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Research Guide to Materials Relating to the History of Industry and Commerce at the Connecticut State Library

The State Library's History and Genealogy Unit, State Archives, and Museum of Connecticut History hold numerous items of interest to those researching Connecticut's industrial and commercial heritage. While this research guide is not intended to be an exhaustive checklist, it should provide you with an overview of the wide variety of such materials available at the State Library. For additional items, check the Library's main catalog under the headings "Manufacturers" and "Industries", as well as under the names of specific industries and specific companies.

Please note: Many of these materials are housed in the State Archives. Materials designated as "Archives", "Main Vault", or "SpecColl" are subject to the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections Materials. Materials may not be available on a same day basis. Please see the Guidelines on the Use of Offsite and Secured Collections.

  • Published Resources
  • Maps, Atlases, and City Directories
  • Industrial Censuses
  • Vertical File Resources
  • Archival and Manuscript Resources
  • Museum of Connecticut History Resources
  • Published Resources
    Connecticut. Board of Trade. Connecticut: Industrial, Agricultural, Historical and Other Facts Concerning a Progressive State. Hartford: Board of Trade, 1914 [CSL call number ConnDoc T 67coi 1914].

    Connecticut Business Directory, Containing the Name, Location and Business of the Principal Manufacturing Establishments, Mercantile Firms, &c., for the Year 1851. New Haven: J. H. Benham, 1851 [HF 5065 .C8 C675 1851].

    Day, Clive. The Rise of Manufacturing in Connecticut, 1820-1850. Tercentenary Pamphlet Series, no. 44. [New Haven]: Published for the Tercentenary Commission by the Yale University Press, 1934 [HistRef ConnDoc T 271h].

    Fuller, Grace Pierpont. An Introduction to the History of Connecticut as a Manufacturing State. Northampton, MA: Department of History of Smith College, 1915 [HC 107.C8 .F85 1915].

    Osborn, Norris Galpin. History of Connecticut in Monographic Form, vol. 4. New York: The States History Co., 1925 [F 94 .O82 1925].

    Pease John C. and John M. Niles. A Gazetteer of the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island: Written with Care and Impartiality, From Original and Authentic Materials: Consisting of Two Parts...: With an Accurate and Improved Map of Each State. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1991 [CSL call number HistRef F 92 .P36 1991]. This book is an excellent guide for those researching Connecticut's industrial history. Originally published in 1819, the book gives statistical information on each county and town in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The principle manufacturing industries for each town, as well as the number of dwelling houses, roads, churches, schools and businesses are listed.

    Roe, Joseph Wickham. Connecticut Inventors. Tercentenary Pamphlet Series, no. 33. [New Haven]: Published for the Tercentenary Commission by the Yale University Press, 1934 [HistRef ConnDoc T 271h].

    Roth, Matthew. Connecticut, An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites. Washington, DC (National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution): Society for Industrial Archeology, 1981 [ 22 .C8 R68 1981].

    Stevenson, Elias R. Connecticut History Makers, Containing Sketches and Portraits of Men Who Have Contributed to the Progress of the State in Manufacturing, Finance, Business, Literature, the Professions, Arts and Other Fields of Activity. Waterbury: American Republican, Inc., 1929- [F 93 .S84].

    Studley, Gerard L. Connecticut the Industrial Incubator. Hartford: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, History and Heritage Committee, Hartford Section, 1982 [HistRef HC 107.C8 S78 1982].

    Turner and Seymour Manufacturing Company. The First Century: A Story of American Enterprise in Connecticut Covering the Years 1848-1948. Torrington: Friends of the Turner and Seymour Manufacturing Company, 1948 [974 .62 T6372tu].

    See also: the Checklist of Manufacturers Catalogs, a copy of which is available at the History and Genealogy Information Desk.

    Published Materials on Specific Connecticut Towns
    Town and county histories often contain information about local industries and manufactures. The list below gives a few examples. Researchers should consult the Library's main catalog for further titles.

    Board of Trade of the City of Hartford. Hartford, Connecticut, as a Manufacturing, Business and Commercial Center: With Brief Sketches of Its History, Attractions, Leading Industries and Institutions. Hartford: Board of Trade, 1889 [HC 108 .H37 H36 1889].

