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Great Depression and World War II 1929-1945


Charcoal Kiln, Union

1938 Hurricane Fuels Charcoal Business – Who Knew?

…that the hurricane of 1938 which devastated the Quinebaug Forest…

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Walt Dropo, Boston Red Sox

Walt Dropo Stars Throughout New England

Few major league baseball players had rookie seasons as good as Walt Dropo’s while playing for the Boston Red Sox in 1950.

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Igor Sikorsky's first helicopter ascent, Stratford

World’s First Helicopter – Today in History: September 14

On September 14, 1939, the VS-300, the world’s first practical…

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Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford

Seaside Tuberculosis Sanatorium: Waterford’s Contested Oceanfront Gem

Connecticut’s Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford is the site of a former nationally recognized tuberculosis hospital.

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American troops of the 28th Infantry Division march down the Champs-Élysées

Connecticut Servicemen in the “Bloody Bucket” Division

Nicknamed the “Keystone Division,” the United States Army’s 28th Infantry…

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James Lukens McConaughy sworn in as Governor by Chief Justice William M. Maltbie

Did You Know a Connecticut Governor Was a US Spy?

In late 1943 James Lukens McConaughy became Deputy Director in Charge of Schools and Training for the precursor of the Central Intelligence agency.

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Bigelow Tea–A Connecticut Tea Party

The Bigelow Tea Company was started as a small family business in Manhatten before moving to Norwalk and then Fairfield.

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Merritt Parkway, New York to Connecticut, 1941

Merritt Parkway Creates Scenic Gateway to New England

This Depression-era road improvement project sought to artfully balance the natural and built environments, and despite setbacks and scandal, achieved its aims.

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The Girl in White, movie advertisement starring June Allyson as Emily Dunning Barringer

New Canaan’s Pioneering Female Physician

Long-time New Canaan resident Dr. Emily Dunning Barringer was the…

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Bradley Field, Windsor Locks

Bradley International Airport Transforms Windsor Locks into Regional Gateway

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks is Connecticut’s largest airport and the second largest in New England.

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Vera Buch Weisbord’s “Radical” Life

Vera Wilhelmine Buch Weisbord was a labor activist who helped organize trade unions and strikes that shaped the labor movement of the 1920s and 1930s.

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Joseph Alsop - Hennepin County Library

Joseph Alsop: Cunning Political Columnist of Mid-Century America

Joseph Wright Alsop was one of the country’s most well-known political journalists of the 20th century and was drawn into some of the most influential power circles in the world.

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Vonsiatsky and the German American Bund in the 1940s

The Vonsiatsky Conspiracy Case

In 1942, Anastase Vonsiatsky of Thompson, Connecticut, was convicted of conspiring to betray state secrets to Nazi Germany.

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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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Bryant Electric Items from the 1930s

The Rise and Fall of Manufacturing in Bridgeport: The Case of Bryant Electric

For one hundred years Bryant Electric was a staple of Bridgeport industry, adapting to the challenges of the changing industrial landscape in America.

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Martin Luther King

Dr. King’s Dream Had Roots in Connecticut

In the summer of 1944 a young Martin Luther King…

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Airmen returning home, Bradley Field, Windsor Locks

Bradley Airport’s Military Origins

In 1941, with war raging on the European continent, the…

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Hat-factory With Hose-house On The Hill, Danbury

Rivers of Outrage

Pollution of Connecticut’s waters by industrial waste and sewage in the decades after the Civil War was arguably the state’s first modern environmental crisis.

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A Godmother to Ravensbrück Survivors

Philanthropist Caroline Ferriday aided women whose internment at a German concentration camp during WWII left them scarred, physically as well as psychologically.

