After looking at the origin of how Suffield, Connecticut, in 1832, was able to acquire many donations by the people in the town, we found out how Suffield won a competition to have an institution placed in their town. Martin Sheldon, a top donor during the time, donated $350.00 to the town. This would be the highest paid donation by anyone during the competition. Luther Loomis, who was the second highest donor, donated $300.00 to the town as well. These large donations along with many smaller donations were able to give Suffield the money it needed to win. I think it would be interesting to find out more about this and the process of the school being created. In fact, our class now realizes how the town of Suffield prioritized education in the early 1800’s. To obtain this information I must research more about the town of Suffield, CT and when the Suffield Literary Institute was created. We have contacted local libraries for the towns of Suffield and Bristol, who were competing for the prize, to see if any new information could be discovered. As the libraries look into this matter after viewing our tweets, we try to piece together as much information as we have available. We are also investigating the donors in the town of Suffield who were responsible for giving the town enough money to win. Donators in the town were the people who believed an institution would be a good addition to their town. Finding new information can be difficult considering the amount of time that has passed since the creation of the school. Nearly two centuries of history about the school is a large amount, some information may have been forgotten or lost. It is my job to try and recover this as best as possible.
In May of 1820, the Connecticut Baptist Education Society was established in Suffield, Connecticut (1). This society was geared to educate young men for the ministry. The society secured funds twelve years later for a Literary Institution. Suffield and Bristol competed for a sum prize of five thousand dollars. The prize was to be awarded to the town that presents the best inducements. This award promised better education for the town who won. Martin Sheldon was the active leader of the Suffield committee and was able to secure five thousand dollars from the people of Suffield. The prize money was awarded to Suffield the following year and with the funds were able to build the Suffield Literary Institution. The place for this new institution was at one time the home to a settler in 1676, Sergeant Samuel Kent. I will investigate sources in Bristol to see if there is any more information to add to our school’s opening chapters of history.
- Source: Suffield Academy Archives
Skills required: This research requires looking at an old pamphlet documented and stored in the archives during the time the Suffield Literary Institution was built. An old book about the history of Suffield was discovered as well that reveals information about the origins of this event. Researching this requires patience and a keen eye for details.
Driving question: Why did Suffield win the competition against all the towns in Connecticut for a new institution?