    Cole, J. R. History of Tolland County, Connecticut: Including its Early Settlement and Progress to the Present Time, a Description of its Historic and Interesting Localities, Sketches of Its Towns and Villages, Portraits of Some of Its Prominent Men, and Biographies of Many of Its Representative Citizens. New York: W. W. Preston & Co., 1888 [F102. T6 C6 1888].

    Dwight, Timothy. A Statistical Account of the City of New Haven. New Haven: Walter and Steele, 1811 [SpecColl F 104 .N6 D9].

    Maps, Atlases, and City Directories
    These resources often provide information on the physical location of a company and the years of operation. Researchers should check both the main Library catalog and the map card catalog in the History and Genealogy Reading Room to determine what maps exist for a particular town. Some examples are:

    Beers, F. W. (Frederick W.) Atlas of New Haven County, Connecticut, From Actual Surveys By and Under the Direction of F. W. Beers; Assisted by A. B. Prindle .[et al.] New York: F.W. Beers, A.D. Ellis & G.G. Soule, 1868 [HistRef G 1243 .N3 B4].

    City Directories of the United States. Bridgeport, Connecticut. Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications, [196-] [HistRef F104 .B7 C5 Mfilm] 1862 -1960.

    Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are particularly helpful for outlining the industrial, commercial, and residential sections of cities. There is an index to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps at the Information Desk in the History and Genealogy Reading Room. An example is:

    Sanborn Map Company. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Connecticut, Ansonia - Branford. New York: Sanborn Map Co., [18--?] [912.746 Sa55 Mfilm].

    Industrial Censuses
    Industrial censuses provide a great deal of information on the raw materials used as well as the items produced by Connecticut manufacturers. Many of the censuses list the name of the person or company, the amount of money earned and invested, and the outlook for particular products. (Listed by year):

    Connecticut. Census, 1820. Fourth Census, Census of Manufacturers, 1820 [HistRef 317 .46 C76c 4i Mfilm].

    U.S. Department of the Treasury. Manufactures, Returns from the State of Connecticut. Washington: D. Green, 1833 [HistRef HD 9727.C8 U55 1833z].

    Connecticut. Secretary of the State. Report of the Secretary of the State Relative to Certain Branches of Industry, May Session 1839. Hartford: Patriot Office Press, 1839 [ConnDoc SE 25 1839 reprod].

    Connecticut. Census, 1850. Seventh Census, Products of Industry, 1850 [HistRef 317 .46 Fc76c 7i Mfilm].

    Connecticut. Census, 1860. Eighth Census of the United States. Original Returns of the Assistant Marshals. Industry for the year 1860 in the state of Connecticut [HistRef 317 .46 Fc76c 8 i Mfilm].

    Connecticut. Census, 1870. Ninth Census of the United States. Original Returns of the Assistant Marshals. Industry for the year 1870 in the State of Connecticut [HistRef 317 .46 Fc76c 9 i Mfilm].

    Connecticut. Census, 1880. Tenth Census, Manufacturers, 1880. Connecticut [HistRef 317 .46 Fc76c 10ma Mfilm].

    U.S. Census Office. Report on the Manufacturers of the United States at the Tenth Census (June 1, 1880): Embracing General Statistics and Monographs on Power Used in Manufactures, the Factory System, Interchangeable Mechanism, Hardware, Cutlery, etc., Iron and Steel, Silk Manufacture, Cotton Manufacture, Woolen Manufacture, Chemical Products, and Slat, Glass Manufacture. New York: Norman Ross Publishers, 1991 [FedDoc I 11.5:2 reprint].

    RG 29, Records of the Military Census, 1917-1919. This census was taken prior to Connecticut's involvement in World War I. While the manpower questionnaires have been microfilmed, materials pertaining to the industrial census have not been filmed. They include administrative correspondence, industrial census questionnaires, and a survey of industrial corporations. For a full description of these materials, please see the finding aid for RG 29. Researchers who wish to use these records must follow the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections Materials.

