WINTER 2022-23 #1: CITIZEN HISTORIANS MAKE HISTORY THEIR OWN
Welcome to your bi-weekly newsletter from Connecticut Explored with the latest stories, the newest Grating the Nutmeg podcast, programs and exhibitions from our partners to see/watch this month, and more!
We want to hear from our Connecticut Explored Fall magazine readers! It’s open to all online! Respondents to the survey will receive a free issue of the magazine!
Happening NOW - Oliver Wolcott Library’s Premiere Online Holiday Auction!
Connecticut exclusive items & experiences. BID NOW! Auction closes Dec. 3 at 5 PM!
Auction Link: https://owlauction2022.ggo.bid/bidding/package-browse
The Hog River Journal, by Kathy Hermes
The Winter 2022-2023 issue is devoted to those who have a special kind of dedication to history: citizen historians. These men and women may not have earned advanced degrees in history or secured paid academic appointments. They generally came to their subjects because of a deep need to understand or uncover some person, event, or answer to a question they could not push aside. Many are self-taught history detectives who overcame their fears of going into strange archives or town halls. Frequently they contended with “gatekeepers” and naysayers who said what they were looking for did not exist. They cultivated relationships with librarians, town clerks, teachers, museums, and preservationists to pursue their subjects. Many became public advocates for their historical findings and projects.
Professional historians owe a great debt to citizen historians, as does the public. Without their work, some documents would never come to light, aspects of the past would remain in darkness, and communities’ sense of their past would stagnate.
In the winter many of us are focused on our plans for the holidays, and that involves celebration. Each of the stories by the citizen historians in this issue gives us cause for celebration. We learn how students in middle and high school pursued hidden histories and created public commemorations; the success of efforts to introduce a new African American/Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies course in public schools; and the African, Irish, and Jewish diasporas that transformed the Connecticut landscape. The citizen historians’ work is a gift to our state and our nation.
The Winter issue is a time for CT Explored to look both forward and back. We’re celebrating our 20th year of publication, and we do so by examining the future of Connecticut history.
As the new publisher, I am committed to telling the whole of Connecticut’s history in our magazine in well-written and well-researched narratives. I grew up reading history books and going to museums, and I still love doing those things. Over my 25-year career as a history professor at Central Connecticut State University, I witnessed so many changes in the approach to history, namely those that have made it more accessible and open to all comers. Connecticut Explored and its readers are part of that movement.
OUR HISTORY-MAKING TEAM: ELIZABETH NORMEN (FOUNDING PUBLISHER), MARY DONOHUE (ASST. PUBLISHER), JENNIFER LARUE (EDITOR), AND JOHN ALVES (GRAPHIC DESIGNER). Honoring the Game Changers at the Mark Twain House and Museum, Oct. 6, 2022.
The Fund for Excellence in Publishing
We will continue to bring you “one good story after another,” but we’ll never tell a good story at the expense of the truth. That’s why, for our 20th Anniversary, we established the Fund for Excellence in Publishing at ctexplored.org/the-fund-for-excellence-in-publishing/. This fund will ensure that CT Explored is sustainable for the future. Our subscribers and the generosity of our Friends, with the support of our organizational partners, have kept us going for 20 years.
Twenty years ago, the way we dressed, talked about current events, listened to music, watched movies, and cheered our sports teams were all different. So were our museums, our schools’ history and social studies curricula, and our questions about the past. Connecticut Explored has been growing and changing with you. We have expanded statewide from our founding days as the Hartford-centric Hog River Journal. We now employ an education specialist who works with the state and teachers to bring the best history into the classroom. We have a digital presence that is expanding and complementing the print magazine that we all love. Subscription prices have remained affordable, despite inflation, and we continue to provide discounts to seniors and educators. Our Friends’ donations have made all that growth possible.
If you are able to give to the Fund for Excellence in Publishing, you will help guarantee that our state’s stories continue to be told and that we will continue to have the ability to change with the times. Donate to the Fund for Excellence in Publishing.
Connecticut Explored uncovers the state’s cultural heritage with the aim of revealing connections between our past, present and future. For stories from our back issues visit ctexplored.org.
154. Numbers to Names: Restoring Humanity to CT Valley Hospital Cemetery
Connecticut Explored magazine is celebrating its 20th anniversary and our Grating the Nutmeg podcast its 7th anniversary. Neither of these milestones could have been reached without your support! Please make a gift to our new Fund for Excellence in Publishing at https://www.ctexplored.org/subscribe/friends-of-connecticut-explored/
For over a century, almost 1700 people buried in the cemetery at the Connecticut Valley Hospital were identified with gravestones bearing only a number instead of a name. In the 1990s, names of the deceased were restored to the site. In this episode of Grating the Nutmeg, Natalie Belanger of the Connecticut Historical Society (https://chs.org/) is taking a look at a digital history project that will help expand our understanding of the lives of the people buried in that cemetery and of mental health care in Connecticut's past. Kaitlyn Oberndorfer, CREC history teacher and graduate student, has undertaken a project that will link genealogical and demographic information to the names in the cemetery, restoring some of the residents' lost humanity.
