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Invention and Technology


Bacon Jabez House, Woodbury

Daniel Curtiss: The Life of a 19th-Century Self-Made Man

Daniel Curtiss was the epitome of the “self-made man” during…

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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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Whitneyville Armory, Whitney's Improved Fire-Arms, from an advertisement, ca. 1862

The Whitney Armory Helps Progress in Hamden

Eli Whitney is famous for the cotton gin. His invention…

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Residence and Library of Ithiel Town, New Haven

American Architect Ithiel Town Born – Today in History: October 3

On October 3, 1784, prominent American architect and engineer Ithiel…

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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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1954 ad for Pioneer Parachutes

Parachutist Snagged in Midair – Today in History: September 13

On September 13, 1966, Charles (Chuck) Alexander became the first…

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Hiram Percy Maxim

A Diversified Mind: Hiram Percy Maxim

No matter his field of endeavor—from automotive design and acoustics to wireless radio and aviation—this multitalented creator had a hand in key developments of the early 1900s.

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The Wheeler & Wilson Ruffler

Wheeler & Wilson: A Stitchy Situation in Watertown

The Watertown firm of Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing produced one…

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Bushnell's Turtle

The Turtle Submarine – Today in History: September 6

On September 6, 1776, the first functioning submarine, called the…

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President Roosevelt and his entourage in Hartford

Roosevelt Rides in an Electric Car – Today in History: August 22

On August 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt rode through the…

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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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Hubbell’s Pull-Chain Electrical Light Socket – Today in History: August 11

On August 11, 1896, Bridgeport inventor and industrialist Harvey Hubbell patented…

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Alexander Calder at Stegosaurus sculpture dedication

A World in Motion: Artist and Sculptor Alexander Calder

Most renowned for his invention of the mobile, an abstract sculpture that moves, Calder is considered a pioneer of kinetic art.

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Dr. Sheffield's creme dentifrice box

Aristocratic Dental Cream Gets Squeezed

Dr. Washington Wentworth Sheffield was born in North Stonington, Connecticut….

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Erector set

Erector Set Patented – Today in History: July 8

On July 8, 1913, the United States Patent Office issued…

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Advertisement for July 4th balloon flight

Silas Brooks, Balloonist

This Connecticut native earned fame as a crowd-pleasing musician, showman, and aeronaut.

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Pins made by Howe Manufacturing Co., Birmingham

John Howe Makes a Better Pin – Today in History: June 22

On June 22, 1832, John Ireland Howe invented the first…

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Automatic Gallows

The Automatic Gallows – Today in History: June 18

On June 18, 1895, Jabez L. Woodbridge of Wethersfield patented…

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Machine for crushing stone, E.W. Blake

The Blake Rock Crusher – Today in History: June 15

On June 15, 1858, Eli Whitney Blake of New Haven…

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Electromagnetic Signal Apparatus for Railroads

Thomas Hall’s Electric Block Railroad Signal – Today in History: June 7

On June 7, 1870, Thomas Hall patented the electromagnetic signal…

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The Inventive Minds of Connecticut Women: Patents in the 19th Century

In 1809, a Connecticut resident received the first US patent…

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Detail from the map GoodSpeeds Landing

W. J. Squire’s Gill Net Manufactory in East Haddam

In the early 1870s, Wilbur J. Squire (1837-1890) built his…

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Hats and bonnets, ca. 1805

First Woman to Receive US Patent – Today in History: May 5

On May 5, 1809, Mrs. Mary Kies of South Killingly…

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Navy-Yard, Washington

Colt’s Submarine Battery – Today in History: April 13

On April 13, 1844, Samuel Colt blew up a schooner…

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Patent Model for the Manufacture of Rubber Fabrics, Charles Goodyear, 1844

Charles Goodyear’s Machine for Making Rubber Fabrics

Credited with discovering the vulcanization process that fortified rubber against extreme temperature changes, Charles Goodyear received several patents over his lifetime, including one for a machine that made rubber fabrics.

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Advertisement for the Horton Mfg. Co.

The Telescoping Fishing Rod – Today in History: March 8

On March 8, 1887, Everett Horton, a Bristol mechanic, patented a fishing rod of telescoping steel tubes.

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Rockwell hardness tester

Rockwell Hardness Tester – Today in History: February 11

On February 11, 1919, Hugh Rockwell and Stanley Rockwell received…

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Umbrella Elms in Connecticut Meadow by Aaron Draper Shattuck

Connecticut Transforms Aaron Draper Shattuck

Drawn to the landscapes of the Farmington River Valley, artist Aaron Draper Shattuck reinvented himself as a gentleman farmer and inventor.

