November 15: Rosa Ponselle, Opera Singer Extraordinaire

  Born to Italian immigrants living in Meriden, Connecticut in 1897, Rosa Ponselle (born Rosa Ponzillo) displayed a natural talent for both singing and instrumental music at an early age.  Ponselle, who was destined to become a musical celebrity and one of the most famous opera singers in American history, began her musical career as…

November 14: Paul Sperry Invents the Boat Shoe

  Today in 1939, New Haven-born sailor-turned-shoemaker Paul Sperry received a patent for one of the most famous and enduring pieces of American footwear: the Sperry Top-Sider, or “boat shoe.” Born in 1895, Sperry’s life revolved around the sea; growing up along the Connecticut coast, he developed a lifelong love for sailing at an early…

November 13: Emmeline Pankhurst Delivers “Freedom or Death” Speech in Hartford

  Today in 1913, British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst delivered her famous “Freedom or Death” speech to a crowd of supporters at the Parsons Theater in Hartford, Connecticut.  The famous activist, well-known to Americans for her aggressive tactics she employed at suffragist rallies in England, was invited to speak by architect Theodate Pope of Farmington, and…

November 12: A Presidential Celebration Draws a Huge Crowd in Middletown

  November 12, 1909 was a momentous day for the city of Middletown, as thousands of cheering, flag-waving residents lined the streets to enjoy a day full of pomp and circumstance and an evening full of dancing and fireworks.  The Hartford Courant covered every detail of the day’s festivities in a breathless, three-page spread under…

November 11: Connecticut’s Last World War I Casualty

  For many countries around the world, November 11 is known as Armistice Day in honor of the truce that marked the end of hostilities on the Western Front between German and Allied forces, enacted on November 11, 1918.  While a lasting peace was not formally established until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in…

November 10: The Tong Wars Come to Connecticut

  In the late 19th century and early 20th century, as Chinese immigrants flocked to American shores in increasing numbers, insular Chinese-American communities known as “Chinatowns” sprang up in large coastal cities like San Francisco and New York.  Here, recent immigrants could more freely speak their native language and observe Chinese customs while adapting to…

November 9: New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery

  In the 1790s, a deadly epidemic of yellow fever swept throughout the eastern United States, hitting densely-populated urban centers like New Haven especially hard.  As fever-related fatalities multiplied, the burying grounds located behind the churches on the New Haven green — which had been in operation for nearly 150 years at that point —…

November 8: The Last Wooden Whaling Ship Arrives in Mystic

  On this day in 1941, the 19th century wooden whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, one of Connecticut’s most beloved historical icons, made her permanent home in Mystic, Connecticut.  The massive wooden vessel, with a deck measuring over feet in length and a main mast rising 110 feet into the air, once numbered among a…

November 7: Washington Slept Here — But Wasn’t Happy About It

  Throughout the eastern United States, claims that “George Washington slept here” at some local home or landmark are so exceedingly plentiful — and frequently fabricated to boost business — that the term has become something of a cliché.  Connecticut, however, can point to many locations where George Washington did pass by or spend the…

November 6: JFK’s Last-Minute, Late-Night Rally in Waterbury

  The first week of November 1960 was a grueling one for Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was finishing up the last stretch of his rigorous — and ultimately successful — campaign for President of the United States against Republican Richard Nixon.  In the early morning hours of November 6, after a full…

November 5: Ella Grasso, First Female Governor

  Born to Italian immigrants in 1919, Ella Rosa Giovanna Oliva Tambussi grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood of first and second-generation Americans in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  Her parents, determined to invest in a better future for their daughter, saved up enough money to send Ella to the prestigious Chaffee School in Windsor.  Afterwards, she…