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SNET collection to enrich archive
February 2, 1998

SNET, Connecticut's largest telecommunications company, and UConn have entered into a formal, continuing partnership to create a special collection of SNET historical documents and photographs at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Items in the collection, which span the period from the late 1870's to the present, include historical photographs of buildings, employees and equipment; town telephone histories; public relations and promotional materials; minutes of board of directors and stockholders' meetings - including the first meeting of the National Telephone Exchange Association Convention in Niagara Falls in 1880; financial records, including early cash books; annual reports; audiovisual materials; artifacts; and correspondence, including notes from and about Mark Twain and his sometimes antagonistic experiences with the telephone.

The announcement of the partnership came on the anniversary of a significant day in SNET's history - and a historic day for the telephone industry in general. On January 28, 1878, the world's first commercial telephone exchange opened in New Haven, paving the way for today's sophisticated telephone network and marking the beginning of SNET.

"The idea to share SNET's rich history with the University and the people of Connecticut first surfaced in 1996, following the dedication of the Dodd Research Center," said Daniel Miglio, SNET chairman and CEO. "While our focus is always on the future, it seemed like a good time to pause and take a look back to appreciate all that this company has accomplished, including a host of industry 'firsts'," he said.

The SNET Collection, when all the material has been transferred, will weigh more than 17 tons and total approximately 2.5 million documents. It will become the second largest private collection at the Center.

President Philip E. Austin said, "The SNET Collection is an important addition to the University Libraries' research collections and will be of great value to the scholarly community and the people of Connecticut. We are pleased that SNET has selected the University of Connecticiut as the home for this rare and important collection. The choice underlines UConn's continuing effort to become an active partner on many fronts with Connecticut's business community."

Thomas P. Wilsted, director of the Dodd Center, foresees a variety of uses for the collection, including on-campus research by students, faculty and the scholarly community on the development of telecommunications and corporate innovation in Connecticut and the U.S.A.

As one of Connecticut's major corporations and employers, the SNET collection can provide historians, business students and others with data for the development of case studies on entrepreneurship and innovation, for historical studies of corporate response to major natural disasters and for sociological studies on the employment of women and minorities over time, Wilsted said.

With support from SNET, UConn will arrange, describe, and catalog the collection, as well as create oral histories. Plans call for putting a portion of the collection onto the Internet, starting with a SNET-produced book, The First Century of the Telephone in Connecticut.

From an SNET news release