My latest processing project is that of the Middletown Manuscript collection dating from 1668 to 1937. The collection is made up of a variety of documents from the Middletown area with no real common theme except for the location. The collection is not very big, but it is filled with some interesting documents, not only for their content, but also for their design. There are bills and tickets and deeds and money and many of them are quite beautiful, even if not entirely legible. One of the largest sections of the collection is the folder containing about fifteen different deeds. These, being legal documents, are not the best looking but are interesting printed forms with blanks to fill in the appropriate information: name and location of the person selling the land, name and location of the person buying the land, amount of land, cost of the land, etc.
Some of my other favorite information from this collection are the shipping folders, one from the 18th century and one from the 19th century. They contain information about the cost of a trip on a ship, lists of items bought, lists of the ship’s crew, as well as some great looking tickets for trips on the ships.
The 19th century tickets, while there are only a couple, are reflective of the change in technology. The most interestingly designed ticket is for the New Haven, New York & Hartford railroad from 1891. Railroads became an important part of Middletown beginning in the mid-19th century when the big railroad companies began to develop lines through Middletown. There are a few letters from the big companies to the people of Middletown and surrounding towns telling them whose land they would be building through and a date to meet with a representative to object to the proposed plans, but I highly doubt the rail companies really took any complaints into consideration.
Along with all these legal documents are some from the bank, specifically some paper money, and even some bank IOUs. They are really quite beautiful and like most printed official documents of the time, they have blank spots for the pertinent information to be filled in, such as the date and the name of the person to whom the bank owes money.
The last two folder of the collection contain information about the Addises, a prominent Middletown family. The entire first section is a collection of bills and checks to and from Ms. Daisy Addis, apparently quite the shopper. From all the different bills Ms. Addis seems to have accumulated, it is really amazing to see how many shops there were along Main Street in Middletown in at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century!
The rest of the Addis collection is mostly made up of deeds and legal documents, mostly revolving around the Doane family, who seemed to have quite a lot of land in the Middletown area. Overall, the fact that this collection contians various documents makes it all the more interesting, as we get a little bit of Middletown history from a lot of different sectors: legal, commercial, nautical, etc. If you have any interest in the history of Middletown, I recommend checking this collectiuon out as you may get a new look on some aspects of daily life from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries!