September 12: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Teenage Summer in Simsbury

  Years before he became an internationally famous orator and civil rights leader, young Martin Luther King, Jr. worked a number of jobs to make ends meet for his family. During the summer of 1944, after he gained early admission to Morehouse College at the age of 15, he journeyed north from Georgia to the…

July 29: A Determined Minister’s Swim for Justice

  In 1926, a group of eastern Connecticut investors hoping to capitalize on the state’s new car culture, expanding highway system, and Roaring 20’s prosperity, purchased a large spring-fed wetland in Andover Connecticut. They cleared trees, cut roads, and built the 550 foot-long dam that created beautiful Andover Lake. When it was completed in 1928,…

June 11: UCONN’s 1st Black Basketball Player

  Harrison “Honey” Fitch, arrived on the University of Connecticut (then Connecticut State College) in the fall of 1932 and he made a solid impression, fast. Fitch, the first Black basketball player for the University of Connecticut (then Connecticut State College) and at the time the only Black student,  had already earned the nickname “Honey” for…

May 25: First He Invented the Soap Opera. Then He Entered Politics.

  When Chester Bowles and his friend William Benton founded the Benton and Bowles ad agency in 1929, they had two accounts and 12 thousand dollars. Seven years later – in the midst of the Great Depression – it was the sixth largest ad agency in America, with annual billing of over 10 million dollars….

January 26: The Talented — and Quite Regrettable — Postmaster General

  Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse. A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792. Following an…

November 23: Connecticut’s First African-American Civil War Regiment

  In late May of 1863, nearly six months after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared that all black men and women in slave-holding Confederate states were free, the Federal government created the Bureau of Colored Troops, effectively authorizing the use of black troops throughout the Union Army. While some Northern states quickly raised their…

October 28: The Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association Formed

  On this day in 1869, at a meeting in Hartford attended by civil rights luminaries including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and William Lloyd Garrison, Isabella Beecher Hooker and her husband John formally established the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. Isabella was born into the famous Beecher clan of Litchfield in 1822. She and…

October 16: The United States’ First African-American Diplomat

  Today in 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his grandfather was…

October 7: Thomas Jefferson Opposes Connecticut’s State Church

  One of the central tenets of modern American political doctrine was borne out of a  letter exchange between Connecticut Baptists and an American President that began today in Connecticut history. On October 7, 1801, the Danbury Baptists Association sent an eloquent letter to newly elected President Thomas Jefferson expressing their concerns about Connecticut’s backing…