Now Viewing:

Social Movements


Art Young, Radical Cartoonist

September 19, 2021 • Bethel, Arts, Popular Culture, Social Movements

One of the more controversial cartoonists of the early 20th century, Art Young lived much of his life in Bethel. Residents later founded the Art Young Gallery in his memory.

Read

The Rise of the Black Panther Party in Connecticut

As they did nationally, the Black Panther Party in Connecticut fought for an end to discriminatory legal and regulatory practices, often clashing with authorities to achieve their goals.

Read

Workingmen's Restaurant, 129 Market Street, Hartford.

Serving Up Justice: Hartford’s Black Workers Organize

The earliest labor union for African American workers in Hartford appeared in 1902 with the birth of the Colored Waiters and Cooks Local 359.

Read

Portrait of Amos Beman.

The Rev. Amos Beman’s Devotion to Education, Social Activism, and New Haven

Amos Beman spent much of his life a religious leader and social activist in New Haven, fighting the stereotypes and other obstacles he encountered because of his race.

Read

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…

Read

“’No Taxation without Representation’: Black Voting in Connecticut

In 1870, Connecticut ratified the 15th Amendment, but poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and other means of disenfranchising African Americans remained in place.

Read

Senator Brandegee Stonewalls Women’s Suffrage

Senator Frank Brandegee of New London vehemently opposed progressive legislation at the national level, particularly when it came to the issue of women’s suffrage.

Read

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.

Read

Wide Awakes banner

Hartford Wide-Awakes – Today in History: July 26

On July 26, 1860, the Hartford Wide-Awakes welcomed the Newark,…

Read

Connecticut Votes for Women

Connecticut Suffragists Appeal to the President – Today in History: July 12

July 12, 2021 • Simsbury, Social Movements, Women

On July 12, 1918, Connecticut suffragists—men, women, and children—rallied in…

Read

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

Read

John Brown

John Brown Born – Today in History: May 9

On May 9, 1800, the man who became a catalyst…

Read

Boyhood home of Amos Bronson Alcott, Wolcott

Amos Bronson Alcott Changes the Way Connecticut Children Learn

Amos Bronson Alcott was an educator and reformer born in…

Read

Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Vietnam Veterans Against the War – Today in History: April 19

On April 19, 1971, Vietnam veterans groups from Hartford, New…

Read

Child Labor in Connecticut

While Connecticut proved to be one of the more progressive states when it came to child labor laws, it still took federal legislation to protect children in the workplace.

Read

Carl Sandburg, Poet from the Grassroots, Reaches Connecticut Audiences

Popular poet, singer, and activist Carl Sandburg had numerous connections to Connecticut and promoted social reform throughout the state in the early 20th century.

Read

The Influence of Woman, Harper's Weekly, 1862

Bridgeport Women Answer the Call – Today in History: April 15

On April 15, 1861, the women of Bridgeport created the…

Read

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…

Read

African American baseball team, Danbury

Swinging for the Fences: Connecticut’s Black Baseball Greats

In Connecticut, African Americans played organized baseball as early as 1868. In the years that followed, some of the game’s biggest stars played for teams throughout the state.

Read

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.

Read

Anna E. Dickinson

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson at Touro Hall – Today in History: March 24

On March 24, 1863, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, a 20-year-old Quaker…

Read

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.

Read

Elihu Burritt

Elihu Burritt Dies – Today in History: March 6

On March 6, 1879, Elihu Burritt “the learned blacksmith” died…

Read

Looking Back: Tempest Tossed, the Story of Isabella Beecher Hooker

Isabella Beecher was a suffragist and spiritualist who shunned traditional female roles while alienating large parts of her famous family during her brother’s adultery scandal.

Read

Josephine Bennett and daughters Frances and Katherine

Hartford’s City Mother, Josephine Bennett

The small plaque in the south corner of the State…

Read

Malcolm X in Hartford: “Our Mission is Not Violence but Freedom”

In addition to helping found Nation of Islam Temple No. 14 in Hartford, Malcolm X spent considerable time in Connecticut rallying supporters to his cause.

Read

The Fugitive and the Hero

A runaway slave, evading the legal realities of the Fugitive Slave Law while working aboard the steamship Hero, jumped ship in East Haddam, narrowly avoiding the slave catchers that awaited him in Hartford.

Read

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.

Read

The Language of the Unheard: Racial Unrest in 20th-Century Hartford

Race riots in Hartford during the 1960s came about thanks to a century of frustration and political inaction surrounding disparate standards of living among different races and ethnicities,

Read

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.

