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Everyday Life


Cover of a book titled "The Negro Motorist Green Book" with other text

Navigating Connecticut Safely: The Green Book’s Role in African American Travel

In the mid-20th century, during the era of Jim Crow, the Green Book helped African American travelers find safe restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other businesses while on the road.

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Detail of a map of Middletown, Connecticut

Middletown’s Beman Triangle: A Testament to Black Freedom and Resilience

One of the earliest and most politically active free Black neighborhoods in Connecticut emerged in Middletown in the late 1820s, the Beman Triangle.

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Drawing of a group of women gathered together sewing

Hebron’s Josephine Sophia (White) Griffing and a Vision for Post-Emancipation America

From before emancipation and the 13th Amendment, Josephine Sophie White Griffing of Hebron, Connecticut, was an ardent advocate for enslaved and free people.

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Print showing three men working in a printshop preparing a plate for the press and operating the press, circa 1642

Thomas Short – Connecticut’s First Official Printer

Thomas Short became the Connecticut Colony’s first official printer in 1708, printing the laws and proclamations for the colonial legislature as well as the colony’s first book.

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Engraving drawing of several buildings

John Warner Barber’s Engravings Chronicle Connecticut History

John Warner Barber chronicled 19th-century Connecticut history through his historical writing and hundreds of engravings—many of which still exist today.

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Newspaper clipping with a large photograph of two people getting married with the headline "More than Partners"

Connecticut Issues Same-Sex Marriage Licenses for the First Time – Today In History: November 12

On November 12, 2008, Connecticut issued its first marriage licenses for same-sex couples after Kerrigan et al. v. Commissioner of Public Health et al..

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Industrial scene where several men are working at a manufactured gas plant

Early Connecticut Gas Light Companies

The first private gas light companies in Connecticut appeared just before 1850 in New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport.

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Fairground

A Fair to Remember in Brooklyn

Sponsored by the Windham County Agricultural Society, the Brooklyn Fair is held annually in August to promote and preserve the area’s agricultural heritage.

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Wooden sign in front of a tree reading "welcome to Banner Lodge"

Banner Lodge: A Vacation Playground for an Excluded Population

From the 1930s to the 1970s, Banner Lodge was one of the most popular vacation destinations in Connecticut and actively welcomed a Jewish clientele.

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Hartford Street Railway Company Electricians, ca. 1907. Electrifying the railroad created new jobs

A Revolution in Horse Power: The Hartford & Wethersfield Horse Railroad Goes Electric

In 1888, Hartford commuters and city-goers zipped down Wethersfield Avenue in a horseless trolley car for the first time.

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Photograph of a brown two story house with an attic and two chimneys. There is a white fence in front of the house

The Welcoming Warmth of Kent’s Seven Hearths

For over 272 years, Kent’s Seven Hearths has lived many lives—from trading post to school to artist’s home to historical society.

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Artwork of a ship close to shore with people in rowboats. There is a large flag protruding from the mast of the ship. There is text at the bottom of the image.

Connecticut’s French Connections

From Huguenots to French Canadian mill workers to modern immigration, Connecticut has always been a place shaped, in part, by a steady French influence.

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Page from a book with colorful illustrations of animals in a human town situation

The Road to Busytown: Richard Scarry’s Life in Fairfield County

Inspired by Connecticut communities, Richard Scarry invented and illustrated some of the most beloved characters and communities in children’s literature.

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Food Needed to Win the War Comes from Washington

During World War I, the Town of Washington instituted a number of programs to increase food production and preservation to feed Allied armies and the European people,

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Patent drawing of an ironing board improvement

Sarah Boone: First Connecticut Black Woman to Receive Patent

In1892, Sarah Boone of New Haven became the first Black woman in Connecticut to be awarded a patent—for an improvement in the use of an ironing board.

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Boot Blacks and the Struggle to Survive in Hartford

January 17, 2023 • Everyday Life, Hartford, Work

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, young boys who shined shoes (sometimes 70 hours per week) were the primary breadwinners for many struggling families.

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Elm Arcade, Temple Street, New Haven

A Beautiful and Goodly Tree: The Rise and Fall of the American Elm

Almost every Connecticut town has an Elm Street, named for the popular trees that grew in abundance until a fungal infestation greatly diminished their numbers.

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Mayor's Council Armenian Group, Hartford, 1920

Building an Armenian Community in New Britain

Since the late 19th century, Armenian immigrants and descendants have created a community and shaped New Britain history.

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Illumination of Old State House, Hartford, December 31, 1900

A Turn-of-the-Century New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2022 • Everyday Life, Hartford, New Britain, Windham

Hailed as the “Century Celebration,” the evening of December 31, 1900, saw revelry and reflection as individuals throughout the state welcomed the New Year.

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Advertisement for Isaac Doolittle's bell foundry

Early Church Bell Founders

Church bells served many important functions in early New England. Consequently, skilled bellfounders in Connecticut found themselves in high demand.

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City of Hartford, Connecticut

Bird’s-eye Views Offer Idealized Portraits of Progress

Panoramic prints of growing cities and towns became popular in the late 1800s as Connecticut transformed from an agricultural to an industrial state.

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MT. Higby Reservoir

Middletown’s Reservoirs Drive Growth Throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries

December 26, 2022 • Environment, Everyday Life, Middletown

The Laurel Brook and Mount Higby Reservoirs helped provide reliable sources of water that drove the growth of Middletown.

