Since 1855, the State Library has pursued a consistent policy of collecting the State's official archival government records. In that year, the State Librarian acquired from the Secretary of the State the early General Assembly records to 1820 known as the "Connecticut Archives." In 1909, the General Assembly codified this role of the State Library as the official state archival agency by granting authority to the State Librarian to accept public records of enduring historical value. Though the State Library did not call itself a state archives, members of the governing State Library Committee and State Librarians identified the agency as a "Hall of Records."
The State Library has also collected non-government archival records and manuscripts. Major strengths of the State Archives manuscripts collection appear under Section IV below.
Collections Activities of the State Archives
As it relates to collections, the mission of the Connecticut State Library is "to preserve and make accessible the records of Connecticut's history and heritage."
In assisting the agency to fulfill this mission, the State Archives carries out the following tasks as part of its collections policy:
Appraises, acquires, preserves and organizes Connecticut State government records of enduring value; administers and acquires appropriate archival collections of local government and non-government records pertaining to the history and heritage of Connecticut.
Acquisition of Connecticut Government Records
Definition of Archival or Enduring Informational Value
For purposes of this policy, government records possess archival or enduring value if they contain information which satisfies one or more of the following:
- Documents the evolution of organization, policies and practices of State government.
- Documents claims or petitions made on State government by citizens and the disposition of said claims or petitions.
- Documents obligations and claims made on citizens by State government and their disposition.
- Documents the legal and legislative history of the State.
- Contains information which is used by researchers for reasons other than those for which the records were created, such as commercial, cultural, educational, legal, public policy, health or medical, social science or a vocational reasons.
Archival records may be in any format, including paper, photographs, film, tape, disk and video. Government archival records are "public records" as defined by Section 1-200(5) of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS).
Major Collecting Emphasis
The State Archives places major emphasis on acquiring archival records from and/or about the following offices:
- Office of the Governor
- Judicial Department (Supreme Court, Superior Courts, probate courts and predecessor courts)
- Offices of Leaders of the General Assembly
- Offices of Committees of the General Assembly (In addition to original bills accessioned through the Secretary of the State, the State Archives will acquire records generated by committees in preparing special or interim studies or records of special tasks forces, commissions and subcommittees of the General Assembly.)
- Offices of elected State Officials
- Military units and the Office of the Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard (see Section 11-6, CGS, War Records Collection)
- All other state agencies, including defunct bureaus, divisions, departments or predecessor agencies.
Local Government Records
The State Archives supports retention of local government archival records in the locality of origin but shall accept such records when offered if they have enduring informational value and otherwise would be destroyed. The State Archives will continue to administer and make available archival records of the State's legal subdivisions (towns, cities, boroughs) already in its custody.
Papers of Governors
The State Archives shall continue to acquire and will accept private papers of former Governors.
The State Archives shall acquire photographs generated by State government agencies and offices and by non-government photographers which document any aspect of Connecticut State government and its officials, e.g. official ceremonies and events, projects and programs funded by State government, state-owned structures and facility operations, and state employees. Acquisition of photographic images shall be limited by provisions stated below under "Other Factors in Acquiring Archival Records."
Non-Government Archival Records or Manuscripts
The manuscript collection in the Connecticut State Archives constitutes one of the single most important non-government records collections in the State, documenting Connecticut history from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Since the manuscripts complement record groups, the State Archives shall add to the collection within the limitations set below.
Strengths of the Manuscript Collection
The State Archives manuscripts collection provides important documentation in the following subject areas of Connecticut history: politics; military, economic, religious, social, maritime and naval history; Native American Indians; women; education; individuals and families; architecture; professional organizations; public health and medicine; transportation; law; agriculture; and public art and photography.
The manuscripts collection of the State Archives also contains items important for documenting United States history and which have significant physical value.
Collecting Emphasis for Manuscripts
The State Archives shall not actively acquire manuscripts, but will maintain and add to its collections of manuscripts when:
- Donors offer accretions to existing collections.
- Ex-Governors offer their "personal" or private papers.
- Connecticut library organizations offer their records.
- Donors offer manuscripts pertaining to military service of Connecticut persons, especially in Connecticut military units.
- Connecticut veterans organizations offer records.
- Medical and public health-related organizations offer records which pertain to public health issues and treatment at state hospitals.
The State Archives shall actively acquire manuscripts under extraordinary circumstances, e.g., records are of significant informational or intrinsic value, but are in danger of loss, destruction or inadvisable dispersal out of state because no Connecticut repository will accept them.
The State Archives reserves the prerogative of accepting manuscripts that fall outside the above priority areas, but will make every feasible effort to identify and inform donors of potentially suitable Connecticut repositories.
