The Fairfield Museum and History Center’s research library offers a wealth of materials on the history of Fairfield and Fairfield County from 1639 to the present. Our collection includes family history, historic photographs, maps, newspapers, church books, land records, and many more intriguing resources.
See below to learn more about these collections:
Our collection includes artwork, paintings, tools, clothing, furniture, and other artifacts which are used for exhibitions and may be consulted by researchers by arrangement. Some of the collection’s themes include:
- Fairfield Red Cross records and ephemera
- Firefighters and Police records and uniforms
- Town Guard flags, uniforms, photographs, and scrapbooks
- Charitable organizations’ records and publications
- Girl Scout and Boy Scout uniforms
Doing Business in Fairfield
- Southport Bank items, including bank note printing plates
- Currency and coins
- Early 19th century store items
- 18th and 19th century merchants’ account books
- 20th century business record collection
- Household account books recording barter and trade
Families from Fairfield
- Genealogy records and resources
- Family registers: embroidered, painted, printed
- Family portraits
- Multi-generation family manuscript collections
- Multi-generation collections of clothing
- Album and Friendship quilts
Maritime Commerce and Ship Captains
- Captain’s shipping papers, logs, letters, etc.
- Cargo, vessel, captain, and license listings
- Navigational tools and charts
- Captains’ portraits
- Ship portraits and maritime paintings
- Ship flags including a rare set of Marryat Code flags
- Ship’s medicine chest from the Garland, mid 19th c.
- Items purchased abroad, including garments of imported textiles
- Records (e.g., account books) of local products for export
School Life & Children’s History
- Arts & crafts by girls, including samplers and mourning pictures
- Students’ notebooks from the 18th and 19th centuries
- Teachers’ letters, record books and rules from the 19th century
- Ludlowe and Ward High Schools memorabilia (yearbooks, mugs, sweaters)
- Fairfield school records, 1668-1952
- Photographs of school buildings
- Dolls, dollhouses, doll furniture
- Toys, games, and sports equipment
- Children’s clothing from the early 1800s to 1960s
- Carriages, highchairs and cradles from early 19th c.
Tools of the Trade
- Woodworking, blacksmithing, shoemaking, surveying, agricultural equipment
- Account and ledgers books reflecting these occupations
- Textile processing tools
- Agricultural tools
- Farm ledgers
Wartime in Connecticut
- Military uniforms and accoutrements, such as powder horns and canteens
- Arms and weapons from the mid-18th century to WWI
- World War I & World War II posters
- World War II Home Front records and items: scrapbooks, photographs, and ration books
- Town Guard: flags, uniforms, photographs, scrapbooks
- Civil Defense items: World War II and Cold War era
- Nike missile site Information
Looking to learn more about the history of your family? From published genealogies and indexes to headstone inscriptions, ship lists, military and church documents, we have a wide variety of sources to help you with your detective work. Contact us to make an appointment to visit the library. When you visit, we can help you devise a search strategy and recommend further resources.
Want to know more? Get a video tour of our family history resources:
For pre-1800 research:
For post-1800 research:
Looking for help using Ancestry.com? Try this video:
Need more help with Heritage Quest? Try this video:
Curious about the history of your home or a property?
The Library houses several reference materials, including books, historic preservation surveys, the Bridgeport city directories from 1855-1979, atlases, tax records and some land and probate records. These records are used by homeowners, real estate agents, architects and designers to learn more about historic houses, previous owners, and architectural styles in the area.
Is your house in a historic district? Find out more about Fairfield’s Historic District Commission.
View an interactive map of historic houses in the Old Post Road Area – click on each icon to see more information about the house’s history.
Historic Properties Survey
The Historic Properties Survey, conducted by the Fairfield Museum and the Town of Fairfield in 1988 and updated in 2009, documents hundreds of historic properties in Fairfield, encouraging a greater appreciation for the town’s architectural legacy.
Visit an interactive map showing the location of these historic properties in different sections of Fairfield. Click on “Details” for a brief description of the historic or architectural significance of the property. Complete building surveys containing more detailed information on each property, as well as additional resources on Fairfield’s architectural heritage, are available at the library.
Our archives include personal papers, organizational papers, family papers, and business records. Some collections also include photographs, memorabilia, and oral histories. See our Topical Guide to Manuscripts for a list of topics that can be researched using these collections.
The family papers housed at FMHC include some longstanding and influential families in the history of Fairfield. Among them is the Burr family, whose mansion the Burr Homestead, site of John Hancock’s wedding to Dorothy Quincy, still stands on Old Post Rd. Other family papers help to document ordinary life in the past, from farming and schooling to medical care and travel.
The collections of business records at FMHC reflect the changes in Fairfield’s industries. The Bullard Company Records trace this Fairfield business from its founding years in the late 19th century up to its closing and demolition in 1983 through annual reports, personnel files, and photographs. It is complemented by personal collections such as John Camarra’s papers containing union documents that speak to the union activities at Bullard Company. Other businesses represented in our collection include the Fairfield Rubber Company, Kennel Food Supply, and McKesson & Robbins.
Several collections illustrate the history of local politics and government, such as the John Sullivan Collection and the Roger Minott Sherman Collection. We hold some town records, including real estate tax records dating back to 1890, which offer insight into the development of Fairfield properties over the last century.
Click on the links below to download a finding aid describing each collection.
The Nichols Family Papers (Ms 23)
View Selected Images Online
A selection of images from our photograph and postcard collections are available to view online at the Connecticut History Illustrated site (search “Fairfield Museum” to view just our images), and also on our own “Fairfield Photos” site. Please contact us about reproducing any of the images you find there.
Explore Photographs in the Library
The Library’s collections of historical photographs are prized by researchers and visitors. Our general photograph collection of well over 1000 images contains photographs of Fairfield places, scenes, and institutions. The portrait collection offers photographs of individuals, starting in the 19th century, organized by family name.
Our collections also include about 600 black-and-white photographs from the Fairfield Citizen-News, covering the years from 1975 to the mid-1990s; family photo albums from the 19th and 20th centuries; postcards showing the changing face of Fairfield’s beaches, gardens, and main streets; and a variety of different local subjects. We have glass slides including The Mabel Osgood Wright Photograph Collection, dauguerreotypes, tintypes, and stereograph cards.
The library is home to the Collier Collection, an extensive library compiled by former State Historian Christopher Collier. With books on all aspects of Connecticut history, town and county histories, biographies of state figures, and scholarly articles, dissertations, and masters’ theses, our collection is among the best resources for Connecticut history available in the state.
Our manuscript collections contain diaries, letters, organization and business records, and more, while our museum collection features furniture, clothing, household items, artwork, tools, military items, dolls and toys, and architectural fragments. In addition, visitors can browse our collection of reference books to learn about historical subjects from maritime studies to textiles, or consult our reference files for news clippings and overviews on local people, places, and topics.
See Topical guide to manuscripts for a list of topics that can be investigated using our manuscript collections.