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US Post Office, 1946, Bethlehem

Connecticut’s Christmas Town

Nestled in a quiet section of Litchfield County lies the picturesque town of Bethlehem, known best for its designation as “Connecticut’s Christmas Town.”

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The Living Actually Haunted Many Connecticut Taverns – Who Knew?

Early Connecticut laws deemed anyone who spent excessive time in taverns as a “tavern haunter” and subjected them to fines and ridicule.

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Late 19th century Christmas postcards

Sending Season’s Greetings: Christmas Cards in Connecticut

For nearly a decade, this little Connecticut town was renowned as the Christmas-card center of the world.

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Girl’s Stays

Little Nutmeggers: Four Centuries of Children’s Clothes and Games

December 19, 2022 • Everyday Life

Modes of dress and means of play for youngsters reflect more than changing tastes; they reveal shifts in societal attitudes toward the pre-adult years.

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Image of an advertisement with a red train coming through a mountain and a boy in white clothing waving. There is a body of water next to the train with two boats. The tagline reads "Ives Toys Make Happy Boys." Catalog 1925

The Ives Manufacturing Company: Connecticut’s Foremost Toy Maker

The Ives Manufacturing Company—arguably Connecticut’s most famous toy company—became known for its variety of clockwork toys and trains.

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Waste Not, Want Not: The Colonial Era Midden

From tools, dishes, and clothing to muskrat bones, household trash from 1700s reveals how Yankees of the era lived.

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Goshen Animal Pound, circa 1800

Goshen’s Animal Pound

Livestock were once a central feature and concern of daily life for Litchfield County residents.

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Scandal in the Beecher Family

An alleged affair between Elizabeth Tilton and Henry Ward Beecher became public in 1872 and inspired a series of lawsuits for libel.

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Connecticut Residents Did Not Let Veterans Day “Go Commercial.”

Despite passage of the federal Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968, Connecticut residents were largely reluctant to move Veterans Day observances from November 11.

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A Plan of the Town of New Haven with All the Buildings in 1748

Why Was New Haven Divided into Nine Squares?

The layout of New Haven’s nine-square grid, though not the plan itself, is attributed to the original settlers’ surveyor, John Brockett.

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Black and white image of a stove

The Stamford Foundry Company Made Notable Stoves

When it ceased operations in the mid-1950s after over 120 years, The Stamford Foundry Company was the oldest known stove works in America.

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Gravestones, Old Burying Ground, Hartford

The Art of Burying the Dead: Exploring Connecticut’s Historic Cemeteries

From winged death’s heads to weeping willows, gravestone carvings in Connecticut’s historic cemeteries reflect changing attitudes toward mourning and memorialization.

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Illustration of "The Connecticut Courant", Oct. 29, 1764

The Oldest Continuously Published Newspaper – Today in History: October 29

On October 29, 1764, New Haven printer Thomas Green established a weekly newspaper, the Connecticut Courant, in Hartford.

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Wesleyan Hills Helps Redefine Suburbia

The design of the Wesleyan Hills community in Middletown, Connecticut, stands in stark contrast to the uninspiring, cookie-cutter suburbs of the Post-World War II era.

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The Colt's Manufacturing Company float for the parade dedicating the Bulkeley Bridge, October 7th, 1908

Hartford’s Industrial Day – Today in History: October 7

Hartford celebrated the 1908 opening of the Bulkeley Bridge, which connected Hartford and East Hartford, with a three-day extravaganza.

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A Fair to Forget – Who Knew?

In 1899, the citizens of Danbury petitioned the State Law and Order League to have detectives present at the Danbury Fair to monitor banned activities.

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The Clam Box, postcard by Cliff Scofield, ca. 1950s

Lobsters and Oysters and Clams: A Short History of Seafood in Connecticut

The ocean’s bounty has been savored along the Connecticut coastline for as long as humans have been around to bring it on shore.

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The Smith-Worthington Saddle Company

Saddles Fit For a Shah

Since 1794, Hartford-based Smith-Worthington Saddlery has made tack for horses—along with the occasional ostrich harness and space suit prototype.

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Early letter penned by P.T. Barnum referencing his lottery

P. T. Barnum’s Lottery

Known for entertainment, this showman gained experience in engaging the public, and profiting from it, by running a lottery in Bethel.

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Newspaper coupon with a decorative border and a drawing of a baby in the middle

Birthplace of the Gerber Baby – Who Knew?

Westport’s artist Dorothy Hope Smith used her neighbor, Ann Turner, as inspiration for her iconic Gerber Baby trademark drawing.

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Greased pole, Labor Day picnic, Colt Park, Hartford

Labor Day at the Turn of the 20th Century

In February of 1889, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill making the first Monday of each September a legal holiday.

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John Warner Barber, South view of the Hempstead house, New London, 1836

Joshua Hempsted Born – Today in History: September 1

On September 1, 1678, Joshua Hempsted was born in New London, Connecticut.

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Two Days After Marriage

Grounds for Divorce – Who Knew?

August 30, 2022 • Everyday Life, Law, Who Knew?

While Connecticut was not the first to grant a divorce, it was the first to define the grounds for dissolution of a marriage in An Act Relating to Bills of Divorce.

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Two women sitting on the steps of a building

Rewriting the Norm: How Two East Haddam Women Revolutionized Nonsexist Language

East Haddam’s Casey Miller and Kate Swift were both outspoken advocates for eradicating gender bias in the English language.

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Front facade of a multi-story building with three arches over doorways.

