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…

December 6: Florence Griswold and the Fine Art of Hospitality

  Today in 1937, Florence Griswold died, having made her lifelong hometown of Old Lyme synonymous with  art.  Miss 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…

November 27: Connecticut Adds “or sex” to the State Constitution

  Today in 1974, frustrated at the slow pace with which other states were acting to amend the federal constitution, Connecticut amended its own state constitution, inserting the words “or sex” into a key provision of that document. Two years earlier, Connecticut had been one of over 30 states that voted to ratify the Equal…

November 13: One of the 20th Century’s Greatest Speeches – “Freedom or Death”

  Invited by celebrated architect and socialite Theodate Pope, and introduced by the equally well-placed and notably outspoken Katherine Houghton Hepburn, a militant English suffragist took the stage at Hartford’s Parson Theatre today in 1913, and delivered what is now regarded as one of the greatest speeches of the twentieth-century.  Emmeline Pankhurst, whose unwavering advocacy…

October 20: A Monument to the State’s Founding Minister

  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…

August 17: Catherine Flanagan’s Two Very Different Trips To Washington

  Today 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 12 days in the same location, carrying a variety of banners bedecked in purple and gold (the…

June 27: Prudence Crandall Arrested & Jailed

  In 1831, Prudence Crandall, with the support and approval of the local citizenry, opened the Canterbury Female Boarding School to educate daughters of wealthy Eastern Connecticut families. After a successful inaugural year, Crandall received a request from 20-year-old Sarah Harris, the daughter of a prosperous free African-American farmer and his wife, to attend the…

June 26: Science and Embroidery Stitched Together in Litchfield

  Today in 1767, education pioneer Sarah Pierce was born in Litchfield. Her father died when Sarah was a teenager, and as a result, the family was financially pressed. In response, Sarah’s brother sent her to New York to learn to be a teacher. Having acquired that ability, he thought, she would be able to…

May 28: Preparing Connecticut Women to Exercise Their Rights as Citizens

  On May 21, 1919, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would give American women the right to vote — legislation that would eventually become the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Even though the legislation still had to be approved by the U.S. Senate and ratified…