News & Updates

Tariffville Train Wreck

The Tariffville Disaster – Today in History: January 14

On January 14, 1878, at about 10:00 in the evening, a span of the Tariffville Bridge gave way, plunging a Connecticut Western Railroad train into the Farmington River 20 feet below.

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Detail of the W.A. Slater's Jewett City Cotton Mills in the foreground from Jewett City, Conn, bird’s-eye map by Lucien R. Burleigh

The Industrial Revolution Comes to Jewett City

With its abundant waterways, Connecticut, like the rest of New…

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Detail of A New and Correct Map of the United States by Abel Buell

An Uncommonly Ingenious Mechanic: Abel Buell of Connecticut

This Yankee jack-of-all-trades created the first map of the new United States to be printed and published in America.

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Hotchkiss & Sons Artillery Projectiles

Connecticut Arms the Union

Colt, Sharps, and other gun-makers weren’t the only Nutmeg-based firms that supplied armaments during the Civil War. Makers of kitchen utensils, sewing machines, textiles, and other goods re-geared production lines to meet demand.

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Music Vale Seminary, Salem

Music Vale Seminary in Salem Credited as Being First in US

In the mid-19th century, Orramel Whittlesey founded a music conservatory…

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Connecticut Ratifies US Constitution – Today in History: January 9

On January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to…

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The Van Vleck Observatory: A Reflection of Environmental Conditions

Designers of the Van Vleck Observatory overcame numerous environmental and geographical challenges to help Wesleyan University make an impact on the world’s understanding of the universe.

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Ella Grasso at the Danbury Fair, ca. 1975-80

America’s First Woman Governor: Ella Grasso, 1919-1981

Born to Italian immigrant parents in Windsor Locks, Grasso held state and federal offices at a time when women politicians were rare.

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Senator Hiram Bingham of Connecticut

From the State Historian: Discovering the Explorer Hiram Bingham III

Of all the Connecticans who have left their mark in distant places, perhaps none made a more lasting—or more controversial—impression than this explorer.

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Panoramic view of Bushnell Park, Hartford

Land Purchase Becomes Bushnell Park – Today in History: January 5

On January 5, 1854, Hartford voters approved spending over $100,000…

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Manumission document for slave Bristow, from Thomas Hart Hooker, Hartford

Gradual Emancipation Reflected the Struggle of Some to Envision Black Freedom

Connecticut enacted gradual emancipation in 1784 but the abolition of slavery would not occur until 1848.

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Detail from the broadside an "Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly" composed by Jupiter Hammon

Hartford Publishes the First Literary Work by an African American – Who Knew?

…that Jupiter Hammon, who endured life-long enslavement became the first…

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John Warner Barber, South view Bethlehem

The Reverend Joseph Bellamy Makes Bethlehem a Holy Place

December 22, 2019 • Bethlehem, Cheshire, Belief

The Reverend Joseph Bellamy was a dynamic preacher, author, and…

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Benjamin Silliman

Benjamin Silliman and the Collection That Inspired the Yale Peabody Museum

In early July of 1779, a pregnant Mary Silliman watched…

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Leech jar, England

This Won’t Hurt a Bit! A Brief History of Anesthesia

After 1844, persons undergoing limb amputations, tooth extractions, and other painful procedures had reason to thank Dr. Horace Wells.

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Education/Instrucción Combats Housing Discrimination

December 1, 2019 • Law, Hartford, Social Movements

This group’s bilingual name reflected its educational mission as well as its dedication to unified, multicultural cooperation for the common good.

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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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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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Sleeping Giant, Mount Carmel, Hamden

A Volcanic Giant Sleeps in Hamden

The town of Hamden lies between two trap rock formations…

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West view, Somers CT

Somers School of the Prophets

November 27, 2019 • Belief, Education, Somers

Informal institutions of theological training, called schools of the prophets,…

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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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Charles McLean Andrews and Evangeline Walker Andrews

Charles McLean Andrews was one of the most distinguished historians of his time, generally recognized as the master of American colonial history.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation, Matthew Griswold, New Haven, 1785

Governor Griswold’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

This broadside (a large piece of paper printed on only…

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Hopkins Street Center once known as the Pearl St. Neighborhood House

A Woman Who Developed Tolerance: Leila T. Alexander

November 18, 2019 • War and Defense, Waterbury, Women, World War II

On Saturday, November 18, 1944, at noon after the meeting…

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The Deutschland at the Connecticut State Pier in New London

New London Harbors a German Submarine During World War I – Who Knew?

The German merchant submarine Deutschland made two trips to America, including one to New London, Connecticut, during World War I.

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Detail of Map exhibiting the route of the Norwich & Worcester Railroad

Iron and Water: The Norwich & Worcester Railroad Story

November 16, 2019 • Norwich, Transportation

Connecticut’s early railroad history had at its core the goal of linking New York City and Boston through a hybrid system of steamboats and trains.

