January 12: Mary Townsend Seymour, Civil Rights Champion

  Born in Hartford in 1873, lifelong civil rights activist Mary Townsend lost both her parents at the age of 15, and was adopted into the family of local black activist and Civil War veteran Lloyd Seymour.  A few years later, she married one of his sons, Frederick Seymour, and the newlyweds settled in the…

January 4: Mary Goodrich Jenson, Connecticut’s First Female Pilot

  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…

January 1: “The Red Spy Queen” Born in New Milford

  Today in 1908, one of the most high-profile American-born Soviet spies of the 20th century was born in New Milford, Connecticut.  Elizabeth Bentley was born to a middle-class family — a dry-goods sellers and a schoolteacher — and by several accounts was a clever and intellectually bright young women who seemed to have trouble…

December 25: Florence Griswold and the Lyme Art Colony

    On this day in 1850, Florence Griswold was born into one of Old Lyme’s most prominent families, the youngest daughter of wealthy ship captain Robert Griswold. Not long after Florence was born, the family’s fortunes began to change, as the onset of the Civil War (and its many naval blockades) and the decline…

November 5: Ella Grasso, First Female Governor

  Born to Italian immigrants in 1919, Ella Rosa Giovanna Oliva Tambussi grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood of first and second-generation Americans in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  Her parents, determined to invest in a better future for their daughter, saved up enough money to send Ella to the prestigious Chaffee School in Windsor.  Afterwards, she…

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 20: Commemorating Thomas Hooker, Founder of Hartford

  On October 20, 1950, a crowd of several hundred Connecticans gathered in front of the Old State House in Hartford to observe the unveiling of a new, eight-foot-tall statue of Thomas Hooker, the Puritan minister and “founding father” of Connecticut who founded the settlement of Hartford in 1636. Born in England in 1586, Thomas…

September 27: Theodate Pope Riddle’s Architectural Masterpiece

  As one of the first licensed woman architects in the United States and the first to be licensed in both Connecticut and New York State, Theodate Pope Riddle was one of Connecticut’s great designers and innovators of the early 20th century. Born into a wealthy family in 1867, young Effie Pope attended school at…

September 14: Connecticut Ratifies the 19th Amendment

  On this day in 1920, nearly 52 years after they first convened to fight for women’s right to vote, members of the Connecticut Women’s Suffrage Association watched as the Connecticut General Assembly finally ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave all American women the right to vote. For decades, Connecticut suffragists…

August 17: Suffragist Catherine Flanagan Arrested for Picketing

  On this day in 1917, 28-year-old Connecticut activist and women’s suffrage advocate Catharine Flanagan was arrested for picketing in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.   Flanagan and a small group of fellow suffragists had been picketing for twelve days in the same location, carrying a variety of banners bedecked in purple and…

August 16: Mary Hall, Connecticut’s First Female Lawyer

  On this day 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…

July 3: Charlotte Perkins Gilman Born in Hartford

  Author, feminist, and social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born on this day in 1860.  Since her father was absent for most of her childhood, Gilman often spent her time visiting her great aunts, the famous Beecher sisters: author Harriet Beecher Stowe, education reformer Catherine Beecher and suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker. Between her aunts’…