Resources in the Archives on Student Unrest at UConn

Beginning in the late 1960s, the University of Connecticut experienced a wave of unrest that rolled across the campus, leaving few areas of the university untouched. Sit-ins, demonstrations, racist incidents, canceled classes, experimental education—everything about university life in sleepy Storrs, Connecticut, seemed to be coming unmoored from its foundation.

Luckily for those who came after, UConn survived those turbulent years. Yet that intense period of upheaval, unrest, and experimentation left a lasting legacy on the Storrs campus. Much of that legacy has furnished material for the recent Archives & Special Collection exhibit, Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967 to 1971, guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi.

If the recent exhibit has piqued your interest in learning about how the 1960s shaped the University of Connecticut, Archives & Special Collections has a wealth of archival material that may interest you. Among the relevant collections are:

President’s Office Files. The collection comprises extensive material relating to each presidential administration at UConn. The records of President Homer D. Babbidge (1962–1972) are especially relevant. Many of the most significant events from this period occurred under his tenure, and his office files, as well as those from others in his administration, shed light on key events. Especially useful is the correspondence received by the president’s office, which provides insight into how community members viewed this period of campus unrest. The finding aid can be found at: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/789

Crisis at UConn. The confluence of events at UConn in the late 1960s and early 1970s turned out to be so unprecedented that the administration commissioned a report to study the situation. The report, titled Crisis at UConn, provides useful background and supporting material on the events of the period. The finding aid can be found at: https://rhel7-arcspc251.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/324

Student and Student Organization Newspapers, Publications and Periodicals:

Connecticut Daily Campus and the UConn Free Press.There are few better sources to study the daily activities on campus than student publications. Especially relevant, in this respect, are the digitized copies of the Connecticut Daily Campus, the name of the student newspaper at the time (now simply the Daily Campus). Along with the official student newspaper, archivist have also painstakingly digitized alternative publications like the UConn Free Press. Digitized versions of the periodicals are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3Acampusnewspapers

Nutmeg. Along with student publications, the Nutmeg, the University of Connecticut’s student yearbook, provides another useful source of information on this period. In particular, it provides a rich visual source for events at the time, as well as yielding significant information about student clubs, organizations, events, and the student body more generally. Digitized versions of the yearbook are available found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A02653871

Inner College Collection. One product of the upheaval at Storrs during this period was the Inner College, an experiment in alternative education founded by students and faculty in 1969. This collection contains publications produced by the Inner College faculty and students documenting the radical experiment in democratic education at UConn. The finding aid can be found at: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/971

Husky Handjob. Along with the official student newspaper, a number of alternative publications, such as the aforementioned UConn Free Press, appeared during these tumultuous years. The Husky Handjob provides an irreverent, radical alternative to the Daily Campus for researchers interested in a more direct line to the student movement at UConn. Digitized versions of the periodical are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860224315

African American Cultural Center. Periodicals produced by staff and students affiliated with the African American Cultural Center can also usefully supplement the official and alternative publications mentioned above. In particular, the student-produced journal Contact documents black student activism on campus, such as an occupation of the university library by black students in 1974. Digitized versions of the periodicals are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20004%3AAACC

Alternative Press Collection. The Alternative Press Collection (APC) includes thousands of national and international newspapers, serials, books, pamphlets, ephemera and artifacts documenting activist themes and organizations from the 1800s to the present. Among the APC files can be found archival materials related to activism and unrest on campus, such as files produced by the UConn-chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), files produced by the coalition of black students (The Coalition) who occupied the UConn library, and files related to the Inner College (IC). The best way to consult the APC files is to use the card catalog available at Archives & Special Collections, though digital lists of available materials can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19920001APCFiles

Howard Goldbaum Collection. The photographs contained in the newly-acquired Howard Goldbaum Collection provide a rich visual document of campus upheavals in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A student photographer who worked for the Connecticut Daily Campus, Goldbaum’s photographs provide a raw, intimate portrait of campus unrest and wider student activism during the period. Digitized items draw from the collection are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A201900750078

Diary of a Student Revolution. When it comes to visual material, few documents provide a more rewarding viewing experience than the documentary Diary of a Student Revolution. The film was made in 1969 for National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), and its program “NET Journal,” the forerunner of today’s PBS shows “Frontline,” “POV,” and “Independent Lens.” It documents protests led by the UConn-chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) against on-campus recruitment by companies such as Dow Chemical. A digitized version of the film is available to watch here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860070394

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.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

An Incident of Racism on the UConn Campus on October 9, 1969

The Fall semester of 1969 was a time of frequent protests on campuses across the country, and the students of the University of Connecticut were ready participants and initiators of protests expressing outrage at the Vietnam War, recruiting on campus by the U.S. military and by manufacturers of weapons of war, and of racism in society. A racial incident that occurred on October 9, 1969, brought violence to campus and a resulting protest by the students.

The incident was written about in Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits: Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006, by UConn History Professor Bruce Stave:

“On Thursday, October 9, an estimated fifty to sixty black students damaged lounges and rooms in the Delta Chi fraternity house and Lancaster House. They overturned couches, broke windows, and smashed mirrors. Paint was thrown into some of the rooms at Delta Chi. That incident, which lasted no more than five minutes, stemmed from a confrontation between blacks and whites from the previous night. Lew Curtiss, one of the black students, suggested that the disturbance represented an example of “collective defense” – blacks had to be concerned with the protection of black people. The fracas at Lancaster House resulted from insults leveled at a group of black women from the fourth floor. The protesters went directly there, smashing along the way the staircase, doorway, and lounge windows; upstairs windows were also broken, beds knocked down, and a bureau smashed. Three residents received minor cuts on their hands and faces when they met the protesters at the front door. After the incident, however, Lancaster residents issued a statement taking blame for initiating the confrontation and expressing the hope that others would learn from the situation and work to solve the racial problem rationally.

Front page of the Connecticut Daily Campus of October 10, 1969

The next morning three hundred white freshmen marched quietly in single file to Gulley Hall to “express…deep concern over the failure of the University of Connecticut community to take substantive steps toward ending the racial turmoil and injustice within our community and the desire that remedies be found. Provost Gant, who had been serving as acting president during Homer Babbidge’s sabbatical (during the 1969 Fall semester), called on all to embrace with conviction the spirit of the statement and promised to distribute it throughout campus. Babbidge returned to spend the day of October 10 in conferences with students and faculty to ascertain just what had happened – and to discuss its root cause. He said he could not and would not condone property damage but emphasized, “I must assert that we cannot and will not condone d damage to person by racial insult, for whatever reason.” The insult was the more truly violent act, the more threatening to public safety, the least comprehensible. The president then announced that he had asked the chairman of the board of trustees to call a special meeting for Sunday, October 12. After meeting in executive session, the board endorsed Babbidge’s statement and called on him to give highest priority to remedying the cause of racial tension on campus.”

Statement by the Lancaster House students on page 2, of the October 10, 1969, issue of the Connecticut Daily Campus

These photographs of the October 9, 1969, silent protest were taken by Connecticut Daily Campus photographer Howard Goldbaum and can be found in our digital repository beginning here:
https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/search/%22north%20campus%20against%20racism%22?type=edismax&cp=20002%3AUniversityofConnecticut

Day-Glo & Napalm: Committed Sixties

The following guest posts by alumni Chris Malis (’72) and Ellie Goldstein/Erickson (’70) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The Gallery is open Mon-Fri 9-4pm, with a Saturday viewing on October 12th, 9-5pm.

Guest Post by Chris Malis (’72):

We Are Stardust

Coming of age in the Sixties (c.1965-c.1972) was a gift; it made me who I am now. Contrary to the changes of many as they age, I have not grown more conservative over the years. Am I the same person I was then? Of course not. Would my 20-year-old self like my 70-year-old self? Perhaps not so much. Would I do (or not do) certain things differently if I could go back in time? Sure. But on the whole, I feel grateful to have come of age in that time and space. It was the most magical, earth-shaking decade of the 20th Century. I won’t say earth-changing, because … look around. Who would have thought that, 50 years later, we’d still be fighting racism, poverty, war, women’s reproductive rights, income inequality, sexual violence, and impending environmental collapse?

In the words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address on March 4, 1861: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell … when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

The Sixties, for me, was a time of better angels coming to the fore. I desperately hope they return in force… and soon!

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The Death of Gardner Dow

On September 27, 1919, Connecticut Agricultural College student Gardner Dow, class of 1921 and 20 years old, was looking forward to the first football game of the season, an away game to be played at New Hampshire State College. The football team and the CAC student body were particularly looking forward to the game because it signaled an end to the suspension of the team during the years of World War I. Dow, who played center, was originally not slated to play the game due to an ankle injury, but he rallied and thus traveled with the team up to Durham with high hopes of coming back to Storrs as the victors.

What happened at the game was well told in the October 3 issue of The Connecticut Campus, the CAC student newspaper:

Gardner Dow

“It  was during the last quarter that the tragedy occurred. Hopwood punted to Farmer, New Hampshire’s Right Half-back, who started down the field and was tackled by Voorhees, who caught him by one ankle and tripped him, but he regained his feet and plunged forward, coming in contact with Dow who had rushed in to tackle him. Dow was knocked unconscious and, after vainly trying to bring him to, for a few minutes, a doctor was called. The doctor had him moved from the field into the office of the Athletic Director, where he worked over him until the close of the game, when he was removed to the A.T.O. fraternity house.

It was thought at first that he had received a solar plexis blow, as the doctor was unable to find any injury on his body. Later, however, the doctor found a bump on his head and the patient seemed in a deeper stupor than he had been at first, so an ambulance was called for his remove to the Dover Hospital. He passed away before the ambulance arrived in spite of all that could be done to revive him. The body was removed at once to an undertakers establishment in Dover where it was prepared for subsequent removal to Dow’s home in New Haven.”

The football team returned to Storrs in stunned silence, unable to believe that a treasured teammate was gone. For the next three days all activities on campus of “light amusement, ” including the Freshmen dance, were canceled or postponed while the students mourned their loss. Students took up a collection for flowers and undertaking expenses for Dow’s family.

On Tuesday, October 1, at the time that Dow’s funeral was taking place in New Haven, all afternoon classes were canceled and the entire student body, faculty and staff assembled in the Armory for a ceremony to honor Dow. President C.L. Beach described Dow as “a friend, a scholar and a gentleman.” Others spoke of “our College Hero;” the members of the football team placed a spray of flowers on a vacant seat.

Less than a week later the Athletic Association voted to name the college’s athletic field the Gardner Dow Field. The field extended from the rear of Hawley Armory westward toward what is now Hillside Road. For five decades following Dow’s death it was the home court for the CAC/University of Connecticut’s football, baseball, soccer, field hockey and track teams. By the 1970s building on campus overtook the field, with Homer Babbidge Library, the School of Business and the Information Technology Engineering buildings now on the site.

A plaque that had been placed at the field was moved to Hawley Armory, where it stands today.

The 1920 yearbook was dedicated to Dow and the college posthumously granted him a varsity letter which was sent to his family. Dow’s father Arthur wrote to the campus community on October 16, 1919, expressing his appreciation for the “sympathy extended in our sorrow,” confirming “the love that Gardner had for his college, and our one hope is that you will all work for it as he did, until the very end, thereby making it better and bigger as the years go by.”

Day-Glo & Napalm: Conflicted Sixties

The following guest posts by Asst. Prof. Charlie Brover and Alumnus John Palmquist (’71) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th with an evening reception on September 19th, from 6-8pm in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Guest Post by Asst. Prof. Charles Brover:

My Lear year reflection: Was it pissing in the wind?

I will be 80 in September. I’m King Lear’s age. (“Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less”). Some 50 years ago in my course on Shakespeare’s tragedies, we talked about how much easier it was to identify with Hamlet, that flashy student on spring break from Wittenberg, than the benighted old man who hath ever but slenderly known himself. Lear began his education at 80, and one hell of an education it was—a fierce warning against the unreflected life. So now in the fifth act of my own education I am grateful to my old comrade Larry Smyle for reaching out to me and to George Jacobi and Graham Stinnett for the opportunity to reflect on those superheated days at UConn 50 years ago. Were they formative in my life? Were they just an episode of frothy anti-authoritarian rebellion?

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Resources in the Archives on Naturalists and Environmental History in New England

In Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year, famed naturalist Edwin Way Teale writes, “The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues—self-restraint…To provide protection for wildlife and wild beauty, everyone has to deny himself proportionately. Special privilege and conservation are ever at odds.” As relevant today as when his book was first published in 1953, Teale’s message of the necessity of conservation lies at the core of the study of environmental history. Defined generally, the study of environmental history examines the interaction between humans and the natural world over time. Naturalists contribute to our understanding of environmental history through their fieldwork, where they observe and comment on the behavior of species within their natural environments. As described by author John Terres, a naturalist is “a lover,” different from the scientist, who is “an investigator.”

Archives & Special Collections holds the writings of several influential New England naturalists. These include Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980), John K. Terres (1905-2006), and Margaret Waring Buck (1905-1997). Continuing in the august tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Teale and his fellow naturalists helped facilitate a discovery and interest in the natural world among a variety of audiences, including children. For example, Teale’s book The Strange Lives of Familiar Insects encourages an appreciation for the insect world by drawing attention to often overlooked and misunderstood creatures. The collections of these naturalists housed in the archive include field notes, diaries, photographs, illustrations, letters, publications, and artifacts. These materials allow for an examination into the mentality and practices of people who devoted themselves to the documentation and preservation of the natural world, which has furthered the study of environmental history.

Edwin Way Teale Papers: Born in Illinois in 1899, Teale was interested in nature from an early age. After earning degrees at Earlham College and Columbia University, Teale pursued a career writing articles for the magazine Popular Science. Teale left the magazine in 1942 in order to work full-time on his own books. In 1959, motivated by a desire for a more bucolic way of life, Teale and his wife purchased seventy-five acres in Connecticut. Teale wrote thirty-two books throughout his lifetime, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966. Teale and his wife donated their land to the Connecticut Audubon Society. His papers at the Archives & Special Collections include field notes, drafts for his books, magazine and newspaper articles, letters, family documents, photographs, and his personal library. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134418 .
To find a digitized copy of Teale’s “Trail Wood Journal” from 1962-1965, go to https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860204261#page/1/mode/2up

John K. Terres Papers: Award-winning author and naturalist John Terres was born in 1905 in Pennsylvania. He attended Cornell University and New York University before becoming a field biologist for the Soil Conservation Service in 1936. He wrote and edited more than fifty books concerning natural history, and became well known for his books on North American birds. One of his best-selling books, Songbirds in Your Garden (1968), teaches readers how to attract and feed birds in their own backyards. Another acclaimed book, The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds (1980), earned Terres the Merit Award of Art Directions Club of New York and the Silver Medal and Citation from the German government. The collection includes Terres’ professional and personal correspondence, research notes, publications, photographs, and manuscripts of his work.The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860124281

Margaret Waring Buck Papers: Buck was a Connecticut-based naturalist and artist. She illustrated a variety of books on the natural world, including Where They Go in Winter, published in 1968, and Animals Through the Year, published in 1979. Buck also practiced and wrote about physiognomy, the study of face reading. Her papers contain original artwork and manuscript items for several of her books. The collection also holds her personal papers, including photographs, notebooks, and newspaper clippings. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138800

We invite you to view these items in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

The Kid in Upper 4, a wartime advertising campaign of the New Haven Railroad

The first in The Kid in Upper 4 advertising campaign, reprinted in the December 1942 issue of the New Haven Railroad’s employee magazine Along the Line.

During World War II the New Haven Railroad, which provided passenger and freight service to southern New England including New York City and Boston, found that despite wartime stresses on the railroad company the riding public would consistently and constantly complain about poor service. The railroad suffered during the Great Depression but had a resurgence during the war, which began in December 1941. Its efforts to transport troops, munitions and other wartime supplies to the ports, which were then shipped to the various war fronts in Europe, North Africa and Asia, strained the railroad’s limited resources and resulted in fewer seats and trains available for the general riding public.

The railroad soon turned to its advertising agency, the Wendall P. Colton Company of Boston, to find a way to mollify the complaints and griping. The agency’s first efforts tried to educate the public about the important role played by the New Haven Railroad in the country’s efforts to win the war and defeat fascism. Two ads, “Right of Way for Fighting Might,” which ran in newspapers in New York City and New England in October 1942, and “Thunder Along the Line,” which ran in November 1942, were marginally effective and the complaints continued.

In late 1942 the advertising company gave control of the campaign to Nelson Metcalf, Jr., a 29-year-old Harvard graduate who was fairly new to the advertising profession. Metcalf decided that the best approach was to talk directly to the readers of the ad and play at their emotions. At that time the war touched virtually every citizen of the country, and almost every rider of the railroad had a father, husband, brother or son in the military. Metcalf’s approach played on the thoughts of one soldier, to which all could relate, going to the front on a troop train.

The ad included an image of a fresh-faced young man lying awake in a berth in a sleeping car, and the prose of the ad could not be more compelling. Here is the text in full:

It is 3:42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
This is no ordinary trip. It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war. Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.
One is wide awake … listening … staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4.
Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things – and big ones.
The taste of hamburgers and pop … the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway … a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
The pretty girl who writes so often … that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station … the mother who knit the socks he’ll wear soon.
Tonight he’s thinking them over.
There’s a lump in his throat. And maybe – a tear fills his eye.
It doesn’t matter, Kid. Nobody will see … it’s too dark.
A couple of thousand miles away, where he’s going, they don’t know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.
Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand enroute – it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you – it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner – it is so he … and thousands like him … may have a meal they won’t forget in the days to come.
For to treat him as our most honored guest is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude.

The ad ran first in the New York Herald Tribune, on November 22, 1942. It was immediately obvious that the ad struck a chord with not just the railroad’s ridership but across America. The railroad and the ad agency immediately started fielding calls and receiving letters with positive responses from the public, other businesses in the industry, and government offices. The ad was soon running in newspapers around the country, as well as Life, Newsweek and Time magazines.It was used to raise money for the Red Cross, to sell U.S. War Bonds, and by the U.S. Army to build morale among servicemen.

As noted by Charles Pinzon and Bruce Swain in their Journalism History article of Fall 2002 about the ad campaign, “by the end of January 1943 even competing railroads had hung full-color posters of the advertisement in their terminals. Within four months of its publication a radio station had dramatized the ad, [famous comedian and actor] Eddie Cantor had read the copy over the air on his hit radio show, a popular song had been written and MGM was in production on a film short.” By March 1943 55,000 reprints had been requested.

The New Haven Railroad was delighted by the ad’s success and ordered the ad agency and Metcalf to create similar “Kid” ads. Although the additional ads, for “The Kid in the Convoy,” “The Kid in the Ward Car,” and others, were similar in tone, none had as much of an impact as the original “Kid” ad. The agency and Metcalf received multiple journalism awards and the railroad was able to guilt the riding public into ceasing their complaints about bad service, at least for a while.

James Twitchell’s book 20 Ads That Shook the World, published in 2000, lists “The Kid in Upper 4” among the most successful campaigns in American history but notes that its success was based on the fact that unlike the typical advertisement it was not selling anything but was “drawing attention away from the client’s lousy product.”

The “Kid” ads shown above are those published in the New Haven Railroad’s employee magazine Along the Line, which can be found in our digital repository at
https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860565482

Resources in the Archives on Immigration and Ethnic Groups in Connecticut

When John Lukasavicius first came to this country, he went weeks without seeing the sun. In 1903, Lukasavicius left his native Lithuania at the age of twenty to join his father in the Pennsylvania coal fields. Soon after he arrived, he found himself heading underground before sunrise and working in the pits until after dark. He only lasted three weeks. Lukasavicius told his father he didn’t like the miner’s life, and left to look for something better.

He joined some relatives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he found work in a furniture factory. This job was more to his liking. Not only did it pay better, but bright sunlight streamed in through the windows each day, bathing the shop floor in a warm glow. Despite his rough beginnings, Lukasavicius grew to enjoy his new life in the United States, eventually settling in New Britain, Connecticut.

Lukasavicius told his story to an employee of the Works Progress Administration in 1939. Created by President Franklin Roosevelt four years earlier, the WPA grew to be one of the largest and most diverse New Deal jobs programs. It employed millions during the Great Depression, often in public works projects like roads, bridges, and dams. But it also hired writers, artists, and photographers to study and document local communities.

One such project was the Connecticut Ethnic Survey, a local part of the larger WPA Ethnic Group Survey conducted by the Federal Writers’ Project. Harry Alsberg, head of the Federal Writers’ Project, wanted to represent America’s diverse population in their work. Connecticut would prove a welcome site for the project since by the 1930s, immigrants made up two-thirds of the population.

For researchers interested in the history of Connecticut’s ethnic heritage and immigration, Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut holds a wealth of material on these subjects. In addition to the extensive files of the Federal Writers’ Project, the archive also holds a number of valuable oral history collections that provide a direct window onto the lives and experiences of the state’s many peoples. Among the relevant collections are:

Connecticut Federal Writers’ Project (Works Projects Administration) The collection comprises research materials for the Connecticut Ethnic Survey, carried out by the local office of the WPA Federal Writers’ Project between 1936 and 1939. The material covers all aspects of the immigrants experience and represents people from England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, and other European countries. It also covers the experience of African Americans who migrated to Connecticut during the Great Migration. Along with surveys and interviews with individuals, the material contains extensive written research produced by WPA employees on work, housing, history, community organizations, education, racial resentment, and many other aspects of the immigrant experience. While a finding aid is not available online, an extensive card catalog is available for researchers to consult in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Digitized materials can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19720002

University of Connecticut, Peoples of Connecticut Project Records The collection comprises a wide variety of material from the Peoples of Connecticut Project. The Project began in 1974 with the goal of educating students about Connecticut’s ethnic heritage. Through research, oral history, and curriculum development, the project provided teaching and learning guides to help students learn about the Connecticut’s rich ethnic heritage. Materials from all aspects of the project are reflected in the collection, from administrative and research files, curriculum guides, bibliographies, and photographs. The oral history materials have been moved to the Center for Oral History Interviews Collection. The finding aid is available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860140982 and digitized material can be found here: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002:19790014

