Bridgeport History Center, Bridgeport Public Library

Bridgeport History Center, Bridgeport Public Library

925 Broad Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604, USA

Our Collections

Records of the Bridgeport Historical Society Inc., 1956-1970

The Bridgeport Historical Society Inc. was active from 1957 to approximately 1969. While they had a small number of objects, their focus was primarily on the preservation of historic buildings in Bridgeport, laying the groundwork for later individuals and organizations to ensure the long term safety of such buildings.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0183

Air Raid and Civil Defense Collection, 1941-1945

As a manufacturing city during World War II, Bridgeport was a logical target should the warfront move to the east coast of the United States. The Bridgeport War Council, which oversaw the city's defense and preparations, devoted special resources to air raid preparation, defense, and recovery. This collection heavily focuses on the individual zones that Bridgeport was divided into, who was in charge of each zone, and how the city prepared for air attacks should they ever come.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0165

Records of the Russian Famine Relief Fund, 1892

Starting in 1891 and continuing into 1892, poor weather began to impact the area along the Volga River which produced a large amount of food in Russia at that time. A combination of bad weather, outdated farming technology, and ineffective distribution methods resulted in a massive famine. An international response sought to raise funds and provide help to the Russian people. In the United States, the Russian Famine Relief Committee of the United States formed. This included localized efforts for collecting funds, as represented in this collection.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0170

Papers of Anne Drew Hallock, 1893-1931

Anne Drew Hallock was born in 1869. She was a public-school teacher at the Barnum School in Bridgeport, specializing in art. In 1893, she garnered local fame when she rescued three men from drowning. She would go on to continue teaching and promoting the arts and other civic causes in her lifetime.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0176

Papers of Lucille Viets, 1951-1977

Lucille Ohland, later Lucille Viets, was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1901. She came to Bridgeport in the late 1930s as a volunteer with the United Way. She was active within that organization and a large number of other Bridgeport non-profits. This collection contains a sampling of some of her work.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0173

Records of the Connecticut Foreign Trade Association, 1920-1977

The Connecticut Foreign Trade Association began in July 1920 at the University Club in Bridgeport, among a group of manufacturers who wished to start a group for those involved in exporting. Named the Export Managers Club of Bridgeport, it was intended to be a group that exchanged information regarding the shifting issues of export. The collection primarily contains minutes and bulletins and newsletters, offering documentation of executive level management and what was communicated to membership from the group's founding to the time of donation.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0178

Papers of Alfred B. Beers, 1863-1920, bulk 1865-1866

Alfred B. Beers served in the American Civil War, enlisting at the age of 16 and being honorably discharged as a captain at the age of 20. An active veteran in the Grand Army of the Republic, Beers served as an attorney and as a judge for the city of Bridgeport and was an active member of the community.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0039

Select Records of Connecticut National Bank, 1831-1950

The Connecticut National Bank was chartered in 1831 by the Connecticut General Assembly under the original name of the President, Directors and Company of the Connecticut Bank. Bridgeport was beginning to become a major economic center, and in need of banks in order to provide monetary services to keep up with the level of trade in the city. The early data in this collection provides insight into the city's economy.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0189

Records of the School Volunteers Association of Bridgeport, 1964-2021

One of the very first organizations of its kind in the United States, the School Volunteers Association of Bridgeport can trace its history back to 1964. Originally called Y.O.U. – Youth Opportunities Unlimited – the organization was born out of a pilot program of the local Junior League to respond to a lack of pre-kindergarten programs, library, guidance counselor, and social worker in Bridgeport's Waltersville School. Well over a thousand volunteers cycled through the programs that SVA became known for, including Read Aloud Day, mentoring, library support, tutoring, the creation of business, school, and community partnerships which helped to add more volunteers to the organization, and other forms of support and enrichment for students in Bridgeport. The records reflect the organization's early days, as well as activities from the 1990s until 2021 when SVA was forced to dissolve.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0156

Schneider Collection, 1897-1966, bulk c. 1900-1940

Focusing primarily on artifacts from the Barnum and Bailey Circus, the Schneider Collection contains material from the circus after the death of P.T. Barnum and into the 20th century. Photographs of the Barnum and Bailey Circus abroad also feature heavily, giving insight into what the shows were like.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0011