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Mamie Eisenhower launches the USS Nautilus

The Launch of the USS Nautilus – Today in History: January 21

On January 21, 1954, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower launched the…

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A worker on the final assembly of a WASP engine

Pratt & Whitney Debuts Wasp Engine – Today in History: December 24

On December 24, 1925, aviation engineer and head of the…

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Spillway and bridge near Saville Dam, Barkhamsted

Barkhamsted Reservoir Construction Washes Away a Community

The Barkhamsted Reservoir is the primary water supply for the…

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Broadside for Pine Apple cheese patented in 1810

The Story of Pineapple Cheese

By Gregg Mangan On a farm in West Goshen Lewis…

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Pierre Lallement and the Modern-Day Pedal Bicycle – Today in History: November 20

On November 20, 1866, mechanic Pierre Lallement, a temporary resident of New Haven, Connecticut, received a patent for an improvement in velocipedes.

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Kaman Aircraft, 1949

Helicopters, Guitars, and Guide Dogs: The Revolutionary Mind of Charles Kaman

Charles Kaman, an inventor and aviation pioneer, managed to combine…

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Separable Attachment Plug

First US Detachable Electric Plug – Today in History: November 8

On November 8, 1904, Harvey Hubbell II patented the first…

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Birthplace of Seth Thomas

Seth Thomas Works Around the Clock in Wolcott

Seth Thomas was a Connecticut native who became a pioneer…

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Igor Sikorsky in the VS-300

Igor Sikorsky Dies – Today in History: October 26

On October 26, 1972, aviation pioneer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky died…

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Improved Centrifugal Governor

Portland Improves the Steam Engine

Thomas R. Pickering, an engineer, ran a factory power plant…

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Halladay’s Revolutionary Windmill – Today in History: August 29

On August 29, 1854, Daniel Halladay a machinist, inventor, and…

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United States Army dirigible with crowd of onlookers

Airborne Pioneers: Connecticut Takes Flight

Daring flights and first-of-a-kind inventions mark the state’s 200-plus-year history of taking to the skies.

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Faulkner’s Island

Improving Sea Transportation: Guilford Goes About it the Light Way

Approximately 3 ½ miles off the coast of Guilford lies…

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USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus Passes Under North Pole – Today in History: August 3

On August 3, 1958, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) made history…

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Machine for Paring Cocoa Nut Meats

North Branford Vied for the Title of “Shredded Coconut Capital of the World” – Who Knew?

…that patents granted to North Branford residents included one for…

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Detail of Connecticut and Parts Adjacent, 1780

Levi Pease, Stage Route and Transportation Innovator

Somers, Connecticut, a small town near the state’s border with…

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Henry Davis

Cleopatra’s Needle and Groton’s Captain Davis – Who Knew?

…that Cleopatra’s Needle, the Egyptian obelisk erected in Central Park…

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The Farmington Canal near Mount Carmel in Hamden

New England’s Grand Ambition: The Farmington Canal

Connecticut took leading role in waterway that transformed the region’s commerce.

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A Revolution On Two Wheels: Columbia Bicycles

Albert Pope’s company not only played a prominent role in developing improved bicycle designs, it also developed the market for them.

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Monument to Capewell, the inventor of the famous horseshoe nail

Horseshoe Nail Capital of the World – Who Knew?

…that Hartford, famous as the Insurance Capital of the World,…

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Furniture Caster Patented – Today in History: June 30

On June 30, 1838, the US patent No. 821—the first…

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Mark Twain's Interactive Scrap Book

Samuel L. Clemens Receives Scrap-book Patent – Who Knew?

…that writer and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his…

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Flying Machine patent

Flying High with Early Dirigible

In what would later be described as “the first flight of a man-carrying dirigible in America,” aeronaut Mark Quinlan piloted a machine designed and patented by Charles F. Ritchel.

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Adeline Gray at the Pioneer Parachute Company, Manchester

First Human Test of a Nylon Parachute – Today in History: June 6

On June 6, 1942, Adeline Gray made the first jump…

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Columbia Bicycle Model 105, 1903

Albert Pope Pioneered Bicycles for Women

Hartford-based inventor Albert Pope saw his first bicycle at the…

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Jacob Schick Invents the Electric Razor – Today in History: May 13

On May 13, 1930, Colonel Jacob Schick obtained patent No….

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Edwin Land Inventor of the Polaroid Born – Today in History: May 7

On May 7, 1909, Edwin Herbert Land, founder of the…

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First American Medicine Patent – Today in History: April 30

On April 30, 1796, Samuel Lee Jr. of Windham, Connecticut,…

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USS Tullibee

USS Tullibee – Today in History: April 27

On April 27, 1960, the USS Tullibee, the first atomic…

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Driving and Braking Mechanism for Cycles

The Coaster Brake – Today in History: April 9

On April 9, 1907, Harry Pond Townsend patented the driving…

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ARRL station W1MK at Brainerd Field

Amateur Radio Comes of Age in Connecticut

In April 1914, inventor, scientist, and amateur radio operator Hiram Percy Maxim encouraged the Radio Club of Hartford to organize amateurs into a self-reliant network and, thus, the American Radio Relay League was born.

