The Colin McEnroe Show
3:25 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

What Urinals, Jock Straps, Flip Shades and Eye Black Teach Us About Baseball

Eddie Plank, Philadelphia
Library of Congress

It's become a cliché to say everything has a story, but in baseball, you could make the argument that everything really does. Even the baseball itself is a story -- one of geography and symbolism -- an almost holy relic of American culture. Sportswriter Steve Rushin tells the story of these objects in his latest book, The 34-Ton Bat.

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12:36 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Reckoning With the Dutch: the Treaty of Hartford, 1650

New Netherlands and New England. Map published by Willem Blaeu, Amsterdam, 1635.
The Connecticut Historical Society, 2012.172.1

In 1650, representatives from New Netherlands and New England met in Hartford to try to settle their boundary disputes. The Dutch trading post called the Huys de Hope—the House of Hope—located on the Connecticut River at the mouth of the Little River had been established in 1633; Thomas Hooker and his party had arrived three years later, establishing Hartford just upstream from the Dutch post. English settlers kept pouring in during the 1630s and 1640s, establishing new towns up and down the river and along the coast.

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Shellfish History
11:21 am
Sat October 5, 2013

Any Month with an “R” in It: Eating Oysters in Connecticut

An Oyster Supper, 1852-1853. Hand-colored lithograph by Elijah Chapman Kellogg . Oysters were a popular food in Connecticut during the 19th century.
Connecticut Historical Society, 1980.43.2

An old myth maintains that you should only eat oysters during those months with the letter “R” in their names. This was both because of the higher bacteria content—and therefore the greater chance of disease—during summer months, and because of the health hazards associated with shipping raw seafood in an age before refrigeration.

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Make Your Own
3:23 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Taste Of Grandma's Kitchen: We Hack An Old Ketchup Recipe

Editor's Note: This post is part of All Things Considered's Found Recipes project.

Although Heinz may dominate the ketchup scene, 100 years ago it wasn't uncommon to make your own at home. So why bother doing so now, when you can just buy the bottles off the shelf? At least one man, Jim Ledvinka, was motivated by nostalgia.

"Oh, yes — we remember my grandmother making ketchup. And it was quite a sight to behold," Ledvinka says.

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6:14 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Yung Wing's Dream: The Chinese Educational Mission, 1872-1881

Yung Wing. Wood engraving from Harper's Weekly, 1878.
The Connecticut Historical Society, 1979.46.21B

Yung Wing had a dream. He wanted Chinese youth to study American technology to improve China’s engineering and infrastructure. As a boy, he had attended Monson Academy in Massachusetts and then graduated from Yale in 1854. Upon his return to China, he became a strong advocate for the western education of Chinese students, and was able to convince the Chinese government to support his project. He was assisted in large part by the 1868 Burlingame Treaty that provided for mutual rights of residence and attendance at public schools for citizens of the United States and China. 

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4:41 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Peabody Museum's Great Hall of Dinosaurs to Undergo $30 Million Facelift

Peabody's Great Hall of Dinosaurs
Amy the Nurse Creative Commons

When the Peabody's Great Hall of Dinosaurs opened in 1931, it was a state of the art exhibit, reflecting years of meticulously mounted fossils, and information for visitors based on the most current research on dinosaurs. Derek Briggs, director of the Peabody Museum, said that in the 80 years since its opening, scientists know a lot more about dinosaurs. "For example," he said, "the giant Saurapod, known as Apatosaurus, is depicted in a very static way [in the exhibit]. The notion at the time was it perhaps couldn't even hold up its weight. We now know this was a very active animal that lived in groups, and could move like a modern elephant."

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The Colin McEnroe Show
4:05 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

The Ebb & Flow Of Dada

Jeff Poole is a Connecticut artist, and curator of the Dada Art Show in Hartford, which opens this Thursday the 26th at the Pump House Gallery in Bushnell Park.
Chion Wolf

It's an art form that came out of the chaos of World War One, when times were desperate, yet the art world was still celebrating still lifes, landscapes and nudes. In protest, artists began rebelling with politically aware ironic work, making bold, sometimes vicious points with their art. Times have changed, and Dada resurfaces periodically, like in the exhibition at the Pump House in Hartford opening on the 26th.

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11:01 am
Sat September 21, 2013

Preserving Connecticut's Natural Beauty

Connecticut State Park Picture Plan. . Map published by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, 1929.
The Connecticut Historical Society, 2012.312.61.

 Kent Falls State Park, Kent, Conn. Postcards, ca. 1920s. Credit: The Connecticut Historical SocietyEdit | Remove Mount Tom, Bantam, Conn. Postcard, ca. 1910. Credit: The Connecticut Historical SocietyEdit | Remove

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1:24 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

A Most Delightful Map

Courtesy of Massimo Pietrobon

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 2:07 pm

Think about this: You wake up in New York City, decide to go for a stroll, head east after breakfast, and a short time later, still on foot, you find yourself in Morocco. Three hundred million years ago, you could have done that! There was no civilization back then, no cities, no countries, no people, but the land was there, so take a look at this map.