Frederick Fleischer Collection of Bridgeport Business Bills and Receipts

Collected by Frederick Fleischer, this collection of bills and receipts reflect the variety of Bridgeport businesses as the 19th Century became the 20th. Looking at the various purchases helps to shed light on the shopping habits of the time period.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0080

Constantino Pietrini Collection of Longshoremen Union Material, 1945-1959

This collection, belonging to the International Brotherhood of Longshoreman local 1398 member Constantino Pietrini, features select agreements and contracts negotiated by the union and earlier material from the Seafarers International Union strike.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0191

Papers of City Council Member Peter Spain, 2015-2019, bulk 2017-2018

Peter Spain served as a part of the Bridgeport City Council for a two year term, spured on by the sudden 29% increase in Bridgeport's mill rate/property tax rate. As a city councilor, Spain's focus was primarily on health issues, education, economic development, and governmental transparency. This is well represented in the collection, and there is particular weight to the matter of the Water Pollution Control Authority and its aggressive approach to collecting payment.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0064

Records of the U.S. Bureau of Lighthouses - Black Rock Lighthouse, Third District

Originally built in 1807 by Abisha Woodward, the Black Rock Harbor Light, also known as Fayerweather Light, is one of the iconic buildings of Bridgeport. The records of the light which run from 1873 to 1933 give insight into day-to-day operations of the light from the tenure of Stephen and Catherine Moore to the last official keeper, John D. Davis.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0047

Records of the Connecticut Froebel Normal School Alumnae, 1905-1981

The Records of the Connecticut Froebel Normal School Alumnae were created by the graduates of the school, which was created in order to instruct women and guide them in being kindergarten and early childhood educators. The collection contains minutes and financial information that charts much of the group's history, along with a subject file that shows their activities and interests.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0208

Papers of Rev. James Beach and the Beach Family, 1820-1930

Rev. Robert Beach was a minister at Howard Avenue Methodist-Episcopal Church in Bridgeport, and the son of the colonial Beach and Silliman families. This collection contains material relating to both families in the form of photographs and some documentation, as well as some personal papers.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0209

Records of the Rotary Club of Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1919-1994, bulk 1970-2005

Founded in 1919, Bridgeport Rotary has provided public service for 100 years. As a part of Rotary International, the club's mandate to provide public good and promote business among members is well documented in the collection. In addition to providing day-to-day administrative information from the club's history, a large portion of the records focus on the 1970s to 1990s. Viewed in conjunction with other like organizations from that time - such as the records of the United Way and the YWCA - these materials offer an insight into the societal problems of Bridgeport during a time of sharp economic downtown in the city.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0031

Papers of Ethan Ferris Bishop

The papers of Ethan Ferris Bishop (1825-1883) are primarily letter books that relate to the business and personal life of Ethan Ferris Bishop. Later a minister in the Episcopal Church (ordained 1863), Bishop heavily invested in railroads, as did other men in his family. That investment is reflected heavily in the papers, as is the impact of the Civil War upon commerce and railroads â€" especially those out west along the American frontier.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0046

Papers of the Reese Family, 1911-2008

Frank D. Reese, son of Francis A. Reese, is a Bridgeport resident. Frank Reese's family has roots that go back several centuries in Connecticut and include extensive ties to the state's African American and Native American populations, as well as Cape Verdean. The collection consists largely of family photographs or copies of family photographs, photocopied vital records and family genealogies, and scanned and printed ephemera.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0128

Papers of John and Maggie Lathrop, 1862-1874, bulk 1853-1855

John and Maggie Lathrop were a married couple living in Bridgeport in the mid-19th century. The correspondence between the two, sent when the two were dealing with health issues and were forced apart, offer insight into the everyday on goings of Bridgeport in its early history.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0027

Records of the Bridgeport Scientific Society, 1878-1916, bulk 1888-1902

The records of the Bridgeport Scientific Society represent an overview of the activities of the first tenants of the Barnum Institute of Science and History, today housing the Barnum Museum. It contains administrative information in the form of society minutes, documentation of collection acquisitions, and extensive documentation of the lectures hosted by the group.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0006

Records of Project OWN, 1969-1976

Project OWN, began in 1968 under the name of the West End Corporation and was an offshoot from the major organization Action for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD). These records focus on the beginnings of Project OWN including their lobbying for closed sewer tanks following the death of Gary Crooks and their mini-store which helped address the food dessert of the West End.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0125

