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Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall Fights for Equal Access to Education

A headmistress champions education for African American women and although forced to close her school in 1834, she helped win the battle for generations that followed.

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Suffragette Helena Hill Weed of Norwalk, serving a 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for picketing July 4, 1917

19th Amendment: The Fight Over Woman Suffrage in Connecticut

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees all women who…

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An illustration from A Sketch of the life, trial, and execution of Oliver Watkins

Connecticut Draws the Curtain on Public Executions

Brooklyn’s status as county seat in 1831 resulted in the…

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History Day 2022 Debate and Diplomacy

Connecticut History Day 2022: Debate & Diplomacy in History: Successes, Failures, Consequences

Both successes and failures in the execution of debate and diplomacy lay behind some of the most monumental events in Connecticut’s history.

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Connecticut Attorney General John H. Light and His Fight for Woman’s Suffrage

Attorney General John H. Light made his pro-suffrage stance public at a time when such advocacy could still lead to criticism

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Fort Trumbull neighborhood, New London

Private vs. Public Property – Today in History: June 23

June 23, 2021 • Law, New London

On June 23, 2005, in the eminent domain case Kelo…

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The Platt Amendment – Today in History: June 12

Orville Platt from Meriden presented the Platt Amendment to Congress in 1901. It essentially made Cuba an American protectorate.

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An English woodcut of a Witch

Alse Young Executed for Witchcraft – Today in History: May 26

On May 26, 1647, Alse Young of Windsor was the…

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Litchfield Law School

The Litchfield Law School: Connecticut’s First Law School

The Litchfield Law School, founded in 1784 by Tapping Reeve, became the first professional law school in Connecticut.

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St. Anthony Comstock, the Village nuisance

Connecticut and the Comstock Law

The federal Comstock Law of 1873 made it illegal to…

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Kimberly Mansion, Glastonbury

The Smith Sisters, Their Cows, and Women’s Rights in Glastonbury

By refusing to pay unfair taxes, these siblings became national symbols of discrimination suffered by women and of the struggle of the individual against government.

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Constance Baker Motley: A Warrior for Justice

New Haven lawyer Constance Baker Motley became famous for arguing some of the most important cases of the civil rights movement.

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A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean by John Ledyard

First General Copyright Law – Today in History: January 29

On January 29, 1783, Connecticut became the first state to…

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Starr Mill

Buckling Up For Auto Safety

Controversy over seat belt laws has long been a part of their evolutionary history.

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The Living Actually Haunted Many Connecticut Taverns – Who Knew?

Early Connecticut laws deemed anyone who spent excessive time in taverns as a “tavern haunter” and subjected them to fines and ridicule.

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Courtyard at New-Gate Prison

First New-Gate Prisoner – Today in History: December 22

December 22, 2020 • East Granby, Crime and Punishment, Law

On December 22, 1773, John Hinson the state’s first inmate…

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Merritt Hat Factory, Danbury

Ending the Danbury Shakes: A Story of Workers’ Rights and Corporate Responsibility

Despite the known dangers of prolonged exposure to mercury, the hat-making industry was slow to safeguard workers against its toxic effects.

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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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Picking Tobacco in the Connecticut River Valley

Literacy Tests and the Right To Vote

Connecticut was the first state to require a literacy test of would-be voters and, even as the practice came under fire as a tool of discrimination, the state held steady until 1970.

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Man wearing a hat with card stating "Bread or Revolution"

How the Wobblies Won Free Speech

Denied the right to free assembly in public spaces, Connecticut workers joined in a larger national movement of civil disobedience.

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Witchcraft in Connecticut

Well before the Salem trials, Connecticut residents were executing “witches.” Connecticut is home to what was most likely the first execution of its kind in colonial America.