University of Connecticut, Center for Oral History Interviews Collection The collection comprises interview transcripts conducted by the University of Connecticut Center for Oral History, and individuals and programs associated with the Center. The Center began life as the Oral History Project in 1968 and after expanding over the 1970s was made a center by the UConn Board of Trustees in 1981. Among other collections, the Center holds the oral history transcripts for interviews conducted as part of the Peoples of Connecticut Project. These interviews were conducted by Professor Bruce Stave, who also served as Director of the Center. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133922 and digitized material can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19840025

Waterbury (CT) Area Immigrant Oral History Collection, University of Connecticut Urban and Community Studies Program The collection comprises digitized transcripts from oral history interviews conducted by students enrolled in Professor Ruth Glasser’s history courses at the University of Connecticut, Waterbury campus. Most of the interviews are with immigrants living in Waterbury and surrounding towns who came to the United States after 1965. Immigrants from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico, are well represented. As are immigrants from Albania and ethnic Albanians from Macedonia. But the collection also features interviews with immigrants from other parts of Europe, Asia, the Cape Verde islands, and elsewhere. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860115453 and digitized material can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A20090014

Italians of New London Oral History Collection The collection comprises video tape recordings of oral history interviews with people of Italian descent living in the area of New London, Connecticut. The interviews were conducted by Jerome Fischer, director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, based in New London. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860120112

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.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Resources in the Archives: Pre-1830 Materials

While most of the papers, records, and collections housed in the Archives & Special Collections date from the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we do get inquiries for documents from periods before the 1830s. There are a variety of collections that document the history of Connecticut and the United States before the 1830s, some even dating from the colonial period. Some of these collections include materials on the administration of the local and federal government, such as the Gaines Collection of Americana. Other collections, such as the records from the Slater Company and Hartford Bank, present a variety of lenses with which to view the establishment and growth of influential Connecticut businesses. Also collections which have documents before 1830 include the personal papers of Connecticut families. Family papers, besides being valuable for genealogical purposes, offer a wealth of information in the form of deeds, wills, receipts, and personal correspondence and papers. One notable example is the Henry Hill Papers, which includes a journal documenting life on a plantation in Brazil in the 1820s.

Local and Federal Government documents:

Gaines Collection of Americana: this collection contains a variety of documents from 1786 through 1842, which were collected by Connecticut scholar and attorney, Pierce Welch Gaines (1905-1977). The materials in this collection include legal documents, personal and professional correspondence, receipts, and official reports issued by the federal and state government. One notable document signed by Alexander Hamilton in 1790 details the Treasury Department’s concern with the payment of duties. The collection contains other interesting examples of commerce and government business during the early American republic, some detailing aspects of Connecticut’s history. For example, the collection includes a tax notice issued by Connecticut’s government from 1800 announcing the tax on “Dwelling-Houses, Lands and Slaves” within the district. Gaines also collected political pamphlets and periodicals, some related to Connecticut’s constitutional politics in the early nineteenth century, however these are part of the library’s main catalog. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138330

Connecticut Business & Local History

Slater Company Records: These records detail the history of a Griswold, Connecticut cotton textile mill shortly after its founding in 1809. First established by John and Lafayette Tibbits in the Jewett City borough of Griswold, the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company experienced limited success until it was eventually sold to Samuel and John Slater in 1823. Samuel Slater had immigrated to America from England in 1789 and built the U.S.’s first cotton mill in Rhode Island, and with the help of his brother, incorporated the latest technological advancements from England. The Slater brothers made significant improvements to the Jewett mill, turning it into a prosperous cotton manufacturer and providing employment for many in the area. The mill remained under the control of the Slater family for the rest of the nineteenth century. Much of the materials in this collection concern the financial business of the Slater mill at Jewett City. These include administrative accounts, correspondence, daybooks, cashbooks, ledgers, as well as labor and production records. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860135006

Hartford National Bank & Trust Company Records: this collection includes documents from the Hartford Bank from the late eighteenth century through the twentieth century. Established through the efforts of influential Connecticut men, including Noah Webster, John Trumbull, and Jeremiah Wadsworth, the bank was granted a charter from the state on May 29, 1792. It opened to the public on August 8, 1792 on Pearl Street in Hartford. Although it would eventually move to other locations, the bank has always been an important part of Hartford’s business center, and it contributed to the development of Connecticut’s insurance industry. It became the Hartford National Bank in 1865, when it became part of the national bank system. The collection includes financial records dating back to 1792, some of which include daybooks, deposit ledgers, checkbooks, and balance sheets. Also part of the collection are an assortment of corporate records, such as minute books, records of agreements and contracts, and correspondence, with some documents dating to before 1830. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860289303

Hartford National Corporation Records: In 1969, the Hartford National Bank and Trust Company was purchased by the Hartford National Corporation (HNC). The documents in this collection supplement the Hartford National Bank & Trust Company Records, as they include records from the Hartford Bank from the time of its founding. The pre-1830 records in this collection includes an assortment of financial records, such as a daybook, ledgers, and a record of original subscriptions.
The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860124073

Hampton Antiquarian and Historical Society Collection: this collection is comprised of the Hampton Antiquarian and Historical Society’s archive. While the collection includes items that date up until the early twentieth century, it also contains a variety of documents from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that illustrate the lives and business of people who lived in Hampton, Connecticut. Documents dating before 1830 in this collection include wills, deeds, and family letters, as well as store ledgers and account books from businesses in Hampton. Also included are official town documents, for example legal contracts and correspondence concerning road construction in the area.  The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860133980

Wauregan and Quinebaug Company Records: this collection holds the records of the Wauregan and Quinebaug textile mills, as well as a variety of documents related to members of the Atwood family, who were connected to the management of the mills from the early nineteenth century. While most of the materials in this large collection date from between 1850 and 1950, there are some records before 1830. These detail Atwood family history, and include land transactions, surveys, and deeds going back to 1809. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134117