Connecticut’s First Mutual Savings Bank Opens in Hartford

On June 1, 1819, Governor Oliver Wolcott Jr. approved a legislative charter for the Society for Savings in Hartford—the first mutual savings bank in the state.

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A small building on the back of a trailer. Two men are walking beside the building

The Connecticut Houses that Ended Up in Massachusetts

Old Sturbridge Village moved numerous historical CT buildings, but evidence of their existence still lives on in historic maps, photographs, and memories.

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Detail of the Bethany Airport Hanger from the Aerial survey of Connecticut 1934

A Busy Airfield in Bethany

In its first few years, the airfield in Bethany served the interests of small-time aviation enthusiasts.

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Grey plaque dedicated to Moses Wheeler with the names of the Connecticut governor and state highway commissioner in 1962

Moses Wheeler: Legendary Housatonic Ferryman

Moses Wheeler carried passengers across the Housatonic River as the operator of the first ferry from Stratford to Milford—over 350 years ago.

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Thomas Cole, View of Monte Video, Seat of Daniel Wadsworth Esq., 1878

Talcott Mountain: A View of Early New England

July 30, 2022 • Avon, Environment, Everyday Life

The Talcott Mountain range lies in the northeastern section of Avon and is arguably the town’s most prominent geographic feature.

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The Long, Ambiguous History of Connecticut’s Blue Laws

July 24, 2022 • Everyday Life, Law, The State

Connecticut’s blue laws are a series of laws based on puritan values that restrict or ban certain “morally questionable” activities on days of worship or rest.

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New Haven Green

The Connecticut Town Green

Considered a quintessential feature of the New England landscape, town greens weren’t always the peaceful, park-like spaces we treasure today.

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Indian Hill Cemetery and the Landscaping of Burial Grounds in the Mid-19th Century

The landscaping of Indian Hill Cemetery speaks to 19th-century reactions to industrialization and urbanization and the search for peaceful natural environments.

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A fire swept through the tent at the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in Hartford, July 6, 1944

Hartford Circus Fire: “The Tent’s on Fire!” – Who Knew?

The Hartford Circus Fire on July 6, 1944, may be the worst human-caused disaster ever to have taken place in Connecticut.

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Black and white Logo for WDRC Radio station

WDRC AM/FM – Connecticut’s Oldest Commercial Radio Station

WDRC is the oldest continuously operated commercial radio station in Connecticut that uses both AM and FM transmissions.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's residence

Hartford’s Nook Farm

This small enclave in the capital city’s west end became home to many of the 19th century’s most celebrated and creative personalities.

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Wallace Nutting, The Shadow of the Blossoms

Past Perfect: Wallace Nutting Invents an Ideal Olde New England

In the early 1900s consumers bought photographs, furniture, and books from a former minister who sold the fantasy of simpler times as an antidote to modern life.

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Leatherman in Wallingford, 1880s

The Old Leatherman Alive in Our Memories

This enigmatic, solitary figure has captured the public imagination since the mid-1800s when he began walking a 365-mile interstate loop over and over again.

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Hervey Brooks's pottery wheel

Hervey Brooks’s 19th-Century Pottery Barn

Hervey Brooks was an American potter and farmer who made red earthenware domestic products in Goshen for more than half a century.

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Original brass stencil used for decorating Hitchcock chairs

The “Fancy Chair” Craze of the 1800s: Lambert Hitchcock and the Story of the Hitchcock Chair

More than something to sit on, “fancy chairs” were emblems of social mobility for middle-class Americans.

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Louis’ Lunch eatery at its original location on George Street

Louis’ Lunch and the Birth of the Hamburger

In 1900, in answer to a customer’s rush order for something “quick and delicious,” Louis Lassen of New Haven served up a meal that is credited as being the first hamburger.

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Jared Eliot

Jared Eliot Calls on Colonists to Change their Agricultural Practices

In 1760, this Killingworth minister and farmer published the first agricultural advice book in the British American colonies.

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Woman sitting in a small boat on a body of water with a fishing pole in her hand.

Edith Watson: Camera Artist

Over the five decades Edith Watson traveled around North America, her keen eye and box camera lens captured the otherwise untold stories of women.

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Public library, Southington

A History of Libraries Speaks Volumes About Southington

While it is not uncommon in the modern era for towns to appropriate funds for operating public libraries, the town of Southington has a unique history with its libraries.

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University of Connecticut, Commencement

UConn and the Evolution of a Public University

April 21, 2022 • Education, Everyday Life, Mansfield

From farming and war work to physics and sports, the University of Connecticut has diversified over the years and become New England’s leading public university.

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Aldrich Free Public Library, Plainfield

Aldrich Free Public Library: Dedicated to the Dissemination of Knowledge

Residents of the Moosup section of Plainfield organized a free public library “for the promotion and dissemination of useful knowledge” to its local citizenry.

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Lebanon Grange Hall

The Lebanon Grange Followed a Different Tune than National Movement

April 3, 2022 • Agriculture, Arts, Everyday Life, Lebanon

Music played a central role in fraternal rituals and sense of community.

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Steamer City of Hartford

A Night to Remember: When the Steamboat Took on the Railroad—and Lost

A case of mistaken identity causes a vessel to crash into a bridge and results in new a rule for marking safe passage with red lights.

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Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

The Unsteady Meaning of “The Land of Steady Habits”

Connecticut’s description as “the land of steady habits” has been used to stand for a wide list of subjects, from beer drinking to sushi to hair bobbing.