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Pamphlet, 1692

Accidental Shooting Leads to Witchcraft Conviction – Today in History: October 3

October 3, 2020 • Crime and Punishment, Law, Windsor

On October 3, 1651, Henry Stiles of Windsor was killed…

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Capital Punishment in Connecticut: Changing Views

Connecticut’s struggles with the issue of capital punishment date back…

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President Richard Nixon visits Hartford

The 42-Day Income Tax

In 1971, to eliminate the state’s budget deficit, Connecticut legislators approved a tax on income. Just forty-two days later, they repealed it, instead voting to increase the state’s sales tax.

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Aerial view of Connecticut State Prison

Wethersfield Prison Blues

September 8, 2020 • Crime and Punishment, Law, Wethersfield

In September 1827, the newly constructed Connecticut State Prison in…

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Death of Captain Ferrer

The Amistad

After slaves revolted and took control of the Amistad in 1839, Americans captured the ship off Long Island and imprisoned the slaves in New Haven. A US Supreme Court trial in which Roger Sherman Baldwin and John Quincy Adams defended the slaves, ultimately won them their freedom.

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Trolley Campaigners Storm Small Towns and Votes for Women is the Battle Cry

In the wake of a 1912 trolley campaign, the woman’s suffrage movement rapidly gained ground across Connecticut.

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Sheff v. O’Neill – Today in History: July 9

July 9, 2020 • Education, Law

On July 9, 1996, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that…

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Two Days After Marriage

Grounds for Divorce – Who Knew?

June 25, 2020 • Everyday Life, Law, Who Knew?

… that in 1667 the colony of Connecticut passed the…

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Dr. C. Lee Buxton and Mrs. Estelle Griswold

Griswold v. Connecticut – Today in History: June 7

On June 7, 1965, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in…

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The Lemon Law – Today in History: June 4

On June 4, 1982, Connecticut made legislative history by pioneering…

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Connecticut Supreme Court

Parking Authority Created in New Haven – Today in History: June 2

June 2, 2020 • Law, New Haven, Transportation

On June 2, 1953, the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors,…

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Mary Hall: Connecticut’s First Female Attorney

Writer and suffragist Mary Hall developed an interest in the law after hearing John Hooker speak at a suffragist convention. She studied under Hooker and became Connecticut’s first female attorney.

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The Trailblazing Bessye Bennett

In 1974, nearly one hundred years after Mary Hall became…

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Setting Speed Limits – Today in History: May 21

On May 21, 1901, Connecticut passed An Act Regulating the…

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Courtyard at New-Gate Prison

New-Gate Prison Breakout – Today in History: May 18

On May 18, 1781, the largest mass breakout in the…

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Connecticut Suffragists, 1919

Connecticut Suffragists 1919

Despite the fact that the women in this well-known photograph…

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Detail from the front page of The Woman Voter's Bulletin, 1923

A Day for Women – Today in History: March 8

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. First observed in…

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Andover Lake: A Lesson in Social Change

Constructed in the early 20th century, Andover Lake is a…

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Governor Ribicoff

Abraham Ribicoff dies – Today in History: February 22

On February 22, 1998, Abraham Ribicoff died. An American Democratic…

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Racial Change Map displaying the Non-White Population in 1970

How Real Estate Practices Influenced the Hartford Region’s Demographic Makeup

February 3, 2020 • Bloomfield, Everyday Life, Law, Hartford

Persistent segregation is the historic legacy of steering and blockbusting, two discriminatory tactics that played a role in shaping suburban neighborhoods.

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A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean by John Ledyard

First General Copyright Law – Today in History: January 29

On January 29, 1783, Connecticut became the first state to…

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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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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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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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Courtyard at New-Gate Prison

First New-Gate Prisoner – Today in History: December 22

December 22, 2019 • East Granby, Crime and Punishment, Law

On December 22, 1773, John Hinson the state’s first inmate…

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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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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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Connecticut Residents Did Not Let Veterans Day “Go Commercial.”

Despite passage of the federal Uniform Holiday Bill in 1968, Connecticut residents were largely reluctant to move Veterans Day observances from November 11.