World War I Subject Files Collection, 1914-1920

During World War I, Bridgeport's many industries helped supply the war effort. Residents also participated in events such as war bond drives and created organizations to support servicemembers from the city. This artificial collection represents the latter, and includes some of the material of the Minute Women, along with material relating to the Red Cross and other organizations, as well as newspaper clippings.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0169

Films of Frank Borres, 1997

Frank Borres is a Connecticut-based multi-Emmy award winning television producer and 40-time Emmy nominee. The materials within this collection relate to the series "Remember When - Fairfield County" produced in the 1990s. It highlights local events in living memory, and features interviews with Bridgeport mayor Bill Finch and former Bridgeport History Center head archivist Mary Witkowski among others.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0069

Digital Captures for Bridgeport Activist Organizations

Collection features interviews and digital media captured from the internet or digital files donated by three distinct, activist organizations in Bridgeport: Justice for Jayson, an organization formed in response to a police shooting; Bridgeport Generation Now, a nonpartisan, grassroots social action network focused on civic action; and P.T. Partners, a group of residents of the P.T. Barnum low income housing complex that organizes for self-determination and against racism and oppression.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0110

Records of Les Treize Inc., 1984-2011

In 1947, 13 women founded Les Treize Inc. in order to support higher education for African Americans. Les Treize helps to fund African American high school students' secondary education, be it college, technical school, or business school. The material within focuses primarily on the organization in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0052

Records of the Brooklawn Weekly News, 1932-1935

Focusing on the Brooklawn area of Bridgeport, this weekly newspaper was published by three young teenagers living in the area. Arthur Williams and Bradley Hunt served as editors, and Phillip Grout was the group's business manager. In addition to a complete run of the Brooklawn Weekly News, the collection features handwritten versions of various articles that would later appear in the paper.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0192

Records of the United Way of Eastern Fairfield County, 1972-1981

Individual branches of the United Way work within local communities to meet their needs. Within this collection are examples of allocation work done by the United East of Eastern Fairfield County to meet Bridgeport's needs in the late 1970s.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0119

Records of Editor A.H. Saxon for the Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, 1978

Contains the typescript and page proofs for the Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by A.H. Saxon. Mrs. Tom Thumb is also known as Lavinia Warren, a little person who gained fame and fortune through her work with P.T. Barnum.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0093

Papers of Lillian C. Hudson, 1948-1970

Biographical details about Lillian are scant, as the only information documented is in both this collection and her obituary. She was the last president of the Women's Auxiliary of the YMCA in Bridgeport. This collection reflects a snapshot of her life both through personal and YMCA related correspondence.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0083

Papers of Edward A. Nevins, 1900-1959, 1900-1959

Edward A. Nevins spent most of his career at the Singer Sewing Machine Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He worked in the drafting department, eventually holding the title of chief draftsman. Present in this collection are blueprints and technical drawings for various machine parts, starting in the 1900s and ending in the 1950s.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0058

Austin W. Mather Collection, 1930-1980

Mostly containing scrapbooks, the Austin W. Mather collection documents the career of local architect Austin W. Mather through carefully curated clippings about himself, his firm Lyons and Mather, and architecture as a profession. Also included are several pencil pieces produced in 1979-1980.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0141

Records of Park City Hospital, 1926-1993

Park City Hospital was founded in 1924, meant to serve the downtown Bridgeport community and provide quicker access for emergencies for those who could not speedily access the northern Bridgeport or St. Vincent's hospitals. This smaller hospital served the community until 1993, and helped to provide high quality care to the immediate area. These records reflect this community impact through clippings, publicity documentation, and newsletters, along with annual reports among other documents.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0154

Gordy Collection of Circus Photographs, 1870s-1940s, bulk 1900-1940

The Gordy Collection of Circus Photographs featured a wide array of images from mostly the 1900s to the 1940s, documenting circus life. It focuses primarily on the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, and shows not only animal and human performers, but features behind the scenes images that give a greater view into what life was like for those who traveled with the group every year.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0010

Records of the First United Church of Christ, Bridgeport, 1900-2016, bulk 1950-2106

Bridgeport has been the home to a large and proud Hungarian population for over a century. Focusing on the First United Church of Christ, Bridgeport, this collection documents both the church and the larger Hungarian community in Bridgeport up into the 21st century.
Collection ID: BHC-MSs 0019

