Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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The Charles R. Hale Collection is the legacy of an extraordinarily dedicated and persistent individual. He began his unusual vocation in 1916, when he made a chart of veterans' graves in a Rocky Hill cemetery for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, of which he was a member. Soon he was to do the same in Wethersfield and Newington and decided to expand his efforts to include all of Hartford County.
At this point his work came to the attention of George S. Godard, State Librarian. Mr. Godard asked his aid in locating graves of Revolutionary veterans, as he had received many inquiries about them. With the outbreak of World War I, the Connecticut General Assembly appropriated funds to continue the project under the auspices of the State Library. But now Mr. Hale was to begin a project unique in the United States: the location and charting of all Connecticut veterans' graves from the original settling of the colony to the present. He also received the unique title of State Military Necrologist. In 1934 the project received federal relief funds to provide jobs for the unemployed. Later it became a W.P.A. project employing over 80 people.
Mr. Hale was devoted to his work. He kept a collection of unusual epitaphs, which he found fascinating and often puzzling. President Roosevelt cited him for his patriotic labors, and he was national chairman of the Committee on Marking Graves of Sons of Civil War Veterans.
The Hale Collection includes the Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions, the Hale Collection of Newspaper Marriage and Death Notices, ca. 1750-1865, a collection of Newspaper Abstract Volumes, and the Veterans' Deaths Index.
Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery
Vital information from headstone inscriptions in over 2,000 Connecticut cemeteries was recorded in a W.P.A. project directed by Charles R. Hale ca. 1932-5. These records are bound in volumes for each town and are indexed on slips in a single alphabetical file. Many cemeteries had been abandoned and long-forgotten when Mr. Hale began his research. For example, the town clerk in North Stonington knew of only nine cemeteries in the town; Mr. Hale found 95. He made house-to-house inquiries about old vaguely remembered plots, and then crawled through the woods to find them. He even located a cemetery under Route 9 in Middletown and several that had been flooded by reservoirs. In total 2,269 cemeteries came to light.
Statewide Slip Index
The white slips of this alphabetical index are interfiled with the yellow ones of the Newspaper Death Notices Index. The slips show as much of the following information as was given on the headstone: person's name, birth date, death date, and age. At the bottom of each slip are given a town name and code number, a cemetery number, and a page number referring to the bound headstone inscriptions abstracts.
The Hale headstone abstracts volumes are light green books arranged alphabetically by town. Using the town name and page number given on the index slip, researchers can locate the appropriate page in the abstracts, which gives the name of the cemetery and which may also show more information on the individual in question and on other family members. In most cases epitaphs were not recorded.
The Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions has been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and is available through LDS Family History Centers.
Hale Collection of Newspaper Marriage
and Death Notices, ca. 1750-1865
Abstracted from 90 of the earliest Connecticut newspapers, these notices generally end with the close of the Civil War, ca. 1865-1866, with the exception of the Danbury Times, which was abstracted to ca. 1900.
Marriage Notices Index
Both husbands' names and wives' maiden names are given in this alphabetical slip index. The slip may also show the date of marriage. The name of the newspaper from which the information was abstracted, issue date, and a page number are located at the bottom of each slip. These page numbers refer to volumes of newspaper abstracts; they do not refer to the newspaper itself.
Death Notices Index
The yellow slips comprising this alphabetical index are interfiled with the white slips of the Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions). The slips show the individual's name and date of death, the name of the newspaper from which the information was abstracted, the issue date, and a page number are located at the bottom of each slip. The page numbers refer to volumes of newspaper abstracts; they do not refer to the newspaper itself.
Bound Newspaper Abstract Volumes
Sixty-eight light green loose-leaf volumes (marked "Newspapers") were prepared as a FERA/WPA project under the supervision of Charles R. Hale, ca. 1937-1941. Using the Guide to Volume Arrangement--Newspaper Notices, researchers can determine which volume contains the newspaper and page number of the death notice or marriage notice they are seeking. Most volumes contain several sections (e.g., both marriage and death notices for a given newspaper) separated by gray tabs; be sure to locate the proper section of the volume.
The entries in the newspaper abstracts volumes usually give slightly more information about the marriage or death than is given in the slip index, sometimes including names of the bride's parents or spouse of the decedent. However, most abstracts usually contain less information than what might be expected, and unless the individuals concerned were fairly prominent, or the circumstances of a death fairly unusual, there is usually no additional information given in the actual notices. Published marriage and death notices did not give much personal or family information until the late 1800s. Thus, in most cases checking the actual newspapers will not lead to additional genealogical evidence.
Because of their age and condition, the bound volumes of newspaper marriage and death notices abstracts may not be photocopied. However, the abstracts have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are available for use at the State Library or through LDS Family History Centers.
The staff of the History and Genealogy Unit does not search or make copies of the actual notices that are abstracted in the Hale Collection of Newspaper Marriage and Death Notices. However, the State Library has an extensive collection of original and microfilmed newspapers available for those wishing to examine the original notices. A list of Professional Genealogists Familiar with Connecticut State Library Collection is available for your consideration should you wish to have further searching done, or you can borrow most of the State Library's newspaper microfilms on inter-library loan.
Veterans' Deaths Index
A useful tool for establishing military service is the Veterans' Deaths and Burials Index, prepared by the Veterans' Graves Survey project. Statutory authority for the index was provided by Sections 7-77 and 11-2 of the General Statutes of Connecticut, which required heads of cemeteries and registrars of vital statistics to send copies of the veterans' death certificates and the location of their graves to the State Librarian. Maintenance of the Veterans' Death Index was discontinued following passage of Public Act 82-306, effective Oct. 1, 1982.
The index is housed in the corridor adjacent to the History and Genealogy reading room. Although not complete, it includes the names of many deceased veterans from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam era. The cards are arranged into three groups (see below), and may provide all or some of the following information: veteran's name, war in which he or she served, date of death, place of death, town and cemetery where buried, age, branch of service, and, in some cases, the name of the military unit.This index is in three sections
Prepared by the History and Genealogy Unit, Connecticut State Library, 11-96.