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Shelves of books in the interior of a bookstore

The Reader’s Feast: A Bookstore Ahead of Its Time

For over two decades, The Reader’s Feast was the most progressive independent bookstore in the Hartford area and provided a space for literature, community, food, and affirmation.

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Playing with Time: The Introduction of Daylight Saving Time in Connecticut

March 13, 2022 • Agriculture, Everyday Life, Law, Hartford

Despite both formal and informal attempts to regulate the observance of Daylight Savings Time in Connecticut, it still remains a controversial topic for many state residents.

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Map of the invasion of New Haven

Ezra Stiles Captured 18th-Century Life on Paper

Among Ezra Stiles’ greatest contributions to history are the journals and records he kept detailing daily life in 18th-century New England.

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Anna Louise James seated, with a cat on her lap

Miss James, First Woman Pharmacist in CT Right in Old Saybrook

Remembering Anna Louise James, the first woman pharmacist in the state of Connecticut.

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Emily Pierson handing out leaflets in New York State Suffrage Campaign

A Feeling of Solidarity: Labor Unions and Suffragists Team Up

The voting booth and the shop floor were two important arenas in the fight for women’s equality.

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Postcard of Luna Park, Hartford

Luna Park: A 20th-century Story of Amusement and Morality

The story of Luna Park in West Hartford provides insight into the battles between entertainment and ethics in Connecticut during the Progressive Era.

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History in a Heart

February 14, 2022 • Hide Featured Image, Everyday Life, Women

A set of old Valentine’s Day cards, kept safe in a cloth-covered scrapbook, provide a look back at the sometimes humorous art of expressing heartfelt sentiments.

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View of Wadsworth Street in 1877

The Lives of Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus Told Through their Loving Letters

Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus were two free Black women whose lives intersected in Hartford, Connecticut in the 19th century. Letters written between them imply their relationship was more than friendship.

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Barkhamsted Hollow Church

A Valley Flooded to Slake the Capital Region’s Thirst

From 1927 to 1948, the Metropolitan District Commission built the Saville Dam and flooded the valley to create the Barkhamsted Reservoir, displacing over a thousand people.

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Headline of An Act concerning Operations for the Prevention of Procreation

LGBTQ+ Mental Health Treatment in the 20th Century

The simultaneous development of accepted mental health practices and LGBTQ+ visibility over the decades offers a chance to examine how psychological research contributed to the discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals and communities.

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G. Fox and Co. Delivery Fleet, ca.1910-1950

G. Fox and the Golden Age of Department Stores

Founded by Gerson Fox in 1848, G. Fox & Co. went on to become the nation’s largest privately owned department store.

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Image showing the expanse of the Bigelow-Hartford Carpet mills

First Connecticut Carpet Mills Emerge in Simsbury and Enfield

In the 1820s, the first two notable carpetmakers emerged in the north central part of Connecticut—the Tariff Manufacturing Company and the Thompsonville Carpet Manufacturing Company.

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Pottery at Norwich, Norwich, ca. 1830.

From Kiln to Collection: Norwich Pottery and Its Makers

January 22, 2022 • Everyday Life, Norwich

Despite the lack of good local clay, Norwich potteries flourished, turning out jugs, jars, crocks, pie plates, dishes, and other utilitarian objects.

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Peddler E.H. Farrell with his cart, 1910

New Britain’s Yankee Peddlers Boost 18th-century Economy

While the rural economy of the North in the 18th century focused on local exchanges of goods within a community, Yankee peddlers used their mobility to bring finished products directly to the consumer.

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WPKN blocks on top of an on the air sign in the WPKN radio station

Bridgeport’s WPKN: Going Strong After Half a Century

Bridgeport’s community radio station, WPKN, is still going strong after half a century, offering unique and eclectic programming.

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Ice Skates, ca. 1965

Skating Through Winter

By the 1850s, better-designed skates and interest in healthful outdoor activities made ice skating an increasingly popular leisure activity.

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Advertisement for Phillips' Milk of Magnesia in the Washington DC Evening Star, 1945

Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia Originated in Stamford

In 1873, Charles H. Phillips patented Milk of Magnesia and his company produced the popular antacid and laxative in Stamford, Connecticut, until 1976.

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Billhead and bill from John Olmsted.

An Inconvenient Season: Charlotte Cowles’s Letters from December 1839

Letters between a sister in Farmington and a brother in Hartford reveal details about daily life at a time when the distance between the two communities wasn’t so easily traveled.

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Postcard of Beechmont Dairy in Bridgeport, CT

Beechmont Dairy: Bridgeport’s Ice Cream to Die For

Joseph Niedermeier Sr. founded the Beechmont Dairy in Bridgeport in 1906—a popular local business for over 60 years.

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Advertising leaflet for the "Cal" Pistol, J. & E. Stevens Co., Cromwell

Cromwell’s Iron Men Made Toys for Boys and Girls

The J & E Stevens Company eventually became the largest manufacturer of cast-iron toys in the country.

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Sign for the Temperance Hotel, ca. 1826-1842

The Slow Demise of Prohibition in Wilton

It is only in recent decades that the people of Wilton moved forward, albeit divisively, with plans to allow the sale of alcohol in their town.

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Platter with View of New Haven Green

Setting the Table in Historic Style: Connecticut Views on Staffordshire China

November 26, 2021 • Everyday Life, Food and Drink

Engravings of Hartford, Daniel Wadsworth’s estate, the New Haven Green, and other sites around the state adorned British chinaware made for the US market.

