March 4: America’s First and Oldest Crossword Puzzle Tournament Begins

  Today in 1978, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, the first competition of its kind ever held in the United States, kicked off a weekend of fierce competition at the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut. Founded by New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz, the only person in the country known to hold a college…

March 1: The First President of the United States — Samuel Huntington

  On this day in 1781, more than four years after they were first adopted by the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation became the supreme law of the United States after being formally ratified by all 13 states. As a result, the previous sitting president of the Continental Congress — a Connecticut lawyer by…

February 25: Samuel Colt Finally Gets His Shot at Success.

  Today in 1836, Hartford inventor Samuel Colt — after being expelled from school, sailing the seas, and touring as a showman demonstrating the unusual effects of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” –received a U.S. patent for the first revolving chamber percussion pistol. This was a dramatically new type of firearm, which would revolutionize the…

February 23: Connecticut Openly Defies a Hated President

  In the early 19th century, Thomas Jefferson, who was elected to two consecutive terms as President of the United States, proved to be a constant thorn in the side of Connecticut’s political leaders. Virtually all the members of Connecticut’s political “Standing Order” were staunch Federalists who vehemently disagreed with Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican political agenda and…

February 21: The World’s First Telephone Directory Had Only 50 Names

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development of the telephone. Within two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of innovations — like…

February 3: The First Mass Murder in U.S. History

  One of the darkest days in Connecticut history occurred today in 1780, as 19-year-old Revolutionary War deserter Barnett Davenport brutally murdered his employer and his entire family in what many historians recognize as the first documented mass murder in American history. Born in New Milford in 1760, young Barnett was a troubled youth who,…

February 2: The World’s First Two-Sided Building

  Today in 1961, the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company unveiled plans for a new corporate headquarters building in downtown Hartford, featuring a bold and revolutionary elliptical design unlike anything the city — or the world, for that matter — had seen before. Designed by the famous modernist architect Max Abramovitz, the new Phoenix Mutual…

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 10:57a.m., 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: A Girl with Soaring Ambitions.

  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…