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This Connecticut State Library Pathfinder leads to online and print resources about Connecticut's Governors, past and present.
Under the Fundamental Orders of 1639, and the Royal Charter of 1662, colonial Governors had limited authority over the other magistrates and the legislative body. The Constitution of 1818 provided for a distinct "supreme executive power" balanced by the legislature and the judiciary. It was not until the twentieth century however, that the Governor became a full-time chief executive. Wilbur L. Cross was the first full-time Governor. In 1945, Raymond E. Baldwin was the first chief executive to occupy the official residence.
The State Constitution of 1965 transformed the Office of the Governor. Today, the Governor exercises powers common to chief executives: proposing legislation and reporting to the legislature; signing or vetoing bills; appointing or nominating commission and board members and higher judicial and executive branch officers; convening or adjourning the legislature during emergencies; and taking care "that the laws be faithfully executed" through budgetary powers and executive direction of state agencies under the office's jurisdiction.
The laws of Connecticut did not allow governors to serve consecutive terms until 1660. In 1875, voters approved an amendment to the State Constitution increasing the term of the governor to two years. The 1965 State Constitution increased the term from two to four years. See the Roster of Connecticut Governors with With Links to Biographical Sketches, Portraits, and Finding Aids for a complete list of Connecticut Governors.
Please see the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections Materials.
Pre-1820 governor's records at the State Library can be found in the "Connecticut Archives." Records can also be found in the "Records of the Governor and Council" 1663-1774 and 1785-1818, the published Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut 1636-1776 (on-line as Colonial Connecticut Records), and the Public Records of the State of Connecticut 1776-1818. See Connecticut's "Early General Records" for a brief description of these records.
Records Group 005, Records of the Office of the Governor, 1630-2004. A specific Finding Aid for Governor's Records from 1820-1858 is available.
RG 000, Classified Archives. Access
to the Classified Archives is through the Manuscripts and Archives Card
Catalog in the History and Genealogy Unit Reading Room. Consult this catalog
under the names of individual governors. For example:
Trumbull, Jonathan. Connecticut Colonial Official Papers, 1631-1784. Collected by Governor Jonathan Trumbull under the instruction of the General Assembly, 29 volumes. [CSL call number Main Vault 974.6 fT76].
RG 002:025, Select Committee of Inquiry to Recommend Whether Sufficient Grounds Exist for the House of Representative to Impeach Governor John G. Rowland. See also: [Select Committee of Inquiry documents] circa 1995-2004 for electronic versions of some documents. [Impeachment Materials]
RG 069, Manuscript Collections. Miscellaneous personal papers of five Connecticut Governors are located in the Manuscript Collections. Hard copies of the finding aids to these collections are available to researchers at the History and Genealogy Unit reference desk:
RG 069:010, Raymond E. Baldwin Papers, 1938-1965.
RG 069:096, Wilbur L. Cross Papers, 1914-1949.
RG 069:059, Abraham Ribicoff Newspaper Clipping Collection, 1954-1979.
RG 069:062, Isaac Toucey Papers, 1831-1870.
RG 069:025, John Treadwell Papers, 1706-1872.
The Connecticut Historical Society published several governor's papers within the series Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, [CSL call number F 91 .C7], including George Wyllys (Volume 21), Joseph Talcott (Volumes 4 and 5), Jonathan Law (Volumes 11, 13, and 15), Roger Wolcott (Volume 16), Thomas Fitch (Volumes 17 and 18), William Pitkin (Volumes 19), and John Cotton Smith (Volumes 25 through 31).
Published Materials at the State Library:
Biographical Directory of American Colonial and Revolutionary Governors, 1607-1789, by John Raimo [CSL call number E 187.5 R34].
Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1994, by Robert Sobel and John Raimo [CSL call number GIRS Ref E 176 .B573].
The Governors of Connecticut... , by Frederick Calvin Norton [CSL call number History Reference F 93 .N 88 1905]. Includes biographies, portraits, and signatures of many Connecticut governors from John Haynes (1639) to Henry Roberts (1905).
Check the State Library catalog under the subject heading "Governors - Connecticut - Biography."
Also search the subject field in the catalog under the names of individual governors for autobiographies. Three examples are: Connecticut Yankee, an Autobiography, by Wilbur L. Cross; Promises to Keep; My Years in Public Life, 1941-1969, by Chester Bowles; and Maverick: A Life in Politics, co-authored by Lowell P. Weicker.
See the History and Genealogy Unit's
Biography Vertical File. There is also a folder entitled ‘Connecticut Governors’ in the History Vertical File.
The Law and Legislative Reference Unit's biographical newspaper clipping file spans 1940-present.
A newspaper clipping file in the Newspaper Microfilm Room spans 1932-1992. Each year includes a folder entitled "Governor."
Executive Orders are issued at the Governor's discretion and do not require prior notice or hearing. They carry the full force of law.
Executive Orders, 1955-present [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G746 ex]
Executive Orders issued by Governor Dannel P. Malloy
Executive Order 3, and Executive Order 17, issued by former Governor Thomas Meskill concerning equal opportunity in state contracts. See also: Thomas J. Meskill, RG 005:035, Executive Orders, 1971-1974
Official Statements are issued as broad ceremonial statements of general interest.
Official Statements, 1935-1966, 1995-2002 [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G746 ofst]
Bill Notification Release, 1965-1998 [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G746 ppv]
Governor's Office: Press Release, 1957-1995 [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G746 reL]
Proclamations are issued as required by Connecticut General Statutes 10-29a to proclaim certain days and weeks.
Proclamations, 1846-present [CSL Call NumberConnDoc G746 p]
State of the State Addresses are also referred to as the Governor's Annual Message to the General Assembly; delivered in compliance with the Constitution of the State of Connecticut (Conn. Constitution art. IV ss 11).
Connecticut Governor's Messages, 1812-1959, [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G746]
Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Connecticut, 1846- present [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G253 jou]
Connecticut Governor Veto Messages, 1943-1969 [CSL Call NumberConnDoc G746 ve]
Governor's Press Releases,...Public Act Signatures, Veto messages, 1981-1998 [CSL Call Number ConnDoc G746 ppv]
Public and Special Acts, 1972-present [CSL Call Number KFC 3625.A24]
For additional publications, check the State Library catalog under the author heading "Connecticut. Governor"
Materials may be located within the Subject Files of individual governors in State Archives Record Group 005, Records of the Office of the Governor, 1630-2004.
"Governors and Lieutenant Governors" - in the State Register and Manual
National Governors Association. Maintains a database of governors for all states. Includes biographical information.
Political Graveyard: Connecticut Governors. A resource for American political biography.
Prepared jointly by the Government Information Reference Services Unit and the History and Genealogy Unit, January 2009. Revised January 2011.