Historian of Connecticut

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Anyone who has dabbled in Connecticut history is probably familiar with Barber's Connecticut Historical Collections.  These books were written by John Warner Barber (1798 - 1885).

John Barber was born into a farming family in Windsor in 1798.  When he was 15, he became an apprentice to engraver Abner Reed.  After 7 years, he struck out on his own.  By age 21, he had written his first book, and went on to write and/or illustrate dozens of books covering morality, history and religion.

In the summers of 1834 to 1836, Barber toured the state, sketching many buildings (which no longer exist) as well as sites of historical importance.  Barber travelled to just about all of the 154 towns in Connecticut.

Barber's Collection was reprinted many times.  The set sold for $3, and they were sold primarily door-to-door.  He made wood engravings which were used to print the first heavily illustrated local history book. And the books were quite popular.  They were written for the general public - not a special group such as academicians.  He went on to author similar books for Massachusetts and New York.

Barber was never a wealthy man.  He was very quiet but diligent in his work.  As a result, the state residents have a "picture" of the state from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Ironically, from an historic preservation point of view, none of the buildings he depicted are still standing today.  We are fortunate that such a dedicated and diligent man took it upon himself to record so much history for our prosterity.

2 Comments

To Whom it may concern,

I wish to order The Barber's of Connecticut.
I am very interested in my Barber family. I am a direct G-------Granddaughter of Thomas Barber. I hope you can help me.

Sincerely,

Hannah Barber-Abraham

Hannah - You'll have to contact your local library for an Interlibrary Loan to get the Barber book. Your local library may even have a copy. Ours is in reference and does not circulate.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on February 4, 2011 10:32 AM.

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