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: Saving the Elm City’s Elm Trees – The First Time

  Today in 1909, the last in a series of “campaign documents” aimed at mobilizing citizens to save the trees that had given New Haven its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities was published in the New Haven Sunday Union. Decades before the 1936 arrival of the devastating Dutch elm disease, the “City…

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…

April 1: A Political Cartoonist for the 20th-Century Woman

  As the first political cartoonist ever to win a Pulitzer Prize, Clarence Daniel “C. D.” Batchelor thought having been born on April Fool’s Day (in 1888) was appropriate to his calling. The cane-collecting (he died owning more than 500), dapper, Kansas-born, self-styled “character” – “It was just as easy to be a character as…

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, & Their New Country

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

March 28: The Oyster Industry Comes Out Of Its Shell

  By the time the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries first assigned a resident scientist to study Connecticut’s shellfish industry in the 1920s, Connecticut residents had been harvesting oysters and clams from the waters of Long Island Sound for hundreds of years. Created in the late 19th century, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries’ mission was…

March 27: Staffordville Dam Burst Causes Cascading Chaos

  During the second half of the 19th century, as more and more mills and factories popped up along the banks of the Willimantic River’s northern branch in eastern Connecticut, a number of factory owners banded together to form the Stafford (or Staffordville) Reservoir Company with the aim of regulating the flow of water that…

March 26: The First State to Make the Minimum Wage Over $10 an Hour

  On March 26, 2014, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass legislation setting its minimum wage above $10 an hour. The new law mandated slight increases, rolled out over three years, that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by the start of 2017, increasing the paychecks of…