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Governor Wilbur L. Cross

Video: 1938 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Connecticut Governor Wilbur L. Cross reading his 1938 Thanksgiving Proclamation to his cabinet. This was the first sound film ever made featuring a Governor of Connecticut.

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Wethersfield's four-wheeled combination hook, ladder and bucket carrier

Connecticut’s Oldest Fire Department

November 19, 2021 • Everyday Life, Wethersfield, Work

The Wethersfield Volunteer Fire Department is the oldest continually operated fire department in Connecticut.

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Results of Halloween pranks, Windsor

Past Hallowe’en Pranks Bemused Some and Frustrated Others

October 31, 2021 • Everyday Life, Popular Culture

Jack o’ lanterns, witches, and ghosts—many of the holiday staples that we still associate with Halloween were familiar to Connecticut residents in the early 1900s.

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The Caribbean American Society float in the West Indian Parade

West Indians in Hartford

October 27, 2021 • Arts, Everyday Life, Immigration, Hartford

A significant wave of immigration to the United States from the West Indies began in the 1940s, spurred by labor shortages during World War II.

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Gershom Bartlett, Winged Face

The Art of Life and Death in Colonial Bolton

October 21, 2021 • Bolton, Arts, Belief, Everyday Life

Bartlett was the first gravestone carver in the upper Connecticut River Valley, and his headstones tell historians much about early life in the northeastern colonies.

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Main Street, During Fair Week

The Great Danbury State Fair & Early 20th-Century Outdoor Advertising

In 1909, the Danbury Agricultural Society called attention to its upcoming fair in a most creative manner.

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Map of the Freedom Trail Sites

Site Lines: Connecticut’s Freedom Trail

Sites along the Connecticut Freedom Trail mark key events in the quest to achieve freedom and social equality for African Americans in the state.

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Nutrition class, Connecticut Agricultural College

From Aprons to Lab Coats: The Art and Science of Home Economics

In 1893 the Storrs Agricultural College (the precursor to the University of Connecticut) began training women in domestic science, the discipline that would later be called home economics.

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Sharpe Hill Vineyard in Pomfret

Raise a Glass to Winemaking in Connecticut

The Colony’s first settlers produced wine and spirits, but it would not be until the 1970s that Connecticut could grow and sell its harvest.

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A Pie Tin’s Soaring Sales

Tins used to hold pies at William Frisbie’s pie company in Bridgeport in the late 1800s reportedly provided the inspiration for Wham-O’s most popular toy, the Frisbee.

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An illustration from A Sketch of the life, trial, and execution of Oliver Watkins

Connecticut Draws the Curtain on Public Executions

Brooklyn’s status as county seat in 1831 resulted in the town hosting what is widely accepted as the last public hanging in Connecticut.

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Colonial currency from Connecticut Colony. Signed by Elisha Williams, Thomas Seymour, and Benjamin Payne

Connecticut’s Early Commercial Banks

After observing the financial success of commercial banks in Boston and New York City, wealthy elites in Connecticut pressured the Connecticut General Assembly to grant charters for privately owned commercial banks in Hartford, New Haven, and New London in 1792.

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Hidden Nearby: The Bantam Lake Ice House

Bantam Lake served a vital function as a supplier of ice that local residents used to preserve food when temperatures began to rise.

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Lake Pocotopaug, East Hampton

Lake Pocotopaug Shapes the Growth of East Hampton

East Hampton is home to one of Connecticut’s largest inland bodies of water, Lake Pocotopaug.

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Corpse preserver

Death and Mourning in the Civil War Era

The Civil War transformed traditional practices of death and mourning in Victorian-era Connecticut.

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Trolley interior, Branford Electric Railway - Trolley Museum

Branford Gets On the Trolley

Starting as a means of intra-city transportation, trolley lines extended outward by the start of the 20th century and promoted the growth of modern suburbs.

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The White Mountain Express, traveling 50 miles per hour went off the track in Greenwich

The White Mountain Express Derails in Greenwich

July 16, 2021 • Disaster, Everyday Life, Greenwich

On July 16, 1908, the gong of the ambulances on Greenwich Avenue broadcast one of the worst accidents on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

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Brass City/Grass Roots: Waterbury Farming in the Late 1800s

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: Farming as Recycling: The Becces in the North End

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: From Farmers to Developers: The Rasmussens of Town Plot

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: The Pierponts of East Farms

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: Struggles and Decline

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: Food Marketing and Processing as Part of Civic Culture

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: What Makes a Farm a Farm? Other Sites of Food Production in Waterbury

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: Remnants and Revivals

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Brass City/Grass Roots: Bucks Hill: Waterbury’s Rural Holdout

This article is part of the digital exhibit “Brass City/Grass Roots: The Persistence of Farming in Waterbury, Connecticut”

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Fourth of July celebration, Woodstock, 1870

President Grant Celebrates Independence Day in Woodstock – Today in History: July 4

July 4, 2021 • Everyday Life, Woodstock

On July 4, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant attended Independence Day celebrations at Roseland Cottage in Woodstock.

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Margaret Rudkin

Pepperidge Farm Opens Bakery – Today in History: July 4

On July 4, 1947, Margaret Rudkin of Fairfield opened a modern commercial bakery in Norwalk and gave it the name of her small bakery, Pepperidge Farm.

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Greenwich Emergency Responders: On the Move Overtime

Horses, motorcycles, and boats are just a few of the modes of transportation that town emergency personnel have used over the years to get to where they’re needed.

