Barnum-Secor Collection

David Pell Secor’s (1824-1909) desire to collect was born in the heart of the industrial age. He spent most of his life in Bridgeport, Connecticut during a period which saw extraordinary changes in technology, industrialization, and urbanization. Out of the blighted landscape people were creating around themselves a romanticized view of nature began to emerge (as expressed through writers such as Emerson and Thoreau). Native Americans were considered a vanishing race, and to the likes of men like Secor the way to retain knowledge of these people was to preserve the material culture they produced. His collection grew to over 18,000 artifacts, which he donated to the Bridgeport Scientific Society in 1889. Facing financial troubles the Scientific Society reopened as a part of the Barnum Institute in 1893, where the collection was slowly dispersed over the next century. What remained was transferred to the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History in 1992.
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