September 26: Connecticut’s First English Settlement

  Today in 1633, a small band of English settlers from Eastern Massachusetts sailed past an openly hostile Dutch trading fort near modern-day Hartford and defiantly staked their own claim near the shores of the Connecticut River. There, at a site that would soon be known as Windsor, they built a trading post surrounded by…

September 7: A Game-Changer For Sports . . . and Television

  Today in 1979, at 7:00pm Eastern time, the first cable channel devoted exclusively to sports and entertainment went live from its studio in Bristol, Connecticut. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) was the dream of Bill Rasmussen, a former communications director for the New England (later Hartford) Whalers, who spent the better part…

September 1: Connecticut’s Unknown Industrial Genius

  The largely unknown man at the center of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford today in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius first revolutionized axe production in Collinsville and then made the Colt Firearms Company a worldwide icon of precision manufacturing. Born in western Massachusetts in 1808, Root…

August 27: “Substance X” Leads To the Nation’s First Chemotherapy Treatment

  Today in 1942, following top-secret research  on the effects of the war-poison mustard gas, physicians at Yale University made medical history as they  administered the first use of intravenous chemotherapy as a cancer treatment in the United States. This medical milestone was the culmination of  experiments aimed at defending against the horrors of mustard…

August 22: A President Makes Transportation History in Hartford

  Theodore Roosevelt was no stranger to Connecticut; his mother and second wife were Connecticans and his sister lived in Farmington for most of her adult life. While Roosevelt’s several visits to Connecticut to visit his family and friends often attracted plenty of press, his visit of August 22, 1902 was memorable not for why…

August 18: Connecticut Man with a Rifle Enters Lincoln’s Office

  It would be easy to hold up Connecticut inventor Christopher Miner Spencer as an archetype of 19th century Yankee ingenuity: Not only was he a man who spent his whole life tinkering with machinery, filing patents, and aggressively marketing his creations, but as with so many other Connecticut inventors, his innovations changed the course…

August 16: The Bar Unbarred — Connecticut’s First Woman Lawyer

  Today in 1843, Mary Hall was born in Marlborough, Connecticut. Growing up on a farm in antebellum America, when high Victorian culture placed an increasingly stringent emphasis on female domesticity, made her perhaps one of the most unlikely candidates to defy gender norms and become the first woman in Connecticut to be admitted to…

July 28: The World’s First Hamburger?

  July 28, 1900 was shaping up to be an average summer day for lunch wagon owner and Danish immigrant Louis Lassen, who was serving sandwiches and other hot meals to factory workers in New Haven during their lunch breaks. Suddenly, a local businessman, Gary Widmore, rushed up to Lassen’s wagon and desperately asked for…

July 21: Testing the World’s First Attack Submarine — in 1776

  While Connecticut has been home to an outsized share of American innovators and creative geniuses, few of them have had as long-lasting an impact as David Bushnell, inventor of the Turtle — the world’s first combat submarine. Born in Saybrook in 1740, Bushnell decided at age 30 to sell his share of the family…

July 1: Concerns Over Prison Unrest Produce the State Department of Correction

  Today in 1968, the Connecticut General Assembly voted in favor of consolidating the state’s prisons into a single organization, creating the State Department of Correction. Previously, every prison in the state had been independently managed, with its own Board of Directors, administrative staff, and policies for inmate behavior and rehabilitation. This sweeping reform of…

June 4: America’s First “Lemon Law”

  Today in 1982, in response to an increasing number of consumer complaints about seriously defective new automobiles (colloquially called “lemons”), the Connecticut legislature passed the nation’s first “Lemon Law.” Introduced by freshman representative John J. Woodcock III of South Windsor, the law was loosely modeled on a set of consumer protections for automobile buyers…