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Carter’s Inn sign

Tavern Signs Mark Changes in Travel, Innkeeping, and Artistic Practice

June 1, 2021 • Arts, Everyday Life, Food and Drink

In colonial times, tavern signs beckoned weary travelers to places of rest and entertainment, but by the early 1900s collectors prized them as folk art and relics of a bygone era.

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School children placing flowers on the graves of World War I servicemen

Memorial Day 1920 Brings a Changing of the Guard

In 1920, veterans groups played an active role in orchestrating Memorial Day observances in towns across Connecticut.

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Timeline: Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut

A timeline displaying the major events leading to Connecticut statehood, including its settlement by the Dutch, the origins of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor, the founding of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies, and Connecticut’s acquisition of a formal charter from England.

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Hitchcock chairs

Built on Innovation, Saved by Nostalgia: Hitchcock Chair Company

In the 1820s Lambert Hitchcock adapted mass production concepts pioneered in the clock-making field to chair manufacture.

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Re-creating Our National Pastime

The Baseball Playograph Company in Stamford brought live baseball to tens of thousands of Americans through the production of its “playograph” product.

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Combined Telegraph Key and Sounder

Learning about the Lusitania: How Hartford Heard the News

May 7, 2021 • Everyday Life, Transportation

Citizens turned to outdoor bulletin boards, city bus drivers, and other lines of communication to get the latest news on the fate of the ship’s passengers.

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Child Labor in Connecticut

While Connecticut proved to be one of the more progressive states when it came to child labor laws, it still took federal legislation to protect children in the workplace.

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20th-century photograph of shad nets

A Tale of Shad, the State Fish

The aquatic inhabitant, shad, has a long history of influencing foodways, income, and culture in the region.

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Advertising card of the Dr. Warner’s Caroline Corset

From Bombs to Bras: World War I Conservation Measures Transform the Lives of Women

A shortage of metal during World War I encouraged women’s clothing manufacturers (such as Bridgeport’s Warner Brothers Corset Company) to switch from producing corsets to brassieres.

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Portrait of Dr. Charles Johnson

Hartford’s Great Migration through Charles S. Johnson’s Eyes

During the Great Migration of the early 1900s, African Americans from the rural South relocated to Hartford and other Northern cities in search of better prospects.

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Little Bethel AME Church, 44 Lake Avenue, Greenwich

Site Lines: Fortresses of Faith, Agents of Change

Black churches, including the earliest ones in Connecticut, have long been at the forefront in the battle for social progress and equality.

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Laboring in the Shade

Thousands of Black Southern students, including a young Martin Luther King Jr., came north to work in Connecticut’s tobacco fields.

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Richard Yates

Trouble in the Connecticut Suburbs: Revolutionary Road

In Richard Yates’s 1961 book Revolutionary Road, living in the Connecticut suburbs is held up as the ultimate badge of success.

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Anna Louise James behind the soda fountain in the James' pharmacy

Anna Louise James Makes History with Medicine

Anna Louise James operated a drugstore in Hartford until 1911, making her the first female African American pharmacist in the state.

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South view of the Hempstead House, New London

The Joshua Hempsted Diary: A Window into Colonial Connecticut

January 16, 2021 • Everyday Life, New London

This accomplished New London resident chronicled his daily life over a 47-year period from 1711 to 1758.

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The Great Remedy. Hand-colored lithograph by E.B. & E.C. Kellogg

The Great Remedy: Picturing the Emancipation Proclamation

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.

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Wagonload of Christmas trees, Hartford

O Christmas Tree!

December 25, 2020 • Belief, Everyday Life, Hartford, Popular Culture

On December 25, 1890, The Hartford Courant reported that Christmas Eve had seen crowded stores and train delays of up to an hour due to heavy travel.

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Detail of the South Part of New London Co.

The Rogerenes Leave Their Mark on Connecticut Society

December 23, 2020 • Belief, Everyday Life, Ledyard, Waterford

A refusal to compromise became the governing principle of this religious group active in the New London area for some 200 years.

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Rockwell Park Lagoon, Bristol

Mr. & Mrs. Rockwell’s Park

In 1914, bell and ball bearing manufacturer Albert Rockwell donated 80 acres of land to the city of Bristol for the creation of a public park.

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American Cookery, or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables by Amelia Simmons

Amelia Simmons Adds a Uniquely American Flavor to Cooking

In 1796, Amelia Simmons authored American Cookery—believed to be the first cookbook authored by an American published in the United States.

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Williams Shaving Cream and Aqua Velva ad, ca. 1929

The Aqua Velva State – Today in History: November 17

On November 17, 1917, the J.B. Williams Company of Glastonbury filed a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the Word Mark “Aqua Velva.”

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An Oyster Supper

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

Lack of refrigeration and higher bacteria counts in tidal waters once made summer months a dangerous time to eat oysters.

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New Haven: What Was Everyday Life Like During the Civil War?

A great primary resource for digging into a community’s everyday life is a city directory.

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Vegetable cart in Charles Street Market, Hartford

Hartford’s “Little Italy”

October 6, 2020 • Everyday Life, Immigration, Hartford

In the early 1900s, Italians made new lives for themselves in Hartford.

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Indian Hill Cemetery and the Vernacular of the Times

Indian Hill Cemetery’s founders promoted their property as a place to find peace, both with the natural environment and with the area’s indigenous past.