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German American Bund parade

Southbury Takes On the Nazis

In the late 1930s, in an attempt to avoid a…

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Leroy Anderson at home in the 1950s

Leroy Anderson Composed Iconic Music in Woodbury

Leroy Anderson, a long-time resident of Woodbury, was one of…

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Thornton Wilder

Hamden’s Literary Legend

One of the most distinguished authors and playwrights of the…

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World War II scrap metal drive, Hartford, ca. 1941-1944

Women and Defense: World War II on the Connecticut Home Front

Women who stepped into civil defense positions managed and implemented programs that educated the public, promoted war bond sales, and aided emergency preparedness.

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Beatrice Fox Auerbach meets with the department heads of her store, G. Fox & Company

Beatrice Fox Auerbach: Retail Pioneer Led Iconic Family Department Store

Beatrice Fox Auerbach was pioneering retail executive who ran the G. Fox & Co. department store and numerous philanthropic benefiting people in Hartford and around the world.

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Connecticut River and Mt. Holyoke Range from Mountain Park, Connecticut

The Connecticut Valley Authority That Never Was

In the early 20th century, supporters of the New Deal tried to recreate the Tennessee Valley Authority in the Connecticut River Valley.

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Thomas Dodd (at podium), Nuremberg trial, ca., 1945-46

Connecticut Lawyer Prosecutes Nazi War Criminals at Nuremberg

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Thomas Joseph…

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Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. "Take a giant step." New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Hartford’s Louis Peterson, Groundbreaking African American Playwright

Hartford’s Louis Peterson was a groundbreaking African American playwright in the 20th century.

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Martha Graham Dance Company, 1937 - The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley Library Digital Collections

Hartford’s Anna Sokolow, Modern Dance Pioneer

Hartford’s Anna Sokolow became one of the most important figures in modern dance during the 20th century.

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Gerald MacGuire and the Plot to Overthrow Franklin Roosevelt

Gerald MacGuire, a prominent Connecticut businessman, became deeply involved in a reported plot to overthrow the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

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Piling sandbags, Colt dike

The Hurricane of 1938 Rocks Connecticut

Together the combination of chance and human error produced the most destructive hurricane in Connecticut’s history.

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Mayor Insists Air Terminal to Aid Idle

“Something to Show for Our Work”: Building Brainard Airport

At the height of the Great Depression, unemployed men living around Hartford, became a cheap source of labor to help build Brainard airport.

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Hometown Hero: Wallingford Remembers Stanley Budleski

Yalesville green memorializes pilot who lost his life in World War II.

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World War I Poster

War and the Fear of Enemy Aliens – Who Knew?

…that Greenwich had a special police unit trained to handle suspected foreign agents operating in Connecticut.

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Video – Emily Dunning Barringer Tribute Film

The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame pays tribute to long-time New Canaan resident, Dr. Emily Barringer, the first female ambulance surgeon and first female physician in the nation to secure a surgical residency.

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Connecticut Agricultural College coeds gathering maple sap for war effort

A New Source of Farm Labor Crops Up in Wartime

During times of war, in Connecticut, as in many other states, women became an increasingly important resource in food production.

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Assembly of parachute flare casings

Munitions Assembly Line 1943

The women and factory depicted in this picture are unknown,…

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Marian Anderson with (on left) Governor Chester Bowles and W.C. Handy

Marian Anderson’s Role in the Civil Rights Movement

She performed in concert halls where blacks could not be seated, traveled to performances in segregated Jim Crow railroad cars, and, despite it, emerged as one of the great singers of the 20th century.

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Oakwood Acres temporary housing

The Debate Over Who Could Occupy World War II Public Housing in West Hartford

In the 1940s, African American war workers eligible for government-funded housing found access restricted to some properties despite vacancies.

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Elizabeth T. Bentley, 1948

Elizabeth Bentley Born – Today in History: January 1

On January 1, 1908, Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was born in…

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A Godmother to Ravensbrück Survivors

Philanthropist Caroline Ferriday aided women whose internment at a German concentration camp during WWII left them scarred, physically as well as psychologically.

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The Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company in East Hartford

The Early Years of the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company

Wasp and Hornet engines secure the reputation and success of this 1920s start-up venture.