Sargent and Company Records: Founded in the mid-nineteenth century, Sargent and Company was a manufacturer of locks and hardware based in New Haven, Connecticut. Established by Joseph B. Sargent, Sargent and Company began as a commission business in New York City. In 1865, Sargent moved his company to New Haven, Connecticut, where it made small hardware items which were then sold to manufactures in New York. By 1900, the company had grown to become one of the largest in the lock and hardware industry. Most of the records in this collection are from after 1850, however it contains earlier materials related to Joseph Sargent and his family. This includes family correspondence (the earliest from 1720), as well as records such as receipts and contracts that detail the business and finances of the Sargent family from the early nineteenth century. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134544

Family Papers:

Fitts Family Papers: this collection is made up of personal documents from a family located in Ashford, Connecticut. The primary individuals mentioned in the collection are Stephen Fitts, John Moore, and Frederick Knowlton. The collection includes correspondence, legal papers, bills and receipts, tax records, deeds, and other papers dating from 1770 to 1909.  The finding aid can be found at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860128094

Leavenworth Family Papers: this collection includes both personal and professional documents that span many generations of the Leavenworth family of Connecticut. The first Leavenworth documented in the collection is David Leavenworth, who fought in the Revolutionary War. The collection contains a small assortment of legal documents from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many of which concern the granting and division of land. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860118336#ref3

Smith Family Papers: The Smith family founded and ran mills in the Canterbury area of Connecticut from the mid-eighteenth century until the 1940s. The collection includes personal and business-related documents, including letters, financial records, ledgers, account books, and daybooks, with the earliest business records date from 1774. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138668

T.S. Gold Family Papers: this collection contains a wide variety of personal papers, legal and financial documents, correspondence, printed material, and memorabilia regarding the Gold and Cleveland families. Much of the collection details the life and work of Theodore Sedgwick Gold (1818-1906), who was the co-founder of the Cream Hill Agricultural School in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Gold also helped establish the Connecticut State Agricultural Society in 1853, and was a trustee of the Storrs Agricultural School from 1881 to 1901. While most of the collection dates from the second half of the nineteenth century, it contains a number of legal and financial documents from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, as well as family letters from the 1820s. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134074

Henry Hill Papers: this collection contains family correspondence to and from Henry Hill, who was born in Guilford, Connecticut in 1778. Hill was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1808 as U.S. Consul to San Salvador, Brazil. He resigned from this post due to health issues in 1819, and moved to a large plantation, Columbiano. Eventually, in 1833, he returned with his family to the U.S., and lived in Buffalo, New Yok, until his death in 1841. The Henry Hill Papers include many personal letters from Henry Hill to his wife, Lucy, before she joined him in Brazil. In one notable letter to Lucy, Hill gives a description of San Salvador upon his arrival. The collection also contains letters from Henry and Lucy’s children and other family members. Besides correspondence, the collection includes financial and government documents, as well as a fascinating account of Hill’s voyage to Columbiano, which includes details of everyday life on a plantation growing coffee, cotton, and sugar cane. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860120373#ref3

We invite you to view these items in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

Resources in the Archives on the Civil Rights Movement as depicted in Children’s Literature

She had not sought this moment but she was ready for it. When the policeman bent down to ask “Auntie, are you going to move?” all the strength of all the people through all those many years joined in her. She said, “No.”—From Rosa

Imagining the moment when Rosa Parks was arrested for protesting segregation in 1955, Nikki Giovanni is one of many authors of children’s literature who has made the history of the Civil Rights Movement accessible to a younger audience. By focusing on well-known and pivotal events that helped to galvanize the movement, such as Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus, or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, authors and illustrators bring to life the struggle of African Americans who fought for equal rights under the law during the 1950s and 1960s. Books like Rosa educate young readers about the fight for social justice during a time of rampant racial discrimination and inequality for blacks in America. Introducing children to concepts such as racial violence and intolerance, authors and illustrators have the delicate task of explaining these concepts in a way that will encourage empathy in young readers. They often do so by depicting this history through the eyes of children, and considering how children would have participated in or been affected by these events.

Many titles on the topic of Civil Rights can be found in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at Archives & Special Collections. These books tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in different ways, from how people joined in historic marches, to the methods people used to stand up against segregation. Some of them focus specifically on historical figures, such as Rosa Parks and Dr. King, in order to show their courage in times of adversity and to honor their legacy. These books are valuable resources for educators in elementary and middle schools. As the country continues to grapple with the effects of its past, educating young readers about this aspect of U.S. history is an important step in encouraging tolerance and awareness.

The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection available at Archives & Special Collections includes a variety of titles concerning the Civil Rights Movement, most of which have been published within the last twenty years (note that the call number for each book is placed after the year of publication):

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott:

  • Edwards, Pamela Duncan, The Bus Ride that Changed History (2005) CLC C4260
  • Giovanni, Nikki. Rosa (2005) CLC C4109
  • Kittinger, Jo S., Rosa’s Bus (2010) CLC D6405
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation (2008) CLC D2342
  • Reynolds, Aaron, Back of the Bus (2010) CLC D2710
  • Romito, Dee, Pies from Nowhere: how Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2018) CLC D9629

Historic Marches:

  • Clark-Robinson, Monica, Let the Children March (2018) CLC D9667
  • Evans, Shane, We March (2012) CLC D6844
  • Johnson, Angela, A Sweet Smell of Roses (2005) CLC D1393
  • Partridge, Elizabeth, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary (2009) CLC D2448
  • Shelton, Paula Young, Child of the Civil Rights Movement (2010) CLC D6401
  • Swain, Gwenyth, Riding to Washington (2008) CLC D2562

