By Elizabeth J. Normen, Publisher
(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Spring 2017
This issue is produced in collaboration with the Connecticut State Library and its commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I. On April 6, 1917 the United States officially entered the war. Earlier issues of Connecticut Explored, including the Winter 2014-2015 issue, focused on the World War I homefront (“Join the Brave Throng” about World War I posters, “Greenwich Women Face the Great War,” and “Housing Factory Workers During Wartime,” read these stories at ctexplored.org.) The impact on Connecticut was profound. [See “WWI’s Impact on Connecticut” in that issue.]
In this issue we wanted to explore the experiences of our men and women on the war front. The ability to tell that story was aided by the state library’s multi-year effort to digitize World War I material such as photos, diaries, and letters, still in private hands. [See “Remembering World War I,” page 14, and “The 102nd Regiment on the Western Front,” page 42.]
We also wanted to explore this early era of aviation. Two stories in this issue, “Aviation Pioneer Benjamin Foulois,” page 48, and “Connecticut Pioneers Built the U.S. Navy’s First Airship,” page 28, show how Connecticut played a role in helping the military figure out how to harness aviation’s potential in the war theater.
And Dave Corrigan, a frequent and popular contributor to the magazine, offers a long-forgotten chapter in state history about the Connecticut National Guard’s “practice run” on a very different front—the Mexican border in 1916.
Thank you, Friends!
Our Friends campaign—supported by member-subscribers who donate above and beyond their subscription—responded warmly to our fall campaign, and we met the challenge match through new and increased donations, earning $10,000 from an anonymous Friend! Thank you to all who participated—you’ll find the 2016 Friends listing HERE.
As of this writing, we were closing in on, but had not reached, our stretch goal of $50,000, but there’s still time to help us bridge the gaping hole left by Governor Malloy’s zeroing out CT Humanities in this year’s state budget. We hold out hope that our legislators will find a way to restore a fair level of funding for all of the good work that CT Humanities and heritage organizations do across the state. It feels especially urgent that we support development of critical thinking skills, lively and open discourse, and a solid understanding of our shared history.
We’re really excited to announce that we’re in beta testing with a new social studies text and companion website about Connecticut for third and fourth grades. Schools that are implementing the state’s new social studies frameworks cover “Our State and Our City/Town: Yesterday and Today” in either third or fourth grade. Teachers told us that they lacked an up-to-date and affordable resource to implement this recommended area of study. We took a look at the back catalogue of stories from the past 14 years of Connecticut Explored and, in partnership with teachers and curriculum specialists, decided to create one. We are working to raise $56,000 to put this in the hands (online or in print) of every third/fourth grade student in Connecticut. Donations to this project are welcome. We are committed to helping to foster an informed future electorate and to raising youth who see themselves as active participants in shaping Connecticut’s and our nation’s future. Our history shows that people of all kinds have done just that.