20 for 20: Innovation in Connecticut History
To mark our 20th anniversary, Connecticut Explored decided that instead of looking back, we would look forward and explore the future of Connecticut history. We launched an initiative to find 20 people and projects that are advancing the way we study, interpret, and disseminate Connecticut history.
From a pool of 120 nominations submitted by members of the public in Fall 2021, our advisory team recognized 20 Game Changers whose work has been highlighted in a variety of ways during our anniversary year: in the pages of CTExplored, on the Grating the Nutmeg podcast, and via one of four public programs. You can find links to these public offerings below.
Meet the Game Changers
Learn More About Their Work
Vol. 20/No. 4/Fall 2022 (Theme: Game Changers)
- Special section honoring all Game Changers
- Story by Ben Gammell of Game Changer Connecticut Historical Society: “Treating the Mind in Times Past”
Stories by Advisory Team Members
- Jasmin Agosto & Nataliya Braginsky: “The People Make History”
- Chris Newell: “Re-Indigenizing Connecticut History for Students”
Vol. 21/No. 1/Winter 2022-23 (Theme: Citizen Historians)
Stories by or about our Game Changers
- Tom Schuch and Curtis K. Goodwin: “New London’s Black Heritage Trail”
- Dennis Culliton: “Witness Stones Project”
- Benie N’sumbu: “The Fight for Anti-Racist Pedagogy,” Student Activism to Enact PA 19-12
- Elizabeth Rose: “Interview with Steve Thornton, Shoeleather History Project”
- Richard Curtiss: “Summers of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr. in CT”
Stories by or about our Game Changers
- Sarah Sportman and Maisa Tisdale, “Archaeology at the Freeman Houses in 19th-Century Bridgeport’s Little Liberia Community,” Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community
- Garrett McComas: “Land Grab CT: Student Voices”
- Jack Dougherty of Game Changer On the Line: “The Rise of Exclusionary Zoning in Connecticut”
- Melissa Houston: “Sisters at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center”
- Pablo Delano: “Topsy in the Tropics”
149. New London and the Middle Passage (CTE Game Changer Series) with Game Changer New London’s Black Heritage Trail, featuring Lonnie Braxton II and Tom Schuch.
150. Common Struggle, Individual Experience: How Can Museums Talk About Mental Health? (CTE Game Changer Series) with Game Changer Connecticut Historical Society, featuring CHS’s Ben Gammell, Director of Exhibitions, and Karen Li Miller, Research Historian.
151. Little Liberia: The Mary and Eliza Freeman Center (CTE Game Changer Series) with Game Changer Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community, featuring Maisa Tisdale, President and CEO of the Center, and Dr. Sarah Sportman, CT State Archeologist at the University of Connecticut.
152. Hartford and Puerto Rico: A Conversation with Elena Rosario and Pablo Delano (CTE Game Changer Series) with Game Changers Elena Rosario and Pablo Delano exploring their work in the context of Hartford’s Puerto Rican history and the broader United States-Puerto Rico relationship.
153. Saving Connecticut’s World War I History-Here and in France (CTE Game Changers Series) with Game Changer Connecticut in World War I, featuring Christine Pittsley, Special Projects Director for the Connecticut State Library, and Katy Hitson, a Connecticut student who participated in the trench restoration in France when she was in high school.
155. Celebrating Hartford’s Black Firefighters (CTE Game Changers Series) with Game Changers Steve Harris and Charles Teale Sr. on growing up in Hartford’s African American community in the North End and uncovering the story of William Henry Jacklyn, Hartford’s first Black firefighter.
162. Picturing Puerto Rico in Conceptual Art: The Museum of the Old Colony by Pablo Delano (CTE Game Changer Series) with Game Changer Pablo Delano on the strong ties between Connecticut and Puerto Rico and the way Delano explores those ties in his art.
Still to come:
May 1, 2023 – Game Changer Jack Dougherty on the rise of exclusionary zoning in West Hartford
Summer 2023, date TBD – Game Changer Ancient Burying Ground Association on Black, White, and Indigenous Women’s History
September 14, 6 – 8 p.m.
Uncovering Their History: African, African-American, and Native-American Burials in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640 – 1815, co-hosted by New Haven Museum and the Friends of Grove Street Cemetery
Dr. Katherine Hermes, CTExplored publisher and lead researcher for Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground Association project, presented new research she’s uncovered about the people of color buried in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground and the innovative RelationshipTree software application she created to more fully map histories that include slavery and other kinds of kinship relationships.
Wednesday, September 21, 6 – 8 p.m.
Pablo Delano and Elena Rosario in Conversation, hosted by the Hartford History Center
The Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library hosted historian Elena Rosario and artist and educator Pablo Delano in conversation about how Puerto Rico and its history inform their work. Delano discussed his work, The Museum of the Old Colony, and Rosario shared her research into early Puerto Rican migration to Hartford. Advisory team member Jasmin Agosto moderated the discussion.
Saturday, October 15, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Hartford Heritage Project and Steve Thornton: Justice & Faith Hartford Walking Tour
For almost 200 years African Americans—both enslaved and free—maintained a vital community on Hartford’s East Side. Talcott Street Congregational Church, the city’s first Black church, was a safe haven and a center of activism for this community and a forum for addressing the primary moral and political issues of the day. This walking tour introduced participants to fascinating figures and previously unknown stories that are relevant to our times. The tour concluded at the Black Community Formation exhibition at Capital Community College.
Fall 2023, date TBD
Performance of Sisters, hosted by Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, 152 Main Street, Ridgefield
The play Sisters, commissioned by Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center and written by Joanne Hudson and Royal Shiree, is the story of two historical figures connected to the site: Anna Resseguie, the white owner of what was then called the Resseguie Hotel, and Phillis DuBois, a Black woman who worked there before, during, and after the Civil War. Sisters is a winner of the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award of Excellence and a Connecticut League of History Organizations Award of Merit in 2021.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GAME CHANGERS IN OUR SPECIAL SECTION