history

The most telling feature of the CW's new superhero drama The Flash is the casting of John Wesley Shipp as the tragically and wrongfully imprisoned father of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who in the opening hour becomes The Flash.

City of Dreams

Oct 3, 2014
Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of the Richard Welling Family, 2012.284.5678

Richard Welling loved Hartford. He loved its classic 18th- and 19th-century architecture, buildings like the Old State House and the Connecticut State Capitol, but he also loved the soaring skyscrapers that began to transform the city during the latter part of the 20th century -- at least some of them. He admired “The play of light, shadow, texture, scale, and mood” in Constitution Plaza and claimed he got an exhilarated feeling every time he walked through it. It was a constant source of inspiration for him, a recurring subject that keeps appearing in his work through the years.

Hartford Public Library

Two valuable Romare Bearden murals were delivered Friday to the Hartford Public Library after being salvaged from the nearby XL Center, which is undergoing a renovation.

Trevor Snapp

Once in a while, your past catches up to you. That might not be a good thing if long ago, you were up to no good. But if, as a teenager, you had been part of a talented folk-rock band called Hand, and today you found out that a recording you made back then had become a collector’s item, and that your music was on iTunes, and that music lovers and record-producers were looking for you -- it just might make your day.

Stephanie Fish / National Park Service

Connecticut’s submarine community gathered Tuesday to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the commissioning of the nation’s first nuclear powered submarine. The U.S.S. Nautilus is now a historic state ship and a museum on the waterfront in Groton. 

Hundreds of sailors and shipbuilders gathered at the ceremony, which remembered the beginning of 25 years of service for Nautilus. 

For five decades, the official U.S. policy on Cuba was one of silence. But the real U.S. relationship with Havana involved secret negotiations that started with President Kennedy in 1963, even after his embargo against the island nation, say the authors of the new book Back Channel to Cuba. In fact, nearly every U.S. administration for the past 50 years has engaged in some sort of dialogue with the Cuban government, they say.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This hour, we talk about two Connecticut dance halls, each springing from the vision of two very different men who took their respective dance halls down very different paths. One's dream soared, bringing thousands of concert-goers to over 3,000 acts over an eleven-year history. The other's dream stalled, his elaborate dance hall sitting idle for decades.

Jirka Matousek / Creative Commons

The Common Core has been a big part of this year’s campaign for governor -- and a rallying cry for teachers, parents and students. But new documentary looks at what’s really in the common core that might provide some common ground between many sides on the education reform debate. 

Hartford Plans for Tomorrow

Sep 26, 2014
Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of the Richard Welling Family, 2012,284.5662

By the 1940s, it was clear that many buildings in downtown Hartford needed to be updated. Yearly flooding and deferred maintenance left aging buildings on Front and Windsor Streets in poor condition. At the same time, local manufacturing started to lose to national and global competitors. The industrial businesses that did survive moved to suburban campuses with modern amenities. The city's business leaders worried that downtown Hartford wouldn't be attractive enough to keep the growing number of white collar businesses.

In 1969, New Haven, Connecticut became the focus of national attention, when Black Panther Alex Rackley was killed by fellow Panthers Warren Kimbro, Lonnie McLucas, and George Sams, Jr., after being held and tortured for two days. Rackley was suspected of having become an FBI informant.

In the realm of prehistoric art, there's a type of small figurine made of stone, bone or ivory that is famous. It features exaggeratedly large breasts, hips and buttocks.

Chion Wolf

Living in Hartford almost all my life I've known for years the story of Horace Wells. At least, I know the story I know, which is that Wells was a Hartford dentist who introduced anesthesia. He may have been the first but I've always known there were other pretenders to that crown. 

I also knew that Wells became addicted to one of those products and died a horrible, tragic and ignominious death.

But, that's all I knew and I wondered how widely known that story was. 

New Britain Industrial Museum

What was Hardware City like in its heyday? Today, it’s hard to imagine: a packed downtown, with 35,000 factory workers, and life revolving around the factories.  

Wikimedia Commons

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article full of President Obama's behind-the scenes reflections and conversations about ISIS and the Middle East. From that article: "He was acutely aware that the operation he was about to embark on would not solve the larger issues in that region by the time he left office. 'This will be a problem for the next president,' Mister Obama said ruefully, 'and probably the one after that.'"

Cathy Stanley-Erickson / Creative Commons

Last week, President Barack Obama made his case for increased U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria. His plan to continue air strikes, and increase the arming of those opposed to the so-called Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL, has been met with some resistance from a war-weary public and Congress. But national security expert Scott Bates thinks that working with Iraqi Kurdish forces could be the key to defeating this extremist organization.

Connecticut Historical Society

It’s back to school season in Connecticut. The school buses are out, Labor Day has come and gone, and stores are full of families shopping for new clothes and school supplies. While children today are looking for new binders and markers, children growing up in colonial Connecticut would have had school supplies of a very different kind.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his most resonant and famous line during his presidential inauguration speech of 1933: "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It was resonant because he was being defiant, and optimistic, in the face of the Great Depression — and it was famous because it was broadcast live, to the entire nation, on the relatively new medium of radio.

Mind Meal / Wikimedia Commons

You're about to meet a very special guy. There's a good chance you already know him, if you were in the generational cohort whose lives were enriched by Schoolhouse Rock. More than any other person, Bob Dorough put his unique musical stamp on that show and its offerings. But Bob Dorough is so much more.

The Sporty Katharine Hepburn

Sep 5, 2014
Courtesy of the Judy Samelson Collection. / The Connecticut Historical Society

Katharine Hepburn relished wearing slacks at a time when most women would never consider such a clothing item as an every-day element of their wardrobes. Although Hepburn’s choices were unusual at the time, the idea of sportswear was becoming more and more popular. American designers began creating clothing made from knits with the primary purpose being comfort, practicality, and ease of movement.  Pants were designed but not widely adopted outside the home, until  Hepburn along with some of her more liberal minded contemporaries made pants chic.

Vincent Oneppo

Willie Ruff, the celebrated French horn player and double bassist, venerable Yale School of Music professor, founder/director of Yale’s prestigious Duke Ellington Fellowship Program, award-winning author, documentarian, historian, linguist, ethnomusicologist, and voracious autodidact, is a man of so many intricate, smoothly running, coolly calibrated cerebral parts that he is, indeed, one of the jazz world’s true Renaissance figures.

What can yesterday's weather tell us about how the climate is changing today? That's what an army of volunteers looking at old ships' logs is trying to answer through the Old Weather project.

One of those volunteers — or citizen scientists, as the project calls them — is Kathy Wendolkowski of Gaithersburg, Md.

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.

Bringing up a Star: the Hepburn Family of Hartford

Aug 29, 2014
Houghton Collection / Courtesy of Katharine Houghton and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT

In addition to being a well-known actress and a fashion icon, Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) was also known for being outspoken and fiercely independent. Her outlook on life was influenced by her remarkable parents who valued speaking one’s mind and acting boldly.

American Woolen Company

In 1894, a new national holiday was created -- a day when American workers could retreat from harsh work conditions and long hours to spend some time with family and friends. The holiday was called Labor Day.

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.

LitchfieldBZ / YouTube

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

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

Aug 22, 2014
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.

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

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.

Curtis Veeder’s Other House

Aug 15, 2014
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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