Read

Martin Luther King

Dr. King’s Dream Had Roots in Connecticut

In the summer of 1944 a young Martin Luther King…

Read

Apostle of Peace: Elihu Burritt’s Quest for Universal Brotherhood

Elihu Burritt, a blacksmith by trade, became an advocate for peace around the world throughout the 19th century.

Read

Maria Sanchez and Alejandro La Luz, Puerto Rican spokesmen, Hartford

Maria Sánchez, State Representative and Community Advocate

The first Latina elected to the Connecticut General Assembly started as a grassroots activist for Hartford’s Puerto Rican community.

Read

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.

Read

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.

Read

Oyster grounds, Western Division; Town of Westport

The Battle for Cockenoe Island

In 1967, the United Illuminating Company proposed to build a nuclear power plant on Cockenoe Island off the coast of Westport, but grassroots activism ultimately scuttled that plan.

Read

The “Red Scare” in Connecticut

The Palmer Raids, launched in Connecticut in 1919, were part of the paranoia known as the “Red Scare” that resulted in numerous civil rights violations committed by law enforcement officials.

Read

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.

Read

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.

Read

Currier & Ives, The drunkards progress. From the first glass to the grave

The Temperance Movement in Connecticut – Today in History: October 27

October 27, 2020 • Hartford, Middletown, Social Movements

Wo to Drunkards – Increase Mather On October 27, 1841,…

Read

Vietnam Protests in Connecticut

Opposition to the war in Vietnam manifested itself in Connecticut in many of the same ways it did across the country. The most extensive protests occurred in 1969 and 1970.

Read

The Wallingford Oneida Community

In the late 1800s, Wallingford was home to a small branch of the Oneida Community.

Read

Greased pole, Labor Day picnic, Colt Park, Hartford

Labor Day at the Turn of the 20th Century

In February of 1889, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a…

Read

Hartford’s Les Payne, Trailblazing Journalist

September 2, 2020 • Literature, Hartford, Social Movements

Les Payne grew up in Hartford and became one of the best-known African-American journalists in the United States.

Read

The southeast block of West Street, Litchfield as it looked in the Civil War era, 1867

The Peace Movement in Litchfield

Connecticut saw no combat on its soil during the Civil War. Yet, the conflict left its mark on the state in ways that historians are still sorting out. This account details the war’s impact on two Connecticut towns.

Read

Work on foundation of the Bulkeley Bridge

The Sand Hogs Set the Foundation for the Bulkeley Bridge

August 15, 2020 • Social Movements, Transportation, Work

Toiling in dangerous conditions beneath the Connecticut River’s surface for only $2.50 a day, African American workers dug the foundation for the Bulkeley Bridge.

Read

Rosamond Danielson: Windham County Suffragist and Community Leader

Rosamond Danielson was a respected suffragist, World War I worker, and philanthropist from Putnam Heights

Read

Third Annual Report of the Managers of the Colonization Society of the State of Connecticut

Liberian Independence Day

The Colonization Society of Connecticut was part of a national movement that arose before the Civil War to promote emigration of free blacks to Africa.

Read

Dr. Eli Todd

Medical Pioneer Eli Todd born – Today in History: July 22

On July 22, 1769, Eli Todd was born in New…

Read

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.

Read

Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Most Famous American in the World

In 1853, in cities and villages across Britain and Europe, throngs of admirers pushed and shoved to catch a glimpse of a barely 5-foot-tall writer from America whose best-selling novel had taken slavery to task.

Read

Early Civil Rights and Cultural Pioneers:The Easton Family

June 21, 2020 • Arts, Belief, Hartford, Social Movements

For a variety of reasons, the Eastons were one of New England’s most notable 19th-century African American families.

Read

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…

Read

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.

Read

Helen Keller

Helen Keller Dies – Today in History: June 1

On June 1, 1968, American author, political activist, and lecturer…

Read

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.

Read

Josephine Bennett: Hartford’s City Mother

By linking disparate social and political movements of the early 20th century, activist Josephine Bennett was “intersectional” well before the term was invented.

Read

The Black Panther Party in Connecticut: Community Survival Programs

The Black Panthers had a significance presence in Connecticut in the 1960s and ’70s, particularly through community programs aimed to serve minorities living in the state’s more urban areas.

Read

Front view of John Browns birthplace, Torrington

Hidden Nearby: John Brown’s Torrington Birthplace

Ruins are all that remain of the birthplace of this transformative figure in US history.