Records of the Russian Famine Relief Fund, 1892

Starting in 1891 and continuing into 1892, poor weather began to impact the area along the Volga River which produced a large amount of food in Russia at that time. A combination of bad weather, outdated farming technology, and ineffective distribution methods resulted in a massive famine. An international response sought to raise funds and provide help to the Russian people. In the United States, the Russian Famine Relief Committee of the United States formed. This included localized efforts for collecting funds, as represented in this collection.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0170

Samuel Sarkissian collection of Theater Programs and Raybestos Brakettes-Cardinals Material, 1919-1987, bulk 1967-1995

Divided almost equally between Polka Dot Playhouse theater programs and programs for the Raybestos Braktettes and Cardinals, Samuel Sarkissian's personal collection of Bridgeport cultural publications represents insight into the names and accomplishments of some of the biggest draws in the city's entertainment offerings. Particularly important is the material related to the Raybestos Brakettes as it represents several National Championship title seasons.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0127

Papers of Vincent Leo Keating, 1874-1951, bulk 1916-1920

Born 1891, Vincent Leo Keating was a lawyer within the City of Bridgeport for most of his life. However, his legal career was interrupted by his service in World War I as a part of Company L, 26th Infantry, First Division at Cantigny France. The scrapbooks that Keating assembled primarily contain photographs, but also include correspondence. This central part of the collection allows for excellent visual insight into local participation in the first World War.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0067

Records of Mosaic Club, 1872-1975

Organized in May of 1897, the Mosaic Club was a women's organization that lasted from the 1890s until sometime in the 1970s. It came out of a small circle of neighborhood women who got together and read Shakespeare together, but over time it expanded to include most of the humanities, including art, music, history, and social sciences. Minutes and clippings make up the bulk of the collection, and provide extensive documentation of most of the club's history.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0095

Circus Photographs taken by William Day, 1940s-1970s

The William Collection of Circus Photographs featured a wide array of images from mostly the 1940s to 1970s, documenting circus life. It shows not only animal and human performers, but features behind the scenes images that give a greater view into what life was like for those who traveled with the group every year.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0013

Papers of Arthur Clifford, 1921-1979, bulk 1959-1967

Arthur Clifford served as the president of the lumber giant A.W. Burritt Company for many years. While that Bridgeport institution was a huge employer in the city for many years, the papers of Arthur Clifford primary focus on his leading role with the Bridgeport Redevelopment Agency in the early 1960s, helping to develop Bridgeport's downtown business district and influencing the visual look of the area to today.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0130

Joseph Balogh Collection of Hungarian and Hungarian-American Material, 1982, 1990-2021

Joseph Felix Balogh was born on April 27, 1922 in Bridgeport, Connecticut to Hungarian parents Jozef and Katalin Falkus. While he was born in the United States, the Balogh family chose to return to Hungary in 1932, remaining there until 1960. When he returned to Connecticut he acted as a bridge for many Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans through radio programs and his best-known work, the Magyar News whose full run is represented in this collection.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0184

Papers of Sam Burger of Columbia Records

Columbia Records was a major employer in Bridgeport, and had its origins in the American Graphophone Company, which was based in the city. Starting in the 1960s and well into the 1980s, Sam Burger saw the transition of Columbia Records from LP to tapes to CDs. Also in his records is a notebook belonging to Alfred VanSant Bodine, which contains the exact chemical makeups of various records during the late 1919s and into the 1920s, offering insight into manufacture and production in the company's early days, as well as the mid 20th century.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0020

Records of Park City Little League, 1954-2020, bulk 1995-2012

Little League began in 1939 as a means to invite young boys (and some girls) to play baseball. The organization was formed in Williamsport, Pennsylannia, and experienced a rapid growth in the years after World War II. Bridgeport affiliated with the Williamsport organization in 1949, early adopters of the structure. A number of Little leagues formed, including Park City, East End, and Black Rock.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0116

Papers of Roger W. Floyd, 1973-1982

Reverend Roger Wentworth Floyd (October 8, 1930-August 2, 2013) was a Methodist minister who served in New Haven, Waterbury, and in the Greater Bridgeport area during his lifetime. He was active in the city's political scene as well, and ran for mayor twice against John C. Mandanici – in 1977 and 1979. He also served as the chairman of the Congress Plaza Planning Council Inc., which was the first urban renewal project in the city that was developed with Bridgeport residents.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0143

