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Exploration and Discovery


Detail from A mapp of New England by John Seller

Lion Gardiner Helps to Fortify Early Old Saybrook

In 1635, the governor of the Saybrook colony hired engineer…

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Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham III: Machu Picchu Explorer and Politician

November 19, 2020 • Exploration and Discovery, Salem, Science

Hiram Bingham III was a distinguished scholar and public servant…

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Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer

Nathaniel Palmer discovers Antarctica – Today in History: November 18

On November 18, 1820, Nathaniel Brown Palmer of Stonington, Connecticut,…

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Copy of Map of Windsor, shewing the parishes, the roads, and houses by Seth Pease

Seth Pease Surveys New Lands

This Suffield native’s work in “New Connecticut” and other Western territories reveals how the new nation took stock of its expanding borders.

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Thomas Hooker: Connecticut’s Founding Father

A powerful and popular preacher, Thomas Hooker led a group of Puritans out of Massachusetts in 1636 to settle new lands that eventually became the city of Hartford.

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Discovery of mastodon bones on the farm of Ms. Theodate Riddle

Mastodon Bones Unearthed – Today in History: August 13

On August 13, 1913, workmen unearthed the skeleton of a…

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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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Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford

Hooker’s Journey to Hartford

In early June of 1636, prominent Puritan religious leader Reverend…

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A plan of the first Society in Lebanon

Exploring Early Connecticut Mapmaking

Renderings of the terrain served a variety of purposes, from supporting colonists’ land claims as well as tribal counterclaims to settling religious disputes and even adorning the homes of the well-off.

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Reverend John Davenport

Forgotten Founder: John Davenport of New Haven

John Davenport, the founder of New Haven, was a prominent Puritan leader during the early years of the New England colonies.

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William C. Redfield

William Redfield Born – Today in History: March 26

On March 26, 1789, William C. Redfield, the noted American…

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HMS Resolution and Discovery in Tahiti

John Ledyard, Connecticut’s Most Famous Traveler

January 27, 2020 • Exploration and Discovery, Groton

This intrepid voyager, one of the most adventurous figures in Connecticut’s long history, would have made a great fictional character had he not been real.

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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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Asaph Hall, August 1899

Goshen’s Asaph Hall Becomes an Astronomical Success

Asaph Hall was a world-famous astronomer and mathematician from Goshen….

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Penguins, 1933-35, Antarctic

Sixty Degrees Below Zero: Connecticut Man Explores Antarctica

September 25, 2019 • Bolton, Exploration and Discovery, Science, Work

John Henry Von der Wall, a life-long resident of Bolton, took part in Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s famed expeditions to the South Polar regions.

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Charles G. Finney

Charles Grandison Finney Spreads Revivalism and Education throughout the Mississippi Valley

Charles Grandison Finney was a revivalist preacher and educator born…

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Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett Helps Found Greenwich

In the middle of the 17th century, Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett played an integral part in purchasing the land that became Greenwich, Connecticut.

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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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Putting History on the Map

While maps serve a utilitarian function at the time of their production, years later they become snapshots in time as displays of the personal and collective memories of those who designed them. Such is the case with maps drawn by James Wadsworth and Douglas Grant Mitchell.

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The Adventure of a Lifetime: John Ledyard and Captain Cook’s Last Voyage

July 23, 2019 • Exploration and Discovery

Published in Hartford in 1783, this book by a Groton-born traveler captured a young nation’s imagination with its tales of discovery.

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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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New Netherlands and New England map

Reckoning with the Dutch: the Treaty of Hartford, 1650

Hartford place names, such as Dutch Point, Huyshope Avenue, and Adriaen’s Landing, are reminders of a time when Connecticut was part of New Netherlands.

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Dinosaur Tracks

Dinosaur Tracks Found – Today in History: August 23

On August 23, 1966, hundreds of dinosaur tracks were uncovered…

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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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Illustration of Lorenzo Carter's first cabin

Putting Cleveland on the Map: Lorenzo Carter on the Ohio Frontier

Lorenzo Carter was a Connecticut native who became the first…

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Map of The Part of Pennsylvania that Lies Between the Forks of the Susquehannah, Divided Into Townships

The Susquehanna Settlers

April 29, 2015 • Exploration and Discovery

In 1753, amidst a flurry of land speculation and westward…

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New Haven Harbor, US Coast Survey, 1872

Three Young Engineers: Charting New Haven

When the United States Coast Survey set out to compile detailed charts of New Haven Harbor in the 1870s, they hired recent graduates of Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School as assistants.

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Conjectures upon the Nature and Motion of Meteors by Thomas Clap

America’s First Planetarium – Who knew?

…that in 1744 Thomas Clap, Rector and Yale College president…

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Map of changing Connecticut's boundary lines

Surveying Connecticut’s Borders

After some 350 years, the matter of where exactly some of the state’s boundaries lie continues to be debated.

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Deep River, 1934 aerial survey

Road Signs of the Air

In the 1920s, when aviation was still in its infancy, most pilots navigated using road maps and by following highways, rivers, and other landmarks that they could see from the air.

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Lantern Hill

Breaking the Myth of the Unmanaged Landscape

Evidence of early Native land use is etched into the landscape and preserved in oral tradition as well as the historical and archaeological records. This is in direct contradiction to a persistent myth of colonialism: that European settlers encountered a virgin landscape free of human intervention and ripe for development.

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Illustration of the Connecticut Charter boundary, 1662

From the State Historian: The Map That Wasn’t a Map

The Charter of 1662 described Connecticut boundaries that extended all the way to the the Pacific Ocean!

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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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Map of Connecticut showing the settlements in 1670

Connecticut’s Oldest English Settlement

In 1633, Windsor became Connecticut’s first English settlement. This was…

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