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Ingersoll Mickey Mouse Wrist Watch, 1933

Waterbury Clock Company Saved by Mickey Mouse – Who Knew?

…that the Ingersoll Waterbury Company (now Timex) was saved from…

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Bradley Smith Co., Inc., Grand Avenue, New Haven

New Haven Gives the Lollipop its Name – Today in History: October 13

On October 13, 1931, the name “Lolly Pop” was officially…

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World War I broadside referencing Kaiser Wilhelm's Willing Helpers, ca. early 1900s from the Connecticut War Exhibit

Winning the Great War without Some Books

President Wilson’s war speech before Congress on April 3, 1917,…

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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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A US Army Air Force Waco CG-4A-WO glider

Daring World War II Escape of a Bethany Soldier

A member of the glider service, Rollin Booth Fowler crash landed in Normandy during World War II and was captured, only to execute a daring and dramatic escape.

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The Gilbert clock model is on the right

Papier-Mache Clocks – Who Knew?

…that the William L. Gilbert Clock Corporation of Winsted was…

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Hard Times: Governor Wilbur Cross and the Great Depression in Connecticut

In addition to having a section of the Merritt Parkway named after him, Governor Wilbur Cross helped see Connecticut through the Great Depression and several natural disasters.

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Pepperidge Farm: Healthful Bread Builds a Business

Margaret Rudkin founded the popular brand Pepperidge Farm after finding out her son’s asthma was made worse by additives found in bread.

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USS Bexar tour, bazooka demonstration

The Bazooka Changes War – Today in History: June 14

On June 14, 1942, the General Electric Company in Bridgeport…

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1929-1964

Connecticut attempted to reorganize it state government by streamlining its agencies and rejected a number of socially progressive programs.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1929-1964

Organized labor grew strong during wartime while discriminatory practices in housing and education persisted throughout the state.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1929-1964

The era of Wilbur Cross and the Great Depression transitioned into World War II and state control by Democrat mastermind John Bailey.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Crisis and Recovery, 1929-1964

World War II helped bring an end to the Great Depression in Connecticut. Following the war, the growth of the suburbs redefined life in the state.

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Video – Unsung Heroes: The Music of Jazz in New Haven

This documentary clip showcases the heritage of New Haven’s jazz community, weaving the personal narrative of musicians and their families within the context of the city’s social and political history.

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The Flood of 1936, Part I

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the Flood of 1936. The flood stands as the worst natural disaster to ever hit Hartford and the other towns that lie along the Connecticut River.

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The Flood of 1936, Part 2

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the Flood of 1936. The flood stands as the worst natural disaster to ever hit Hartford and the other towns that lie along the Connecticut River.

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"Four Saints in Three Acts," an opera by Gertrude Stein

Four Saints in Three Acts Debuts – Today in History: February 7

On February 7, 1934, the Wadsworth Atheneum debuted the modernist…

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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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Hindenburg over The Travelers Tower

Video – The Hindenburg Flies Over Hartford

This video, taken in October of 1936, shows the Hindenburg sailing over Hartford, a short seven months before its destruction.

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Providing Bundles for Britain and News for America

Janet Huntington Brewster Murrow was a Middletown native who grew up to be one of America’s most trusted news correspondents, philanthropists, and the wife of Edward R. Murrow.

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Andrew Mamedoff

Connecticut Daredevil Andrew Mamedoff Joins Royal Air Force

Andrew Mamedoff was a daredevil, pilot, and war hero born…

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View of the Merritt Parkway in the 1930's

Merritt Parkway 1939

As early as 1919 the Connecticut Department of Transportation recognized…

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The 1938 Hurricane, Part 3

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the 1938 Hurricane.

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

A Busy Airfield in Bethany

In 1920, a small airplane landed in a flat, open…

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Video – Home Front: A State Divided as War Looms in Europe

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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Video – When Disaster Struck: The 1938 Hurricane, Part 2

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the 1938 Hurricane.

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