Papers of Benjamin Swan, 1836-1890

Benjamin Swan served as the minister for a number of congregations in Fairfield and New Haven counties in the 1830s through the 1890s. While this collection has some material related to his personal life, it primarily contains the genealogical research he conducted for various local families, typically colonial. He was an active member of the Fairfield County Historical Society.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0207

Papers of Henry C. Lee, 1790-1929, bulk 1876-1929

Henry C. Lee was born in Coventry, Connecticut on March 24, 1848. He worked as a part of the Union Metallic Cartridge Company (later Remington Arms), which was originally located in Coventry, then moved to Bridgeport in 1868. He moved with the company and became involved in local and state politics, including serving as Mayor of Bridgeport from 1907-1909. The collection primarily reflects his personal interest in Bridgeport and Connecticut history, but has some mayoral related papers.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0161

Circus Route Books Collection, 1886-1925

As a major repository for P.T. Barnum related material, the Bridgeport History Center has amassed a large collection of circus material. This has included amassing circus route books, which list the performance locations and show details for each show in a given year.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0024

Papers of Barry Goodkin on Bridgeport Theaters, 1986-2010

Barry Goodkin is a theater researcher who spent time focused on Bridgeport, Stratford, and Fairfield theaters. Within are original photographs, research, and newspaper articles on venues including the Palace, Majestic, and Bijou theaters along with the Downtown Cabaret Theater, Klein Memorial Auditorium, and others.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0145

Records of the United Steelworks of America Local 5623, 1950-1970

Unlike United Steelworkers of America Local 7528, Local 5623 dealt exclusively with the Jenkins Brothers, a valve and steel manufacturer. The material within the collection provides a snapshot of the work done by the union on behalf of its members.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0111

Records of Bullard Machine Tool Company, 1906-1982, bulk 1920-1969

Founded in 1894 by Edward Payson Bullard Senior, the Bullard Machine Tool Company was a massive industrial player in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Creating large tools to fabricate metal parts, the company was a powerhouse for much of the early to mid 20th century. Within the collection are photographs of their major products, guides, and corporate material.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0062

Records of Read's Department Stores, 1880-1994

Read's Department Stores began in 1857 as a dry goods store. Selling high quality goods, it quickly gained a reputation as one of the premier places to shop in Bridgeport. Eventually the single store evolved into a local chain, boasting clothing, hats, special restrooms, a dedicated tea room, and more. This collection focuses primarily on the visual history of the flagship Read's store in Bridgeport, located at Broad and John Streets, with photographs of window displays and interiors dominant. Also present is information for employees who worked at the store, some ledgers, and material related to the Read family.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0100

Records of the Warner Brothers Company, 1866-1978, bulk 1900-1969

One of the biggest manufacturers in Bridgeport, the Warner Corset Company,later the Warner Brothers Company, then Warnaco, was a major part of the city's industrial history. Starting with Dr. Warner's Health Corsets the company expanded, manufacturing corsets and then bras and other undergarments such as girdles, later branded as slimwear. The company left Bridgeport in the 1970s. It remained in existence until 2013, when it was bought out by PVH. This archival collection documents the early history of the company into the 1970s through family papers, corporate documents, daily operations, garment construction information, and extensive advertising material, all donated by Warnaco.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0021

Papers of Judge Samuel Mellitz, 1930-1980

The first Jewish man to serve on the Connecticut Supreme Court, Judge Samuel Mellitz was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in May of 1891. His papers reflect legal analysis, notes, and some historical research he undertook over his years of service as a judge.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0129

Lyman Thunfors Collection, 1942-1989

Lyman Thunfors was born in Muskegon, Michigan and was an industrial executive best known for his time as the Executive Vice President at Jenkins Brothers. The collection contains photographs of the company in the mid-20th century along with some documents.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0186

Records of Charles Tisdale's 1976 Congressional Campaign, 1974-1976

Best known as the director of ABCD - Action for Bridgeport Community Development – Charles B. Tisdale was a giant in Bridgeport's community. In 1976, he ran a congressional campaign for the House of Representatives, making him the first African-American in Connecticut to win the democratic nomination. While he lost the race, the work done would catch the eye of President Jimmy Carter and see Tisdale serve at a national level within the administration for four years. The collection captures the work of the campaign itself and provides a snapshot of Tisdale's extensive career.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0091

Mary Darlington Taylor Research Collection, 1870-1975

Mary Darlington Taylor was a local writer with a wide array of historical interests. This collection is expected to grow, based on material found elsewhere in collections. As such, a full abstract and finding aid cannot be provided at this time.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0074

Papers of Andrew Daniels, 1941-1982

Andrew Daniels was active in Fairfield county labor unions and causes from 1941 until his death in 1982. Starting as a secretary for the Aluminum Workers of America, he went on to sit as a part of the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration. His papers chart his labor career and provide insight into negotiations and changes in the Connecticut landscape as labor unions began a decline in the 1970s and 1980s.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0202

Papers of Henry A. House, 1860-1927

Born in Brooklyn in 1840, Henry Alonzo House lived most of his life in Bridgeport, dying in the city on December 17, 1930. A consummate inventor, he filed for patent after patent in diverse industries, and created the earliest known steam powered automobile in 1866. At his death, he had taken out approximately 300 patents for everything from button hole machines to paper cups to shredded wheat, reflecting diversity and ingenuity.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0182

Papers of J.H. Mansfield related to the United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1889-1937

J.H. (James Henry) Mansfield served as a local leader for the southern Connecticut group for the United Society of Christian Endeavor, an interdenominational, Christian organization that encourages greater familiarity and cooperation among Christian youth. The material represents early programs, events, and conventions that were held to address societal issues and encourage young members to get involved.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0196

Records of the Wednesday Afternoon Musical Club, 1898-2000, bulk Bulk 1898-1975

Founded in 1896, the Wednesday Afternoon Musical Club is one of the oldest clubs of its kind both within Connecticut and the larger United States. The club was founded with the explicit goals of fostering the musical talent of members, conducting outreach to instill residents of Bridgeport and the surrounding area with a greater appreciation of music, and encouraging performance.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0096

Truman Parsons Collection, 1908-1942, bulk 1934-1942

A veteran of the Civil War, Truman Parsons lived the second half of his life in Stratford, Connecticut and was a heavily active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, Elias Howe Post No. 3 in Bridgeport. This collection documents Parson's G.A.R. participation and the end of his life in Fairfield County.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0075

Papers of John O'Connell, 1929-1951

John O'Connell worked as an engineer at the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company. These select documents provide some insight into the everyday life and work such a job entailed.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0195

Judith Muniec Collection of Records of the Bridgeport Commission on the Arts and Bridgeport Arts Council, 1970-1978

The Bridgeport Commission on the Arts and the Bridgeport Arts Council were separate but similar entities that came out of a greater investment in arts education in the 1970s. They should not be confused with the Bridgeport Cultural Arts Center, although all three were a part of the same movement. The records of Judith Muniec provide insight into the organizations during their time of operation.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0190

Records of the U.S. Customs House, Fairfield District, 1793-1881

Capturing the seafaring trade of Fairfield County, this collection from the U.S. Customs House represents some of the earliest material held by the Bridgeport History Center. The various licenses and accounts provide a year-by-year look into trade conducted along the Long Island Sound.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0071

Records of A.H. Nilson Machine Company, 1911-1999

One of the earliest Swedish owned businesses in Bridgeport, A.H. Nilson Machine Tool Company was founded by Axel Nilson and operated as a general machine shop before becoming known for making lathes, four-slides, and other machine tools. This collection primarily features patents, blue prints, and product photographs of their material from about 1900 to the 1980s.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0167

Papers of the Read Family, 1800-1956, bulk 1880-1930

D.M. Read Company, later Read's Department Store, was a major purveyor of fine goods in Bridgeport, with a company history starting in 1857. The papers of the Read family offer an intimate look at family photographs and manuscripts during the store's hey-day, with a particular focus on Muriel Read and her parents, Charles B. and Eleanor.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0026

Matthew Rogers Collection, 1907-1912

This small collection contains some correspondence to Matthew Rogers during his tenure as Secretary of State for Connecticut in 1909-1913. It is not extensive or inclusive.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0140

Records of the Locomobile Company of America, 1895-1986, bulk 1910-1929

The Locomobile Company of America was founded in 1898 in Watertown, Massachusetts, and moved to Bridgeport in 1900. From 1900 to 1929 the company produced steam cars, and then luxury internal combustion engine cars, with custom body work for the wealthiest of Americans and international customers. Locomobile was a key player and employer in Bridgeport's economy, and speaks to the city's manufacturing power at the start of the 20th century. Within the records of the Locomobile Company of America are advertisements, catalogues, correspondence, legal documentation, and a wealth of images that document the history of the company from its start in 1898 to its close in 1929.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0003

