November 29: Connecticut’s Presidential Portrait Painter

  On this day in 1982, a very special delivery was received at the White House: a stunningly photo-realistic portrait of President Jimmy Carter, painted by Connecticut artist Herbert E. Abrams. The painting was President Carter’s official White House portrait, and after viewing it, White House curator Clement Conger declared Abrams the best contemporary artist…

November 28: State Librarian Rewrites the Book.

  Today in 1900, Granby native George Seymour Godard was appointed Connecticut’s third State Librarian. The hand-picked choice of his predecessor Charles J. Hoadley, who had died the month before, Godard served as State Librarian for 35 years.  He radically expanded the mission of the state library system, making  it a nationally and internationally acclaimed…

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 23: Connecticut’s First African-American Civil War Regiment

  In late May of 1863, nearly six months after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared that all black men and women in slave-holding Confederate states were free, the Federal government created the Bureau of Colored Troops, effectively authorizing the use of black troops throughout the Union Army. While some Northern states quickly raised their…

November 10: The Tong Wars Come to Connecticut

  In the late 19th century and early 20th century, as Chinese immigrants flocked to American shores in increasing numbers, insular Chinese-American communities known as “Chinatowns” sprang up in large coastal cities like San Francisco and New York. Here, recent immigrants could more freely speak their native language and observe Chinese customs while adapting to…

October 31: Connecticut’s Greatest Legend Happened Today…. or Did It?

  One of the most important symbols in Connecticut history is the Charter Oak – the giant, gnarled oak tree that represents Connecticut’s “steady habit” of self-rule and resistance against tyranny. Depictions and namesakes of the Charter Oak are plentiful throughout the state: schools, streets, social organizations, parks, Connecticut’s state quarter, and even a brewery…

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 29: The First Issue of the Country’s “Oldest” Newspaper

  In October of 1764, 29-year-old Thomas Green, a fourth-generation printer, suddenly found himself out of a job working at the Connecticut Gazette print shop in New Haven. The Gazette, Connecticut’s very first newspaper, had been established several years earlier by the enterprising Benjamin Franklin, who had just sacked Green in order to install his…