Connecticut History

With our partner, The Connecticut Historical Society, WNPR News presents unique and eclectic view of life in Connecticut throughout its history. 

The Connecticut Historical Society is a partner in Connecticut History Online (CHO)  — a digital collection of over 18,000 digital primary sources, together with associated interpretive and educational material. The CHO partner and contributing organizations represent three major communities — libraries, museums, and historical societies — who preserve and make accessible historical collections within the state of Connecticut.

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History
10:59 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Creepy Connecticut: Thrills and Chills on a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at CHS

Corpse Preserver. Sold by C. Rogers & Co., ca. 1876. Behind-the-Scenes Tour guests thought our “corpse preserver” was creepy. The Connecticut Historical Society,Gift of William C. Ruot, 1994.128.1
Connecticut Historical Society

Shivers ran down the collective spine of visitors, and at least one person took several steps back, and stayed a safe distance away. What scared the history out of these participants in a Behind-the-Scenes tour at the Connecticut Historical Society one Saturday early in October? The Corpse Preserver, a coffin-shaped contraption raised on ornate metal legs, which was designed to preserve bodies and allow them to be viewed by mourners. 

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History
1:55 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Through a Different Lens: Three Connecticut Women Photographers

Through a Different Lens: Three Connecticut Women Photographers is on view now at the Connecticut Historical Society through March 29, 2014. It explores the work of three photographers, and uses objects to provide technological history.
Connecticut Historical Society

Today, many people carry cameras around with them in their pockets or purses; the iPhone 4, 4s and 5 are the three most popular cameras on the photo-sharing site Flickr. With cameras all around us, it’s difficult to imagine an era in which making a photograph was a time-consuming process that required an understanding of chemistry and a willingness to cart around heavy equipment and inhale noxious fumes, but upon its invention in 1839, and for several decades after, it was just that.

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History
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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History
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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History
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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History
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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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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Fairs
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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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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History
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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History
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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History
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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History
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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History
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.

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History
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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History
3:40 pm
Sat July 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Beatrice Fox Auerbach

July 7th  marks the birthday of one of Hartford’s most remarkable leaders whose dedication to her company, her employees and the city are still felt today… Beatrice Fox Auerbach.   

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History
3:40 pm
Sat July 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Beatrice Fox Auerbach

July 7th marks the birthday of one of Hartford’s most remarkable leaders whose dedication to her company, her employees and the city are still felt today… Beatrice Fox Auerbach.   

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History
4:06 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

How Many of Those Brave Men Were Launched into Eternity

Private Loren Goodrich was at a camp in Western Maryland when he wrote home to family and friends.  He and his comrades in the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry had just been in a major battle in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. That battle was fought 150 years ago, from July 1-3, 1863. The 14th was one of five infantry regiments from Connecticut to take part. Of the 1300 Nutmeggers at Gettysburg, sixty-nine were killed and 291 were wounded, captured or missing.

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History
4:06 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

How Many of Those Brave Men Were Launched into Eternity

Private Loren Goodrich was at a camp in Western Maryland when he wrote home to family and friends.  He and his comrades in the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry had just been in a major battle in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. That battle was fought 150 years ago, from July 1-3, 1863. The 14th was one of five infantry regiments from Connecticut to take part. Of the 1300 Nutmeggers at Gettysburg, sixty-nine were killed and 291 were wounded, captured or missing.

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History
2:22 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Postcards From the Past

If you grew up in New England, there’s a good chance you have at least one memory of visiting a beach on a hot summer day. Whether you prefer a day of excitement and thrills on amusement park rides or a relaxing lounging session in the sun, you can usually find a New England beach that suits you. If you like a little of both, New London’s Ocean Beach could be the place for you.

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History
2:22 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Postcards from the Past

If you grew up in New England, there’s a good chance you have at least one memory of visiting a beach on a hot summer day. Whether you prefer a day of excitement and thrills on amusement park rides or a relaxing lounging session in the sun, you can usually find a New England beach that suits you. If you like a little of both, New London’s Ocean Beach could be the place for you.

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History
3:09 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Another Way to Cross

June 14, 2013 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the “Swing Bridge” across the Connecticut River in East Haddam, Connecticut.   While most drawbridges have a section that moves up and down to accommodate river traffic, the East Haddam bridge has a section that swings open like a gate to allow vessels to pass through.

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History
3:09 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Another Way to Cross

June 14, 2013 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the “Swing Bridge” across the Connecticut River in East Haddam, Connecticut.   While most drawbridges have a section that moves up and down to accommodate river traffic, the East Haddam bridge has a section that swings open like a gate to allow vessels to pass through.

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History
4:22 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Getting There From Here

For many of today’s drivers, tools like Google Maps and GPS devices have made turn-by-turn directions a familiar—even essential—part of getting from point A to point B. But this isn’t a new idea and didn’t start in Silicon Valley. In the early days of the automobile, “route guides” included turn-by-turn directions compiled by amateur and professional “pathfinders.” In 1901, Charles Howard Gillette, a Hartford native, published the Official Automobile Blue Book.

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History
4:22 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Getting There from Here

For many of today’s drivers, tools like Google Maps and GPS devices have made turn-by-turn directions a familiar—even essential—part of getting from point A to point B. But this isn’t a new idea and didn’t start in Silicon Valley. In the early days of the automobile, “route guides” included turn-by-turn directions compiled by amateur and professional “pathfinders.” In 1901, Charles Howard Gillette, a Hartford native, published the Official Automobile Blue Book.

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History
3:22 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

The Free Consent of the People

“The foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of people.” That principle lies at the heart of the representative system by which the United States has governed itself for more than two centuries.

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History
3:22 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

The Free Consent of the People

“The foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of people.” That principle lies at the heart of the representative system by which the United States has governed itself for more than two centuries.

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History
11:51 am
Fri May 24, 2013

These Honored Dead

Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War, as a way to honor those Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that conflict. A large collection of photographs of Connecticut Civil War soldiers in the Connecticut Historical Society’s collection recalls the origins of the holiday and displays the pride and determination of those men who were prepared to give their lives in the service of their country.  Over 5000 Connecticut soldiers died in service.  Over 2000 of them were killed in battle. Even those who survived the war are now among the long-dead.

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