history

Americana
11:26 am
Thu August 28, 2014

"Woody Sez," the Life and Music of Woody Guthrie at Theaterworks in Hartford

David Lutken is the devisor of "Woody Sez" and portrays the lead character.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Legendary American folk singer/activist Woody Guthrie, is best known for his classic song, "This Land is Your Land." All of his music gives voice to a restless and profoundly American search for freedom: artistically, politically, and personally.

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Litchfield
12:14 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

State Sells Historic Litchfield County Jail

The former Litchfield County jail, built in 1812, is at 7 North Street in Litchfield. It's one of the oldest penal facilities in Connecticut.
LitchfieldBZ YouTube

The state of Connecticut has sold the historic former Litchfield County jail to a real estate investor for $130,000. 

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History
10:46 am
Fri August 22, 2014

A 9,000-Pound Alarm: The Hartford Fire Bell

City of Hartford fire alarm bell, made by the Jones & Co. Troy Bell Foundry, 1881.
Connecticut Historical Society collection, gift of the Hartford Board of Fire Commissioners, 1931.14.0

Visitors to the Connecticut Historical Society might notice a massive bronze bell resting quietly outside at the corner of the Asylum Street parking lot. This behemoth weighs more than four tons, and once played a very loud role in the city. From 1881 to 1921, it towered over the headquarters of the Hartford Fire Department at 43 Pearl Street, warning residents of fire and sending firefighters out to save lives.

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Television
3:30 am
Fri August 22, 2014

TV's New Doctor Who Has An Old Connection To The Series

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman star as The Doctor and Clara Oswald on the BBC science fiction drama Doctor Who.
Ray Burmiston/Ali BBC America

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 3:02 pm

TV's longest-running science fiction program is about to get a new hero ... sort of.

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Dark Connecticut History
7:00 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Elephant Slaughter, African Slavery And America's Pianos

Louis E. Pratt, master ivory cutter for Pratt, Read & Co., shows off eight ivory tusks, April 1, 1955.
Courtesy of Deep River Historical Society

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 7:35 am

The illegal trade in ivory from African elephants has tripled in the past 15 years, to the extent that biologists fear for the creatures' future existence.

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History
1:23 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Curtis Veeder’s Other House

Dedication Plaque located at the entrance to Penwood State Park.
Will Conard-Malley

While Curtis Veeder’s house at One Elizabeth Street in Hartford has been preserved as the home of the Connecticut Historical Society, that structure was not Veeder’s only house. About 1911, he acquired a large tract of land straddling the town line between Bloomfield and Simsbury on Talcott Mountain, just down the ridge from Heublein Tower. There, he built a cottage that he called Penwood. The land that was once his today is Penwood State Park.

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Earthquake
9:54 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Expert Says There's Nothing Shocking About Deep River Earthquake

UConn geophysics professor Vernon Cormier said seismic activity in and around Deep River has been reported since colonial times. Here he demonstrates how the sway of buildings in an earthquake is like an upside-down pendulum motion.
University of Connecticut

Residents of Deep River were awakened by an earthquake this week. The 2.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded at about 3:09 am Thursday morning. Residents said they heard a loud boom, and their houses briefly shook. No injuries or damage were reported.

According to the U.S. Geological survey, the earthquake's epicenter was located in the southwest section of Deep River, in an part of the state known for frequent seismic activity.

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1814 Bicentennial
9:13 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Stonington Remembers Its Extraordinary Battle

The Stonington Battle Flag is carried in the parade marking the bicentennial of the conflict
Harriet Jones WNPR

In August of 1814, the tiny village of Stonington scored an unlikely military victory by repelling the might of the British Navy. This weekend, the town celebrated the bicentennial of that extraordinary battle.

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History
9:48 am
Fri August 8, 2014

A New Level of Performing Artistry: Carmina Burana at the Hartford Ballet

Scene from 1986 production of Carmina Burana.
The Connecticut Historical Society, 2001.75.

The Carmina Burana, a medieval collection of poetry, illustrating the fate of man through life, was set to music by the German composer Carl Orff and was first performed at Frankfurt-am-Main in 1937.  Following the Second World War, Ernst Uthoff, a German refuge, created a ballet based on the work for the Chilean National Ballet, which he founded. The production toured throughout South America, and appeared New York’s Lincoln Center in 1962.

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Crime Fiction
10:58 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Mystery Writer Evokes The Sights, Sound And Grime Of 1970s New York

The Empire State Building shines while Greenwich Village remains dark during the 1977 New York City blackout.
Carlos Rene Perez AP

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 9:08 am

Crime fiction writer Lawrence Block lives in New York's West Village, in a stately art deco building overlooking Abingdon Square. He bought an apartment there decades before actress Jennifer Aniston did. (She sold hers shortly thereafter.) Block is 76, silver-haired and keen-eyed; and in his pastel shirt and khakis, he looks decidedly more Hamptons than downtown.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:04 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Memories of Watergate

Richard Nixon as he leaves the White House for the last time, August 8, 1974
Credit Tonynetone / Creative Commons

It's been 40 years since former President Richard Nixon resigned the presidency over Watergate. But, the story of Watergate is almost impossible to tell. It's too big and too murky. It's full of files that were burned and a tape that was erased. It's full of characters named McCord and Magruder and Mitchell, who are hard to keep track of. With each passing year, it becomes more of an inert thing and less of a breathing, wriggling, writhing creature.  

