February 9: Connecticut’s 1st African-American Congressman

  Today in 1953, future Congressman Gary A. Franks was born in Waterbury, the youngest of six children in a family of limited means. His parents put a high value on education, and all six of their children went to college, and three obtained doctoral degrees. Gary was an All State high school basketball player,…

January 26: The Talented — and Quite Regrettable — Postmaster General

  Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse. A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792. Following an…

January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Takes Off.

  In 1871, a Civil War veteran and baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, later building a large factory on the city’s east side to accommodate the growing demand for his pastries. Little did he know that one day, several decades in the future, his…

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 16: Ebenezer Bassett, America’s First African-American Diplomat

  On this day in 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his…

September 19: Remembering Old Saybrook’s “Battle of the Books”

  In 1701, the Connecticut General Assembly passed an act establishing a “Collegiate School” in hopes of creating a place “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences who [through] the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for [public] employment both in Church & Civil State.” For the first several years of…

September 8: Timothy Dwight IV Becomes President of Yale

  On this day in 1795, one day before Yale’s annual commencement ceremonies were scheduled to take place, the college officially instated Timothy Dwight IV as its new president. Dwight would be the eighth man to preside over the venerable college, which had been founded in 1701 and was the third-oldest institution of higher education…

August 27: First Chemotherapy Treatment in the United States

  Today in 1942, physicians at Yale University made medical history as they administered the first use of intravenous chemotherapy as a cancer treatment in the United States.  This medical milestone was the culmination of  top-secret experiments aimed at defending against the horrors of mustard gas that a handful of Yale doctors conducted for the…

August 11: First Forester and Founding Father of Conservation Gifford Pinchot

  The next time you hear someone talking about the sustainable use of our environmental resources, you might want to give thanks to forester and founding father of the modern conservation movement Gifford Pinchot (pronounced “pin-show”), who was born in Simsbury today in 1865. Son of a wealthy merchant family, Pinchot’s passionate early interest in…

May 14: Author, War Chaplain, & Yale President Timothy Dwight IV

  Today in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV, scholar, minister, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits, was born.   The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated from Yale College in 1769 and shortly thereafter decided to dedicate his life to…