Carter’s Inn sign

Attributed to Solomon Jones & Thomas K. Bush, Carter’s Inn sign, Clinton, ca. 1823 – Connecticut Historical Society, Morgan B. Brainard Collection

How did the people of Connecticut’s past live their daily lives? What did they cook and eat, wear and own, gossip about, celebrate, and mourn? Such details are the concerns of social history and reveal much about the economic conditions, class disparities, shared values, and other characteristics of a given time. Joshua Hempstead’s diary, for example, provides a detailed account of life in colonial Connecticut, as experienced by an Anglo-American businessman and public servant. James Mars’ memoir, on the other hand, traces the path from slavery to freedom under the state’s Gradual Emancipation Act of 1784. Personal accounts, along with photographs, artifacts, songs, and other historical evidence, help bring the experience of the everyday to light.

More on Everyday Life from the CT Digital Archive

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Broadside announcing changes to Mansfield's Poor-House

Connecticut Poor Law Aimed to Care for the Needy

Connecticut instituted a Poor Law in the 17th century to comply with a directive from the British government that the colony ensure for the care of the poor within its borders …[more]

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Websites - Connecticut’s re-search engine. “Database - Historical Hartford Courant (1764-1922),” 2016. Link.
Connecticut State Library. “History of Connecticut Newspapers,” 2013. Link.
Mars, James. “North American Slave Narratives - Life of James Mars, a Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut. Written by Himself.” Documenting the American South - University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1868. Link.


Connecticut Humanities Council, and Connecticut Public Television. African Americans in Connecticut the Civil War to Civil Rights. DVD. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Public Television, 1998.


“Cedar Hill Cemetery,” 2016. Link.
“Connecticut Historical Society,” 2016. Link.
“Grove Street Cemetery,” 2016. Link.
Connecticut State Library. “The Museum of Connecticut History,” 2012. Link.


Lehman, Eric D., and Amy Nawrocki. A History of Connecticut Food: A Proud Tradition of Puddings, Clambakes and Steamed Cheeseburgers. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012.
Strong, Nehemiah. An Astronomical Diary, Kalendar, or Almanack, for the Year of Our Lord 1792 ... Calculated for the Meridian and Horizon of Hartford, Lat. 41 Deg. 56 Min. North: Longit. 72 Deg. 56 Min. West of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich: But May Serve Indifferently for All the Towns in Connecticut and the Adjacent States. Hartford: Nathaniel Patten, 1791. Link.
Spears, John Randolph, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Collection. Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer: An Old-Time Sailor of the Sea. New York: Macmillan, 1922. Link.
Federal Writer’s Project for the State of Connecticut. Connecticut a Guide to Its Roads, Lore, and People. American Guide Series. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1938.
Buel, Richard, J. Bard McNulty, and (first) Acorn Club of Connecticut. Connecticut Observed: Three Centuries of Visitors’ Impressions, 1676-1940. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Humanities Council, 1999.
Shuldiner, David Philip, Thomas R. Beardsley, and Connecticut Humanities Council. Connecticut Speaks for Itself: Firsthand Accounts of Life in the Nutmeg State from Colonial Times to the Present Day. Middletown, CT: Connecticut Humanities Council, 1996.
Hempstead, Joshua. Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, Connecticut, Covering a Period of Forty-Seven Years, from September 1711, to November, 1758. New London,  CT: The New London County Historical Society, 1901. Link.
Faude, Wilson H. Hidden History of Connecticut. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
Main, Jackson Turner. Society and Economy in Colonial Connecticut. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.
Minor, Thomas, Sidney H. Miner, and George D. Stanton. The Diary of Thomas Minor, Stonington, Connecticut, 1653-1684. New London, CT: Day Publishing Company, 1899. Link.