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11:36 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Disaster at Cold Harbor

Corporal Thomas Fox, Co. B, Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery. Photograph by Beers & Mansfield, New Haven, 1864.. Fox holds the Second’s regimental flag. Though the unit originally consisted primarily of Litchfield County men, Fox hailed from Norwich.
Connecticut Historical Society

Connecticut’s response to the firing on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for three-month volunteer troops was immediate and significant. Throughout the state, men of military age enlisted for what most people thought was going to be simply a show of strength that would dissuade southerners from supporting secession.

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Connecticut's Flagship
7:46 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Amistad America: State Funds Used Appropriately

Freedom Schooner Amistad is Connecticut's flagship.
Ed G (Flickr Creative Commons)

The executive director of Amistad America Inc., a New Haven-based non-profit, asserts that all money it has received from the state has been used appropriately. Amistad America owns and operates the Freedom Schooner Amistad, and recently lost its non-profit status after falling behind in filing federal tax returns.

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Where We Live
1:48 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

A New England Kind of Racism

Tiffani Jones
Chion Wolf

We all heard the story. Dave Chappelle had a bad night in Hartford. He got heckled, he walked offstage. He later called the audience “evil”.... “an arena full of suburban torturers” and “young, white alcoholics” as he joked about North Korea dropping a bomb on the Capital City.

We may be a laugh line for Chappelle, but does Hartford deserve the bad press? The label as a place filled with racists?

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American Revolution
9:52 am
Sat September 7, 2013

Blood on the Hill

By 1781 it was becoming apparent to both sides that outright British victory in the American Revolution was unlikely, in part due to the commitment of French troops and other resources that would culminate in the successful Yorktown campaign in October 1781.

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8:21 am
Tue September 3, 2013

200 Years After His Death, A Connecticut Slave Will Be Buried

Fortune, a Connecticut slave during the 18th century.
Credit Courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum.

More than 200 years after his death, the remains of an 18th century Connecticut slave will soon receive a proper burial.  

The slave is known as Fortune. He, his wife, and three children were owned by a doctor whose medical practice was in Waterbury. 

After Fortune died, the doctor used his skeleton as a teaching tool for students. Later, it was donated to the Mattatuck Museum and put on display. The skeleton was called “Larry." After the display was removed in the 1980s, researchers  determined that the bones were, in fact, those of the slave,  Fortune.

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The Faith Middleton Show
10:00 am
Mon September 2, 2013

On Second Thought and Tories

Credit TZA/flickr creative commons

Our brains are marvels, hard-wired by millions of years of evolution to boast a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to negotiate our complicated lives without overthinking every choice and decision we have to make.

Unfortunately, those ancient shortcuts don't always work to our advantage in our modern lives-when we don't also think slowly and rationally, those hard-wired habits can trip us up.

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12:24 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Take Me to the Fair

Trivia Question: In which state, besides Connecticut, does a verified grandchild of the Charter Oak tree grow?  Missouri.  On May 3, 1904, during the Dedication Ceremony of the Connecticut State Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, a seedling from the grounds of Mr. James Holcombe was planted in front of the State Building.  That grandchild of the Charter Oak is one piece of evidence that symbolizes Connecticut’s participation in World’s Fairs from the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century.

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Connecticut History
3:10 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

From Fish Factory to Bathing Beach

It’s almost September and families are flocking to the beaches to get in their last days of summer sunshine. One of Connecticut’s most popular summer spots is Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic.

The stretch of beach was not always a designated area for sunbathing, swimming, or hiking. In the 1800s, long before beachgoers were able to enjoy the park, the 710-acre property was used as a stone quarry and dairy farm. A railroad track and pier were installed in the 1850s to help transport stone from the quarry by both land and water.

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4:41 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

How a Few Barbershop Clippings Conned America Out of Millions

Con man Philip Musica.

While you probably never give a second thought to the clippings scattered about when you get a haircut, Philip Musica turned this trash into cash. Millions of dollars of cash. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
2:53 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Before Bernie Madoff, Philip Musica Conned (and Captivated) a Nation


We're fascinated by Bernie Madoff and Frank Abagnale, larger than life con men who somehow got perfectly sane and intelligent people to trust them when there was ample reason not to.

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Political history
2:39 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Political Button Extravaganza!

Candidates for governor who won.
Credit Connecticut State Library

Political campaigns may be going more and more digital, but hopefully that doesn’t mean the end for buttons. Look at how much history you can sum up in these photos of campaign buttons! All of these photos come from the Connecticut State Library’s Flickr page.

