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…

January 12: Lifelong Civil Rights Champion Mary Townsend Seymour

  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 Woman Pilot’s Final Flight

  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…

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…

September 14: Connecticut Ratifies the 19th Amendment, One State Too Late. Or Was It?

  Today in 1920, nearly 52 years after they first convened, members of the Connecticut Women’s Suffrage Association watched as the Connecticut General Assembly finally ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving all American women the right to vote. For decades, Connecticut suffragists had picketed, petitioned, and frequently found themselves arrested as they…

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

  Today in 1917, 28-year-old Connecticut activist and women’s suffrage advocate Catherine 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…

August 16: The Bar Unbarred — Connecticut’s First Woman Lawyer

  Today 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 admitted to…

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…

June 6: In the Skies of France, A D-Day Message From Mom

  In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Private Robert C. Hillman became one of over 13,000 American paratroopers to leap out of a plane over Normandy as part of the “D-Day” invasion of occupied France — one of the largest offensives of World War II. A member of the legendary 101st Airborne…