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Elihu Burritt Library Becomes Literary Landmark

CCSU’s Elihu Burritt Library was designated as a “literary landmark,” at a ceremony held last Friday at 3 p.m.

At the event, a plaque was unveiled in honor of the library’s new status. This plaque, located at the entrance of the library, honors the library’s namesake, Elihu Burritt.

Burrit, a New Britain native, was a self-taught scholar who gained knowledge at the library while he worked at the forge.

CCSU’s President Jack Miller spoke about Burrit at the ceremony.

“He is, almost unquestionably, New Britain’s most famous citizen,” said Miller. “Besides being a pretty amazing person in a whole number of ways, he was also one of the beginners of the International Peace Movement, a writer, a distinguished writer, in that area.”

Miller also spoke of Burritt’s relationships to the library.

“[He was] a great believer in breaking down the barriers of communications, and it is particularly appropriate that the library be the place that bears his name and the collection of his works that is housed there,” said Miller.

Burritt was an accomplished linguist, mastering about 50 different languages and eventually becoming the consul in Birmingham, England. He used his knowledge of languages as a base for open communication which he believed would bring world peace.

According to one of his many descendants, Susan Bradley, she and her relatives uphold the teachings and ideals of Burrit.

“If you look at what the members of our family are engaged in, you will see that his ideals are still carried on,” said Bradley.

Carl Antonucci, director of library services, informed the gathering that the Elihu Burrit Library will now join the ranks of many other historic literary sites, including the home of Tennessee Williams and many other libraries.

“The Literary Landmark Association is part of the American Library Association and the Literary Landmark Association was founded in 1986. So today we join over 100 literary landmarks across the United States,” said Antonucci.

In order to become a literary landmark, a group must be found to sponsor the landmark. In the case of Elihu Burrit Library, descendants of Burrit were the ones who sponsored the library.

Present at the event were Susan Bradley and Rod Skinner, who were responsible not only for the honoring of the library, but also the presentation of a scholarship named in honor of Burrit.

The scholarship will be given to a full-time student who is engaged in a research project that  requires the use of the Elihu Burrit Library and specifically show that Elihu Burrit is central to the assignment.

The scholarship is supported by the Skinner, Cargill and Bradley families, descendants of Burrit.

Students can view the plaque displayed on the outside entrance of the Elihu Burrit library.