Categories: CHD Turning Points
Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events
Looking for ideas to inspire your 2013 National History Day project? Connecticut has no shortage of turning-point stories connected to people, ideas, and events that sparked national—and even international—change. Begin your exploration by looking over the selections listed below. Each is connected to a page that provides more information about the subject as well as links to the places around the state and on the Web where you will find suitable resources for your research.
History Day in Connecticut invites students and teachers alike to discover the diverse, unique, and important histories of our state. We’ll be adding new items to this list in the weeks and months ahead, thanks, in part, to contributors from the Connecticut League of History Organizations.
So, be sure to visit this page again and to explore the site on your own. There are many more turning points in Connecticut history waiting to be discovered.
Noah Webster- Best remembered for the dictionary that now bears his name, Webster played a pivotal role in shaping the young nation’s political and social identity.
James Mars – His landmark memoir of the mid-1800s reveals how enslaved men and women suffered—and resisted—the injustices of bondage.
Gideon Welles – As Secretary of the United States Navy, Welles turned a rag-tag fleet into a key factor in the North’s Civil War victory.
Catharine Beecher – This author and reformer championed education for women and promoted the widespread Victorian idea that a woman’s most important sphere of influence was the home.
Beatrice Fox Auerbach - At a time when few women headed up corporations, she ran G. Fox & Co., a department store in the era before shopping malls. There, she instituted retail innovations and important labor reforms, such as a 40-hour, 5-day work week and advancement opportunities for African Americans.
Roger Sherman – The only person to sign the Continental Association from the first Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution, Sherman helped shape US government in its earliest days.
Thomas J. Dodd – This Nuremberg trial prosecutor, who tried Nazi leaders for war crimes, gathered evidence related to Kristallnacht, a grim turning point in the persecution of European Jews during World War II.
Public Library Movement – Caroline Hewins contributed to national efforts that transformed libraries from private, limited-membership institutions into free public centers for all.
Women’s Rights – By refusing to pay unfair taxes, the Smith sisters became national symbols of discrimination suffered by women and of the struggle of the individual against government.
Education Reform – Noah Webster, Prudence Crandall, Thomas Gallaudet, Henry Bernard, Frederick Gunn, and other Connecticut educators played important roles in transforming teaching and extending opportunities for learning to a wider range of students.
Equal Education – Grass roots activism undertaken by Hartford-area parents on behalf of their children addresses de facto segregation in school system.
Aviation – Daring flights and first-of-a-kind inventions mark the state’s 200-plus-year history of taking to the skies.
Vulcanized Rubber – Imagine if car tires melted in the summer and cracked in the winter? Thanks to Charles Goodyear’s innovation, they don’t! His ideas transformed rubber into a viable commercial material.
The Cause of Liberty – Ideals advanced during the American Revolution inspired many of the state’s religious and political leaders to question and oppose slavery in the late 1700s.
The Good Roads Movement – In the 1800s, the bicycling craze led to improved roads and paved the way for future federal highway construction.
Transportation – Improved methods of transporting goods within and beyond Connecticut helped set the stage for the Industrial Revolution. The Farmington Canal was one such effort to boost state commerce. The railroad, which followed, accelerated Connecticut’s transformation into an industrial powerhouse.
The Industrial Revolution – Across Connecticut, entrepreneurs like Samuel Slater, who maintained textile mills in Jewett City and elsewhere, ushered in a new age of mechanized manufacturing that transformed American society.
Urbanization – The transformation of once rural spaces into densely populated city centers is a phenomenon closely associated with industrialization. A unique collection charts Hartford’s many transformations as it grew from a modest frontier town to our capital city.
Access to Education – In 1832, Prudence Crandall enrolled Sarah Harris, an African American, in her school. This event triggered a statewide battle over equality in education.
Emanicipation – Was the emancipation of enslaved African Americans an event? Or was it a process that, in states like Connecticut, occurred gradually over time?
The Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a book read round the world that helped sway public opinion in the US against slavery.
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act – Yung Wing, a political activist, reformer, and educational pioneer, contributed much to US-Chinese relations but suffered injustice as a result of new immigration laws.
World War II – By defying US policy, diplomat Hiram Bingham IV helped save the lives of European refugees fleeing from advancing German forces.
Bombing of Pearl Harbor – Professor Andre Schenker of UCONN covered this turning point and other major events of World War II on his radio program “History in the Headlines.”