Anne Farrow

Connecticut played a big role in slavery and the Holocaust...but most of us don't know about it.

First, a powerful New London merchant and ship owner sailed his ships to West Africa and the Caribbean for more than 40 years during the late 18th century to trade in slaves whose labor lined the pockets of his most respected family.

Typing History

Nov 10, 2014
The Connecticut Historical Society, 1976.89.2

Before the age of the computer, typewriters fulfilled our need to write faster than our pens would allow.  The gentle click of keys on a keyboard are no match for the loud strikes of a letter key pressing paper to inked ribbon and platen to create an inked letter upon a clean white page.  The end of a line of type was signaled by the loud ding of a bell followed by the slamming of the carriage as a new, fresh line of paper appeared. 

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first installment of the ongoing series.

Even 10 years after the battle for Fallujah, it's hard for Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Torain Kelley to talk about some things that happened.

"We had people shooting at us from up [on] the rooftops, from the houses, from the sewers or wherever they could take a shot at us from," he says.

Library of Congress

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer Irving Fine. Concerts and celebrations are taking place in New York, Washington, and coming up this weekend, here in Connecticut.

Chion Wolf

Ever since 1778 when Thomas Jefferson, revising the laws of Virginia, wrote something called a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, there's been an ongoing debate about how to make sure people know what they need to know to participate fully as citizens of this democracy.

As is so often the case with Jefferson, his ideas and words seem visionary and eternal until you poke around in them a little bit and then it gets more complicated especially vis-a-vis who he thought was really fit to lead the American people.

German authorities say they're investigating possible neo-Nazi involvement in the theft of an iron gate at the former Dachau concentration camp bearing the infamous phrase: "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Makes You Free."

Those eerie words greeted some 200,000 prisoners who arrived at Dachau, which was the first concentration camp the Nazi regime opened in Germany. Tens of thousands of people sent there died from starvation and overwork as well as from medical experiments, torture and violence between 1933 and 1945.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Carlos Santana has won 10 Grammys and sold more than 100 million records. He has become one of the world's most celebrated musicians, a destiny that was difficult to imagine during his childhood in a small Mexican town. His father, also a musician, was Santana's first teacher, but he really learned his craft playing on the street and in strip clubs in Tijuana.

The Pettibone Ghost

Oct 31, 2014

Just off Route 202 in Simsbury is the former Pettibone Tavern, a local landmark that has served travelers since 1780. Built by Jonathon Pettibone Jr., the establishment became an important stop along the Boston-to-Albany Turnpike and hosted important figures like George Washington and John Adams.

RM Bradley Co.

The bidding is over, and the abandoned village of Johnsonville sold on Auction.com for $1.9 million. No word on the identity of winner of the village, or their intentions for the 62-acre parcel of land in East Haddam, Connecticut. First Selectman of East Haddam, Mark Walter, said he would like to see the village, including the restaurant and chapel, restored and reopened for business.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Shade tobacco came to Connecticut in 1900 from the island of Sumatra, which was beginning to dominate the world of cigar wrappers. The leaf had a light color, delicate texture, and mild flavor that cigar lovers love.

RM Bradley Co.

Online bidding begins on Tuesday for an entire village in Connecticut named Johnsonville, an abandoned village in the Moodus section of East Haddam.

Hair Jewelry: Remembrance That Never Dies

Oct 24, 2014
The Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of Dorothy Filley Bidwell, 1957.18.17

The 19th century saw an explosion in the popularity of jewelry made from human hair. Because hair does not decompose after its removal from the body, it was considered a symbol of eternal life. Locks of hair were often given as tokens of friendship, love, or grief and these locks were sometimes incorporated into jewelry. In the mid-19th century, enterprising jewelry makers braided, wove, and sewed hair into such keepsakes, offering a variety of shapes and sizes.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Whenever I see a production of Hamlet, I am newly floored by its impact on language, no matter how many times you tell yourself that a lot of our spoken language is in this play, you're freshly assaulted by how many things people say all the time that come from Hamlet. It's crazy.

But then there are all sorts of questions about staging Hamlet. There can be, and there have been many theories about what to emphasize in the play. Themes of sex, politics, indecision, suicide, and reality testing are either brought to the fore, or pushed to the back. No matter what happens on the stage, it's a really, really good story.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Nathan Hale to John Brown to lynchings to executions of accused witches, the hangman's noose has played a grim role in American history.

While its usage has declined and changed over time, just in the past week, articles have surfaced about a political flier using a noose as the background that was circulated in a church parking lot in South Carolina, and nooses hanging in rival high schools in California. A police officer in the latter article, Sgt. Martin Acosta, stated, "A noose in itself is not making any correlation to anything." Is that true? Isn't a noose in 2014 an explicit evocation of lynching?

NPR continues a series of conversations from The Race Card Project, where thousands of people have submitted their thoughts on race and cultural identity in six words.

Jesse Dukes does not have Confederate ancestors. But in the time he has spent writing about Civil War re-enactors, he has met many who say they do.

Connecticut Historical Society, serial 681.14v417vd

When visitors to the Connecticut Historical Society are told the building was once the home of Hartford industrialist Curtis Veeder, their first question often is: “Did he have anything to do with the Veeder-Root Company?” Curtis Veeder did, in fact, start the Veeder Manufacturing Company, one of the two companies which merged in 1928 to form Veeder-Root. Many area residents know someone who worked for this company which began making devices that “count everything on earth” and continues today as the “the number one supplier of automated tank gauges in the world.”

Cinémathèque Française/San Francisco Silent Film Festival

A long lost, feature-length silent film starring Connecticut actor William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes was discovered earlier this month in France.

Jordi Herold

It’s hard to imagine what the regional music scene would have been like over the past four decades without the invaluable, energizing force generated by The Iron Horse Music Hall, the small but mighty powerhouse of an entertainment center in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Newspapers have been called the first rough draft of history. The newspaper that has been filling that role for the United States longer than any other is The Hartford Courant, which celebrates its 250th birthday this month. The first issue of The Connecticut Courant, dated October 29, 1764, came off printer Thomas Green’s hand-press in a room above a barber shop on Main Street in Hartford. It started out as a four-page weekly.

North Carolina Museum of Art

Art, science, and history intersect this weekend, when Yale University commemorates the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon.

Toronto Public Library

Our beloved New England is filled with scenic coastlines, lobster pots and clam shacks, Green Mountains, White Mountains, and a long river valley filled with Yankees who take their long winters as a point of pride. We have history and culture all right here.

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.