    Vertical File Resources
    The History and Genealogy Unit's local history vertical file is arranged by subject. The majority of the items in the files are newspaper clippings. A few examples are given below:

    Connecticut -- Industry -- Inventors -- Nutcracker

    Connecticut -- Industry -- Copper, Iron, etc. Mines and Mining

    Hartford -- Business and Industry -- History

    Hartford -- Business and Industry -- Insurance

    Archival and Manuscript Resources
    The State Archives also holds numerous records of state agencies. Listed below are brief overviews of several collections that may be of interest to those examining Connecticut's industrial past. This listing is by no means comprehensive and its purpose is to serve as a guide only. For a more complete listing of materials in a particular collection, consult the finding aid for each Record Group (RG). Container lists, where available, may also be consulted. Ask the H&G Librarian for assistance. These records are also subject to the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections Materials. Materials may not be available on a same day basis. Please see the Guidelines on the Use of Offsite and Secured Collections.

    RG 1, Early General Records.
    These early colonial and state materials have been indexed and microfilmed. The original Connecticut Archives volumes are subject to the Guidelines on Use of Restricted Original Archival Records and are available for use only if the microfilm is not legible or is not available. Researchers should check the following series:

    Connecticut Archives: Corporations, 1790-1820.
    Connecticut Archives: Finance and Currency, Series 1, 1677-1789.
    Connecticut Archives: Finance and Currency, Series 2, 1689-1820.
    Connecticut Archives: Finances, 1709-1752.
    Connecticut Archives: Industry, Series 1, 1643-1789.
    Connecticut Archives: Industry, Series 2, 1747-1820.
    Connecticut Archives: Trade and Maritime Affairs, Series 1, 1668-1789.
    Connecticut Archives: Trade and Maritime Affairs, Series 2, 1685-1820.
    Connecticut Archives: Travel, Highways, Ferries, Bridges, Taverns, Series 1, 1700-1788.
    Connecticut Archives: Travel, Highways, Ferries, Bridges, Taverns, Series 2, 1737-1820.

    The Connecticut Archives bound indexes and microfilms are located in the History and Genealogy Reading Room. They are arranged alphabetically by series.

    The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut 1636-1776. (Vols. 1-15) [HistRef ConnDoc G 25].
    The Public Records of the State of Connecticut 1776-. (Vols. 1- ) [HistRef ConnDoc G 25].
    The volumes in these series have been published through the year 1815 and are held by major research libraries throughout the country. The Public Records of the Colony... are also available online as Colonial Connecticut Records. Check the indexes for each volume under headings such as "Corporations" "Factories" "Incorporations" "Industry" and "Manufacturing" as well as under the names of specific trades and manufacturers

    RG 6, Records of the Secretary of the State. See in particular:

    RG 6:22, Register of Chartered Companies, 1864-1865. Includes date of charter, location, etc. Grouped by type of company:
    Articles of Incorporation, Joint Stock Companies, 1837-1945.
    Articles of Incorporation, Chartered Companies, 1845-1943.
    Articles of Incorporation, Voluntary Associations Without Capital, 1874-1945.

    RG 6:32, Records of Articles of Incorporations, 1837-1945.

    RG 6:33, Records of Railroad Mortgages, 1849-1980.

    RG 6:34, Certificates of Adoption of Trademarks, 1880-1961. An index, arranged alphabetically by product name, is available for use in the History and Genealogy Reading Room. Ask a H&G librarian for assistance.

    RG 11, Records of the Insurance Department. Includes annual statements of companies showing capital, assets, liabilities, income, and expenditures, 1872-1874.

    RG 14, Records of the Banking Department. Includes annual statements filed by banks, 1896; charters, incorporation papers, related materials, 1913-1957; receivership files, 1935-1951.

    RG 22, Records of the Commerce Department. Minutes of meetings, correspondence, 1958-1969; lists of chairmen and members, 1939-1971; General Assembly file, 1969; Connecticut Progress (newsletter), 1940-1951; New Britain Industrial Park files, 1957-1973.

