Burial of Unoin soldiers, Fredericksburg, VA, 1864

Burial of Unoin soldiers, Fredericksburg, VA, 1864 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Civil War and Reconstruction (1850–1877)

The mid-nineteenth century was a period of massive upheaval in America. The country’s battles over race, slavery, and state’s rights ultimately degenerated into Civil War. Among those making significant contributions to the Union victory in the war were General (and 42nd governor of Connecticut) Joseph Hawley, General J. K. F. Mansfield of Middletown, and Connecticut’s 29th (Colored) Volunteer Infantry (CVI). The years that followed witnessed the rapid expansion of railroads and other means of transportation in Connecticut, helping foster in a period of mass industrialization that drew residents off of their farms and into the cities, while also attracting diverse foreign populations to Connecticut in record numbers.

Featured

Pachaug Trail, Wiclcabouet Marsh, Voluntown

The Story of Connecticut’s Largest State Forest

Pachaug State Forest is the largest state forest in Connecticut.... …[more]

American Cookery, or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables by Amelia Simmons

Amelia Simmons Adds a Uniquely American Flavor to Cooking

In 1796, Amelia Simmons authored American Cookery—believed to be the first cookbook authored by an American published in the United States. …[more]

Broadside for Pine Apple cheese patented in 1810

The Story of Pineapple Cheese

On a farm in West Goshen Lewis Norton made one... …[more]

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. …[more]

Detail from A mapp of New England by John Seller

Lion Gardiner Helps to Fortify Early Old Saybrook

In 1635, the governor of the Saybrook colony hired engineer... …[more]

Replicas of the 1636 church and house built by Reverend Thomas Hooker

What’s a Puritan, and Why Didn’t They Stay in Massachusetts?

Mean-spirited, repressed souls or persecuted refugees and rugged egalitarians? Connecticut's state historian sets the record straight. …[more]

Wood-cut representing Alexis St. Martin's wound

The Father of Gastric Physiology Born – Today in History: November 21

On November 21, 1785, physician and physiologist William Beaumont, who... …[more]

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. …[more]

Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham III: Machu Picchu Explorer and Politician

Hiram Bingham III was a distinguished scholar and public servant... …[more]

A Connecticut Nazi Spy Has a Change of Heart

On the morning of October 6, 1944, Niantic-born William Colepaugh... …[more]

Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer

Nathaniel Palmer discovers Antarctica – Today in History: November 18

On November 18, 1820, Nathaniel Brown Palmer of Stonington, Connecticut,... …[more]

Williams Shaving Cream and Aqua Velva ad, ca. 1929

The Aqua Velva State – Today in History: November 17

On November 17, 1917, the J.B. Williams Company of Glastonbury... …[more]

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. …[more]

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

Seth Pease Surveys New Lands

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

Kaman Aircraft, 1949

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

Charles Kaman, an inventor and aviation pioneer, managed to combine... …[more]

An Oyster Supper

Any Month with an “R” in It: Eating Oysters in Connecticut

Lack of refrigeration and higher bacteria counts in tidal waters once made summer months a dangerous time to eat oysters.  …[more]

Alexander Calder in studio, Roxbury, 1973

Calder in Connecticut: World-Famous Artist Called Roxbury Home

His mobiles, stabiles, and constellations are featured in museum collections around the world.  …[more]

Foreign Mission School, Cornwall

An Experiment in Evangelization: Cornwall’s Foreign Mission School

The story of the Foreign Mission School connects the town... …[more]

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... …[more]

Separable Attachment Plug

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

On November 8, 1904, Harvey Hubbell II patented the first... …[more]

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. …[more]

John F. Kennedy campaigning in New Haven, 1960

The Kennedys in Connecticut – Today in History: November 6

On November 6, 1960, forty-eight hours before the Presidential election, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts addressed a street rally in New Haven.  …[more]

Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the Connecticut Air National Guard's 103rd Fighter Wing fly in formation behind a KC-135

Connecticut’s “Yankee Watch” Squadron Protects the Skies Here and Abroad

Based in Orange, the 103rd Air Control Squadron of the... …[more]

Drawing (on) the Connecticut Landscape: Benjamin Hutchins Coe Teaches Americans the Democratic Art

Benjamin Hutchins Coe, born in Hartford, helped teach Americans how to draw through the publication of numerous art manuals, many of which focused on Connecticut-inspired landscapes. …[more]

