20th Anniversary: Dr. Fiona Vernal Appointed Lead Scholar


Dr. Fiona Vernal, associate professor of history and Africana studies at the University of Connecticut, will lead the planning team for Connecticut Explored’s forthcoming 20th anniversary celebration beginning in Fall 2022, funded in part by Connecticut Humanities.

20 for 20: Innovation in Connecticut History to Mark Connecticut Explored‘s 20th Anniversary

October 2021

Connecticut Explored, the nonprofit magazine of Connecticut history, is pleased to announce that it has received support from Connecticut Humanities to plan a year-long celebration of the magazine’s 20th anniversary, beginning in fall 2022, to be called “20 for 20: Innovation in Connecticut History.”

Connecticut Explored is excited to mark this important milestone by looking forward,” founding Publisher Elizabeth Normen said. “We’re taking this opportunity to explore the question ‘What is the future of Connecticut history?,’ and in honor of our 20 years, we’re seeking to highlight 20 game changers who are on the cutting edge of interpretation and dissemination of Connecticut history today. We are particularly honored to, with CTHumanities funding, appoint a team of distinguished public historians and educators to advise this effort.”

 About “20 for 20”

Connecticut Humanities’ Project Planning Grant has enabled Connecticut Explored to assemble an Advisory Team of innovative and influential scholars, historians, and community members chaired by UConn Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies Fiona Vernal. Team members include artist and producer Jasmin Agosto, also of Hartford Public Library’s Hartford History Center, Christopher Newell, co-founder of Akomawt Educational Initiative, Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky, executive director of New Haven Museum, and Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History 2021 National History Teacher of the Year Nataliya Braginsky of Metropolitan High School in New Haven. Dr. Clarissa Ceglio, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the Digital Media & Design Department at UConn and CTExplored board member, rounds out the team as board liaison.

Working with the Advisory Team, Connecticut Explored will identify 20 “game changers”: people and projects that have changed or are changing the direction and trajectory of the interpretation of Connecticut history. These game changers will be featured in a variety of ways between fall 2022 and summer 2023, including public programs and exhibitions at partner organizations held around the state, stories published in Connecticut Explored, Grating the Nutmeg podcasts, and more, with the goal of engaging audiences and exploring new ways to tell the Connecticut story.

Noted Scholar Appointed

Connecticut Explored is honored that Dr. Vernal will serve as the “20 for 20” Scholar Advisor. Dr. Vernal, who is the director of Engaged, Public, Oral, and Community Histories at UConn, has extensive teaching and research interests in African, Caribbean, and Diaspora history. Her interdisciplinary work explores a wide range of themes, from slavery, gender, and the law to the history of housing and segregation. She holds a BA from Princeton and an MA and PhD from Yale University. She consults on and curates a number of public-facing projects, including the production of a series of radio plays exploring the lives of the people and cultures in the Greater Hartford region, in partnership with Hartford Stage and Connecticut Public Broadcasting. Her current book project, Hartford Bound, explores African American, Puerto Rican, and West Indian migration to the Greater Hartford region through the lens of housing and mobility. Hartford Bound integrates oral histories, archival research, and GIS methodologies to reframe the history of Hartford and offers counternarratives to hardened scripts of slum clearance, white suburban flight, redlining, urban renewal, and gentrification.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Connecticut Explored will also appoint an Honorary Committee composed of established and impactful leaders in the Connecticut history community. Members of the Honorary Committee will be invited to join the project in February 2022 and announced to the public the following month.

Game Changers Nominated

Game changers were nominated in late fall 2021 by members of the public through an open process publicized through social media, our advisory team and their contacts, our organizational partners across the state, and networks including the Connecticut League of History Organizations, CT Humanities, and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. 120 nominations were received. The Advisory Team will next evaluate and recommend to Connecticut Explored 20 people and projects to highlight.

About Connecticut Explored

Founded in 2002, Connecticut Explored publishes a quarterly magazine about Connecticut history, a biweekly podcast produced in collaboration with the state historian called Grating the Nutmeg, a robust website with education materials for all ages, and multiple education publications, including African American Connecticut Explored; Where I Live: Connecticut for grades 3 & 4; and Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut for grades 5 – 8.

Connecticut Explored partners with Connecticut’s premier history, arts, and education organizations to bring audiences relevant and engaging online and print resources about Connecticut history. Through compelling stories and intriguing images, Connecticut Explored explores the state’s cultural heritage with the aim of revealing connections between our past, present, and future.

To learn more about Connecticut Explored—including our magazine, podcast, and education resources for all ages—visit our websites at ctexplored.org, cthistoryforkids.org, and ctexplored.substack.com; and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @CTExplored.


20th Anniversary Endowment Campaign

March 2021

In anticipation of its 20th anniversary, Connecticut Explored kicked off an endowment fund as part of the Endow Hartford 21 campaign. Visit HERE for more information.


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