April 9: Son of Russian Immigrants Becomes Governor & Barrier-Breaker

On April 9, 1910, Abraham Alexander Ribicoff was born in a New Britain tenement house to Ashkenazi Jewish parents who had immigrated to Connecticut from Poland. Over the course of his lifetime, he would spend nearly fifty years in public service, including overcoming entrenched anti-Semitism to become the state’s first governor of Jewish faith. After…

April 7: Thousands Rally to Show Support for WWI

  Today in 1917, citizens of Hartford thronged the streets in a “mass patriotic meeting” to show support for America’s formal entry into World War I. The Great War had been raging in Europe for three years, but the United States had been extremely reluctant to join the fight against the Germans.  American resistance to…

April 6: UConn First School Ever to Win Dual NCAA Basketball Championships

  On April 6, 2004, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team under coach Geno Auriemma made national history after defeating their fiercest rival, the University of Tennessee, in the NCAA National Championship in New Orleans. For the Huskies, the 70 – 61 victory marked their third straight year of taking home the national title….

April 5: P.T. Barnum Elected Mayor of Bridgeport – Not His Greatest Show

  Today in 1875, Phineas T. Barnum was elected Mayor of Bridgeport, at the age of 64. Though internationally acclaimed as an entertainment impresario and well respected as a politician at the state level, Barnum’s short mayoral tenure was not the greatest showing for a man still remembered as one of America’s most successful entertainers,…

April 4: Angry Riots Rip Hartford After MLK Assassination

Today in 1968, the streets of Hartford, Connecticut exploded with anger following the assassination of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. Dozens of residents in Hartford’s North End took to the streets — most of them young, black men — expressing their frustration and anger by breaking storefront windows, overturning…

April 3: The Sewing Machine Patent Wars

  Inventor and longtime Connecticut resident Elias Howe Jr. may not have invented the first sewing machine, but he was the first person to obtain a U.S. patent for one in 1846. Howe’s success in patenting his novel “lockstitch” sewing machine, which was the first to feature the automatic thread feed that remains a crucial…

April 2: The Deadly Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 Hits Connecticut

Today in 1919, the medical paper “Complications of Influenza” was read to a desperately worried Hartford County Medical Society, which feared a renewed outbreak of a devastating global flu pandemic that had first reared its ugly head in Connecticut nearly 12 months before. This strain of flu – commonly called “Spanish influenza” though it had originated…

April 1: Litchfield-born Author’s Newspaper Story Takes America By Storm

  On this day in 1852, the final installment of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in The National Era, a weekly abolitionist newspaper. Stowe originally envisioned her story, written in the popular sentimental and melodramatic style of her day, as a brief tale that would “paint a word picture of…

March 31: The First Statewide Aerial Photography Survey in the US

  In 1933, Connecticut Governor Wilbur L. Cross, determined to move forward with infrastructure improvements in spite of budget constraints caused by the Great Depression, presented the State Planning Board with a formal request for an aerial photographic survey of the entire state. Governor Cross reasoned that a detailed set of photographs would be an…

March 30: Helicopter Pioneer Igor Sikorsky Arrives in United States

One of Connecticut’s greatest immigrant success stories began today in 1919 when Russian-born Igor Sikorsky first arrived on American shores. While Sikorsky is best known as the inventor of the world’s first practical helicopter and the founder of the Sikorsky Aircraft manufacturing company headquartered in Stratford, he first made a name for himself as a…

March 29: Catholic Immigrants Unite to Protect & Support Each Other, & America

  Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by the growing prevalence of fraternal benefit societies, hostility toward a recent influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe, and dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless. In response to these societal pressures, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old Irish immigrant and assistant pastor of St. Mary’s…