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Connecticut’s First Municipal Electric Utility

The first municipal electric plant in Connecticut began operating in the City of South Norwalk in 1892 to provide low-cost electricity for street lighting and, a few years later, for homes and businesses.

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Colt Revolver display case

The Revolving Gun – Today in History: February 25

On February 25, 1836, Samuel Colt received a patent for…

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North and South: The Legacy of Eli Whitney

After studying to become a lawyer, Eli Whitney actually helped further American industrial production methods through his numerous clever inventions.

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The Boardman Building, New Haven

First Commercial Telephone Exchange – Today in History: January 28

On January 28, 1878, the Boardman Building in New Haven…

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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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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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A Different “Type” of Connecticut Industry

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

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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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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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Samuel Colt…and Sewing Machines?

The National Museum of American History explains how a revolver, sewing machine, bicycle, and early-model electric automobile are connected.

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Noble Jerome’s Clock Patent Model

Noble Jerome submitted this clock patent model to the US Patent Office along with his patent application in 1839. Providing a working model to the Patent Office was a common requirement for inventors up until the 1880s.

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View of the Colt Factory from Dutch Point

The Colt Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company

Samuel Colt, the man who revolutionized firearms manufacturing in the…

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Essex-Lyme ferry

Ferry Boats a Way of Life in Early Connecticut

From the 1600s on, Connecticut’s long coastline and river systems made ferry crossings a routine but sometime dangerous fact of life.

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Ivoryton's Comstock, Cheney Co. produced a variety of ivory goods

Phineas Pratt’s Machine for Making Combs – Today in History: April 12

On April 12, 1799, Phineas Pratt of Ivoryton, Connecticut, a…

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Can Opener, E. J. Warner, patented January 5, 1858

The First US Can Opener – Today in History: January 5

On January 5, 1858, Waterbury native Ezra J. Warner invented…

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Can Opener, E. J. Warner, patented January 5, 1858

The First US Can Opener – Today in History: January 5

On January 5, 1858, Waterbury native Ezra J. Warner invented…

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Benjamin Dutton Beecher had a Penchant for Invention

Benjamin Dutton Beecher was a millwright and machinist with a…

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Type Writing Machine

The Portable Typewriting Machine – Today in History: April 12

On April 12, 1892, the first US patent for a…

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Alfred Carlton Gilbert, Inventor of the Erector Set – Today in History: February 15

A. C. Gilbert, a successful Olympic athlete, invented the Erector Set after being inspired by the structures he saw while on a train ride from New Haven to New York in 1911.

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Hills "Archimedean" Lawn-Mower

Reel Lawn Mower Patent – Today in History: January 28

On January 28, 1868, Amariah Hills of Hockanum, Connecticut, received…

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Patents – Stafford’s Inventive Minds

Starting in 1790, Connecticut became a national leader in obtaining patents for its abundant innovations. It not only led the nation in patents issued per capita, but in 1809, South Killingly resident Mary Kies became the first woman awarded a US patent.

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Patents – Bloomfield’s Inventive Minds

From the time the federal government first began issuing patents…

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Horse pistol ca. 1799, Simeon North

Government Orders Horse Pistols – Today in History: March 9

On March 9, 1799, the government issued its first contract…

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Lattice Truss Bridge, Ithiel Town

Town Patents the Lattice Truss Bridge – Today in History: January 28

On January 28, 1820, architect Ithiel Town was granted a…

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Patents – Bozrah’s Inventive Minds

From the time the federal government first began issuing patents…

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Video – Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures: American Clock & Watch Museum

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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Mohawk Ski Area

Mohawk Mountain Made Snow for Winter Sports Lovers – Who Knew?

…that in the early 1950s innovative Connecticut minds created the…

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Billings & Spencer Company

Christopher Miner Spencer, 19th-century Arms Manufacturer

A well-known American inventor in his day, this Manchester native obtained 42 patents during his lifetime and created the first successful breech-loading repeating rifle.

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1893-94 Duryea

Frank Duryea Drives the First Automobile in Connecticut

Frank Duryea was a long-time Madison resident who helped develop…

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Pope Automobile Model S, Seven Passenger Car, 1909

Albert Augustus Pope, Transportation Pioneer

Pope’s bicycles and automobiles not only gave 19th-century consumers greater personal mobility, they also helped propel social change.

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Heart Pump out of an Erector Set – Who Knew?

Yale medical student William Sewell Jr. built the first artificial heart (partly out of Erector Set pieces), and conducted successful bypass experiments in 1949.