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

  • Bausum, Ann, Marching to the Mountaintop: how Poverty, Labor Fights, and Civil Rights set the Stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Hours (2012) CLC C8192
  • Bolden, Tonya, M.L.K.: Journey of a King (2007) CLC C5135
  • Bunting, Eve, The Cart that Carried Martin (2013) CLC D7202
  • Duncan, Alice Faye, Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: the Sanitation Strike of 1968 (2018) CLC D9630
  • Michelson, Richard. As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom (2008) CLC C5719
  • Nelson, Kadir, I Have a Dream (2012) CLC D6631
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song (2013) CLC D6995
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Martin Rising: Requiem for a King (2018) CLC D9631
  • Rappaport, Doreen. Martin’s Big Words: the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001) CLC D591
  • Woodson, Jacqueline. Martin Luther King, Jr., and His Birthday. 1990. CLC A14499

Desegregation of schools

  • Coles, Robert, The Story of Ruby Bridges (1995) CLC D9093
  • Kanefield, Teri, The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement (2014) CLC D7890
  • Rappaport, Doreen, The School is not White! A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement (2005) CLC D1435
  • Tonatiuh, Duncan, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (2014) CLC D7573

Other notable books:

  • Bass, Hester, Seeds of Freedom: the Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama (2015) CLC D8280
  • Brantley-Newton, Vanessa. Let Freedom Sing (2009) CLC D2570
  • Corey, Shana, A Time to Act: John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech (2017) CLC D9519
  • Haskins, James, Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement (1997) CLC C1349
  • Hunter-Gault, Charlayne, To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement (2012) CLC C8284
  • Levy, Debbie, We Shall Overcome: the Story of a Song (2013) CLC D7194
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down (2010) CLC D2808
  • Ramsey, Calvin A., Ruth and the Green Book (2010) CLC D2670
  • Ramsey, Calvin A. & Bettye Stroud, Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend: A Civil Rights Story (2011) CLC D6351
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston, Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro Sit-ins (2005) CLC D1389
  • ZuHone, Diane, This is the Dream (2006) C9893

We invite you to view these items in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

Resources in the Archives on the History of Rights

 

The concept of rights stretches back centuries, if not millennia. Whether the natural rights of the Ancient Greeks or their Enlightenment descendants, the Rights of Woman in the Age of Revolution, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II, ideas about, and claims for, rights have accompanied many of the major events and developments in world history.

Organizing and advocacy around rights played an especially important role in the course of U.S. history. The early twentieth century experienced an efflorescence of movements agitating for women’s rights, African-American rights, the right to protest and free speech, among many others. The decades after World War II saw a similar flowering of activity around rights, whether revitalized versions of the aforementioned movements or subterranean currents rising to the surface as with movements for LGBTQ and disability rights.

Later decades also saw the emergence of movements around consumer protections and human rights, in the United States and abroad. But whatever their subject, individuals and organizations dedicated to expanding rights help us to understand how people throughout history have contested authority, protested discrimination, and secured official recognition.

Archives & Special Collections of the University of Connecticut Library holds a wealth of materials for those interested in exploring the history of rights in greater depth, especially the history of local movements in Connecticut. Among the relevant collections are:

Connecticut Commission on Civil Rights Collection. Founded in 1943, the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission aimed to help the State of Connecticut overcome problems of racial discrimination and prejudice. The organization focused its efforts on gathering information about racial discrimination in the state; investigating incidents of discrimination and filing legal sanctions when appropriate; and educating the public about the state’s diverse population and the problems of racial and ethnic discrimination. The collection consists of pamphlets distributed to state offices on the commission’s work and related issues, as well as bulletins and pamphlets related to state and federal civil rights legislation. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860113036

Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Records. The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, a local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, was founded in 1949 as the New Haven Civil Liberties Council. The CCLU is a non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to upholding the rights of Connecticut residents. The collection consists of archival materials documenting the CCLU’s work and history. The records contain the administrative files of the New Haven Civil Liberties Council (1949-1958), the administrative files of the CCLU (1958-1990), as well as material relating to some of the CCLU’s major court cases, such as Women’s Health Services v. Maher (1979-1981), Doe v. Maher (1981-1990), and Sheff v. O’Neill (1989-1998). These latter records consist of court documents, trial transcripts, correspondence, and research materials. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860124277

Connecticut Citizen Action Group Records. Founded in 1971, the Connecticut Citizens Action Group was the state’s first consumer advocacy organization. Created by Ralph Nader and led by Toby Moffett, the CCAG directed its efforts at informing, organizing, and mobilizing the citizens of Connecticut to take action on issues relevant to their everyday lives. The group helped lead local residents in campaigns against illegal business practices, consumer fraud, utility-rate increases, and environmental pollution, among many other issues. The collection consists of significant archival materials documenting most of the major consumer and public interest issues taken up by the organization. It also contains records on the organization’s history, structure, chapters, and other institutional information. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860133772

Phyllis Zlotnick Papers. Phyllis Zlotnick was a pioneering disability advocate from Connecticut. Born in 1942, Zlotnick had muscular dystrophy, an inherited disease that causes the loss of muscle mass. Using a wheelchair to get around, Zlotnick spent most of her early life and education facing obstacles to accessibility. In response, she dedicated much of her professional life to advocating for people with disabilities. She worked as a legislative liaison for Connecticut Easter Seals and later for Connecticut General Assembly member Ernie Abate. She also served on the National Council on Disability and helped to draft the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark piece of legislation passed in 1990. Zlotnick was an expert on issues of accessibility and a fierce advocate for disability rights. The collection consists of newspaper clippings, photos, personal records, advocacy literature, and other media related to Zlotnick’s life and work. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860356463

Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers. U. Roberto (Robin) Romano was an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and human rights educator. Through photography, film, and educational activity, Romano documented the lives, poverty, and rehabilitation of children around the world. His work focused, in particular, on the issue of child labor, and his papers contain material on carpet making in South Asia, resource extraction in West Africa, and migrant farm labor in the United States, among other topics. His extensive collection of papers consists of photographic prints, digital video, educational publications, research files, correspondence, and much more. Much of this material is available through our online collections as digitized or born-digital materials. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860115768

Marriage Equality and LGBT Activism in Connecticut Oral History Collection. In 1991, Connecticut became one of a few states to pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination law concerning sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. The state also helped lead the way in advancing LGBTQ rights with laws around adoption, civil unions, and same-sex marriage. The Marriage Equality and Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Activism in Connecticut Oral History Project was a pilot project of Archives & Special Collections. The collection consists of eleven oral histories with leading activists in Connecticut who have been a part of the marriage equality movement and involved in other forms of LGBTQ activism in the state and beyond. The interviews were conducted by Valerie Love and transcriptions for some are available through our online collections. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860114422

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.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Resources in the Archives for the History of Photography in the 19th Century

 

Photography, or the process of recording an image through the manipulation of light on a light-sensitive material, has undergone a significant evolution since the invention of the first complete photographic process in the 1820s by Nicéphore Niépce. Building on Niépce’s work, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre created the first photographic process available to the public in 1839. Known as the daguerreotype, it consisted of a detailed image on a sheet of silver-plated copper, and was popular between 1842 and 1856. In order to create an image, the plate was coated in light-sensitive silver iodide, and then placed inside of a camera and exposed to light. After exposure, the plate was developed using heated mercury, which reacted to the iodide and formed an image through the combination of silver mercury. The image was then fixed through a solution of salt. Daguerreotypes were particularly susceptible to damage such as tarnishing, and thus were usually placed behind glass and a metal mat inside of a small case.

The next major photographic process was the ambrotype. First appearing in 1854, the ambrotype was popular from 1855 to 1861. They were made using a collodion process, which involved coating a piece of glass with a layer of iodized collodion, and immersing the glass in a solution of silver nitrate to form silver iodide. While still wet, the plate was exposed to light in the camera, and then developed and fixed immediately. Ambrotypes consisted of an image on the front side of a single plate of glass, with the back of the glass covered with a piece of black paper or cloth, so that the negative appearing image looked positive. Like daguerreotypes, they were delicate and thus were placed in a case under a protective mat and glass.

Derived from the ambrotype was the tintype, which was invented in 1856. The tintype was popular between 1860 and 1870, and it relied on the collodion process like the ambrotype. However, instead of glass, the image was produced on a thin sheet of iron covered by a lacquer or enamel coating. Tintypes were commonly used for portraiture, however they were the first photographic process to capture a wide array of subjects, because they were relatively easy to produce and were inexpensive. Tintypes were commonly displayed in paper envelopes or folding cards.

The carte de visite was the next important development in photography. Appearing 1859, this type of photography was popular between 1860 and 1880, and had a significant impact on consumer photography. This process was particularly attractive to consumers because the materials were less expensive than in other photographic processes, and the image had a more natural appearance than the tintype due to its use of the albumen process of printing. It was also the first photographic process to use a glass negative, which meant that multiple copies of the image could be produced. As a result, people started collecting and sharing photographs on a large scale, and photograph albums started to become popular in the early 1860s. Carte de visite images were developed on a very thin sheet of paper, which was then affixed to a piece of card stock, and were all the same size.

The cabinet card followed the carte de visite. First developed in 1866, this type of photography was popular between 1875 and 1900. The cabinet card became known for its use as the best medium for the family portrait. It was developed using the same process as the carte de visite, however the image of the cabinet card was more than double the size of the carte de visite. Initially, the quality of the image was not that different from the carte de visite, however by the 1880s, advancements in camera technology and the introduction of new photographic papers led to significant improvements in image quality.

The collections available at Archives & Special Collections allow us to trace the development of photography throughout the nineteenth century:

  • American Brass Company Records: Founded in 1893 with the consolidation of several different companies, the American Brass Company grew to become one of the largest brass manufacturers in U.S. history. The collection includes records and items dating from around 1800 to 1978. An important part of the collection consists of photographs that detail aspects of the company’s long history. The types of nineteenth-century photographs included in this collection are daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and cabinet cards. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860129472.
  • Margaret Waring Buck Papers: This collection consists of the personal papers and memorabilia of illustrator and naturalist Margaret Waring Buck (1905-1972). Besides original artwork and manuscripts, the collection contains many photographs from the nineteenth century. This collection includes examples of the daguerreotype, ambrotype, tintype, and carte de visite. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138800.
  • University Railroad Collection: This collection is made up of a wide variety of publications, reports, maps, artwork, and photography all associated with the history of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Formed in 1872 when the New York & New Haven and Hartford & New Haven railroads merged, the company became the primary method of transportation in southern New England. Examples of daguerreotype and ambrotype photography can be found in this collection as part of the Ferdinand Leppens Papers. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860140983.
  • Oliver O. Jensen Papers: This collection consists of the personal and professional writings, records, manuscripts, and photographs of writer and editor Oliver O. Jensen (1914-2005). Examples of the tintype, carte de visite, and cabinet card can be found in this collection. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860118803.
  • Ellen Emmet Rand Papers: This collection is made up of biographical materials of painter and illustrator Ellen Emmet Rand (1875-1941). It includes tintypes from Rand’s family history. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860257637.
  • Human Development and Family Studies Department Collection of Photographs and Ephemera: This collection features many examples of the tintype, carte de visite, and cabinet card. The finding aid to the University of Connecticut Photograph Collection is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860133571

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center if you need resources on history of photography. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.