One day in the before times (the time before COVID) a representative of the Old Saybrook Historical Society came to Acton bearing four large archival boxes. The boxes contained over 165 years of library history, all primary source documents: receipts, bills, committee notes, letters—including one written by our founder, former New York City Police Commissioner Thomas C. Acton, where he mentions Lady Fenwick. Over the past few months, we’ve been scanning these documents and creating our first digital collection, now hosted by the Connecticut Digital Archive.
There are familiar Old Saybrook family names in these materials: Thomas C. Acton and his son, Thomas C. Acton Jr., R.C. Shepard, and the Hart family, amongst others. We have receipts from local stores like the one owned and operated by Henry Potter that provided Old Saybrook residents with groceries and coal. Taken as a whole, they paint a vivid portrait of the behind-the-scenes workings of a small-town library in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. We are excited to be able to share this intimate library history with you.