WELCOME TO THE WOOLWORTH LIBRARY AND RESEARCH CENTER
The Richard W. Woolworth Library of the Stonington Historical Society opened its doors on June 20, 1998. A modern archival facility, it has a large reading room with tables for researchers, computers, copiers, and a microfilm reader printer. The walls of the James Merrill Reading Room have an interesting collection of 19th-century portraits of Stonington people. This library was named for Stonington resident, Richard W. Woolworth (1935-1989), whose widow's generous donation to the Society made possible the acquisition of the property in 1994 and the construction of this repository.
Please direct all library correspondence to:
R.W. Woolworth Library
P.O. Box 103
Stonington, CT 06378-0103
Telephone: (860) 535-1131
Or via email:
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The collection of this library focuses on Stonington history and people and the surrounding areas. The library is open year round Monday and Friday, 1:30-5:30pm, Wednesday, 3-7pm, and Saturday, 9am-1pm.
If you are unable to visit us in person we are also willing to complete research on your behalf. Please complete a Research Request form to submit along with your request. A survey of our holdings pertaining to your request and any additional research completed in the first hour will be provided free of charge.
Please allow up to two weeks for an initial response to all queries.
Manuscripts and Books
The collections of this library include over 60 linear ft. of manuscript files with genealogical and historical material; books on the history and people of the area, including genealogies; local and county histories; ledgers and account books; city directories; minutes of meeting of local organizations; as well as war records from the French and Indian Wars to the present day. In addition we have copies of the land and probate record books.
Finding aids for select manuscript collections, containing collection inventories, as well as historical and biographical notes are available below:
Captain Joshua Stevens Papers, 1861-1874
Ira Hart Palmer Papers, 1865-1885
American Velvet Company, 1868-1952
The library holds an extensive collection of historical photographs of the area. Rollie McKenna, a celebrated local photographer and former resident of Stonington, donated many of her Stonington photos. Maurice LaGrua, a local photographer who collected vintage photographs of Stonington in addition to his work chronicling the people of the town, donated much of his collection to the Woolworth Library. The Maurice LaGrua Darkroom is named in his honor. Copies may be purchased by contacting the library.
We have copies of local newspapers, including the microfilms of the Stonington Mirror and Mystic Pioneer from 1870-1931. We continue to collect issues of local weeklies, such as Mystic River Press, and Stonington Times. In addition we have a collection of obituaries of Stonington people stored in binders for easy access.
As you enter the Woolworth Library and Research Center, be sure to note the contents of the exhibit cases on your right. Exhibits here change often and are curated by museum staff and volunteers. Examples of current and past exhibits include the works of of the poet, James Merrill, for whom the reading room is named; day books and ledgers from the archives; and examples of rare textiles and fragile ephemera and maps.
Virtual Exhibits are on display here
Historic House Histories
The Stonington Historical Society is accepting applications for historic house histories. Any property within the boundaries of Stonington that is more than 50 years old is eligible. Professional and volunteer researchers will compile an extensive portfolio of your property that includes information from property transactions, land records, probate inventories, historical maps, city directories, oral histories, photo archives, and secondary sources. This information is added to our Heritage Database of Historic Properties in the Woolworth Library. This program does not imply or impose any restrictions nor does it take the place of property title search for the purposes of a land transaction.
An extensive portfolio of research, records, and images will be compiled and delivered along with a wooden house plaque that identifies the original owner and estimated date of construction. The cost is $500. $250 is is due at the time of application and the balance is due upon completion and delivery. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Pine Point School students Charlie Ritter and Caleb Schafer-Courter have mapped out some of the completed house histories in Stonington Borough below as part of a Service Learning Project. Completed house histories are available to researchers at the R.W. Woolworth Library at 40 Palmer Street Stonington. Additional information will be added as research and resources allow. Thanks to geosystems.com for providing the map.