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President Richard Nixon visits Hartford

The 42-Day Income Tax

In 1971, to eliminate the state’s budget deficit, Connecticut legislators approved a tax on income. Just forty-two days later, they repealed it, instead voting to increase the state’s sales tax.

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Battle Flag Parade, Hartford, Connecticut, September 17, 1879

A Day of Celebration – Today in History: September 17

September 17, 1879 was a day of celebration in the City of Hartford when more than 100,000 people came to the city to celebrate Battle Flag Day.

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Poli's Palace Theatre, Waterbury

Sylvester Poli, Negotiating Cultural Politics in an Age of Immigration

This Italian-born businessman and New England theater magnate also helped the working poor in New Haven’s immigrant communities at the turn of the 20th century.

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Pier at Savin Rock, West Haven, 1905

Savin Rock Park: “Connecticut’s Coney Island”

Savin Rock Park was a seaside resort constructed in the late 19th century in the modern-day town of West Haven.

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Frame for Indian round house

Living Rituals: Mohegan Wigwam Festival

The Wigwam festival is a modern version of the ancient Mohegan Thanksgiving for the Corn Harvest, or Green Corn Festival.

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Detail from A Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve, from actual Survey, surveyed by Seth Pease

New Connecticut on Lake Erie: Connecticut’s Western Reserve

If you drive through the area of Ohio still called the Western Reserve today, you will find towns named Norwich, Saybrook, New London, Litchfield, Mansfield, and Plymouth.

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Oakdale Musical Theatre, Wallingford

The Story of the Oakdale Makes Great Theater

The legendary Oakdale Theater in Wallingford reflects over 60 years of evolution in American pop culture.

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Eolia, Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford

Harkness Memorial Park Offers a Glimpse into Early 20th Century Wealth

With gorgeous views of Long Island Sound, Harkness Memorial Park is a beautifully landscaped recreation area along the shoreline in Waterford, Connecticut.

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The Newsies Strike Back

Despite organizing in 1909 to fight pay cuts, ultimately, vending machines and changing business models brought an end to the era of the Hartford newsie.

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Connecticut River, 2011

The Connecticut River

The Connecticut River received a designation as an American Heritage River, and it remains protected as just one of 14 rivers in the country to be recognized as such.

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The Hartford Wheel Club, Hartford

The Hartford Wheel Club: Disparity in the Gilded Age

Despite the wealth found in some sections of the city, the economic volatility of the Gilded Age produced hard times for residents of Hartford.

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Racial Change Map displaying the Non-White Population in 1970

How Real Estate Practices Influenced the Hartford Region’s Demographic Makeup

February 3, 2020 • Bloomfield, Everyday Life, Law, Hartford

Persistent segregation is the historic legacy of steering and blockbusting, two discriminatory tactics that played a role in shaping suburban neighborhoods.

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Broadside announcing changes to Mansfield's Poor-House

Connecticut Poor Law Aimed to Care for the Needy

Connecticut instituted a Poor Law in the 17th century to comply with a directive from the British government that the colony ensure for the care of the poor within its borders

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North Stonington Grange, North Stonington Village Historic Distric

North Stonington Fairs Preserve Connecticut’s Agricultural Heritage

Despite brief success as a mill town in the early 19th century, North Stonington is ultimately tied to its agricultural history.

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Video – Hidden History: Bushnell Park

Your Town’s History in Video: Bushnell Park

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Advertising label for Fine Old Bourbon Whiskey, 1855

Video: No Booze for You – Who Knew?

During Prohibition, many Connecticut residents found it easy to obtain alcohol illegally, though violations of Prohibition led to an increase in violent crime.

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Video – William Gillette’s Railroad

Actor William Gillette is featured in this two-minute newsreel, “Sherlock Holmes Turns Engineer,” filmed by Fox Movietone News in 1927.

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Defenders of the Flag Monument, Soldiers Monument, Plainville

A Special Place to Honor Military Veterans in Plainville

On the corner of Maple and Whiting Streets in Plainville, Connecticut, is a special place where the town honors its war veterans.

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Bridgeport, Conn., 1882

A Bird’s-eye View of Bridgeport

The lower perspective of this 1882 example is somewhat atypical of most of the bird’s-eye views of the era, but its emphasis on industrial accomplishment is a hallmark of the genre.

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Preserving an All-American Downtown in Torrington

Torrington’s unique and historically significant buildings are the foundation on which local businesses and civic leaders built a revitalized economy.

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Thomas Darling House and Tavern, Woodbridge

The Darlings Make Preservation a Family Affair

Thomas Darling was an 18th-century merchant, farmer, and politician and a member of the colonial elite.

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Photograph of the Hartford Dark Blues

Diamonds of the Past: Hartford’s Lost Ball Parks

Erected in 1874, Hartford’s earliest baseball stadium was the Base Ball Grounds in Colt Park, on the corner of Wyllys Street and Hendricxsen Avenue.

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George Washington Slept Here

George Washington Slept Here (Just Perhaps Not Well)

After his stay at the Perkins Tavern in Ashford, George Washington commented in his personal journal on the accommodations.

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Map detail of H. Knecht, View of New Britain, Conn.

A Bird’s-eye View of New Britain

By depicting Walnut Hill Park and Reservoir, which was a new addition to the city at the time, this 19th-century print documented the growing public parks movement of the era.

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Detail of a bed curtain attributed to Priscilla Kingsbury

The Decorative Arts of Connecticut

April 3, 2015 • Eli Terry, Arts, Everyday Life

Decorative Arts—or, household furnishings— reveal past lifestyles and showcase the state’s best-known craftspeople.

