Frank Stevenson Archives, Welcome Center & Martha Soper Library
Frank Stevenson Archives, Welcome Center & Martha Soper Library is open to volunteers.
Frank Stevenson Archives, Welcome Center & Martha Soper Library contains books, maps, ledgers, diaries, documents, photographs, mid-20th century newsreels, genealogical material, architectural histories and Native American material. There are also cemetery records, family papers and histories, log books and books on history and Native Americans.
Included in the Collections are papers of many notable Saybrook people, including Lion Gardiner, builder of Saybrook Fort; General William Hart, entrepreneur involved in shipping and commerce in the lower Connecticut River Valley, and David Bushnell, inventor of the submarine.
Collections of family papers include diaries, correspondence, and personal papers that highlight the lives of both men and women of Old Saybrook. Among others, the Stevenson Archives has papers for the Bushnell, Chalker, Clark, Hart, Ingham, and Whittlesey families.
On subjects relating to Saybrook business some references cover such companies as James Drug, Wildflower Decoy Shop, Seth Perrson Boat Builders and Connecticut Valley Railroad. For scholars of women’s history, there are cookbooks, diaries, manuscripts all produced by women in Old Saybrook. Included in the collection are copies of “Saybrook Sez”, a newspaper created by local women to send to the troops during WWII. Anna Louise James, the first female pharmacist licensed in Connecticut, is one of the women featured in the collection.
The Archives is also the deposit for some of the records of the First Church of Christ, Old Saybrook. Of particular note is an original copy of “The Saybrook Platform”, printed in 1710 by Thomas Short of New London. One of the earliest books printed in the colonies, this volume served as a guide or code of conduct for all future congregations in the colonies. Native American material includes an authentic ledger recording the trade of deer hides to merchants, among them Wm. Tully.
We now house an extraordinary collection of artifacts from the American Battlefields Protection Plan Department of the Interior National Parks Initiative related to the Archaeological dig by the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. (See Programs)
Genealogical and Historical Research
If you are unable to do in-person research, we offer genealogical and historical research by our dedicated volunteers. We have records pertaining to Saybrook families from the beginnings of the colony to modern times. We have a large library containing genealogical records and many family records, maps, homes, businesses, early vital records and much more in our vault.
Our charges are $10 per hour plus 25 cents each for copies of materials. There is a handling charge and postage is reimbursed at cost.
Gifts of Research Material
The Stevenson Archives is appreciative of donations of historic photographs, personal papers, businesses and organizational records, ephemera, maps, works of art, and books relating to Old Saybrook. All contributions and gifts are tax deductible under section 501-(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Deposits of records from other non-profit organizations, to provide proper care and public access for research will be considered.
Photographic Reproduction and Use Policy
As a private, non-profit library, the Old Saybrook Historical Society relies on the financial support of our membership, as well as those who use our collection .The fees assessed for photographic reproduction and use fund the administration, care, preservation, and processing of the materials in our collection. A great deal of staff time and supplies are required for our collections to be made accessible for research and preserved for future generations.