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Paul Robeson by Gordon Parks, 1942

“Negroes Who Stand Up and Fight Back” – Paul Robeson in Hartford

November 15, 2019 • Arts, Enfield, Hartford, Social Movements, Work

Called the “greatest mobilization of police in the city’s history,” the event that brought law enforcement out in force to Keney Park was not a riot, not a strike, but a concert by this singer-actor and activist.

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Meriden Britannia Company, West Main Street, Meriden

Meriden’s Silver Lining

Like many towns in central Connecticut that found sustaining an…

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Little Sorrel

Little Sorrel, Connecticut’s Confederate War Horse

A foal born on a farm owned by Noah C….

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Honor and Duty: The Life of Alfred Howe Terry

Born in New Haven, Alfred Howe Terry studied law before heroically capturing Fort Fisher during the Civil War. He earned the thanks of Congress for this victory before maintaining peace between whites and Native Americans in the Dakotas.

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The Connecticut Poll Tax

November 9, 2019 • Law, Politics and Government, The State

The Connecticut poll tax lasted for almost 300 years and encompassed four different variants.

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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. The incident involved one of the state’s most respected citizens and religious leaders and attracted national attention.

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Native American Musical Instrument - Connecticut Historical Society

Connecticut Native American Arts

October 27, 2019 • Arts, Native Americans, Montville

The remarkable resilience of Connecticut’s native cultures can be seen in the tribes’ social networks, political governance, commitment to educating others about native history, and their ongoing work to sustain their traditions.

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Corporal Thomas Fox , Second Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, B Company with his regimental flag

Disaster at Cold Harbor: Connecticut’s Second Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment

October 26, 2019 • Derby, Civil War

For many veterans of the Second, the assault at Cold Harbor would be the most terrible memory of their Civil War careers.

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Clarence Dickinson Carries Printing Innovation into the 20th Century

October 25, 2019 • Invention and Technology, Haddam, Work

Clarence Dickinson was a long-time Haddam resident and pioneer in…

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Gerald Chapman: America’s First “Public Enemy Number One”

October 12, 2019 • Crime and Punishment, New Britain

On October 12, 1924, in New Britain, Connecticut, Gerald Chapman…

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General Joseph R. Hawley

General Joseph R. Hawley Helps Commemorate Connecticut’s Civil War Soldiers

“Let monuments be raised in every town, let songs be sung and orations delivered,” urged this state politician and skilled speechmaker.

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A Different “Type” of Connecticut Industry

In the middle of the 1800s, the invention of the…

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Sandbags in Rockville. September 22, 1938

Hurricane of 1938: Connecticut’s Worst Disaster

Deadly as well as costly, this storm scarred the landscape for decades after and left each Connecticut family with its own tale to tell of the ruinous events.

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Amos Doolittle, The looking glass for 1787. A house divided against itself cannot stand

The Connecticut Ratification Convention

Though approved at a renegade convention on September 17, 1787, the US Constitution did not become “the supreme law of the land” until 9 of the 13 states ratified the document.

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Igor Sikorsky and the first successful helicopter built in America, Stratford

Igor Sikorsky and his Flying Machines

This Russian émigré not only invented a machine capable of controlled vertical flight, he also re-invented his aviation career along the way.

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Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold Turns and Burns New London

September 6, 1781 was a brutal and terrifying day for Connecticut citizens living on both sides of New London harbor, along the Thames River.

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David Bushnell and his Revolutionary Submarine

How a farmer’s son became the Father of Submarine Warfare during the American Revolution.

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Training and rescue submarine S-4 submerging

Video – Undersea University – US Navy’s Submarine School

Produced by the US Government in 1965, this film of…

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Envelope of the Briggs Manufacturing Company

Briggs Manufacturing Drives Voluntown’s 19th-Century Cotton Economy

The Briggs Manufacturing Company was the premier employer in Voluntown,…

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Fitch’s Home for Soldiers, ca. 1864

Fitch Soldiers’ Home Closes – Today in History: August 28

August 28, 2019 • Darien, Rocky Hill, War and Defense

On August 28, 1940, Fitch’s Home for Soldiers and their…

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Postcard of Dinosaur State Park, ca. 1960s

Discovered Dinosaur Tracks Re-Route Highway and Lead to State Park

Some 200 million years ago, carnivorous dinosaurs roamed Rocky Hill leaving the three-toed tracks that would become our state fossil.

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Tobacco barns in Windsor, Connecticut

Windsor Tobacco: Made in the Shade

Early New England settlers found the Windsor area’s sandy loam…

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Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

The Legend of the Charter Oak

This Charles D. Brownell painting from the mid-1850s epitomizes the…

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Shaker advertisement to board horses, 1884

Enfield’s Shaker Legacy

Shaking Quakers settled in Enfield and created the packaged seed business.

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