May 20: A “Man’s Education” at a Female Seminary

  Today in 1823, the first classes were held at the Hartford Female Seminary, a revolutionary new school for girls founded by author and education pioneer Catharine Beecher. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher wholly devoted herself to advancing the education and betterment of young women after her fiancé died…

May 15: Hotels’ “Queen of Mean” Checks Into Danbury For a Long Stay

  Leona Helmsley was one of the most visible celebrity billionaires of late 20th century New York. The wife of hotelier Harry Helmsley, Leona became the face of an immensely successful marketing campaign that cast her as a “queen” who would tolerate only the highest and most exacting standards for the Helmsley-owned luxury-class hotel properties….

May 12: She Won More Oscars Than Any Other Actor.

  Meryl Streep won three. So did Daniel Day Lewis and Jack Nicholson. But though she never attended a prize show to accept any of them in person, this actor from Hartford, born today in 1907, won four Oscars during her film career, more than any other actor. Katharine Hepburn, who retained close ties to…

May 5: The First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

  Even though the U.S. Patent Act of 1790 allowed American citizens to apply for patents regardless of gender, women were discouraged from doing so due to local coverture laws that made it difficult, if not impossible, for a married woman to own property and titles independently of her husband. But today in 1809, nearly…

March 11: She Taught a Man’s World How to Build a Business

  When Beatrice Fox Auerbach became president of Hartford’s G. Fox & Company in 1938, in an era where there were scarcely any female retail executives in the United States, neither she nor any of the popular department store’s board members expected her to remain in the position for very long. But instead of stepping…

February 13: A Greenwich Girl with Great Hair Ices Olympic Gold

  Today in 1976, a 19-year-old ice skater born in Greenwich captivated audiences worldwide with her masterful, gold-medal-winning performance at the 1976 Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Her near perfect routine would catapult her to international stardom and, along with a unique hair style that created a national craze, also set Dorothy Hamill on a…

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: 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…

January 1: The Spy “Queen” Who Triggered the Red Scare of the 1950s

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 making…

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, however, the family’s fortunes began to change, The start of the Civil War (with its many naval blockades), combined with the…