Witchcraft in Connecticut

May it please yr Honble Court, we the Grand inquest now setting for the County of Fairefeild, being made sensable, not only by common fame (but by testamonies duly billed to us) that the widow Mary Staple, Mary Harvey ye wife of Josiah Harvey & Hannah Harvey the daughter of the saide Josiah, all of Fairefeild, remain under the susspition of useing witchecraft, which is abomanable both in ye sight of God & man and ought to be witnessed against. we doe therefore (in complyance to our duty, the Court of Assistants now setting in Fairefeild, that they may be taken in to Custody & proceeded against according to their demerits.Fairefeild 15, Fby, 1692                 
in behalfe of the Grnd Jury, JOSEPH BASTARD, foreman

This reproduction of a grand jury presentment for witchcraft is in The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut, by John M. Taylor, published in 1908.


Old New Haven

The Institute Library has many out-of-print books on the history of New Haven and other Connecticut towns, as well as the new books that I featured in Monday’s post. One of these books is especially important, not only to New Haven, but to everywhere that has local history and folklore. The man in the print about the fireplace at the Institute Library is John W. Barber – who is credited as the first person to collect, record, and publish local histories. He learned the craft of print making and opened a store in New Haven in 1823, and traveled around Connecticut, making etches and engravings of the sites and collecting stories from the people. He published History and Antiquities of New Haven, Conn., in 1856

This isn’t the only out of print New Haven book either – we have an entire alcove of local history books! The back wall is mostly Connecticut towns, with a few books on Massachusetts. The outer walls of the alcove have books on other states and some books on the Central & North American countries. 

(From right to left) History of the Colony of New Haven, published 1881, Hartford Conn., published 1889, Catalogue of the Trustees, Rectors, Instructors and Alumni of the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven, Connecticut: 1660 – 1902, published 1902, The English Memorial: New Haven Colony Historical Society, published 1893, History of Wallingford, Meriden, and Cheshire, published in 1870, North Haven Annuals, published 1892, History of the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, published 1887, and An Old New England Town, published 1895.

The covers of a lot of these older books are cloth – without much on the cover. I photographed a few of the title pages:

There are many, MANY more books on New Haven and other Connecticut towns — please visit and learn some New Haven secrets.

New Haven Books

The Institute Library’s collection of new books on New Haven history

A Wedding Day in 1869

I (Meg) am getting married next week.  The fiancé and I have been neck deep in wedding planning several months now – program design, menu planning, dress fittings, dessert tastings (this was the best part), guest lists, ceremony writing, music selections, etc.  I realized today that we had not consulted the books at the Institute Library!  Certainly there must be something there that can teach me how to be a good wife, how to be a perfect bride, wedding etiquette, etc – all things that may or may not align with my personal beliefs.

I skipped my allotted lunch break today to search through the card catalog for possible books on weddings, brides, and being a good wife.

I found several catalog cards for fiction books about brides (The bride dined alone, Bride in the bush) and weddings.

And then I found what I was looking for:

Wedding day in all ages and countries, published in 1869.

The book was checked out three times in 1969 and probably hasn’t even been opened since then.  I feel like it is going to fall apart in my hands.

I love this – “The ancient Scythians, being a warlike people, would not marry a maiden who had not killed an enemy.”

And there is an entire chapter dedicated to the various origins of the wedding ring!  If I wasn’t moving tomorrow (yes, I’m moving tomorrow and getting married a week from tomorrow) and/or it was still my lunch break, I would read this book cover to cover.  Perhaps, I will have the time sometime soon!

Free Public Library System in India & William Borden

“There is no more ennobling thing than the reading of good books; it leads men, along flowery pathways, towards earnest and pure lives. I am doing what I can to educate my people to the stage where they can ready and appreciate great thoughts of the present and the past, and the result so far has been very gratifying.  But I would do more.  I would bring to the poor man or woman, the ordinary man of the bazaar, to the common people everywhere, this wealth of literature now only known to the educated.”

Maharaja Sayajirao III,  Baroda, April, 7, 1912

Maharaja Sayajirao III, Gaekwar of Baroda (1862 – 1939) was one of the most progressive princes of what is now modern India.  He traveled to western countries repeatedly and invited foreign specialists for the development of the State both materially and culturally.  The Maharaja introduced reforms that transformed Baroda economically, socially, and culturally.

Sayajirao chose the head librarian, William Borden, at The Institute Library to establish a free public library system in Baroda.  In 1910, Borden left New Haven for Baroda.  He created a comprehensive network of libraries, which was made up of  a state central library, four district libraries, forty-five town libraries, and more than a thousand village libraries.  The district libraries had extensive traveling systems with a Visual Instruction Branch to reach the most illiterate people.  This system reached 80% of the population within two years.

Above Image: William Borden with his Library Students in Baroda

“I determined to introduce into Baroda what we in the United States have recognized as a goal to be ultimately attained, but which we have not yet reached…What America could only dream of, Baroda could do, and in a measure has done.
-William Borden 1913

The classification system Borden created for these libraries was similar to the one he created (and we still use) at The Institute Library.  Borden left Baroda in 1913. And, unfortunately, after the death of the Maharaja Sayajirao, the library system did not continue.  Modern-day India uses the Dewey Decimal System.

The Story of the Nations

One of the perks of showing up to work early is I am free to lazily read random finds from the stacks.  This morning, Vickie had a surprise waiting for me on my desk.She saw the title while processing new books to add to the library’s collection – accessioned in 1893.  She went to the shelf to see if was still there….sure enough, it was.

The Story of the Nations: Australiasia – It’s the story of the British colonies, published in 1893.  G. Mitchell was the last person to check the book out – in October 1897.  I love Mr. Borden’s beautiful calligraphy…

Since I arrived at the library before my shift starts – I had time to thumb through the book (my original intention was to work on a translating project, but per usual, I was distracted). So, I learned a bit about “Australasia” The photos below are some of my favorites from the book.



The library’s collection is unique for two (main) reason:

1. The library has been in existence since 1826 and at this location (847 Chapel Street) since 1879.  This is a long time span of book acquiring.
2. The database/catalog is not electronic.  There is no scanning your eyes down the computer screen or using a combination of key words.  Your options are to peruse the card catalog or meander the stacks.

I use the card catalog when I’m looking for something very specific – by author or  classification.  Normally though, I meander through the stacks.

Today, a high school student handed me his find: The World’s Wickedest Women: Intriguing Studies of Eve and Evil through the Ages by Andrew Ewart.  Amazing.  Ewart apparently wrote The World’s Wickedest Men too, but according the the card catalog – the library does not have that book.

My FAVORITE book that I’ve found is Canada: America’s Problem  I am the first person to check it out since 1961 (it was published in 1942).

My betrothed found a book by AA Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh) hiding in the stacks – it’s a fairy tale for adults with a somewhat snarky introduction about how Milne wrote the book only for him and his wife to enjoy.

I love these finds.