Connecticut Genealogy Research

Church Records

Catholic Records:

  • Archdiocese of Hartford:
    • Access policy: Families need to contact the parish directly in order to obtain copies of the records. Access is at the discretion of the pastor.
    • Useful Publication: “Lift High the Cross: The History of the Archdiocese of Hartford”
    • Newspaper: The Catholic Transcript (previously under other titles). For publication history, visit https://archdioceseofhartford.org/the-catholic-transcript/. Early papers are available on microfilm at the Connecticut State Library.
  • Diocese of Bridgeport:
    • Access policy: Records older than 72 years are accessible to genealogists by contacting the parish.
    • Useful Publication: “One Family in Faith: A History of the Diocese of Bridgeport.”
  • Diocese of Norwich:
    • Access policy: Records are closed. Parish may be able to answer history questions.
    • Useful Publication: “Catholics in Eastern Connecticut: The Diocese of Norwich.”
Vital Records

Alternate sources:

  • Sexton’s books and burial books:
    • The legislation, dated 1852:“[…] every sexton or person having charge of any public or private burial place, shall, during the first week of each month, deliver to the registrar of the town, in which such burial place is situated, a list of the names and dates of burial of the persons buried therein, during the month next preceding […]”[1]
    • The town registrar – usually the town clerk; check the health department in those towns that store vital records outside of the clerk’s office – was required to keep that list. Most often it will be stored in a bound book. Depending on the location, the book may be arranged by date or by cemetery. Some communities may have two sets of books, one by date and one by cemetery.
      • Godfrey Memorial Library has digitized Middletown’s books. (Accessible for a fee.)
      • To date, no other set of books has been digitized.
    • These books are considered public record. Expect to pay copying fees of about $1/page or a daily scanner fee.
  • Burial transit permits:
    • The legislation, dated 1884: “Sec. 113. No person shall remove the body of any deceased person from or into the limits of any town in this State otherwise than for immediate burial in the cemetery adjacent to the town in which such person died, unless there shall be attached to the coffin or case containing such body, a written or printed permit signed by the registrar of deaths in said town, certifying the cause of death or disease of which said person died[…]”[2]
    • The permits often contain nearly as much information as a death record – and sometimes more. They should include at minimum the date of death, cause of death, and funeral home.
    • They are stored by the office of the registrar of vital statistics in the town in which the burial occurred. Typically, this is the town clerk or health department.
    • These permits are generally still in the town clerk’s office but may have been stored in an overflow vault. To date, none have been digitized. They are considered public record. Expect to pay copying fees of about $1/page or a daily scanner fee.

[1] Revision of 1875: The General Statutes of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., Printers, 1875), 29.

[2] The General Statutes of the State of Connecticut, Revision of 1887 (Hartford: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., Printers, 1887), 27.

Land Records
  • What level of jurisdiction (town, county, state) stores land records in Connecticut?
    • Connecticut stores land records on the town level, in the town in which the property is located.
    • Connecticut town boundaries have changed over time. The same property may be in the records of three or more towns, depending on the date of records.
  • How do I find the towns in which my property might be recorded?
    • Use the “List of Connecticut Towns & Counties Including Year Established” on the Connecticut State Library’s website (https://ctstatelibrary.org/cttowns/counties) to determine when your town was created and what “parent towns” from which it may have been created.
    • Be aware that you may have to check multiple jurisdictions. Some “child towns” were created from two or more parent towns. Andover, created in 1848, was “taken from Hebron and Coventry.” Some parent towns have broken into smaller and smaller pieces over time, leaving records along the way. Prior to 1767, properties in Portland and East Hampton were in the jurisdiction of Middletown. Between 1767 and 1841, the properties were part of “Chatham.” Portland separated from Chatham in 1841. That means the same property could have records in Middletown for the early 1700s; Chatham (East Hampton) for the early 1800s; and Portland for the early 1900s. When in doubt, check all possible jurisdictions.
  • How do I access copies of the land records?
    • Start by visiting the town clerk’s website. Many clerks have been digitizing their records independently. They may have records for free or a low download cost.
    • Next check FamilySearch. The microfilms created by FamilySearch have been digitized and are available on their website. To access them, log into www.familysearch.org and go to the catalog. Search by place name. Be aware: many of these records can only be opened from a FamilySearch affiliate.
    • There are generally some records that have yet to be digitized, so plan to visit the town clerk at some point in your search. Before you do so: check with the State Library and the town’s library, as other copies may be available.
      • (Please note that some towns gave their original copies to the State Library and have only photostats.) If you want copies, you will be allowed to purchase them. As of 2021, the rate is $1 a page.
  • How do I find my property?
    • If the property has been sold in the last few decades, you can start by checking the town tax assessor’s property card system. It will list the most recent sales.
    • Use the volume and page of the oldest listed sale to locate the deed.
    • Find out the name of the “grantor” (the person selling the property).
    • Go to the index and look for that name under the “grantee” section (the list of people buying the property). (If there is not a digitized central index, the clerk likely has one onsite.)
    • Locate that deed to get the name of the person who sold them the property.
    • Repeat.
    • Over time, you should build up a list of all the deeds “conveying” or transferring the property and the names of everyone who lived on your land.
The American Revolution

Military Service:

  • Muster rolls for those who saw military service beyond alarms can be found in:
  • Militia appointments, no matter the service, can be found in the Connecticut Archives collection:
    • An index for the latter may be found at https://libguides.ctstatelibrary.org/hg/ctarchives.
    • The collection itself has been largely digitized by FamilySearch but must be accessed at an affiliate. Find it by searching “Connecticut Archives” as a title in the catalog.
  • Militia records: Some members of the militia would only have been called out for alarms when the British were believed to be in the area. These militia members would only appear on local, town level militia rolls.