Other Factors in Acquiring Archival Records
The following apply to governmental and non-governmental archival records:
In making the final decision to acquire archival records, the State Archives shall consider the following
- Ability of the State Library to provide suitable space, staffing, supplies and equipment. While the lack of one or more of these does not constitute a compelling reason for refusing archives and manuscripts, deficiency in one or more may constitute grounds for a temporary delay in their acquisition. During periods of severe deficiency in any of these areas, the State Archives will give priority to new accessions of archival State governmental records whenever possible.
- Ability of the State Library to provide sufficient support to preserve and provide access to archival records.
- Confidentiality and Freedom of Information. The State Library conforms to all statutes, rulings and regulations pertaining to access. Confidentiality by itself does not constitute grounds for refusing to acquire government records, but at the time of archival appraisal, the transferring government agency must enumerate and cite the specific legal basis for closing government records and the conditions under which closed records can be examined. The State Archives may accept manuscript records with access restrictions, but shall make every attempt to secure manuscripts without restrictions, or in the Deed of Gift determine a date for lifting access restrictions and the conditions under which access may be permitted.
The State Archives shall acquire motion picture films, video cassettes, audio recordings, machine readable records and other records on non-traditional storage media only for those records within the above defined categories. The State Archives reserves the right to refuse records falling within the collection policy if it cannot reasonably assume that it will have the necessary resources, including staff, working equipment or proper storage facilities to address the records' special conservation and access requirements.
The ability or inability of the State Archives to accept non-paper formatted archival records shall not be a factor in designating archival records on retention schedules or on requests for disposals. If the State Archives cannot accept such records, staff will work with the generating authority and Office of the Public Records Administrator to ensure proper retention.
In cases of reformatted archives, especially but not limited to those on microfilm, the State Archives prefers that agencies and donors provide two copies of the records whenever possible, to allow for a security copy and a use copy. Security copies will be the negative or earliest generation print, diskette, tape, etc., available to provide the cleanest records available.
For machine readable records, the State Archives cannot possess and maintain every possible piece of hardware and software utilized within state government and the private sector. Therefore, the State Archives reserves the right to require that agencies utilizing unique hardware and software provide the State Archives with paper copies of any records scheduled as permanent/archival or appraised to possess historic value when presented for disposition.
The State Archives may acquire government records which lack high informational value but which possess compelling intrinsic value, as defined by Staff Information Paper 21 of the National Archives and Records Administration entitled, Intrinsic Value In Material: "Intrinsic value is the archival term that is applied to permanently valuable records that have qualities and characteristics that make records in their original form the only archivally acceptable form of preservation. Although all records in their original form have qualities and characteristics that would not be preserved in copies, records with intrinsic value have them to such a significant degree that the originals must be saved."
Records determined to have intrinsic value meet one or more of the following characteristics:
- Physical form that may be a subject for study if the records provide meaningful documentation or significant examples of the form.
- Aesthetic or artistic quality.
- Unique or curious physical features.
- Age that provides a quality of uniqueness.
- Value for use in exhibits.
- General and substantial public interest because of direct association with famous and historically significant people, places, things, issues or events in Connecticut.
- Significance as documentation of the establishment or continuing legal basis of an agency.
- Significance as documentation of the formulation of policy at the highest executive levels when the policy has significance and broad effect throughout or beyond the agency.
Procedures for Acquiring Historical Records
The State Archives acquires government records under Sections 11-4c and 11-8a, CGS. Legal and physical transfers of government records require completion of the Memorandum of Transfer. Responsibilities of state agencies in preparing records for transfer, in transferring records to the State Library, and in completing the Memorandum of Transfer are contained in General Letter 1A issued by the State Archives.
The State Archives shall use the Deed of Gift to Connecticut State Library in acquiring non-government archival records. Under provisions of the Deed, the State Librarian countersigns on behalf of the State Library Board, which acquires gifts in accordance with Chapter 188. CGS.
Procedures for Loaning Archival Records
The State Archives loans archival materials under provisions of "Requirements for Loan of Original Archival Records from the Connecticut State Library." All loans will be authorized by the State Librarian or State Archivist and borrowers must complete the "Loan Agreement for Archival Records" prior to receiving a decision on the loan.
Transferring Archival Records from the State Library
Procedures for the transfer of archival records to other repositories appear in Sections 11-8a-5 to 11-8a-7 of Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies. Under the authority granted by P.A. 88-216, Section 2(e), the Connecticut State Library Board must approve these transfers.
Approved by the Connecticut State Library Board at its August 22, 1991 meeting. The State Archivist welcomes comments and constructive suggestions.
Prepared by the State Archives, Connecticut State Library, 11-96.