The Thimble Islands, Branford

The Thimble Islands, Branford – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Carol M. Highsmith Archive

The town of Branford, located in New Haven County, lies next to the Long Island Sound and includes the Thimble Islands. The first settlers of New Haven bought land from the area’s Native peoples in 1638 and established Branford in 1644. In the mid-19th century, the railroad helped develop Branford’s industry, and from the 1850s through the 1920s, the scenic coastline made it a popular tourist destination. Today, Branford is a suburban community with several town-maintained parks and beaches and 20 miles of coastline. It has numerous historic districts, and the Thimble Islands remain a favorite destination spot.

More on Branford from the CT Digital Archive

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Trolley interior, Branford Electric Railway - Trolley Museum

Branford Gets On the Trolley

Starting as a means of intra-city transportation, trolley lines extended outward by the start of the 20th century and promoted the growth of modern suburbs. …[more]

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“Greater New Haven Labor History Association,” 2017. Link.
National Park Service. “Steamtown NHS: Special History Study - New Haven Trap Rock Company No. 43,” 2016. Link.


“Branford Historical Society,” 2017. Link.
Branford Historical Society. “Harrison House Museum, Barn & Gardens,” 2017. Link.


Hughes & Bailey. “Bird’s-Eye View of Branford, Connecticut.” Bird’s-eye Map. Hughes & Bailey, c1905. University of Connecticut Libraries, Map and Geographic Information Center - MAGIC. Link.
Connecticut State Library Digital Collections. “Branford - WPA Architectural Survey,” 2017. Link.
“Branford Collection.” Connecticut Digital Archive, n.d. Link.
Digital Archives of James Blackstone Memorial Library. “Digitized Historic Newspapers - Various Titles & Dates,” 2017. Link.
“Map - Thimble Islands and Stony Creek, Conn.” Vineyard Haven, MA: George W. Eldridge, 1908. University of Connecticut Libraries - Map and Geographic Information Center - MAGIC. Link.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. “Photographs: Thimble Islands, Branford, Connecticut,” 2016. Link.


Branford Historical Society, and Archibald Hanna. A Brief History of the Thimble Islands in Branford, Connecticut. Branford,  CT: Archon Books, 1970.
McCain, Diana. Connecticut Coast: A Town-by-Town Illustrated History. Guilford,  CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2009.
Rockey, J. L., ed. History of New Haven County, Connecticut. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Preston, 1892. Link.
Lambert, Edward. History of the Colony of New Haven, Before and After the Union with Connecticut. Containing a Particular Description of the Towns Which Composed That Government, Viz., New Haven, Milford, Guilford, Branford, Stamford, & Southold, L.i. with a Notice of the Towns Which Have Been Set Off from “the Original Six.” New Haven, CT: Hitchcock & Stafford, 1838. Link.
Balestracci, Jr., Carl A. John Beattie and His Quarrymen: Building America Stone by Stone. Guilford, CT: Guilford Keeping Society, 2016.