Here are a few standout slogans. 

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Races in History
9:56 am
Fri August 16, 2013

And They’re Off!

The day was cool and 10,000 spectators crowded the stands at Charter Oak Park to see the gray stallion Alcryon come from behind to beat the great trotting mare Geneva S. and the flagging favorite Nelson in the Charter Oak Stakes on August 28, 1889.

Charter Oak Park opened in 1873 near the Hartford/West Hartford line. In addition to a race track, it also came to include Luna Park, a popular amusement park, and the grounds served as the venue for the Connecticut State Fair, an annual two week event.

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The Faith Middleton Show
4:30 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Faith Middleton Show: Authors of What Language Is and The Man in the Rockefeller Suit

Jonathan McNicol photo

The linguist John McWhorter joins us to talk about his book What Language Is (And What It Isn't, and What It Could Be). From Standard English to Black English; obscure tongues only spoken by a few thousand people in the world to the big ones like Mandarin—What Language Is celebrates the history and curiosities of languages around the world and smashes our assumptions about "correct" grammar. Plus, a look at the career con man and serial impostor Clark Rockefeller, who wasn't, ya know, actually a Rockefeller at all.

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2:35 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Horror on the Housatonic

Railroad mishaps have been in the news in 2013, from the Metro-North derailment and collision in May to the runaway oil train explosion in Canada and the Spanish high speed train crash, both in July. While a broken rail is suspected in the Metro-North incident, human failure seems to be involved in the other two disasters.

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3:08 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Remembering Powder Ridge

July 31 marks the 43rd anniversary of the Powder Ridge Rock Festival—or would if the festival had gone off as planned. Instead, it marks the 43rd anniversary of the intersection of 30,000 young people, no food or entertainment, and lots of hallucinogenic drugs.

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Where We Live
1:24 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

A Downtown Disappearing

Heather Brandon

You might’ve noticed a slideshow at the Hartford Courant website comparing what used to be on various downtown street corners, and what’s there now. It shows some pretty stark contrasts. Multiple, narrow stone structures were demolished to make way for, in some cases, enormous buildings that take up half a city block... and in others, maybe no buildings at all. 

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2:09 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Liberian Independence Day

On July 26, 1847, a group of settlers in a small colony on the west coast of Africa issued a Declaration of Independence, creating the independent Republic of Liberia, with a constitution based on the political principles of the United States.  Many of these former African-Americans were freed slaves; others were free blacks who had left the United States seeking greater opportunities for themselves and their children.

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10:35 am
Sat July 20, 2013

This Won't Hurt a Bit!

Connecticut Historical Society, bequest of George Dudley Seymour

The discovery of anesthesia is one of the major breakthroughs in medical history. From ancient times to the mid-1800s, pain from dentistry and surgery could be relieved but never eliminated. Surgery in colonial America (such as amputating a limb, removing a tumor or eye cataract, or repairing a skull fracture) was performed only if a capable person was around to perform it, with strong assistants to hold the patient down. The only way dentists could help patients relieve tooth pain was to fill cavities, pull rotten teeth, and insert false teeth—all without anesthesia before 1844.

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Where We Live
8:04 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Connecticut’s Lesser-Known Mob Connections

James "Whitey" Bulger

Connecticut has a peculiar relationship with organized crime. Stuck between New York and Boston, it’s not home to any major organizations but there was and still is some spillover. And of course, it’s close enough to those other major cities that it was possible to have interactions with “made men” and even bosses.

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12:51 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Cool Summer Cottons: Early 20th Century Lingerie Dresses

Dress, about 1910. This lingerie dress has everything from lace insertions and pin-tucks on the skirt, to embroidery and crochet flowers on the bodice. The Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of Helen D. Perkins, 1984.94.38.
Connecticut Historical Society

“The lingerie dress is one of the most vitally important items of the summer outfit” states the April 1909 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. The popularity of lingerie dresses swept western fashion between 1900 and 1920. These dresses were thin, summer-weight dresses of thin cotton, linen, and silk. Lingerie dresses were often made up in white or very light-colored fabric and were embellished with embroidery, cutwork, lace, pin tucks, and even crochet flowers. White and light-colored slips were worn under the dresses and would show through in certain areas.

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12:51 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Cool Summer Cottons

“The lingerie dress is one of the most vitally important items of the summer outfit” states the April 1909 edition of Harper’s Bazaar.  The popularity of lingerie dresses swept western fashion between 1900 and 1920.  These dresses were thin, summer-weight dresses of thin cotton, linen, and silk.  Lingerie dresses were often made up in white or very light-colored fabric and were embellished with embroidery, cutwork, lace, pin tucks, and even crochet flowers.  White and light-colored slips were worn under the dresses and would show through in certain areas.

Read more