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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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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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Detail of Warwick patent copy by John Winthrop, Jr., 1662

The Charter of 1662

The Connecticut Charter, which provided the basis for Connecticut government…

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Illustrations showing each farmer's branding earmarks

Branding Law Enacted – Today in History: February 5

On February 5, 1644, Connecticut enacted the first branding law…

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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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American Whaler printed by Elijah Chapman Kellogg

New London’s Indian Mariners

November 23, 2018 • Law, Native Americans, New London, Work

In an era of dispossession and diminishing autonomy on land, Native American mariners learned to use Anglo-American structures and institutions to establish a degree of power and personal freedom for themselves.

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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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An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1776-1818

The freedom won in the American Revolution did not spread to African Americans. The Constitution of 1818 formed the basis for state government until 1965.

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Uriah Tracy

Uriah Tracy Authors the Rules for Impeachment

Uriah Tracy was an attorney and politician who took up…

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Dodd Gun Bill Becomes Law

Thomas J. Dodd and the Gun Control Act of 1968

Written in December 1791, the Second Amendment to the United…

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Advertising label for Fine Old Bourbon Whiskey, 1855

Video: No Booze for You – Who Knew?

During Prohibition, many Connecticut residents found it easy to obtain alcohol illegally, though violations of Prohibition led to an increase in violent crime.

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The White Pine Acts – Who Knew?

The British government made it illegal for colonials to cut down white pine trees over 24 inches in diameter—preserving the trees for use as masts on British naval ships.

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Taking on the State: Griswold v. Connecticut

In the 1960s, Hartford native Estelle Griswold challenged Connecticut’s restrictive birth control law. Her argument for the right to privacy made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

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New-Gate Prison courtyard

Notorious New-Gate Prison

A failed Simsbury copper mine is now a national historic landmark in East Granby.

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Map of school busing and integration in the greater Hartford area, 1966

Sheff v. O’Neill Settlements Target Educational Segregation In Hartford

April 27, 2016 • Education, Law, Hartford, Social Movements

This landmark case not only drew attention to inequalities in area school systems, it focused efforts on reform.

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Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds

Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds

February 23, 2016 • Immigration, Law, West Hartford

“No persons of any race except the white race shall use or occupy any building on any lot… .” Language such as this still appears in Hartford-area housing covenants today.

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The boiler that fed the machinery at the Fales & Gray Car Works in Hartford exploded

100 Years of Workers’ Compensation

April 18, 2015 • Law, Work

Early attempts to enact industrial accident protections for workers were ruled unconstitutional by US courts, but a New York tragedy paved the way to successful legislation in Connecticut and elsewhere.

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Am I not a man and a brother?

Early Anti-slavery Advocates in 18th-century Connecticut

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.

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The Long, Ambiguous History of Connecticut’s Blue Laws

January 27, 2015 • Everyday Life, Law, The State

Connecticut’s blue laws are a series of laws based on puritan values that restrict or ban certain “morally questionable” activities on days of worship or rest.

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Free Speech for Some – Who Knew?

October 4, 2014 • Hide Featured Image, Law, Work

…that the IWW defied laws and filled jails! In 1919,…

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Somers' prison opening day

Osborn Correctional Institution

April 27, 2014 • Crime and Punishment, Law, Somers

When the Connecticut Correctional Institution opened in Somers in 1963,…

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HOLC Residential Security Map of Hartford Area 1937

The Effects of “Redlining” on the Hartford Metropolitan Region

March 18, 2014 • Business and Industry, Law, Hartford

Historical data reveals long-term patterns of inequality that can be traced back to now-illegal practices adopted by federal and private lenders in the 1930s.

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Video – Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures: Prudence Crandall 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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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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Dedication of the New State Capitol, 1876

New State Capitol 1878

By the 1870s, the State’s practice of having dual capitols…

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Mohegan Federal Recognition

“We are no longer the little old tribe that lives upon the hill. We are now the Nation that lives upon the hill.”

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Video – Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures: Litchfield Historical Society

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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Women Protestors of the Day March for the Vote

Looking Back: How the Vote Was Won

Today it is the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) but it began as the Old Saybrook Musical and Dramatic Club.

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