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New London: Historical Research Guide: Lear Center for Special Collections & Archives

Researching any aspect of New London history can be tricky. This guide is intended to create a common starting place for college researchers from any field. If you have suggestions for improving the guide, please let us know.

Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives

The Lear Center for Special Collections & Archives on the 2nd floor of Shain Library has a variety of unique and rare materials related to the history of New London. 

The Lear Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 am -12 pm and from 1 pm - 5 pm while classes are in session. 

Contact us for assistance with the collections or to set up an appointment.

Archival Materials at the Lear Center

MS044 The New London Postcard Collection 

  • The New  London Postcard collection was donated to the college in 1980 by an Alumna of the college, Mrs. Muriel Castle (neé Harrison) class of 1939. The collection consists of approximately 500 postcards of New London and its environs. A digital exhibit of the postcard collection was created containing a small portion of the collection. The finding aid to the collection is now available. 

MS045 New London Development Corporation papers

  • The New London Development Corporation was a private nonprofit organization established to aid the city with development planning. This collection was donated to Connecticut College in 2003 by Stephen Percy, a board member of the NLDC. There are two significant parts of the collection: slides and clippings. The slides feature Waterfront Park, Downtown New London Pfizer Global Research and Development, and the demolition of the Fort Trumbull Neighborhood and The Naval Undersea Warfare Center from 1998-2003. The clippings consist of 13 binders of clippings that document NLDC  and its projects in the press from 1997 to 2008.

MS057 New London Redevelopment Material

  • This collection documents the redevelopment activities and urban renewal projects in New London. The bulk of the material dates from 1966 to 1978 and includes meeting minutes and memos on the Urban Renewal plan for Bank Street and various studies and plans pertaining to development in New London and Southeast Connecticut. The finding aid to this collection is now available. Several plans included in this collection are:
    • A Report to the New London Planning Board: Master Plan Program, 1967
    • Downtown New London: A Concept Plan and Design Study for the Winthrop Urban Renewal Area, 1969
    • Coordinated Program of Community Development Action V1 and 2. 1970
    • Shaw’s Cove: A Design Study for the Shaw’s Cove Urban Renewal Area, 1971
    • Bank Street Rehabilitation: Study of 8 Buildings, 1976
    • A Study of the Central Business District of New London, CT, 1989


MS052 Union Railroad Station Trust records, 1962-1977

  • This collection documents the Trust’s work to save the train station. This includes an early feasibility study prepared by the architect Richard Sharpe; correspondence with the Anderson Notter who become a major ally. It also includes correspondence by year of the trust's work to save Union Station. This includes a bulk of correspondence to and from and from Claire Dale, who became head of the committee to save the station, as well as including the  New London Redevelopment Agency, local and national preservation groups, and local government officials.

New London: A Cultural Landscape Approach State Street Binders

  • This collection contains the binders produced as part of Abby Van Slyck's senior seminar “ New London: A Cultural Landscape Approach.” This seminar looked at the development of State Street from 1850-1951. Students were given blocks of State Street to do extensive research on what buildings and business existed and what happened over time. Many binders include photographs, descriptions of what happened to the business over time, and early history. These binders are loosely organized by location. Binder one starts at the top of State Street and binder thirteen ends at the train station and the parade.

The Lear Center is the repository for unique and rare materials owned by Connecticut College consisting of rare books, archival collections, and some of the College art collection.

As defined by the Society of American Archivists, archives are  "materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator." The Lear Center contains both the historical records of the college as well as collections from outside of the College.

Finding aids are documents that help users find information within a collection. It is a document that describes the collection generally providing the background of the creator of the collection, a summary of the scope and contents of a particular collection, and an inventory of what is in the collection.

To discover the collections and search the finding aids of the Lear Center go to

Rare Books at the Lear Center

The Lear Center holds more than 20,000 volumes of rare books. To search our collections, select the 'Advanced Search' option in OneSearch, the library catalog.

Image shows the library catalog search box. To the right of the search box the "Advanced Search ' has been highlighted.


Choose "ConnColl Books and Media," add a search term (s), and hit Search.

Shows advanced search field. ConnColl Books and Media is selected and a search term is added in the search box.


In the navigation bar on the left side of the screen, go to the "Library" filter. If the Lear Center has materials related to your search, you will find our name along with the number of relevant items. Select Lear Center as a filter and you will be able to browse just our materials. 

Results page depicted. Lear Center is highlighted in the Left hand navigation bar under the Library filter.















Write the title, author, call number of the relevant titles. Bring your list to the Lear Center and we will retrieve the materials for you. Lear Center collections do not circulate and must be read in our reading room according to our reading room policies.

The Linda Lear Center for Special Collections & Archives is Connecticut College's repository for some of our rarest and most precious resources for learning and research. The Lear Center offers a unique opportunity for students to develop primary research and critical analytical skills and to conduct their own original research. The Lear Center has collections in all subject areas with particular strength in the following fields: