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.

These Honored Dead

May 24, 2013

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.

THESE HONORED DEAD

May 24, 2013

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.

Lobsters and Oysters and Clams

May 17, 2013

As the weather warms up this spring, so does the lure of the open road, and all that comes with it- scenic views, the ocean breeze along the coast, and everyone’s favorite road food!  While it may not be warm enough to go for a swim in Long Island Sound, it is perfect weather for a stop at one of the popular seafood restaurants that dot the Connecticut coast.

Lobsters and Oysters and Clams

May 17, 2013

As the weather warms up this spring, so does the lure of the open road, and all that comes with it- scenic views, the ocean breeze along the coast, and everyone’s favorite road food!  While it may not be warm enough to go for a swim in Long Island Sound, it is perfect weather for a stop at one of the popular seafood restaurants that dot the Connecticut coast.

America's First Woman Governor

May 10, 2013
Charles William Eldridge

Ella Tambussi Grasso was born to Italian immigrant parents in Windsor Locks, Connecticut on May 10, 1919. She attended the Chaffee School in Windsor and earned a scholarship to Mount Holyoke College where she earned both BA (1940) and MA (1942) degrees.   At an early age, she displayed an interest and belief in public service, and soon after completing her education, became involved in the Democratic Party in Connecticut.  She was first elected to the state General Assembly in 1952. In nine subsequent state and federal elections, she was never defeated. She also served two terms in U.S.

AMERICA’S FIRST WOMAN GOVERNOR

May 10, 2013
Charles William Eldridge

Ella Tambussi Grasso was born to Italian immigrant parents in Windsor Locks, Connecticut on May 10, 1919. She attended the Chaffee School in Windsor and earned a scholarship to Mount Holyoke College where she earned both BA (1940) and MA (1942) degrees.   At an early age, she displayed an interest and belief in public service, and soon after completing her education, became involved in the Democratic Party in Connecticut.  She was first elected to the state General Assembly in 1952. In nine subsequent state and federal elections, she was never defeated. She also served two terms in U.S.

Learning About the Lusitania

May 3, 2013

In an age when we hear instantly of any news, good or bad, it is hard to imagine that information was not always so readily available.  On May 7, 1915, the RMS Lusitania sank off the coast of Ireland from damage caused by a German submarine’s torpedo.  For hours, it was little more than an unconfirmed rumor that the ship had sunk, and many accounts incorrectly reported the ship was beached with no loss of life.  Approximately an hour and a half after the sinking, a cablegram to the New York City office of the Cunard Line, the steamship line that owned and operated the Lusitania, confirmed t

Learning about the Lusitania

May 3, 2013

In an age when we hear instantly of any news, good or bad, it is hard to imagine that information was not always so readily available.  On May 7, 1915, the RMS Lusitania sank off the coast of Ireland from damage caused by a German submarine’s torpedo.  For hours, it was little more than an unconfirmed rumor that the ship had sunk, and many accounts incorrectly reported the ship was beached with no loss of life.  Approximately an hour and a half after the sinking, a cablegram to the New York City office of the Cunard Line, the steamship line that owned and operated the Lusitania, confirmed t

One of Hartford’s Heroes

Apr 26, 2013

When he perished while fighting a fire on May 24th, 1878, Hartford photographer Daniel S. Camp died as he had lived: in harm’s way and in the line of duty. Besides being a respected photographer, Camp was a volunteer firefighter, Second Lieutenant in the City Guard, and a veteran of the Civil War, having seen service in Connecticut’s Sixteenth Volunteer Infantry.  In his short 34 years he left behind a legacy of public service as well as some truly remarkable photographs.

One of Hartford’s Heroes

Apr 26, 2013

When he perished while fighting a fire on May 24th, 1878, Hartford photographer Daniel S. Camp died as he had lived: in harm’s way and in the line of duty. Besides being a respected photographer, Camp was a volunteer firefighter, Second Lieutenant in the City Guard, and a veteran of the Civil War, having seen service in Connecticut’s Sixteenth Volunteer Infantry.  In his short 34 years he left behind a legacy of public service as well as some truly remarkable photographs.

Scraps of History

Apr 20, 2013

Mary Pamelia Felt was born in New York City on January 1, 1848, and in 1867 married John Emery Morris of Hartford. She would have remained just another Hartford resident if not for her penchant for clipping newspapers. Her collection of 188 obituary and social scrapbooks were donated to CHS in 1925.  CHS recently digitized and put online her 52 “social” scrapbooks which are filled with clippings about engagements, weddings, divorces, lectures, vacation plans, travels abroad, visits from dignitaries, Thanksgiving proclamations, and descriptions of inaugural balls.

Scraps of History

Apr 20, 2013

Mary Pamelia Felt was born in New York City on January 1, 1848, and in 1867 married John Emery Morris of Hartford. She would have remained just another Hartford resident if not for her penchant for clipping newspapers. Her collection of 188 obituary and social scrapbooks were donated to CHS in 1925.  CHS recently digitized and put online her 52 “social” scrapbooks which are filled with clippings about engagements, weddings, divorces, lectures, vacation plans, travels abroad, visits from dignitaries, Thanksgiving proclamations, and descriptions of inaugural balls.

“A NOBLE AND PRECIOUS LIFE”

Apr 12, 2013

A handful of maps of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, published in Philadelphia during the early 1850s, bear the name of E. M. Woodford. Edgar M. Woodford was born April 15, 1824,  in Avon, Connecticut, where his family had a farm. Self-taught as a civil engineer, Woodford became county surveyor for the County of Hartford. A nephew recalled his Uncle Edgar as “a great strapping man,” who would come “over the hills with his [surveying] instruments over his shoulder, crying for fear his work would not come out right.”

“A Noble and Precious Life”

Apr 12, 2013

A handful of maps of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, published I Philadelphia during the early 1850s, bear the name of E. M. Woodford.    Edgar M. Woodford was born April 15, 1824,  in Avon, Connecticut , where his family had a farm.  Self-taught as a civil engineer, Woodford became county surveyor for the County of Hartford.  A nephew recalled his Uncle Edgar as “a great strapping man,” who would come “over the hills with his [surveying] instruments over his shoulder, crying for fear his work would not come out right.”

Is Martha Stewart History?

Apr 5, 2013

With over thirty books published and millions of magazines devoured by fans eager to organize their homes, prepare delicious meals, and simply be crafty, Martha Stewart has become known as the most successful modern domestic advisor in the United States.  But domestic advice of the kind Stewart doles out in her television appearances, print, and internet publications is not something new.  Domestic advisors have long had a place in America’s kitchens and homes and have been providing women with guidance on how to manage their homes and cook appropriate meals for hundreds of years. 

A Night to Remember

Mar 29, 2013

Steam power captivated the popular imagination in the nineteenth century. Regular steam navigation on the Connecticut River dates back to the early 1820s. Hartford and New York were linked by steamers whenever the river was ice free, typically from March through November of each year.

A Night to Remember

Mar 29, 2013

Steam power captivated the popular imagination in the nineteenth century. Regular steam navigation on the Connecticut River dates back to the early 1820s. Hartford and New York were linked by steamers whenever the river was ice free, typically from March through November of each year.

Needlework in Full Bloom

Mar 22, 2013

Needlework samplers provided a place for young girls to practice stitching and create a variety of motifs, from alphabets and numbers to houses and animals.  One popular motif for decorating samplers was flowers.  Found almost everywhere and in many varieties, flowers offered girls the chance to create from nature, while incorporating their own sense of style.

Gloomy Trap and Abstract Electronics

Mar 20, 2013

This week on The Needle Drop, we're diving into the latest releases from Shlohmo and Autechre. We'll also be trying out new tracks from Kylesa, Smith Westerns, and more.

Picture This

Mar 15, 2013

Looking at stereo views was a popular form of home entertainment throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and on into the early twentieth century.  Stereo views were taken with a special camera with two lenses, resulting in two nearly identical photographs which created a 3-D effect when placed side-by-side on a cardboard mount and seen through an optical device called a stereopticon.  Stereo views can be seen as a sort of proto-cinematic experience before the age of film.

