This collection encompasses the records of the Connecticut State Library from its earliest history to the present day. Within this collection are the papers of one of the most important State Librarians in the agency’s history. George Seymour Godard, who served as State Librarian between 1900-1936 was of critical importance in getting the building at 231 Capitol Avenue constructed and occupied. He also expanded the library’s services into new areas and became an important part of Connecticut’s WWI efforts. He was the chair of the Connecticut Council of Defense Historical Records Committee and was instrumental in the creation of the Department of War Records at the State Library in 1919. Most of the records found in this collection are not available online. To learn more about how to access this collection please visit Using The Archives. Please note that this collection is stored at an offsite facility.
This historic collection was created by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1919 and contains not only materials pertaining to World War I, but also World War II and Korea. Many of the collections are not original but photostatic copies made by Godard when the originals could not be permanently secured, such as Father Dinan’s papers of deaths in field and base hospitals. There is a collection that documents the names that each town in Connecticut submitted on an Honor Roll form created by the Department of War Records. Most of these files, which are arranged by town, also include a photograph of the monument, table or honor roll erected in said town. To see an overview of what this collection contains please see the Descriptive Register or see the individual collections listed below.
The Historical Data Files collection is made up of correspondence, memoranda, reports, lists, clippings, photographs and other materials pertaining to military service of Connecticut citizens and other war-related activities in the state. While they deal primarily with World War I, these records also include items pertaining to earlier wars. Materials are in folders or envelopes marked with an identification number (often a decimal) and in some cases a number representing the town involved (for more information about the indexing of this collection please see #14 in the Descriptive Register). There is a relatively detailed container listing of each box and folder, though there is a great deal that is not inventoried.
In the years after the war State Librarian George S. Godard had the opportunity to meet 26th Division commander Gen. Clarence Ransom Edwards at a social event. Godard expressed his desire to have a copy of the division records to which Edwards agreed. Throughout 1922 Gen. Edwards sent Warrant Officer Walter L. Murphy to Hartford to have the Connecticut State Library make photostats of the records. The records had been packed haphazardly in boxes, so in addition to making photostat copies, the staff at the state library organized what is likely more than 30,000 pages and maps. As the material was processed numbers were assigned to each page and an index was created. These are not the complete records of the 26th Division, only the records pertaining to the Division as a whole and papers pertaining to Connecticut men and units. The complete records of the 26th Division can be found at the National Archives Records And Records Administration.
Military Service Questionnaires
In 1919 the Department of War Records, under Godard’s guidance, sent out a Military Service Record questionnaires to all servicemen and women to document Connecticut participation in the World War. The questionnaires noted that the record, “will be filled as a permanent memorial of the deeds of Connecticut soldiers, sailors and marines in the service of federal, state and allied governments during American participation in the World War.” Connecticut was one of four states to conduct such a survey; Virginia, Minnesota, and Utah were the others. Connecticut’s survey was the only one to include a series of questions that asked the service member to reflect on their service. Many service members also included photographs, discharge papers, letters or other papers. An index of service members is available and the full questionnaires are available through Ancestry.com ($). Connecticut residents can access these records for free through researchIT CT.