Read

Elizabeth W. Coe Demands the Right of Jury Service

After passage of the 19th Amendment, Elizabeth W. Coe of Waterbury argued that women should be granted the right to serve on jury panels.

Read

A First Amendment Lesson: Weaver High Students Teach Their Elders

In the 1960s, Hartford high school students published a controversial newspaper that sparked debates about freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Read

Vivien Kellems Takes On the IRS

Reformer Vivien Kellems fought her most famous battle against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as she sought tax reform for businesses and single people.

Read

The Northern Student Movement

The Northern Student Movement motivated college students to contribute their energies to important social causes such as literacy and civil rights.

Read

Frederick Douglass

Speaking under the Open Sky: Frederick Douglass in Connecticut

The famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass had several connections to Connecticut, including run-ins with a number of the state’s vocal slavery proponents.

Read

Connecticut Suffragists, 1919

Connecticut Suffragists 1919

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

Read

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: Connecticut Lessons from a Tragedy

While the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City is one of the most famous tragedies behind the organized labor movement, Connecticut had its share of equally dangerous work environments in the early 20th century. Many of them inspired Connecticut Workers to organize.

Read

Rock and Roll vs. Racism

The State Theater in Hartford brought residents of all different backgrounds together in the 1950s and ’60s through the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.

Read

Are you a goop? by Caroline Hewins

The Public Library Movement: Caroline Hewins Makes Room for Young Readers

March 13, 2020 • Hartford, Social Movements, Women

This Hartford librarian played a leading role in national efforts to transform libraries from private, limited-membership institutions into public centers that welcomed patrons from all walks of life.

Read

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…

Read

Andover Lake: A Lesson in Social Change

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

Read

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.

Read

Constitution Plaza Then and Now

Hailed as Hartford’s first major redevelopment project, Constitution Plaza was built as part of the urban renewal initiatives that swept the nation’s cities in the 1950s and ’60s.

Read

Edward Alexander Bouchet: The First African American to Earn a PhD from an American University

Edward Alexander Bouchet was a physicist who was among Yale’s first African American students, and reportedly became the first African American in the United States to earn a PhD.

Read

Portrait of James Mars

1850s Equal Rights Activist James Mars

James Mars was born into slavery in Connecticut in 1790….

Read

Hartford Times – Voices of Change

1960’s photographs from The Hartford Times offer a look back at a decade of protest that focused local and national attention on the civil rights of African Americans, the war in Vietnam, and the inequalities facing women.

Read

Ida Tarbell: The Woman Who Took On Standard Oil

At the end of the 19th century, Ida Tarbell became one of the most famous “muckraking” journalists in America, thanks largely to her investigation of the Standard Oil Company.

Read

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.

Read

Elihu Burritt

Elihu Burritt Born – Today in History: December 8

On December 8, 1810, Elihu Burritt was born in New…

Read

Sign for the Temperance Hotel, ca. 1826-1842

The Slow Demise of Prohibition in Wilton

In Connecticut, the state places certain restrictions on the sale…

Read

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.

Read

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

Read

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.

Read

Women Suffrage March

Women Win the Right to Vote

August 18, 2019 • Social Movements, Women

After a decades-long struggle, women in Connecticut and across the US gained a say in government.

Read

The Ku Klux Klan in Connecticut

The KKK first organized in Connecticut during the 1920s. Promoting themselves as part of the nativist movement, support for the organization dwindled rapidly, but still lingers.

Read

Bridge on the grounds of Gillette's Castle

A Public Responsibility: Conservation and Development in the 20th Century

The seemingly contradictory calls to use or preserve the state’s natural resources are, in fact, closely related efforts that increasingly work in tandem—but not without conflict.

Read

Civil Rights picket, US Courthouse, Hartford

“U.S. Troops in Viet Nam, but none in Selma” – Today in History: March 9

On March 9, 1965, protesters held an all-night vigil in…

Read

Arrest of White House pickets Catherine Flanagan of Hartford, Connecticut, and Madeleine Watson of Chicago

Women of the Prison Brigade

February 22, 2019 • Social Movements, Women

These women from all walks of life had one thing in common: they had been jailed for demonstrating in support of women’s right to vote.

Read

The Smith Sisters and Their Cows Strike a Blow for Equal Rights – Today in History: January 8

Abigail and Julia Smith of Glastonbury (along with Isabella Beecher Hooker) fought for a woman’s right to speak at town meetings and have a say in government.

Read

An Orderly & Decent Government: Business and Government, 1905-1929

The early years of the 20th century were a time of vigorous political and social reform.