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Bird's-eye map of Moosup, Conn. Uniondale and Almyville,

A Bird’s-eye View of Moosup

This depiction of a Quinebaug Valley town and its satellite communities—Uniondale and Almyville—records an idealized view of the 19th-century textile boom.

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Horses crossing the finish line at Charter Oak Park

Sunday Funday? We Think Not – Who Knew?

At the start of the 20th century, authorities banned Luna Park in West Hartford from operating on Sundays, as it defied long-standing puritan laws.

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Map detail of Broad Brook, Conn.

A Bird’s-eye View of Broad Brook

This rendering of the village of Broad Brook depicts a classic New England mill town but takes creative liberties to emphasize the community’s assets.

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Sharon Baseball Team

Semi-Pro Baseball in Sharon – Who Knew?

From the 1930s until about the early 1970s, Sharon fielded a team in the semi-pro Interstate Baseball League (IBL).

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Horse drinking from a watering trough, Harwinton

Hidden Nearby: Harwinton’s Catlin Trough

March 5, 2014 • Everyday Life, Harwinton

This memorial to a town father reminds us of the integral role that horses and other animals once played in daily life.

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Circus Parade, Main Street, Hartford

A Legacy of Thriving Cities 1905

With rapid growth due to immigration and industrialization, the turn of the century brought a sharp rise in the importance and vitality of Connecticut’s cities.

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Suburban Development, Lower Litchfield County

Suburban Development in Litchfield County 1982

February 1, 2014 • Imagining Connecticut, Everyday Life

Between 1945 and 1960, Connecticut’s cities all lost population while suburbs like Bloomfield, Woodbridge, and Trumbull more than doubled their populations.

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Puerto Rican Festival, Hartford

Park Street Festival, Hartford 1978

The Park Street Festival is an annual Puerto Rican celebration held in the heart of Hartford’s Puerto Rican community on Park Street.

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Scoville Library, Salisbury

The Scoville Memorial Library

January 10, 2014 • Education, Everyday Life, Salisbury

The first publicly funded library in the US continues to serve the town of Salisbury.

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Barkhamsted, Lighthouse Archaeological Site

“Outcasts” Build Their Own Village in 18th-Century Barkhamsted

September 26, 2013 • Barkhamsted, Everyday Life, Native Americans

In a wooded area of Barkhamsted near Ragged Mountain lie the remains of a once thriving multicultural community.

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Video – Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures: Litchfield Historical Society

Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures is a series of 50 five-minute film vignettes that profiles a variety of the state’s most notable cultural resources.

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Warren Congregational Church

Warren Congregational Church, a Longstanding Community Center

An examination of the Warren Congregational Church not only tells us about the central role churches played in developing communities during this period in New England’s history.

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Reeling Warp, Silk Industry, South Manchester

Picture This: Seeing Connecticut in 3-D

June 20, 2013 • Everyday Life, Popular Culture

From the Cheney Silk Factory to street scenes and families playing croquet, the John S. Craig Collection of stereo views provides a fascinating glimpse of 19th-century life.

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The lock and trigger assembly on the Deming rifle neatly combine function and aesthetics

A Pioneering Connecticut Firearm

Before Colt and others ushered in the age of mass production, individual makers, such Harmon Deming, handcrafted firearms.

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View of Norwich, from the west side of the river

Norwich in Perspective

May 24, 2013 • Environment, Everyday Life, Norwich

Two different artistic takes on a prosperous 19th-century mill town and commercial center.

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Railroad tracks, Bolton Hill Cut, Bolton

Rock-Solid Industry in 19th-Century Bolton

Driving along Route 44 in Bolton, motorists travel through a narrow passageway of rocks, caves, and woods known as the Bolton Notch.

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View of Rockville, Conn

Bird’s-eye Views of Rockville Chart Textile Industry’s Growth

Two depictions, produced 18 years apart, illustrate how the textile boom transformed this borough of Vernon.

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Sign for Holcomb's Inn, 1802

A Sign of the Times Blends Masonic and Patriotic Imagery

April 26, 2013 • East Granby, Everyday Life, Granby

The sign from a tavern operated by Luther Holcomb, a Granby mason, reflects his fraternal affiliation as well as the establishment’s role as a meeting site.

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Video – Home Front: Connecticut During World War II – Civil Defense

This excerpt from the Connecticut Experience series provides a glimpse into the people, places, and events that have shaped our state’s history.

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Clock tower and Sharon Inn, Sharon, ca. 1930s

The Rise of the “Second Home” Community in Sharon – Who Knew?

Sharon attracted a substantial vacation community and between 1880 and 1920, wealthy visitors refurbished older homes or built Colonial Revival-style mansions.

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View of Winsted, Conn,1877

Bird’s-eye Views of Winsted

As bird’s-eye view maps declined in popularity during the early 20th century, artists incorporated technical advances in hopes of reversing the trend.

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John Randall House, North Stonington

North Stonington’s Randall House, Nothing Ordinary about It

Fascinated by the colonial lifestyle and open-hearth cooking, Bill and Cindy purchased the John Randall House in North Stonington in 1986.

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View of East Haddam. Connecticut. And Goodspeed's Landing

A Bird’s-eye View of East Haddam

In 1880, East Haddam was already a popular tourist destination and, despite its small size, boasted two steamboat landings to accommodate visitors.

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