Patriotic service:

  •  Donations in support of the cause:
    • Some can be found in the Connecticut Archives collection:
      • The collection itself has been largely digitized by FamilySearch but must be accessed at an affiliate. Find it by searching “Connecticut Archives” as a title in the catalog.
    • Others may be mentioned in the town meeting minutes.
  • Taxes: Note: To date, the payment of Connecticut taxes has not been used to qualify for DAR or SAR under patriotic service. Because authorization to use the money to fund the military generally occurred after payment, it’s unclear if the “annual” taxes would be accepted. The collection of the 1780 beef tax would qualify, as the authorization occurred before the tax was collected. In Connecticut, town assessors made “grand lists” instead of retaining lists of those who paid taxes that year. Grand lists are lists of those who hold property eligible to be taxed that year. To determine who paid taxes, you need to correlate the year’s grand list to the town meeting minutes. Those minutes will indicate any issues with collecting payment, any exemptions that might have been given, and how that year’s taxes were used. While grand lists were not always retained, those still extent can generally be found in the offices of the town clerk.

Public Office:

  • The Public records of the Colony of Connecticut and The Public Records of the State of Connecticut contain the proceedings of the state government, including who held public office and more.
  • Town meeting records: Note: Town office holding (elected positions) is considered qualifying service for the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution, as it required a public declaration of support the Revolutionary cause. Town meeting records describe the function of the town, including who held town offices, how taxes were spent, and more. Offices and oaths were abstracted by Jolene Mullen in Connecticut Town Meeting Records During the American Revolution.
Slavery and Manumission

Manumission

In Connecticut, the documents manumitting – or legally freeing – a person held in slavery can be found in multiple record collections.

These are a few of the most common:

  • Town land records: Manumission records can generally be found in the grantor/grantee index with the enslaved person listed as the grantee (“buyer”).
    • Most Connecticut land records from this period have been digitized by FamilySearch and are accessible when in a FamilySearch affiliate.
      • To locate an affiliate, go to https://www.familysearch.org/en/ and click on the question mark in the upper right.
      • Click on “Find A Family History Center and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries”.
      • Enter the zip code in the map search bar to find close affiliates.
    • Once at an affiliate, go to https://www.familysearch.org/en/
      • Log in using the buttons in the upper right. (Create an account if needed – they’re free!)
      • Click on “Search” and then “Catalog”.
      • Enter the location in the order state, county, town into the place search bar.
      • Click “Search.”
      • In the results list, click on land records.
      • Click on the result with town clerk as the author.
      • Use the grantor/grantee index to find the volume and page of the manumission.
  • Public Records of the Colony and State of Connecticut:
    • A person held in slavery could become the legal property of the state during the American Revolution due to confiscation.
    • Records of their manumission would be found in the Public Records:
  • Probate records: A person held in slavery could be legally freed by their enslaver at the time of their death.

Legislation regarding the support of people who had been held in slavery may create additional documentation of their lives. These records may or may not be held with the manumission. Some may appear in local manuscript collections.

1808, per the publication, passed in 1777:

Provided nevertheless, That if any master or owner of any servant or slave, shall apply to the selectmen of the town to which he belongs, for liberty and licence to emancipate or make free any such servant or slave, it shall be the duty of such selectmen to enquire into the age, abilities, circumstances and character of such servant or slave, and if they or the major part of them, shall be of the opinion that it is likely to be consistent with the real advantage of such servant or slave, and that it is probable that the servant or slave will be able to support his or her own person, and he or she is of good and peaceable life and conversation; such selectmen or the major part of them, shall give to the owner or master of such servant or slave, certificate under their hands, of their opinion in the premises, and that the master or owner of such servant or slave, hath liberty to emancipate and set at liberty such servant or slave. And if the master or owner of any servant or slave, shall, on receiving such certificate, emancipate and set at liberty such servant or slave. And if the master or owner of any servant or slave, shall, on receiving such certificate, emancipate and set at liberty such servant or slave, he his heirs, executors and administrators, shall be forever discharged from any charge or cost, which may be occasioned by maintaining or supporting the servant or slave, made free as aforesaid; any law, usage or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.(The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut Book I (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1808), 624-625; digital images, HathiTrust (https://hdl.handle.net/2027/nyp.33433009411053?urlappend=%3Bseq=773%3Bownerid=27021597768687286-863: accessed 2 Mar 2022).

1821:

If any master or owner of a slave is disposed to emancipate him, he may apply to any two of the civil authority, or to one of the civil authority, or two of the select-men of the town where he belongs, who, if they find such slave to be in good health, and not of a greater age than forty-five years, shall give to the owner or master, a certificate thereof, under their hands; provided they find on examination of the slave, that he is desirous to be made free; and if the master or owner shall, on receiving such certificate, emancipate such slave, he shall be discharged from any expense for his support, provided the letter of emancipation, and the certificate, shall be recorded in the records of the town where the master resides. (The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: S.G. Goodrich, & Huntington & Hopkins, 1821),428-429; digital images, HathiTrust (https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.hxt8s5?urlappend=%3Bseq=449%3Bownerid=27021597764313116-447: accessed 2 March 2022).