Preserving New Haven's History and Heritage

The New Haven Museum is a resource center on the history of New Haven and its families from the time of the New Haven Colony in the 17th century to the present.

The people, places and events that helped shape the city of New Haven are preserved at the city's only museum devoted entirely to The Elm City.

The New Haven Museum was founded in 1862 as the New Haven Colony Historical Society, which remains the organization's corporate name today.

"We're the only organization doing what we do," says Executive Director Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky. "We are the repository for the city's history."

While Tockarshewsky says that much of history is trying to connect the past with the present she has worked hard, since joining the organization in 2012, to connect the present with the past.

"I think to be relevant you have to look at the present and work back from there," says Tockarshewsky.

The New Haven Colony Historical Society, located at 114 Whitney Ave, is looking to expand storage for its collections and rehabilitate its gallery space. Equipment upgrades and performing a complete inventory of its various collections are also on the task list. Photo courtesy of the Historical Society.

"I don't think you can understand today without looking back and trying to figure out how you arrived where you are today," she says. "You are not going to be able to figure out where you need to go if you don't have a sense of the past."

An example of this was last year's exhibit "Nothing is Set in Stone: The Lincoln Oak and the New Haven Green," she explains.

When the historic Lincoln Oak, planted in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, uprooted on the New Haven Green during Superstorm Sandy, skeletal remains, from the days when the New Haven Green was the city burial ground, were found entangled in its roots.

The museum participated in this historic event by inviting artists to create works of art from the branches, limbs, or pieces of the trunk of the Lincoln Oak commemorating the history of the tree, as well as the New Haven Green as a burial site.

Over the last few years, exhibits like this and public programs have increased at the museum.

"I think that's really what we've worked to do in the last few years," she says. "Is make the museum a more welcoming institution where all of New Haven can find itself."

The increased number of visitors, and positive comments the museum receives, is proof that what they are doing is being appreciated by guests.

"People have noticed," says Tockarshewsky. "We have, often now, standing room only for our lectures."

The New Haven Museum receives general operating support from The English Fund (a designated fund) and other funds at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

"It's wonderful that New Haveners have committed legacy funds so that nonprofits like ours, can do the work that we do," says Tockarshewsky.

For more information about the Museum, including hours and, visit its® profile.


New Haven was America's first planned city when in 1638 it was laid out in nine squares. The Green is the central square and was designed as the marketplace, public square, and burial ground.


This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.