William Kolvig collection of Lake Torpedo Boat Company, 1922

This small collection contains samples of the work that the Lake Torpedo Boat Company completed around 1922. This includes a patent for a hydroplane mechanism, made by William Kolvig, along with some sample data.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0149

Papers of Louis J. Santoianni, 1940-1975

Louis J. Santoianni, born June 21, 1910, loomed large over Bridgeport's labor politics from the 1940s until his retirement in 1975. This collection primarily focuses on the activities of the International United Electrical Workers Union, with newsletters heavily featured.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0133

Civil War Collection, 1839-1961

Collected by the Bridgeport History Center over the years, the Civil War Collection is home to small ephemeral pieces of material, manuscripts that total 1 or 2 folders, and like material. The material within helps to document the experiences of Bridgeport residents during the war and their interest in the war after it concluded.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0041

Austin W. Mather Collection, 1930-1980

Mostly containing scrapbooks, the Austin W. Mather collection documents the career of local architect Austin W. Mather through carefully curated clippings about himself, his firm Lyons and Mather, and architecture as a profession. Also included are several pencil pieces produced in 1979-1980.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0141

Records of the Building Trades Council and the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers Union Local No. 2, 1908-1919

The Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers Union Local No. 2 was a part of the Bricklayers Masons and Plasterers International Union of America, now the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. Within this collection is a small snapshot of union activities.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0109

Records of Women's Auxiliary and the Mother's Club of the YMCA of Greater Bridgeport, 1915-1971

The Young Men Christian's Association of Bridgeport was founded in 1884 to provide support for men in the city of Bridgeport. In order to support the YMCA's mission, the Women's Auxiliary was founded in 1887. The Mother's Club did the same, although it was founded later in 1936. Their assistance, documented in this collection, helps document the needs of the YMCA and the population it served from 1915 to 1971, with a particular focus on the Great Depression
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0172

Records of Elias Howe Jr. Post #3 GAR, 1869-1930, bulk 1900-1920

The Grand Army of the Republic was one of the first war veteran's associations in the United States. Formed in the aftermath of the Civil War, the GAR was organized by state, and then by smaller local organizations. Elias Howe Jr. Post #3 was Bridgeport's branch of the GAR, and the material in this collection offers insight into the organization's local presence and relation to the national organization.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0038

Records of the Carpenter's District Council of Bridgeport and Vicinity, 1905-1923

A part of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the Carpenters District Council of Bridgeport and Vicinity represented all carpentry related work in the city during the early 20th century. It regulated job ranks and paygrades, provided benefits to those injured, and was active within the larger New England region as well. This collection focuses on the earliest history of the union.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0112

Charles Marsh Collection, 1880-1959

This collection reflects the interests of Charles Marsh as collector himself. As a Bridgeport resident in the early 20th Century, he had a keen interest in P.T. Barnum and the circus, Bridgeport as a town, and his family's history. Most important are the family photographs located in series I, as many photographs contain lengthy descriptions on the back and identify streets as well as those pictured.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 148

John D. Cooper Collection, 1910-2017, bulk 1910-1948

An English immigrant to Bridgeport, John D. Cooper's interest in aviation saw him become an employee of the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910. He traveled primarily in Europe to both sell planes to governments and train their aviators, doing so for four years until 1914.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0147

Papers of the Gazzolo Family, 1878-1939, bulk 1900-1917

This collection focuses on the Gazzalo family, whose patriarch Luigi came to the United States from Genoa. Gazzalo became a citizen in 1876, and he married his wife Maria Arata in 1886. The collection documents Italian-American life at the turn of the 20th century, with a focus on correspondence and estate papers following Luigi's untimely death at sea.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0059

Frisbie Pie Company and Frisbie Family Collection, 1808-1997, bulk 1900-1956

The namesake of the popular flying disc, the Frisbie Pie Company was located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from 1871 to 1958. At its height it produced some 20,000 pies per day that were delivered all over the state and indeed, the region. The family itself has been in Connecticut since the 1600s. This artificial collection contains information about the company and the family that ran it.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0099

Records of the League of Women Voters of Bridgeport, 1957-1976

Featuring a snapshot of women's suffrage in the late 1950s through the 1970s, the Records of the League of Women Votes of Bridgeport reflects local and national concerns on key topics of the day.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0068