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Vision Quest
8:57 am
Mon August 4, 2014

How Do You Give an Eye Exam to a Fossil?

The fossil of Acutiramus cummingsi was remarkably well preserved, allowing scientists to gauge the vision of a creature that lived hundreds of millions of years ago.
Yale University

How do you give an eye exam to a creature that's been extinct for hundreds of millions of years? First, you need a fossil -- a really well-preserved fossil.

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History
2:58 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Putting History on the Map

Plan of the Town of New Haven With all the Buildings in 1748.
Drawn by James Wadsworth. Engraved by Thomas Kensett, 1806. The Connecticut Historical Society, 2012.312.1.

All maps are historical.  They represent specific moments in time and very quickly become out of date as new towns are incorporated, new canals or railroads or highways are built.  Some maps, however, are not only historical, but deliberately retrospective.  They represent a time other than the time in which they were made, sometimes a time within the living memory of the mapmaker, sometimes an historic era long past.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
6:00 am
Fri August 1, 2014

The Nose of the '90s Is Alive in Hartford

Theresa Cramer is a writer and the editor of E-Content Magazine, where she covers the world of digital media
Chion Wolf WNPR

Can you ever make sense of a whole decade? That's what the National Geographic Channel tries to do with its three-part documentary on the '90s. So we get Bill Clinton, the building of the internet, Waco, O.J., the Oklahoma City bombing, Prozac, Starbucks, Tanya Harding, Kurt Loder, In Living Color, Rodney King and Reginald Denny, Anna Nicole Smith, the rise of SUVs and NMA, the fall of the Walkman and Tamagotchis, the Great Gretzky... This is starting to sound like a Billy Joel song.

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Capitol History
4:56 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Ghost Cats And Musket Balls: Stories Told By Capitol Interns

Interns who host tours on Capitol Hill, stopping at sites like the small Senate rotunda, don't always have their facts straight.
The Architect of the Capitol

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 11:04 pm

Every summer thousands of interns flood the offices of Capitol Hill. One of their primary duties is to give constituents tours of the famous buildings. They parade visitors from the rotunda to statuary hall, offering stories and anecdotes.

But while these intern tours provide a great deal of information, they are sometimes a little short on actual history.

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History
10:39 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Strictly a First Class Theater

Maude Adams at the Goodwin Mansion on Woodland Street in Hartford.
Connecticut historical Society, 1964.106.0dt

Late 19th and early 20th century Hartford offered the public many theater and concert venues to choose from, but if one wanted to see the newest shows from New York, there was really one place to go: the Parsons Theatre on Prospect Street. Parsons Theatre was to turn-of-the-20th-century Hartford what the Bushnell is today.

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The Faith Middleton Show
9:44 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Smithsonian: Meaning of Family Heirlooms

Credit Tadson Bussey/flickr creative commons

A chair… letter… diary… clock… coin… jewel… car… house… meat grinder… what makes a family heirloom have powerful meaning, even if it has little monetary value? That question will be answered when you read The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin.

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History
11:27 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Mistress of the Veeder House

Louise Stutz Veeder, charcoal drawing, 1922.
Connecticut Historical Society, 2010.161.0.

On August 9, 1962, the Hartford Public High School flag was flown at half-staff in tribute to Mrs. Louise Stutz Veeder, a former teacher, who had just died at the age of eighty-eight.  

Louise Stutz was born in Lucerne Switzerland in 1874 and grew up in Switzerland and Germany.  After studies at the University of Lausanne and in Leipzig, Germany, she emigrated to the United States in 1896 at the age of twenty-two.  For the next twelve years, she taught French and German at Hartford Public High School.  She became a naturalized United States citizen in 1905.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
6:00 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Germany: Who Are You Now?

Credit MomentCaptured1 / Creative Commons

Two snapshots: The first from the publication American Bazaar, right after the German World Cup win. "In the city of Leipzig, a solitary car scuttled along, with the flag attached to the roof. Waving the flag has yet to catch on. Jan Hoffman, who works in Frankfurt, was in New York when 9/11 happened.  'I had never seen so many flags in my life. Here, there are hardly any, although we won football's greatest tournament.

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Ancient Giants
9:06 am
Mon July 14, 2014

This Ancient Bird Had the Largest Wingspan Ever

Pelagornis sandersi was an ancient marine bird with a wingspan nearly twice as large as anything living today.
Reconstruction Art by Liz Bradford

An extinct species of bird just discovered may have had the largest wingspan ever. The animal lived 25 million years ago and was found buried at an airport.