A Revolution in Horse Power

Mar 8, 2013

The Hartford and Wethersfield Horse Railroad originated in 1863, with horse-drawn cars riding over steel rails, carrying passengers along Hartford’s Main Street and Wethersfield Avenue. Over the next two decades, as the Railroad expanded its routes throughout Hartford and into surrounding towns, it became part of one of the most dramatic technological revolutions of the nineteenth century.

Much Good Might be Accomplished

Feb 28, 2013

“It is believed that much good, which might be accomplished, remains unaffected, from the mere fact that mankind either do not know that it can be done, or are ignorant of the means to accomplish it.”                                                                                                               ~Catharine Beecher

A Patriotic Legacy in Print

Feb 22, 2013

Two hundred years ago, the United States was at war with Great Britain. On September 10, 1813, an American naval force led by Major Commandant Oliver H. Perry captured six vessels from the British Royal Navy, the most powerful maritime force in the world. Perry’s famous exclamation, “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” reveals the growing confidence of the fledgling U.S. Navy, whose string of victories over the British were a great source of national pride for nineteenth-century Americans.

Washington Didn’t Only Sleep Here

Feb 16, 2013

The first time George Washington traveled through Connecticut, in 1756, he was an ambitious young Virginia colonel headed for Boston on a mission he hoped would advance his career in the British military. When he last visited Connecticut in1789, he was the first president of the new United States, a nation that existed in large part thanks to Washington’s leadership of American troops to victory over that same British military in the war for independence.

Cooking By the Book

Feb 13, 2013

Did you know that the first cookbook ever written in America was published in Hartford?  The book, American Cookery, is assumed to have been self-published because the words “For the Author” appear on the title page.  It was printed by Hudson and Goodwin Company of Hartford, Conn. in 1796, only twenty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Before this time, all of the cookbooks that were printed in America were copied from English texts. 

At the Intersection of Art and Architecture

Feb 1, 2013

Storefront churches, a flock of chattering birds, a meaningful phrase repeated against a plain background: architect and artist Clifford Mitchell told a variety of stories in a distinctive style, using pencil and pen, oil paint, watercolors and collage. An African-American architect and artist born in Alabama, Mitchell spent most of his life in Hartford and West Hartford. The year after graduating cum laude from Hartford Art School, he began winning prizes at regional art exhibitions.

Wool…It’s Not Just for Warmth!

Jan 25, 2013

Most of us associate wool with scratchy sweaters and bare-skinned sheep, but wool is much more than that.  Wool was used for clothing as early as 4000 BCE and over 200 different breeds of sheep produce it, and so do other animals like goats, camels, alpacas, and llamas.   

Fire and Ice

Jan 18, 2013
The Connecticut Historical Society, Horace B. Clark Collection.

Hartford’s Union Station, completed in 1889, acts as downtown’s western boundary and is the visual transition point between the business district and the residential neighborhood of Asylum Hill. The station originally operated for multiple railways including the Hartford and New Haven Railroad, Hartford and Connecticut Valley Railroad, Central New England Railway, and the New York and New England Railroad.

Let There Be Light (in Hartford)

Jan 11, 2013
The Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of NE Utilities

In 1881, over 1,000 gaslights lit 80 miles of streets in Hartford. The Hartford Electric Light Company began operations with a steam-powered electrical generating plant on Pearl Street on April 7, 1883, serving six customers with twenty-one arc lamps.  By the end of September 1888, a HELCO arc lamp had replaced the city’s last gas streetlight. 

The Great Remedy

Jan 5, 2013

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, declaring more than three million African Americans in those states in rebellion against the United States to be forever free.   An article in the Hartford Daily Courant on January 2 proudly declared that “Now, for the first time in history, the Government stands unequivocably committed to the support of the fundamental principles on which it was founded.”  Reactions were mixed overall, and ranged from raucous celebrations to expressions of deep concern about the impact of the sudden liberation of so many people.

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