Background Sources for Connecticut
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This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG, in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Connecticut’s wealth and centralization of genealogical sources is matched by its compilations of genealogies, guidebooks, place-name directories, and local historical materials.
Perhaps the grandparent of genealogical compilations for an entire community is Donald Lines Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven (1922–32; reprint, 9 vols. in 3, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981), which covers the families settled in New Haven before 1800. It comprises the families in the towns of New Haven, East Haven, North Haven, Hamden, Bethany, Woodbridge, and West Haven and incorporates vital, church, cemetery, probate, court, and town records.
Similar compilations were done by others for Guilford, Hartford, Milford, and Wallingford. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register has included a succession of articles on Connecticut families that has been reprinted in three volumes as Genealogies of Connecticut Families (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983).
A comprehensive bibliography to local history can be found in Roger Parks, ed., Connecticut: A Bibliography of its History (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1986).
Although not limited to Connecticut people only, Fremont Rider’s American Genealogical-Biographical Index (Middletown, Conn.: Godfrey Memorial Library, 1952-present) has its roots in this state. Updated in alphabetical volumes, this unusual index crosses many census records, genealogies, tax lists, and other sources to provide the researcher with a thumbnail indication of different surnames at different times and places. In the days before indexing became the norm for genealogical work, this publication provided one of the first comprehensive indexes not specifically focused on periodicals. A CD-ROM version is now available. See also:
- Abbe, Elizabeth. “Connecticut Genealogical Research: Sources and Suggestions,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 134 (January 1980): 3-26.
- Bushman, Richard L. From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690–1765. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967. This excellent study encourages a broad overview of understanding the individual in relationship to the community. Studying the psychological and economic underpinnings of a community increases awareness of motivation of our ancestors.
- Hughes, Arthur H., and Morse S. Allen. Connecticut Place Names. Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1976. This thick, excellent place-name directory lists rivers, topographical features, names of Native American origin, towns and sections of towns, and geological points. It has an excellent cross-index. This is important because early churches, post offices, and industrial sections often had different names from the incorporated town in which they were located.
- Kemp, Thomas Jay. Connecticut Researcher’s Handbook. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981. Although most addresses and telephone numbers listed are now obsolete, this guidebook still provides a solid bibliography by subject and a town-by-town description of resources available.
- Morrison, Betty Jane. Connecting to Connecticut. East Hartford: Connecticut Society of Genealogists, 1995. As a researcher’s perspective on the sources in Connecticut and how to use them, this makes an important contribution.
- Secretary of State. Connecticut State Register and Manual. Hartford, Conn.: Secretary of State, annually. Known as the Blue Book, this reference guide to state and town information with addresses, phone numbers, and hours of operation is essential in pursing records in person in town offices.
- Sperry, Kip. Connecticut Sources for Family Historians and Genealogists. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 1980. The itemization of resources indicates availability on the local level, including an excellent listing and description of the archives available at the Connecticut State Library. Those materials on microfilm through The Family History Library (FHL) are indicated as well.