    RG 41, Records of the Public Utilities Commission. Administrative files, correspondence, accident reports, investigation reports, hearings, petitions, and applications of the former Railroad Commissioners, 1857-1911 and P.U.C., 1911-1946; papers of the Asylum Street Bridge Commission, 1884-1891; Inspectors, 1877-1881.

    RG 89, Records of the Transportation Department. Turnpike and bridge construction photographs, 1935-1989; bridge construction minutes; reports of transportation studies, State Highway Commission certificates, 1895-1931; tolls, and concessions, 1947-1988; aerial survey photos of Connecticut (1934, 1951, 1965, 1975); boundary perambulation records, 1975-1977; 1986.

    Picture Group 820, Advertising and Business Card Collection ca. 1880-1890. Approximately 2,800 business cards with an emphasis on Hartford merchants. They are arranged by both location and type of product.

    Specific Industries
    The State Archives also holds a wide variety of manuscripts and related materials pertaining to specific Connecticut industries. Researchers are encouraged to check the Manuscripts and Archives catalog located in the History and Genealogy Reading Room under such headings as: Account books, Manufacturers, Merchants, and Shipping as well as under the names of specific industries and specific companies, e.g., Insurance, Railroads, Whaling. These materials are subject to the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections Materials. The following listing is not comprehensive, but was created to serve as a guide to additional manuscripts and archive materials for those researching specific Connecticut industries or products.

    Cameron Manufacturing Company, Orange, Conn. Includes organizational papers, assignment of patent, descriptions and illustrations of the car, and other miscellaneous papers [Main Vault 670 .C13].

    Maxim, Hiarm Percy. [Maxim Collection of papers of Hiram Percy Maxim...] Includes material pertaining to Electric Vehicle Co. and early cars [RG 69:12].

    Hartford Cycle Company, Hartford, Conn. Correspondence of the Hartford Cycle Company, Hartford, Conn., 1890-1895 [Main Vault 974.62 H2572hc].

    Pope Manufacturing Company. Correspondence of the Pope Manufacturing Company, Boston, Mass., with a factory at Hartford, Conn., 1890-1894 [Main Vault 974.62 H2572po].

    Account books; Blacksmith Accounts, Hartford, 1764-1772.

    Barnard, Ashbel. Ashbel Barnard and Isaac Tucker, Jr. Account Book, 1764-June 5, 1772 [Main Vault 974.62 H 2572bar].

    Clocks and Watches
    Camp, Hiram. Sketch of the Clock Making Business, March, 1893 [Main Vault 681 C15].

    Marine Clock Manufacturing Co., Hamden, Conn. Account book, 1847-1875 [Main Vault 974.62 H1772m]. Includes some business records of a clock manufacturing company whose original incorporators included Eli Whitney.

    Upson, Rensseleaer. Account book of Rensselaer Upson, yankee peddler of Bristol, Connecticut, 1822-1835 [Main Vault 974.62 B77u]. Upson carried the usual line of peddler's goods but also did an extensive business in clocks.

    Wheeler, Seth. Papers of Seth Wheeler, clock wholesaler of Avon Connecticut, 1823-1844 [RG 69:47].

    Brown, Isaac W. Agreements made by Isaac W. Brown, late of Massachusetts, now of New Haven, Conn., with others in regard to forming a joint stock company to promote the patent Brown has secured for a new firearm [Main Vault 920 B813].

    RG 69:12, Maxim Collection of papers of Hiram Percy Maxim.... Includes material pertaining to Electric Vehicle Co. and early cars; Maxim Silent Firearms Co., Silencer and guns, airplanes; American Radio Relay League; Amateur Cinema League, the Maxim Gun Company Limited, and the Maxim automatic machine gun.

    RG 103, Records of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company. Correspondence, reports, patents, contracts, catalogs, orders, bills, receipts, account books of Colt's and subsidiary and predecessor companies. See also Picture Group 460, Colt firearms industry collection, which includes photographs, negatives, prints, catalogs, and drawings, including views of the Colt factories, firearms, gun manufacturing equipment, portraits of employees and inventors, mechanical drawings, and advertisements and the Colt Firearms Collection in the Museum of Connecticut History.

    Turner, Gilbert & Company, Coventry. Account books, 1840-1850 [Main Vault 974.62 C8372t].