John Warner Barber, Public square or green, in New Haven

A Separate Place: The New Haven Colony, 1638-1665

In 1638, Puritan leader John Davenport led a group of settlers out of Boston, ultimately founding what became the New Haven Colony. …[more]

Election day, Main Street, Hartford

When Elections in Hartford Were a Piece of Cake

Unlike today, in the 18th and 19th centuries, Election Day met with great celebration. …[more]

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.  …[more]

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.  …[more]

Results of Halloween pranks, Windsor

Past Hallowe’en Pranks Bemused Some and Frustrated Others

Jack o’ lanterns, cider, masquerades, witches, and ghosts—many of the... …[more]

Charles De Wolf Brownell, Charter Oak

Hiding the Charter: Images of Joseph Wadsworth’s Legendary Action

Overshadowed by the famed oak, Joseph Wadsworth, “the hero of the Charter,” has become the Rodney Dangerfield of Connecticut history—he doesn’t get any respect—or much recognition. …[more]

State Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Norwich, Conn.

The White Plague: Progressive-Era Tuberculosis Treatments in Connecticut

Tuberculosis was a leading cause of death in the early 20th century. Treatments for included everything from exposure to extremes in temperature to regimens involving access to the outdoors. …[more]

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. …[more]

Birthplace of Seth Thomas

Seth Thomas Works Around the Clock in Wolcott

Seth Thomas was a Connecticut native who became a pioneer... …[more]

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

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

Wo to Drunkards – Increase Mather On October 27, 1841,... …[more]

American Actor Changes 19th-Century Theater – Who Knew?

Hartford-born William Gillette, known best for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in film and theater, was also a successful playwright. His 1886 Civil War drama, Held by the Enemy, earned accolades from British critics and audiences and helped change perceptions of American art forms overseas. …[more]

Igor Sikorsky in the VS-300

Igor Sikorsky Dies – Today in History: October 26

On October 26, 1972, aviation pioneer Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky died... …[more]

Congressional pugilists

Roger Griswold: A Governor Not Afraid To Challenge Authority

Roger Griswold was a lawyer, judge, and politician who spent... …[more]

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam

Goodspeed Opera House Opens – Today in History: October 24

On October 24, 1877, the Goodspeed Opera House on the... …[more]

Hartford and New Haven: A Tale of Two Capitals

Before the expense of having two capital cities became too great, both Hartford and New Haven served that function. Hartford became the sole capital in 1875. …[more]

Map detail from Turnpikes of Connecticut,

Oxford: From Paths to Pikes

When colonists first settled around Oxford, Connecticut, roads consisted of... …[more]

Yung Wing

Avon’s Educational and Cultural Pioneer

Yung Wing was the first Chinese student to graduate from... …[more]

Westport Country Playhouse

Broadway Comes to Westport

The Westport Country Playhouse is a theater meant to provide... …[more]

Sloop-of-War Ship’s Figurehead Lands at State Capitol

A figurehead from the USS Hartford currently resides at the Connecticut State Capitol and serves as a reminder of the state's rich maritime heritage. …[more]

View on the Erie Canal

Benjamin Wright: The Father of American Civil Engineering

Benjamin Wright helped build transportation and canal systems in the... …[more]

Gravestones, Old Burying Ground, Hartford

The Art of Burying the Dead: Exploring Connecticut’s Historic Cemeteries

From winged death's heads to weeping willows, gravestone carvings in Connecticut's historic cemeteries reflect changing attitudes toward mourning and memorialization.  …[more]

Sandbagging at the Stanley P. Rockwell Co

The Flood That We Forget: October 15 and 16, 1955

When we speak of the “Flood of 1955,” we should remind ourselves that two separate floods, one in August and a second one in October, occurred.  …[more]

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. …[more]

New Haven: What Was Everyday Life Like During the Civil War?

Questions? We get a lot of them and some of... …[more]

Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company

Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company Puts Best Foot Forward

Father and son George and Tracy Lewis not only founded... …[more]

Improved Centrifugal Governor

Portland Improves the Steam Engine

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

Learn More

Websites

Central Connecticut State University. “150th Anniversary of the Civil War: Connecticut Town Regimental Histories,” 2017. Link.
National Park Service - Richmond National Battlefield Park. “29th Regiment Connecticut Infantry (Colored),” 2017. Link.
Connecticut. “Connecticut Men in the Civil War.” Connecticut Military Department, 2017. Link.
“The Connecticut 29th Colored Regiment CV Infantry, Inc.,” 2017. Link.
New Britain Industrial Museum. “The Stanley Works,” 2017. Link.

