January 19: Connecticut’s First African-American Female Pharmacist

  Born in Hartford on January 19, 1886, young Anna Louise James was the eighth of eleven 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: 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: Mary Goodrich Jenson, Connecticut’s First Female Pilot

  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 Red Spy Queen” Born in New Milford

  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…

November 27: Connecticut Passes Its Own Equal Rights Amendment

  In 1972, Connecticut was one of over thirty states that voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment as passed by Congress, which expressly prohibited discrimination based on a person’s sex.  The federal E.R.A would have become the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution upon ratification by 3/4 of the states in the Union, but…

November 13: Emmeline Pankhurst Delivers “Freedom or Death” Speech in Hartford

  Today in 1913, British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst delivered her famous “Freedom or Death” speech to a crowd of supporters at the Parsons Theater in Hartford, Connecticut.  The famous activist, well-known to Americans for her aggressive tactics she employed at suffragist rallies in England, was invited to speak by architect Theodate Pope of Farmington, and…

November 5: Ella Grasso, First Female Governor

  Born to Italian immigrants in 1919, Ella Rosa Giovanna Oliva Tambussi grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood of first and second-generation Americans in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  Her parents, determined to invest in a better future for their daughter, saved up enough money to send Ella to the prestigious Chaffee School in Windsor.  Afterwards, she…

October 28: The Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association Formed

  On this day in 1869, at a meeting in Hartford attended by civil rights luminaries including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and William Lloyd Garrison, Isabella Beecher Hooker and her husband John formally established the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association. Isabella was born into the famous Beecher clan of Litchfield in 1822.  She and…

September 27: Theodate Pope Riddle’s Architectural Masterpiece

  As one of the first licensed woman architects in the United States and the first to be licensed in both Connecticut and New York State, Theodate Pope Riddle was one of Connecticut’s great designers and innovators of the early 20th century. Born into a wealthy family in 1867, young Effie Pope attended school at…

September 14: Connecticut Ratifies the 19th Amendment

  On this day in 1920, nearly 52 years after they first convened to fight for women’s right to vote, members of the Connecticut Women’s Suffrage Association watched as the Connecticut General Assembly finally ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave all American women the right to vote. For decades, Connecticut suffragists…

August 31: Glenna Collett Vare Wins Record 6th Golf Championship

  On August 31, 1935, thousands watched New Haven-born golf sensation Glenna Collett Vare win a record-breaking 6th U.S. Women’s Golf Championship at the Interlachen Country Club in Hopkins, Minnesota. Born in New Haven in 1903, Glenda Collett Vare was an active youngster, excelling at a variety of sports including swimming, diving, and golf.  She…

August 17: Suffragist Catherine Flanagan Arrested for Picketing

  On this day 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 twelve days in the same location, carrying a variety of banners bedecked in purple and…