    Mines and Quarrying
    Bristol Copper Mine, Bristol, Conn. Ledger, April 1852-December 31, 1854. The mine's owner and operator was Eliphalet Nott, who served as President of Union College from 1804-1866 [Main Vault 974 .62 B 777m l].

    Middlesex Quarry Company. North Quarry. Accounts, 1836-1843 [Main Vault 974.61 M58no].

    Essex Marine Railways Co., Essex, Conn. Records, 1834-1861. Includes papers pertaining to organization, original shareholders, copy of lease of ground for railways, 1834; accounts, 1855-1861 [Main Vault 385 .19 Es75].

    See also: RG 41:1, Records of the Public Utilities Commission.

    Ships and Shipping
    Account of the Provisions, etc. shipped on the Draper, Pamela, Sally & other vessels & stored with William Ellery of Hartford & others [Main Vault 387. f5h 64].

    Bernard, Chauncy. Shipping papers, accounts, and letters, showing trade between Hartford and the West Indies, 1799-1850 [Main Vault 387.6 B26].

    Betsy Williams (ship). Log book of the ship Betsy Williams of Stonington, Palmer Hall, master, on a shaling voyage to the northwest coast, Nov. 11, 1846 to January 31, 1849 [Main Vault 639.2 B466].

    Great Britain. Public Records Office. Commerce through the ports of North America, January 5, 1769 to January 5, 1773, arranged by year [Main Vault 387 G77c].

    Jarvis Family Papers, 1756-1811. Business accounts, correspondence, and letterbooks relating to trade between New England, the West Indies, and Europe, 1780-15 [RG 69:22].

    Log book of slave traders between New London, Connecticut and Africa, 1757-1758. Includes the Africa, the Good Hope, and the Fox [Main Vault 387 fL828].

    Prescott & Sherman, New Haven. Day book, 1840-1846 [Main Vault 974.62 N4572pre]. Roger Sherman and his uncle, Benjamin Prescottt, carried on an extensive mercantile business on Long Warf, New Haven, trading in dry goods and groceries and owning and employing many vessels.

    For additional entries, see the Manuscripts and Archives Catalog under the headings "Fish and fisheries," "Merchant ships," "Merchants," "Ship building," "Shipping," and "Whaling".

    Account book of a general store in Chatham, Conn., now East Hampton, Conn., 1813-1815 [Main Vault 974.62 Ea748a]


    Eagle Mill, Griswold, Conn. Records of the Eagle Mill, Griswold, Conn., 1833-1849. Includes time records of factory workers, April, 1838-September 1839 and weaving book, April, 1848-April 1849 [Main Vault 677.2 Ea33].

    Sanseer Manufacturing Company, Middletown, Conn. Correspondence of Sanseer Manufacturing Company of Middletown, Conn., concerning the manufacture and sale of spinning machines..., 1924 [Main Vault 974.62 M584s].


    Account book of J. & E. North, Berlin, Connecticut, Ledger no. 2, 1845-1857 [Main Vault 974 .62 B45nort; also available on microfilm].

    Correspondence of the North family of Berlin, Conn., consisting of business letters written to Jedediah North of Berlin, Conn., concerning the purchase of tools, especially tinmen's tools, 1821-1845, and family letters [Main Vault 920 N812].

    Museum Collections
    The Museum of Connecticut History's Connecticut Collections include many items relating to manufacturing and industry. Other resources include:

    Connecticut Patents, 1890-1900. Hartford: Museum of Connecticut History, 2000 [ConnDoc St292mus cpoa].

    Connecticut Women Patentees, 1890-1900. Hartford: Museum of Connecticut History, 2000 [ConnDoc St292mus copa].

    Connecticut Patent Project. Hartford: Museum of Connecticut History, 1997 [ConnDoc St292mus cpp 1997]. The Connecticut Patent Project is also available online.

    See also: the Checklist of Manufacturers Catalogs, a copy of which is available at the History and Genealogy Information Desk.

    Prepared by the History and Genealogy Unit, Connecticut History, Connecticut State Library, June 2004. 2004.