Middletown, circa 1899; courtesy of Patrick Shugrue.
Our Mission: Dedicated to preserving the history of Middlesex County and providing programs for adults and children to increase their understanding of the area's past.
John Brown pike; Henry Cornwall artifacts
Their Own Stories:
Voices from Middletown's
Mansfield House exhibit
Within These Walls:
One House, One Family, Two Centuries
Upcoming Programs and Events
Saturday, April 18, 7pm: Join us at the 10th Annual Mayor's Ball, at the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate. The proceeds will benefit St. Luke's Community Services, the Rockfall Foundation, Amazing Grace Food Pantry--and the Middlesex County Historical Society! $100 donation per person; tickets can be purchased at the Mayor's Office. This year's theme is 'Preserving our Past, Present and Future.' For more information: http://www.cityofmiddletown.com/filestorage/737/155/Event_flyer.pdf
Wednesday, April 29, The annual meeting of the Middlesex County Historical Society, at the City of Middletown Senior and Community Center (formerly Eckersley Hall School), 61 Durant Terrace, Middletown. The business meeting begins at 6:30pm, followed at 7pm by the Arthur Schultz Memorial Lecture by Executive Director Deborah Shapiro and the Director of the Department of Planning, Conservation and Development Michiel Wackers. The lecture, "Down by the Riverside," explores the past, present and future of Middletown's riverfront. The lecture is free and open to all!
Friday, June 19, 7pm: Heroes for All Time: Connecticut Civil War Soldiers Tell Their Stories. The Society is pleased to announce that Dione Longley and Buck Zaidel will give an illustrated lecture at a reception being held to raise funds for the maintenance of the Society’s headquarters, the General Joseph Mansfield House. Please join us for the talk and dessert reception following. Tickets are $35 per person and sponsorships are available, all to support the efforts of the Society to preserve this important historic building on Main Street. Click here for more information!
A Vanished Port: Middletown and the Caribbean, 1650-1824. With the advice and support of a number of local historians, researchers and cultural organizations, the Society is planning an exhibit that explores Middletown's rich maritime legacy and ties to the 'triangle trade,' the slave-based Caribbean sugar industry in the colonial and early federal eras. Click here for a recent Middletown Press article describing the planning process. Many thanks to CTHumanities for awarding the Society a planning grant for this important exhibit!
Middletown history online and on the air...
John Bank's Civil War Blog has a series of posts on General Joseph Mansfield and Robert Hubbard, Middletown natives who served in the war. http://john-banks.blogspot.com/
Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Anthropology Sarah Croucher has created a site, Middletown Materials, on local archaeological digs and the research her students are doing on the artifacts recovered: http://middletownmaterials.research.wesleyan.edu/
Our blog, '150 years ago in Middletown, Connecticut', allows you to experience life in Middletown as it happened, through excerpts from The Constitution, Middletown's Republican newspaper.
March 19, 2015: Life and Death on Haddam Quarter Road, a talk by Dr. Michael Good. Through the stories of three members of Durham's Newton family, Dr. Good explored the fragility of life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and how far modern medicine has advanced since then. Michael Good is the author of The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews. Thanks to everyone who attended this standing-room only talk!
February 24, 2015: Overcoming the Odds: Anna Louise James and Ann Petry Gamble and Win, a talk by Elisabeth Petry. Liz Petry wrote about her family for the recently-published African American Connecticut Explored, a book of essays on the history of African Americans in Connecticut. Thanks to all who braved the cold to attend the talk, and to Liz for an eloquent and fascinating talk about her mother and aunt!
December 9, 2014: Middletown Garden Club celebration. Opening reception for the Middletown Garden Club exhibit , to celebrate their 100th anniversary! If you missed the reception, you have until the end of January to see the beautiful holiday decorations throughout the first floor of the Mansfield House, and the exhibit on the history of the Middletown Garden Club.
December 4, 2014: Author Anne Farrow gave an eloquent talk on the subject of her recently-published book The Logbooks, on Connecticut, the slave trade, and history's selective memory.
November 28, 2014: Holiday on Main Open House. We had a full house with members of the Society, the Middletown Garden Club, and visitors enjoying the exhibits, the Garden Club holiday decorations, and storytelling by Board member Maria Weinberger. Thanks to everyone who made the day a success!
November 13, 2014: Prudence Crandall's Legacy. Despite the threat of snow, author Donald Williams and Prudence Crandall Museum curator Kazimiera Kozlowski spoke to us about this brave and principled Connecticut educator, abolitionist and feminist. After the program Mr. Williams signed copies of his new book on Prudence Crandall. Thanks to all who attended, and to Congregation Adath Israel!
October 8, 2014: Commodore Thomas Macdonough and the Battle of Lake Champlain. It was an interesting and instructive evening with Thomas Macdonough Russell III, Executive Director Debby Shapiro, and Vice President Pat Tully commemorating the 200th anniversary of the battle. It was standing room only in the Mansfield House--thanks to everyone who attended and a special thanks to Peggy and Tom Macdonough Russell III! Artifacts owned by Commodore, a long-time Middletown resident, will be on display through the end of October. See event photos on our Facebook page.
