Devotees of Clio, the Muse of History, have long known that an historical source uncatalogued or unlisted, will almost certainly end as an historical source ignored or forgotten. Due largely to the untiring efforts of Ronald Marcus, the City of Stamford, Connecticut has been spared such a fate.
Over the last several decades Ron Marcus has served the Stamford Historical Society in a variety of ways, including a stint as President, and currently as the Librarian of the Society. His knowledge of the history of the community and of the historical resources available is encyclopedic, and as I have reason to know, he shares this knowledge enthusiastically. Whether I needed clarification of a knotty point of law in colonial Connecticut or was obliged to visit the archives in the Connecticut State library in Hartford, Ron never failed to come to my aid. Moreover, as an historian himself, Ron has published several treatises, including an account of a Stamford witch trial in 1692, a Survey of the Revolutionary War Claims of Stamford citizens, and the history of Fort Stamford during the American War of Independence. His most important work, however, may well prove to be the comprehensive Bibliography of sources, bearing on the history of the town, that he has collected. The title page avers Ron’s intention to compile a record of a significant number of “books, pamphlets, special editions of newspapers, atlas, articles in periodicals, and motion picture film: relating to the history of Stamford, Connecticut.
The Bibliography opens with an Introduction, in which Ron candidly explains the origins and evolution of the project. The heart of the study are two guides to the holdings of the Stamford Historical Society, the Ferguson Library and elsewhere. The first is a list of items, arranged alphabetically by surname of author or by the title when required. Each entry includes standard bibliographical information, such as name of publisher, date of publication, number of pages, and lists of maps and illustrations. It also includes a succinct account of the context of the item, taken directly from a preface or commentary by the author or a friendly critic. In addition it uses the symbols of the National Union Catalogue to provide a list of locations where the entry may be found. The list casts a surprisingly wide net and includes libraries as far away as Cambridge University. It also calls attention to relevant materials unavailable in Stamford. Both the substantive summaries and the location lists are invaluable tools for the researcher. Next come 12 pages which spell out the National Union Catalogue symbols and a half-page of other abbreviations used.
The second and final guide is an index, arranged alphabetically by topics and names of individuals. The citations are to the list of items in the beginning of the work. The Index is thorough, scrupulous, and innovative. For example, the History of Stamford is divided into 30 time-periods of varying length. A complete list of references to the relevant citations for each era is provided. The Bibliography on Stamford concludes with a two-page list of the sources and bibliographies used in the study.
The number of individuals beholden to Ron Marcus is already impressive and will grow steadily. My own debt is large, indeed. Historians and students of urban affairs, genealogists and journalists, politicians and ordinary citizens curious about the development of communities in general and Stamford in particular will all find cause to applaud. “Stamford, Connecticut – a Bibliography” is a monument to the intellectual acumen, unflagging determination, prodigious effort, and genuine civic pride of Ronald Marcus.
Estelle F. Feinstein
© 2012 Stamford Historical Society, Inc.