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Resources for studying African-American Heritage at the CT State Library

Archival Material

The collections listed below are suggestions for research. We hold an amazing amount of additional records. For a list of these collections,   including Manuscripts and Genealogy Materials, please see our Main State Archives Finding Aids page. Also be sure to check our Manuscripts & Archives catalog which is not online, but available in the History  & Genealogy Unit Reading Room. For information about obtaining an archives pass and requesting materials please see our Guide to Using Archives.

Manuscripts & Archives Catalog
Joseph A. Caples Collection, 1864-1952 
(CSL Call # Main Vault 974.62.L 89ca)

Memoirs of a Lyme, Connecticut, farmer who was descended from a former enslaved person named Cuff, who changed his name to Condel when he earned his freedom. Caples describes his family history; his activities as a farmer, hunter and fisherman; the history of Lyme and its inhabitants; and mentions the Mohegan Indians. The narrative is supplemented by photographs, newspaper clippings, calling cards and other memorabilia. The collection comprises three volumes.

State Archives Record Group 002, Records of the General Assembly. 
This Record Group contains petitions, acts, resolutions, appointment and resignation documents, reports of committees and officers, governors’ messages, and other materials related to legislative business.  Many petitions for franchise are included. See in particular materials listed in  Finding Aid to African Americans and Native Americans, 1808-1869 [CSL call number St292ara guro no. 2]

State Archives Record Group 003, Records of the Judicial Department.
Cases involving African Americans are found throughout the records of the Judicial Department.  Some court files so identified are listed in finding aids such as:

Database of Cases in the New London County African Americans Collection, 1701-1774.  Includes cases of   debt, theft, assault, as well as cases involving slaves as property (attachment, disputes over ownership of slaves, fraudulent sale, etc.).

New Haven County Court Minorities Collection . The New Haven County Court Minorities Collection is an artificial collection consisting of cases involving primarily African-descended, African American, Black, and Native American individuals from the Files and Papers by Subject series of New Haven County Court records. 

State Archives Record Group 005, Records of the Governors.

These records contain proclamations and official statements, incoming and outgoing letters, miscellaneous reports, military correspondence, commitment papers, and subject files with titles such as “Afro-Americans”, “Civil Rights”, “Associations”, “Clubs”, and “NAACP”.

State Archives Record Group 013, Records of the Military Department

The Connecticut State Library holds muster rolls, regimental histories, diaries, pictures, and bounty documents pertaining to Connecticut’s participation in all wars, from colonial times though the Vietnam era.  Please see our guide to Military Records for more information. This extensive collection includes records pertaining to the 29th, 30th, and 31st Connecticut Regiments, which were black Civil War regiments. A database for the enlistments that we hold in the Archives is now available.

State Archives Record Group 033, Works Progress Administration.  See in particular the Ethnic Groups Survey and Church Records Survey.

RG 33:8:25, Edited Copies of Papers on Ethnic Groups, 1936-38.  Short reports or monographs by WPA field workers or editors on individual ethnic groups, including “Negroes” in different Connecticut towns. These reports may show the various aspects of  black life and culture in Connecticut. Box 72

RG 33:8:29, Files on Studies of Organizations, 1936-40.  Edited copies of papers on ethnic organizations, together with lists, working papers, and related materials. Box 90

RG 33:8:37, Bridgeport Office File, 1936-40.  Reports of interviews with members of ethnic groups.  Includes reports of interviews of Bridgeport area “Negroes” during 1936-1940. Box 115

RG 33:31, Church Records Survey. African American Churches Survey, 1936-1939. Records surveys sent to primarily African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) churches in the state, plus several congregations that indicated they were part of the Methodist Colored Church South.

State Archives Record Group 062,  Records of the Towns and Boroughs

These records include selectmen’s records, including letters pertaining to paupers; town meeting records, including cases of paupers; town treasurer’s reports with welfare information (dates of death and other genealogical information).

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