RIP James M. Bailey’s tree…

After 1880, James Bailey had seen his last book published; he had remained Danbury’s “news man” in his recently constructed home on Osborne Street until his death from pneumonia in 1894, but his national fame had faded.  In the preface of his History of Danbury, Susan Benedict Hill describes what may have contributed to Bailey’s precipitous drop in creative output:

“…[Bailey] was subject to seasons of deep depression. Years ago, in the very height of his world-wide popularity, his sunny soul would pass at times into profound darkness, when he would pray for death, while yet he would confess that there was no external cause for such despondency. 

Souvenir of Danbury, ca. 1890, WCSU Archives

His love for children was deep and intense, and it was a sad grief to him that his own died in infancy. Every Sunday and holiday saw the tiny graves in Wooster Cemetery covered with flowers, placed there by his loving hands.

… Had he valued money for its own sake, he might have been a millionaire, but money flowed as steadily and profusely from his hands as did wit from his lips. No appeal to him for help was ever made in vain.”

According to a fellow Civil War veteran, Bailey’s bouts with depression also involved drinking.**  He was a Democrat but his paper was non-partisan and he was said to have declined offers by both parties to be Danbury’s first mayor.  Reportedly, he died relatively poor as a result of his extravagant philanthropy. 

Google maps image

 When Bailey looked out his front windows on 14 Osborne Street,  past the young beech tree, he would have seen the peaceful tops of the hills in Wooster Cemetery and the graves of his children.

Bailey has been gone for some 125 years, but his house remains.  Though, now, that what was until recently a grand beech tree has been removed with little ceremony.

* Bailey, James Montgomery. History of Danbury, Conn., 1684-1896: From Notes and Manuscript Left by James Montgomery Bailey. Burr Printing House, 1869, xxi.

** Art Young, Art Young: His Life and Times,  New York: Sheridan House, 1939, 240.

RIP Librarian Vijay Nair


A librarian who did not go gentle into that good night.

Safe travels to Vijay Nair.  Vijay is seen here in the 1980s posed in his basement apartment of the Octagon House on Spring Street.

Vijay was a librarian with WCSU for more than 30 years and served as CSU-AAUP President in his last few years at WestConn.

100 Years Since the First World War

An exhibit of items from the WCSU Archives’ collections. In the Haas Library Atrium until the end of the semester.

To mark Veterans’ Day and the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I,  the Western Connecticut State University Archives presents “100 Years Since the First World War” exhibit on view through December 17, 2018. This exhibit features two cases of material from the archives’ collection.  From political cartoons to memorials, the pieces included in this exhibit provide a fascinating glimpse into America during the First World War. See online exhibit.

Woodrow Wilson in November of 1918:

The war thus comes to an end; for, having accepted these terms of armistice, it will be impossible for the German command to renew it.

It is not now possible to assess the consequences of this great consummation. We know only that this tragical war, whose consuming flames swept from one nation to another until all the world was on fire, is at an end and that it was the privilege of our own people to enter it at its most critical juncture … Armed imperialism such as the men conceived who were but yesterday the masters of Germany is at an end, its illicit ambitions engulfed in black disaster. Who will now seek to revive it?*

The exhibit showcases printed matter from the WCSU Archives that arose out of attempts to sway public opinion to support the War. It also includes materials that document the life of one of Danbury’s own who died while “over there,” George Bennett Hawley.

Hawley was born on April 27, 1895, in Danbury and was a signalman for company B of the 307th Infantry – one of the first AEF units to join the lines of battle in France.

Through these materials, we have a unique glimpse of the period; 100 Years Since the First World War commemorates the efforts of American soldiers and their experiences in war.

* The American Presidency Project. Woodrow Wilson Address to a Joint Session of Congress Concerning the Terms of Armistice Signed by Germany
November 11, 1918. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=117697

The Vinland Map in Modern History: A Reappraisal – by Lynn Schoenbeck

The Vinland Map in Modern History: A Reappraisal
One-day symposium, Mystic Seaport Museum
September 21, 2018 (10AM-3:15)

The exhibition “Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga” is open at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Conn., from May 19-September 30, 2018 . Organized in collaboration with the Beinecke Library, this exhibition places the Vinland Map on public view at a US venue outside Yale for the first time in over fifty years. The exhibition shares the research and viewpoints of a consensus of scholars in the humanities and sciences concluding the Vinland Map is a modern forgery!

Archives and WCSU Alum Lynn Schoenbeck(‘ 16) organized this symposium!

An 1890 song composed by Danburian W. Oland Hoyt come alive

Thanks to the WCSU Archives’ special adjunct Ann Victor, the Elks Grand March Social composed by W. Oland Hoyt can be heard and seen here as it was originally written.

Thanks to Ann for bringing this really cool taste of local music from the late nineteenth century to life. Previously, this piece had been quietly mixed in with Truman Warner’s small sheet music collection and was recently “discovered” by our student Shae Zalinski when searching for a different piece of music.

Gerry Shea has done it again…

Take a peek at some interesting data that has been transcribed by Gerry Shea.  Ever wondered what the average price of a horse was in Danbury in 1826?  How many families owned clocks? Sheep..?

To have a look at the 1826 Danbury tax data, follow the link below.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1M4ejwjoOAl0UZot8rcrS27w9FIzW1wcZ5x4zxLPzWpI/edit?usp=sharing

1851 Danbury tax data
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m4crO-A1DUucU5aJSBCvX2g5Fr59opFE9jlWY9zKl0U/edit?usp=sharing

1863 Danbury tax data
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bmEJxT_By1Y3VCaF9fyOrwaIk-3NXjn3Fb_OcQqPFlU/edit?usp=sharing

1885 Danbury tax data
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DzfZBHX4AniqIGw2mSX0svMyTOBXvJOWhaqakWPk_SI/edit?usp=sharing

1902 Danbury tax data
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1JcPdAY-ZoZUaLCj6dyPeYODuwfDlysAVuyE2z8uLpWs/edit?usp=sharing