Read

An Orderly & Decent Government: Making Self-Government Work, 1819-1865

In the mid-19th century, Connecticut looked toward changing its electoral processes as well as its civil rights record.

Read

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.

Read

An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1965-Now

Connecticut recast its constitution, reapportioned its House and Senate, and struggled with providing equal rights to all races and socio-economic classes in the state.

Read

An Orderly & Decent Government: A Co-Equal Branch of Government, 1965-Now

Connecticut replaced town-based representation with legislative districts while the state struggled to supply equal opportunities across race and class lines.

Read

An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1965-Now

The state generated revenue for urban renewal and social programs through gaming and income tax initiatives.

Read

An Orderly & Decent Government: The Rise of the Factory, 1866-1887

In the years following the Civil War, Connecticut’s transformation to an urban, industrial state intensified.

Read

Plane departing for Selma-Montgomery March, 1965

Civil Rights Demonstrations – Today in History: March 18

March 18, 2018 • Social Movements, Windsor Locks

On March 18, 1965, about 90 Connecticut residents boarded a…

Read

Segregation Picket line-Noah Webster School, Hartford

Black History Resources

February 1, 2018 • Everyday Life, Social Movements, Women

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black…

Read

Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury

Danbury Prison Protest – Today in History: August 11

On August 11, 1943, conscientious objectors and other prisoners staged…

Read

Birth of a Nation Advertisement

Hartford’s Challenge to “The Birth of a Nation”

D. W. Griffith’s silent movie, the racially charged “Birth of a Nation,” initially played to large audiences in Hartford before meeting with official resistance after World War I.

Read

Video – Helen Keller Tribute Film

The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame pays tribute to Easton resident Helen Keller, an inspirational champion for the disabled.

Read

Video – Mary Townsend Seymour Tribute Film

Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame pays tribute to Hartford native Mary Townsend Seymour, a pioneering advocate for equal rights for African Americans and co-founder of Hartford’s chapter of the NAACP.

Read

Emma Hart Willard: Leader in Women’s Education

Berlin-born Emma Hart Willard used her passion for learning to create new educational opportunities for women and foster the growth of the co-ed system.

Read

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.

Read

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.

Read

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.

Read

Designed to Heal: The Connecticut General Hospital for the Insane

The design of this state facility in Middletown reflects 19th-century beliefs about the environment’s ability to influence mental health.

Read

Detail from a glass plate negative showing the rear of one of the tenements that lined the Park River

Hartford’s Sex Trade: Prostitutes and Politics

March 23, 2015 • Hartford, Social Movements, Women, Work

Union organizer Rebecca Weiner was among the few who proposed to address the social and economic conditions that enabled the world’s oldest profession to thrive in the capital city during the 1800s.

Read

Katharine Houghton Hepburn

Katharine Houghton Hepburn, A Woman Before Her Time

March 18, 2015 • Hartford, Social Movements, Women

This Hartford suffragist and reformer fought for women’s rights in the first half of the 20th century.

Read

Selma, Not So Far Away

Father Leonard Tartaglia was sometimes called Hartford’s “Hoodlum Priest.” Like the 1961 film of the same name, Tartaglia ministered to the city’s poor and disenfranchised.

Read

Emily Pierson handing out leaflets in New York State Suffrage Campaign

A Feeling of Solidarity: Labor Unions and Suffragists Team Up

The voting booth and the shop floor were two important arenas in the fight for women’s equality.

Read

“Free Bobby, Free Ericka”: The New Haven Black Panther Trials

In 1969, the Black Panther Trials brought national attention to New Haven as prosecutors charged members of the radical movement with murdering one of their own.

Read

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.

Read

James Trenchard, View from the Green Woods towards Canaan and Salisbury, in Connecticut

Dynamic Tensions: Conservation and Development up to the 1920s

From indigenous practices to Progressive-era projects, changing attitudes toward natural resources have shaped and reshaped the state’s landscape.

Read

Early 20th-Century Immigration in Connecticut

Immigration to Connecticut in the early 20th century continued much…

Read

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.”

Read

PROJECT CONCERN youngsters, 20 of them from Hartford, arrive at Spaulding School, Suffield

Connecticut Takes the Wheel on Education Reform: Project Concern

April 10, 2013 • Education, Hartford, Social Movements

As one of the earliest voluntary busing programs in the US, Project Concern sought to address educational inequalities.

Read

More Articles

 

Sign Up For Email Updates

Oops! We could not locate your form.