Papers of the Scanzillo Family, 1918-1989

The Scanzillo family represents one of the oldest Italian American families that settled in Bridgeport. Focusing on Americo (October 13, 1898- June 12, 1981), the son of Gabrielo Scanzillo and his wife, Americo himself was a lawyer and later member of the state senate. The clippings within the scrapbooks are especially useful in examining the integration of Italian American families into New England at the turn of the 20th century, when ethnic discrimination was common.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0135

Papers of Katya and Bert Gilden, 1932-1999

Writing as K.B. Gilden, Katya and Bert Gilden were Bridgeport based authors. Their novel >Hurry Sundown (later turned into a film of the same name) focuses on race and class in Georgia following the second World War, and their novel tween the Hills and the Sea is set in a lightly fictionalized Bridgeport and noted for its accuracy of union politics and life on the shop floor. This collection features both their individual papers, the creative process and finished works for their novels, short stories, and screen plays, and Katya's work following Bert's death, including the unpublished The Final Hearing: The Life of Lonnie McLucas, the Death of Alex Rackley.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0124

Records of the Altrusa Club of Bridgeport, Conn., Inc., 1935-1989

Starting in 1929, the Bridgeport iteration of the Altrusa Club provided public service and means for women to connect from 1929 to 1988. Within the collection is extensive documentation of the group's minutes, budgets, and their major public service initiatives and their impact, with a focus on 1951 until the club disbanded in 1988.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0098

Films of Nicholas Pasquariello, 2003-2008

Reflecting the politics of the mid 2000s, this collection focusts on Connecticut public access television and the coverage of both national and local level politics. There is a particular emphasis on the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act, as well as local Bridgeport concerns.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0070

Records of IATSE Local 277, 1938-1993

he International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators was founded in 1893 and is an active union to this day. Within Bridgeport, membership was weighted towards movie theatre employees who worked the projection booths in the many, many movie theatres in and around Bridgeport. Founded in [X] and dissolved in 1993, the records of local 277 provide insight into the finances, history, and Bridgeport members of IATSE.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0104

Papers of Freida Mellitz Mendelsohn, 1944, 1964-1966

Very little information is recorded regarding Freida Mellitz Mendelsohn. Research is on-going.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0175

Joseph E. Shadek Civil War Sketchbook, 1861-1862

This book is a hybrid sketchbook-scrapbook that contains many wonderfully detailed color and monotone watercolor, pen, and pencil depictions of encampment sites, battle scenes, landscapes, and buildings that were witnessed and unofficially recorded by Corporal Shadek during his tour of duty in the Burnside expedition through the Southeast (1861-1862). Each watercolor is carefully labeled with dates and place names so that the sketches themselves provide a chronicle of the Eighth Connecticut Volunteers, Company A's (8CV, Co. A) travels in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0063

Records of Court Roma No. 153 (Bridgeport) Foresters of America, 1870s-1960s

The Foresters of America (now Foresters Financial) were a fraternal society with an emphasis on providing for members when they were in ill health or when they died. Court Roma No. 153 served Bridgeport's Italian American community, and the records document the members of the organization and their activities.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0014

Records of Bridgeport Company Donations to Johnstown Flood Relief, 1889

On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam burst and flooded the Pennsylvania town of Johnstown. The sudden flooding killed over 2,200 and left a swath of destruction. Donations came from all over the United States, including Bridgeport. The city's donation response was spearheaded by W.B. Hincks. These records show the individual donations of private citizens and major Bridgeport companies.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0094

Papers of James Staples, 1845-1902

James Staples was born in 1824 in Swansville, Maine as one of twelve children. He moved to Bridgeport in 1854, and went on to establish the real estate office that became James Staples and Co. This collection contains a small group of his correspondence related to his work, as well as genealogy research he conducted.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0174

Papers of Senator Ed Gomes, 1970-2018

Ed Gomes was an active part of Bridgeport life starting in his role as union representative for the United Steelworkers of America. He would go on to serve on the Bridgeport City Council from 1983-1989 and then again from 1999-2005, followed by representing District 23 in the Connecticut State Senate from 2005-2013 and from 2015-2019. This collection's contents primarily contain material that was kept by Senator Gomes, but not specifically generated by him. As such, there are very few manuscript documents featuring his handwriting. However, the material collected demonstrates not only the arc of his career as a politician and public servant, but also his interests and concerns in those roles and as a private individual.
Collection ID: BHC-MSS 0153