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February 26, 2020
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Historian a Municipal Appointment

Published Jan. 15, 2020

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In 1987, a Connecticut law was passed that authorized towns to appoint a municipal historian. This law is part of Title 7 of the Connecticut General Statutes in the section regarding “Municipalities.” There, under “Municipal Powers,” it is succinctly stated that a municipality may “Provide for the appointment of a municipal historian.”

And so, in 1992, the Town of Clinton appointed Ernest C. Burnham, Jr., to be its first town historian. Since that date, every Clinton town historian has been a municipal appointment and is listed as such in each year’s Town of Clinton Annual Report.

Additionally, according to a former chairman of Clinton’s Historic District Commission (HDC), which is a Clinton town agency, any referral for the position of town historian has come from the HDC, not the Clinton Historical Society (CHS), despite what was adamantly asserted by the current CHS President Christy Pontillo at the Clinton Town Council meeting of Dec. 18, 2019. In fact, Pontillo did not tell the Town Council members the truth when he came before them that evening as he steadfastly claimed that the position of town historian has always been a Clinton Historical Society appointment of a person who has been a member of that private organization. All it will take to refute his claim is to check with the Clinton Town Clerk in whose office you will find Town of Clinton annual reports from years gone by. For there, under “Other Town Officials” “Elected & Appointed” you will find listed “Town Historian”.

The selection of Clinton’s town historian should not be akin to a middle school or high school popularity contest. It should be based upon the candidates having the necessary qualifications for the position and selecting one accordingly.

Peggy Adler
Clinton