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Horace Wells

Horace Wells Discovers Pain-free Dentistry

This Hartford dentist played key role in the development of anesthesia but competing claims to discovery obscured his accomplishment and may have led to his ruin.

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Amos Shepard, Plantsville, Design for a Wrench Member

The “Perfect Handle” Hatchet – Who Knew?

…that in the early 1900s, H.D. Smith and Company of…

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Shaker women and buildings, Enfield, 1890s

Shakers Revolutionize Garden Seed Business – Who Knew?

…that the Shakers of Enfield first packaged seeds in small…

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Norwich Arms barrel room

Norwich’s “Volcanic” Past

With its year-round availability of water power, its location at…

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Miniature Boots, Wales Goodyear Shoe Company, Naugatuck

Charles Goodyear and the Vulcanization of Rubber

Obsessive dedication transformed rubber into a viable commercial material and made the town of Naugatuck one of its leading manufacturing sites in the 1800s.

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Yankee Ingenuity: Curtis Veeder, a Mechanical Genius and Shrewd Businessman

Curtis Veeder, born in Pennsylvania, was a machinist with a knack for invention. An avid cyclist, he patented a bicycle seat he sold to the Pope Company, and later invented a cyclometer for measuring distances traveled by bicycles.

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Benjamin Silliman and Soda Water – Who Knew?

…that Yale’s first professor of chemistry, Benjamin Silliman, was also…

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Detail from Map of Windham County, Connecticut

The Pike Family Lived a Life of Dyeing

The history of textile manufacturing in eastern Connecticut is well…

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The Excelsior Needle Company

Thread Your Needle – Today in History: March 2

On March 2, 1866, the Excelsior Needle Company of Wolcottville…

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A page from a clock design booklet by Daniel Burnap

When the World Ran on Connecticut Time

The success of the clock- and watch-making industries in Connecticut…

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P. & F. Corbin hardware shipping crate

The Corbin Cabinet Lock Company and Patent Law: A Lesson in Novelty from a CT Perspective

New Britain, fondly known as the “Hardware City,” had numerous…

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Colt workers in front of the Armory, 1876

Workers at the Colt Armory, Hartford 1867

Colt Firearms has been one of the most prominent industries…

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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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The Eli Terry Clock

Workers at the Eli Terry Clock Factory 1850

Connecticut manufacturer Eli Terry was born in 1772. He began working…

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Improvement in Cards for Hooks and Eyes

Family Ties Bring Together North Branford Industry

In 1830, a resourceful industrialist opened a button making shop…

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Guyton flying the V-173, November 23, 1942

Boone Guyton Tested the Limits of World-Famous Aircraft

Boone Guyton was one of the most prolific test pilots…

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American Mills Web Shop, West Haven

Elastic Web Expands Textile Manufacturing in West Haven

For the better part of a century, West Haven produced…

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Shelf clock by Eli Terry

The Life of Chauncey Jerome: An Insider’s Look at What Made Early Bristol Tick

A glimpse at clock making in Connecticut from Chauncey Jerome’s 1860 autobiography

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Ensign, Bickford & Company fuse factory campus, ca. late 1800s

The Steady Evolution of a Connecticut Family Business

The product that helped build America’s railroads, mine her natural resources, expand the Panama Canal, and even blow up tree stumps in local farm fields harkens to a time when Simsbury and Avon were “fuse-making-mad.”

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The Hartford Wheel Club, Hartford

The League of American Wheelmen and Hartford’s Albert Pope Champion the Good Roads Movement

How the 19th-century cycling craze led to improved roads and paved the way for future federal highway construction.

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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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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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Clock works by Daniel Burnap

Marking Time: Early Connecticut Innovations Transform Clock Making

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Connecticut played a major role in transforming clock making from a time-intensive handcraft into a mass-production industry.

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Inventor Charles F. Ritchel

Charles Ritchel and the Dirigible

An entrepreneur’s design for a lighter-than-air vehicle takes flight in the late 1800s and inspires a new state industry.

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The Collins Company Dry Grinding Department, Collinsville

World-renowned Maker of Axes: The Collins Company of Canton

The New England factory town of Collinsville, which can still be toured today, once supplied the world with axes, machetes, and other edge tools.

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Site of the Revolutionary War Foundry, Salisbury

Salisbury Iron Forged Early Industry

Connecticut’s bucolic northwest corner, with its Taconic Range, Berkshire Hills, and pastoral valleys, harbored a major iron industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Elisha K Root, President of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company

Elisha Root Changes Industry – Who Knew?

…that  Elisha Root invented die casting that revolutionized the mechanization…

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Ad for Goodyear's patented Hay & Manure forks

Amasa Goodyear and Son Re-Invent Naugatuck

Amasa Goodyear was an inventor, manufacturer, merchant, and farmer. Born…

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