January 21: World’s First Nuclear Submarine Launched at Groton

  On January 21, 1954, hundreds of spectators, including General Dynamics employees, military brass, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and scores of reporters gathered along the banks of the ThamesRiver to witness a momentous occasion. At 10:57am, the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, slid off a dry dock at General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut,…

January 19: Connecticut’s First African-American Woman Pharmacist

  Born in Hartford on January 19, 1886, young Anna Louise James was the eighth of 11 children born to Willis James, a former slave who had successfully escaped from a Virginia plantation via the Underground Railroad. As a child, Anna’s family moved from Hartford to Old Saybrook, where she graduated high school and, as…

January 4: Connecticut’s First Female Pilot’s Final Journey

  In the heady days of early American aviation, when tales of plucky pilots and ingenious innovators were a dime a dozen, few pilots stood out from the crowd as much as Mary Goodrich Jenson, the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the state of Connecticut. Born in Hartford in 1907, young Mary…

November 26: The Oldest Congregational Church in America

  As the oldest continuously active Congregational church in the United States, the First Congregational Church of Windsor, Connecticut has celebrated more anniversaries than nearly any other church in the country. One of the most memorable anniversaries in the congregation’s existence was its 275th anniversary, celebrated on November 26, 1905. That year, the church organized…

November 25: María Colón Sánchez, “La Madrina” of Hartford

  María Colón Sánchez arrived in Hartford at the age of 28 in 1954, one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who moved to Connecticut in search of better economic opportunity during the mid-20th century. Within a few years, she had saved up enough money to open a convenience store, Maria’s News Stand, on Albany Avenue,…

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 9: The First Person Buried in 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 —…

October 30: Yung Wing and the Chinese Educational Mission

  Born in 1828 to a poor farming family in Macau, Yung Wing was sent to attend foreign missionary schools in southern China at a young age, in hopes that learning English would lead young Wing to a more prosperous career path. In 1847, when Yung was 19 years old, he accompanied his former headmaster…

October 17: Jupiter Hammon, First Published African-American Writer

  Jupiter Hammon, an enslaved man, poet, and devout Christian who became the first published African-American writer, was born on this day in 1711 on the Lloyd family estate on Long Island. While little is known about the finer details of Hammon’s life, as a boy, young Jupiter was educated alongside the Lloyd family’s children…

October 16: Ebenezer Bassett, America’s First African-American Diplomat

  On this day 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…