January 28: The Man Who Connected People to the Telephone

  In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a U.S. Patent for the first practical telephone design, ushering in one of the most revolutionary devices of the late 19th century. The earliest telephones, however, were extremely limited: they allowed for communication between two receivers, but only if they were directly connected by a single wire. It…

January 24: A. C. Gilbert, the Greatest Generation’s Greatest Toymaker

  Today in 1961, A. C. “A. Co.” Gilbert, the man whose hands-on-learning toys were the foundation of the American toy industry during the first half of the twentieth century, died at age 76. A gifted athlete and pole-vaulting gold medalist at the 1908 London Olympics, Gilbert was also a talented illusionist who financed his…

January 16: Yale Students’ Pass on Grading Fails

  Today in 1996, yielding to intense and unrelenting pressure from the university administration, graduate student teachers at Yale University finally turned in final grades for the classes they had taught the previous semester — an action that ended an incredibly tense standoff over teacher compensation and labor rights closely watched by students and university…

December 9: Rocker Jim Morrison Arrested in New Haven

  On this night in 1967, The Doors, a psychedelic rock band, were scheduled to headline a show at the New Haven Arena. What should have been an ordinary night of music and revelry turned into something more memorable for everyone who attended, thanks to the antics of Doors’ lead singer and frontman Jim Morrison….

December 5: America’s First Law School’s First Hire

  As a professor at the first law school established in the United States, Connecticut legal luminary James Gould helped educate some of the most important legal minds in early 19th-century America. Gould was born in Branford, Connecticut today in 1770. His parents initially doubted his promise as a scholar because of his exceptionally poor…

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 14: Paul Sperry (and His Dog) Invent the Boat Shoe

  Today in 1939, New Haven-born sailor-turned-shoemaker Paul Sperry received a patent for one of the most famous and enduring pieces of American footwear: the Sperry Top-Sider, or “boat shoe.” Born in 1895, Sperry’s life revolved around the sea; growing up along the Connecticut coast, he developed a lifelong love for sailing at an early…

October 27: Yankee Division Doughboys Honor One of Their Own

  Born in 1898 to Irish immigrants living in New Haven, Timothy Francis Ahearn was still a teenager when he enlisted in the 102d Infantry Division — famously known as the Yankee Division owing to the New England origins of most of its men — and was deployed overseas to fight the Germans during World…