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History
11:38 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Scandal in the Beecher Family

The Beecher Family. Photograph by Rodgers based on an original by Mathew Brady, 1860s. The family was split on the question of Henry Ward Beecher’s guilt or innocence.
Mathew Brady, 1860s. The Connecticut Historical Society, 2014.100.15.

The story reads like a soap opera. In 1870, Theodore Tilton accused his wife of being unfaithful to him with the popular preacher Henry Ward Beecher, and Elizabeth Tilton confessed. After her confession, she spoke with the Reverend Beecher and said that she hoped the confession would help to mend her relationship with her husband by restoring trust. Beecher implored her to take back her confession and restore his good name. Elizabeth retracted her confession, but after speaking with her husband a second time, she retracted her retraction the very same night.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
6:00 am
Thu July 10, 2014

70 Years Later, the Hartford Circus Fire Still Burns

Propound Creative Commons

On July 6, 1944, a circus tent in the North End of Hartford caught fire. The tent covered three blocks. It was gone in six minutes. 

Roughly 170 people died. You'll understand my imprecision as we go along. Five employees of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served minimal prison sentences. One of them, James Haley, was so unscarred by this that he later served for 24 years in Congress.

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200 years old
12:24 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Celebrating Sam Colt Is a Delicate Affair

Jack Hale, senior warden at the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

Guns have a long history in Connecticut. They've also been the focus of a great deal of recent debate. Both that history and the debate are now at the heart of delicate discussion: how do you plan a birthday party for Sam Colt, the man who made the gun that won the West? 

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History
8:38 am
Tue July 8, 2014

The Pride of Hartford

Engine No. 1, Clapp & Jones fitted with gas-electric tractor. Photograph, 1914.
Horace B. Clark Collection Connecticut Historical Society

The largest artifact in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society is a nine-ton fire engine. When the Clapp & Jones steam pumper was first purchased by the Hartford Fire Department, it was drawn by three big fire horses. In 1914, when the fire department was becoming motorized, the old pumper was fitted with a gas-electric tractor, prolonging its working life. It saw service in major Hartford fires for more than four decades.

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Hard Hittin' History
2:48 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Voices From the Hardware City

Fafnir Bearing Company.
New Britain Industrial Museum

New Britain may lose its baseball team to Hartford, another blow to a city that, over the years, has lost many of its jobs, and many of the the iconic brands associated with the city.

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History
11:09 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Katharine Hepburn, Fenwick and the Hurricane of 1938

Katharine Hepburn surveys the devastation of the 1938 hurricane on the site of her family’s summer home in Fenwick, CT.
Connecticut Historical Society, 2009.62.5.

Katharine Hepburn’s mother, “Kit” Hepburn, insisted that the Fenwick house would withstand the rising tides and the gale-force winds. After 25 summers spent with the extended Hepburn clan filling the house, it felt like a permanent fixture in their lives, and it remained a touchstone and retreat for daughter Katharine even after her Hollywood career brought her fame and success. Katharine had spent the morning outdoors, pursuing her usual Fenwick activities, playing nine holes of golf and swimming in the swelling surf.

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History
9:26 am
Mon June 23, 2014

American Chairs, Made in Connecticut

Windsor furniture on display in Making Connecticut, an exhibit about 400 years of Connecticut history.
The Connecticut Historical Society

There is something very American about a Windsor chair. Although its name points to England, where the chair’s style and manufacture emerged in the early 1700s, this immigrant furniture found its way into every American home, from a restful rocker in a small Yankee farm house to the seats of the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

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Connecticut First
4:39 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Cedar Hill Cemetery to Celebrate 150th Anniversary

One of Hartford's Crown Jewels turns 150 years old this year. Cedar Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for the city's most prominent natives, from actress Katharine Hepburn to gun maker Samuel Colt, as well as financier J.P. Morgan, and the founder of anesthesia, Horace Wells.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu June 19, 2014

The Second Amendment, Colt, and Tracing Guns

Emily Stanchfield Creative Commons

The Second Amendment is just 27 words long, but it has caused more debate than just about anything else in the Constitution. "It’s confusing and self-contradictory and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what its clauses and commas mean," said Michael Waldman, author of the new book The Second Amendment: A Biography. We talk to him about the history and odd syntax of this Amendment and the debate over it that was renewed by the tragedy in Newtown.

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No-No
7:47 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Dodgers' Ace Kershaw Notches His First No-Hitter

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (left) celebrates his no-hitter with his teammates after striking out 15 Colorado Rockies batters.
Chris Carlson AP

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 11:41 am

The no-hitters just keep coming. That's the case for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the team's pitchers have thrown two games without giving up a hit in less than a month. Clayton Kershaw used 15 strikeouts to complete the feat Wednesday, matching teammate Josh Beckett's May 25 effort.

Getting the no-hitter was "pretty cool," Kershaw said after throwing 107 pitches in the game.

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