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut. Monographs associated with the photographs have been separated and catalogued. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/683
We invite you to view these collections in the reading room at Archives & Special Collections in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.
Another relevant place for research on the town of Mansfield is the Mansfield Historical Society.
And lastly, let’s not forget that in 2005 Storrs was named by Slate as “America’s Best Place to Avoid Death Due to Natural Disaster.” You can bet the full-time residents of Storrs enjoy that one and throw it out as often as possible.
This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.