October 5, 2014: 29th Annual Antique and Classic Car & Truck Show. What an amazing day at Palmer Field! Thanks to the show car owners, the spectators and the many voluniteers who made this year's car show a success. Looking forward to the 30th annual show next year! Check out some of this year's entries on our Facebook page.
August 24, 2014: Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market & Festival. Congratulations to our prize winners--Jerry Seagrave won the framed map of Connecticut, and Heather Dodds Krupa won the framed map of Middletown. And a special thanks to everyone who took our Middletown history quiz--it was just as much fun for us working at the table as it was for you!
August 12, 2014: Nails: The Story of Modern Manicure. Author Suzanne Shapiro gave a fun and informative talk at the Wadsworth Mansion, followed by a book signing and dessert reception. Thanks to Suzanne, event sponsors Colebrook Financial Co., Connecticut Underwriters, Inc., Long Hill Estate Authority, and Shapiro Law Offices, and everyone who attended!
Congratulations to our 2014 Sheedy Contest winners, and all the third-grade students who submitted an essay on their favorite ancestor! Their stories of courage, endurance and accomplishment are truly inspiring. Check out more photographs on our Facebook page.
June 14, 2014: Connecticut Open House Day. It was our best open house ever, with over 30 visitors. Thanks to all!
May 26, 2014: Middletown's Memorial Day parade, in honor of disabled veterans.
May 14, 2014: Talk by Prof. Victor Triay of Middlesex Community College on the Cuban Revolution and theBay of Pigs invasion. Thanks to Prof. Triay, and all who attended at a new location for us: Middlesex Community College's Jean Burr Smith Library!
April 30, 2014: Annual membership meeting and premiere of Legendary Locals, a book with biographiesoffamous Middletown residents past and present. Bob and Kathleen Hubbard, with Executive Director Debby Shapiro, talked about some of the many Middletown notables in the book. Thanks to the 100+ people whoattended this program!
Get your copy of Legendary Locals of Middletown at the Mansfield House, or order through our online gift shop. The price is just $22..
April 1, 2014: Middletown native and first Connecticut Troubadour Tom Callinan launched his new CD with classic and original songs of the War of 1812, as the becentennial commemoration of the war continues. Thanks to all who attended!
March 4, 2014: Talk by local historian James Sarbaugh on Native American tribes in the Middletown area and their interactions with British settlers. Wonderful exploration of the clash and combining of cultures in the colonial era, with a lively Q&A afterward. Thanks to everyone who attended and participated!
November 29, 2013. Holiday on Main at the Mansfield House. Thanks to all who stopped by to visit!
November 19, 2013. Allegra di Bonaventura talk on her new book, For Adam's Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England, exploring the complex relationship between masters and slaves in 18th century Connecticut. A wonderful talk and a great discussion afterward!
October 22, 2013. Talk by Peter Gedrys, "Furniture Finishes: Past and Present." It was standing room only at the Mansfield House for Peter Gedrys' talk and demonstration. Thanks to Peter for sharing his knowledge and expertise, and to all who attended!
October 13, 2013: 28th Annual Antique and Classic Car & Truck Show. We had 95 vehicles entered and a beautiful day! Thanks to all the entrants and attendees, and congratulations to our winners. For photographs of the feature car and the winners, go to our Facebook page.
September 7, 2013: Civil War Day at the Mansfield House. Thanks to everyone who attended, and members of Company F of the 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, musical group Back Swamp, speaker Bob Larkin, and author John Banks!
August 25, 2013: Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market. Thanks to all who visited our table and played our trivia game!.
August 10, 2013: Summer Jazz on the Lawn, Mansfield House Gardens. The Mike Augeri Jazz Project gave a wonderful concert to benefit the Middlesex County Historical Society in the beautiful back garden of the Mansfield House. Musicians Mike Augeri, Sinan Bakir, Orice Jenkins, Paul Fuller, Jim Bosco and Rich Tortorigi performed jazz standards as well as original compositions by Sinan Bakir. See photos on our Facebook page.
July 28, 2013: Connecticut Jane Austen Society visit. The Society's annual convention was held in Middletown this year, and members of the Society visited the Mansfield House where Executive Director Debby Shapiro gave them a tour of the house and gardens.
July 24, 2013. Luncheon in the Mansfield House Gardens. A beautiful day, just in time for the event! Thanks to all 80 people who attended. See photos on our Facebook page.
Connecticut Civil War Commemoration
Over the next four years, Connecticut will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with lectures, re-enactments, workshops and programs. Click here for a list of upcoming events.
Awards for Hard & Stirring Times exhibit
The American Association for State and Local History awarded the Middlesex County Historical Society a 2010 Award of Merit for the exhibit: Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown & the Civil War.
The Connecticut League of History Organizations awarded the Middlesex County Historical Society a 2010 Award of Merit for the exhibit Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown & the Civil War, the online version of the exhibit, and the development of curriculum using the Society's Civil War archives for local middle and high schools.
Thank you for your support!
The Middlesex County Community Foundation awarded the Society a grant for the upgrade of this website.
The Connecticut Humanities Council provided support for the development of the Civil War section of the website.
Thanks to the Middlesex County Historical Society's Antique & Classic Car Show Committee for their continued support of the Society.
And most of all, thanks to our members for giving their time, talents and donations to the Society. Your support is essential to the work we do, and we deeply appreciate it!