Places

Connecticut Freedom Trail. “29th Colored Regiment Monument,” 2017. Link.
Connecticut Freedom Trail. “Charles Ethan Porter House,” 2017. Link.
“Connecticut Historical Society,” 2017. Link.
“Middlesex County Historical Society,” 2017. Link.
“New Britain Industrial Museum,” 2017. Link.
Connecticut State Library. “The Museum of Connecticut History,” 2017. Link.
“Waterbury Button Museum.” Mattatuck Museum, 2017. Link.

Documents

“Broadside: Company A 1st Regiment, Conn. Vol. Artillery: Soldiers’ Memorial,” 1863. Connecticut Historical Society. Link.
“Connecticut African American Soldiers in the Civil War, 1861-1865.” State of Connecticut - Historical Commission, 2000. Link.
Connecticut State Library Digital Collections. “Digitized Historic Newspapers - Connecticut Newspapers During the Civil War and Reconstruction (1850–1877),” 2017. Link.
“Document: Emancipation Proclamation,” 1863. National Archives - Our Documents. Link.
Connecticut Historical Society. “Kellogg Brothers Lithographs - Digital Collections,” 2017. Link.
Warner, Ezra J. Patent Number 19,063 - Can Opener. 19,063. Waterbury, CT, issued January 5, 1858. Link.
Lallement, Pierre. Patent Number 59,915 - Improvement in Velocipedes. US59915 A. New Haven, CT, issued November 20, 1866. Link.
Connecticut State Library. “Research Guide to Civil War Materials,” 2017. Link.

Books

Spencer, J. Ronald, ed. A Connecticut Yankee in Lincoln’s Cabinet: Navy Secretary Gideon Welles Chronicles the Civil War. Hartford, CT: The Acorn Club, 2014.
Hill, Isaac. A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Troops Giving a Full Account of Its Formation, of All the Battles Through Which It Passed, and Its Final Disbandment. New York, NY: Baker & Godwin  Printers, 1881. Link.
Smith, Julia Evelina. Abby Smith and Her Cows: With a Report of the Law Case Decided Contrary to Law. Hartford, CT, 1877. Link.
Niven, John. Connecticut for the Union the Role of the State in the Civil War. New Haven,  CT: Yale University Press, 1965.
Warshauer, Matthew. Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival. Middletown,  CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011.
Mycek, Mary J., Marian K. O’Keefe, and Carolyn B. Ivanoff. Ebenezer D. Bassett (1833-1908). Derby, CT: Valley Historical Research Committee, 2008.
History of Battle-Flag Day, September 17, 1879. Hartford, CT: Lockwood & Merritt, 1880. Link.
Warshauer, Matthew. Inside Connecticut and the Civil War: Essays on One State’s Struggles. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2014.
Grant, Ellsworth S. “Joseph Hawley.” In The Miracle of Connecticut, edited by Oliver Ormerod Jensen. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Historical Society and Fenwick Productions, 1995.
Fiske, Samuel. Mr. Dunn Browne’s Experiences in the Army. Boston; New York: Nichols and Noyes, 1866. Link.
Newton, A. H. Out of the Briars: An Autobiography and Sketch of the Twenty-Ninth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. Philadelphia, PA: A.M.E. Book Concern, 1910. Link.
Connecticut. Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the Army and Navy of the United States During the War of the Rebellion. Hartford,  CT: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1889.
Soldiers’ Hospital. Rules and Regulations of the Soldiers’ Hospital at Fitch’s Soldiers’ Home, Noroton Heights, Connecticut. Hartford,  CT: Case,  Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1890.
Grant, Ellsworth S. The Colt Legacy: The Colt Armory in Hartford, 1855-1980. Providence, RI: Mowbray Company, 1982.
Eaton, William W., and Connecticut Democratic Party . State Central Committee. The Union, Past, Present, and Future a Speech Delivered at City Hall, Hartford, on Saturday Evening, March 3d, 1860. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Democratic Party, 1860. Link.

Articles

“Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 Visit To Hartford.” Hartford Courant. January 24, 2014, sec. Hartford Courant 250th Anniversary. Link.