Look for Kaitlyn's finished project to go live online sometime in 2023. For a detailed history of the Connecticut Valley Hospital Cemetery, you can read the application that placed the site on the National Register of Historic Places.
This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager at the Connecticut Historical Society and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan of High Wattage Media at https://www.highwattagemedia.com/
ARE YOU A FAN OF GRATING THE NUTMEG? YOU CAN SUPPORT OUR DIGITIZATION PROJECT WITH A DONATION. WE’RE PUTTING OUR PODCASTS IN THE CONNECTICUT DIGITAL ARCHIVE (CTDA).
Programs and Exhibitions to Enjoy This Month
On Tuesday, December 13, at 7 p.m., Connecticut’s Old State House presents a Connecticut Democracy Center program about the popular Capitol Collection Souvenir Passport Book. This evening conversation will feature Kevin Snow, owner of the Capitol Collection, which is a comprehensive guide to visiting the country’s state capitols. Kevin will discuss how the Capitol Collection passport book came into being and talk about his own quest to visit as many state capitols as he could. The story of his trip to deliver special Capitol Collection passport stamps includes some amusing anecdotes about tickling kittens or possible electrocutions, depending on which expert you ask. Finally, he'll relate some of the tales of other capitol travelers and the goings-on at the capitols of today. For more information visit wp.cga.ct.gov/osh/calendar/evening-conversation-a-capitol-connoisseurs-creation-of-the-capitol-collection/.
Connecticut Democracy Center at Connecticut’s Old State House, 800 Main Street, Hartford. CTOldStateHouse.org; 860-522-6766
Festival of Trees & Traditions
Celebrate the season and support the Wadsworth during our favorite holiday fundraiser, the 48th annual Festival of Trees & Traditions, December 1-11. Each year community members, artists, and organizations decorate holiday trees and wreaths, turning the galleries into a winter wonderland. Don’t miss Second Saturdays for Families on Saturday, December 10, for even more festive fun from noon to 2 p.m. The Festival is open noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday, noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Special early hours for group tours are available by reservation, daily from 10 a.m. to noon. Admission during Festival of Trees reflects a $5 fundraising surcharge: $15 adults; $17 seniors; [seniors pay MORE than adults?] $10 students; $5 members, Hartford residents, and youth. $5 Happy Hour admission applies 4–5 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 6–7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays during the Festival.
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford. thewadsworth.org; 860-278-2670
12th Annual Gingerbread House Festival: Land of Sweets
From November 25 to December 18, 2022, visitors can gaze upon rows of sugary artistic creations amid seasonal décor and shop for holiday gifts at the Friends of Wood Memorial Library’s Annual Gingerbread House Festival located at 783 Main Street, South Windsor. The display is free and open to the public Details, including hours, are available at WoodMemorialLibrary.org.
Wood Memorial Library, 787 Main Street, South Windsor. 860-289-1783; WoodMemorialLibrary.org
Institute for American Indian Studies Wigwam Escape
More than just a game, Wigwam Escape is built to teach through experience and foster dialogue in a game that’s dynamic, challenging, and entertaining. Visit Wigwam Escape for this must-do team-building experience for friends, families, and co-workers.
Do you have more than seven people? Give us a call 860-868-0510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re happy to do our best to accommodate larger groups.
Admission is $25 per person (minimum two people, maximum seven people). IAIS members $20; students $20.
Institute for American Indian Studies, 38 Curtis Road, Washington. wigwamescape.org; 860-868-0510
You can click here to learn about the “Uncovering Their History” project that inspired the Grating the Nutmeg podcast “Numbers to Names,” above.
For more discussion of cemeteries and their hidden histories, see “Unburying Hartford’s Native and African Family Histories,”
And listen to our podcast about “Uncovering Their History” episode here:
For more about the treatment of Civil War soldiers at the Connecticut Valley Hospital, read more here:https://www.ctexplored.org/civil-war-soldiers-heart/
And for more about the treatment of mental illness in Connecticut, read more here: https://www.ctexplored.org/treating-the-mind-in-times-past/
Join us—Two Options, Your Choice!
To Your Mailbox
The quarterly magazine in print: CTExplored.org/Shop
Use Coupon Code HOL22 and receive 6 issues instead of 4—18 months for the price of 12!
To Your Inbox
Just enough, not too much. The entire issue bit by bit every two weeks to your inbox or the Substack app: full text of one or two stories from the latest issue, the latest Grating the Nutmeg, and more! Want to read the whole issue at your convenience? Your premium subscription gives you online access to the entire issue!
In our Winter 2022-2023 issue on page 48, we published an article “Mike Allen’s AmazingTales from On and Off the Beaten Path,” about a wonderful podcast and its dynamic host, Mike Allen. We regret that the article included an incorrect url. The correct url for the podcast is https://AmazingTalesCT.Podbean.com.
M. Stephen Miller, author of "A Shaker Treasure Comes to Light" on page 32 in our Winter edition is the current, not former, curator of the Shaker Collection at the New Britain Museum of American Art. His new exhibition, "Handled with Care: The Function of Form in Shaker Craft" opened there in early February of this year. It will be followed this summer with "Masterworks of Shaker Design" in July.