Connecticut Explored offers a wealth of topics for the 2015-2016 History Day theme of “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”
For more information on History Day, visit historydayct.org.
30 Great Topics to Inspire your History Day Project
(Click on the topic for a link to the Connecticut Explored story)
Prisoner of War in the Civil War
Explore what Joseph Flowers encountered in the infamous Confederate prison in Andersonville. This is a primary resource, an extract from his diary, in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society.
What did Connecticut’s Native Americans encounters as sailors on Connecticut’s whaling ships? Places to visit: Mystic Seaport and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Other resources: “Perspectives on Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Power in Maritime America, Papers from a Conference Held at Mystic Seaport 2006” (Mystic Seaport, 2006)
Life in the Arctic Circle
Whaling captain George Comer’s surprising life with the Inuit. Place to visit: Mystic Seaport
From East Africa to Ivoryton
From East Africa to Ivoryton, piano key manufacturing in the 19th century shapes a town. Place to visit: Essex Historical Society
Following the Leatherman’s Trail
A mysterious man dressed in leather travelled a circuit of 41 Connecticut towns continuously between the 1850s and 1889. Other source: Dan DeLuca & Dione Longley, The Old Leatherman (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)
Our First Exchange Students
Chinese students came to Washington, Connecticut to study in the 1880s. Visit The Gunn Memorial Museum
Discovering the Impressionists & Lunch with Monet (2 articles)
While on the Grand Tour of Europe as a young woman, Theodate Pope reveals her first impressions of the Impressionists in 1888. And her father lunches with Monet: an excerpt from his letter. Place to visit: Hill-Stead Museum
Fighting the Spanish Civil War
How Hartford’s immigrant neighborhood birthed a pair of communists and anti-Franco brigadistas who went to Spain to fight another country’s war.
Rescuing Art in World War II
New Haven artist Deane Keller rescues Italy’s art from the Nazi’s as one of WWII’s Monuments Men. Place to visit: New Haven Museum. Listen to an interview with author Laura Macaluso.
Rediscovering Albert Afraid-of-Hawk
A Lakota Sioux man traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show dies in Connecticut. His story is rediscovered and his remains returned to his homeland more than 100 years later.
Archaeological Discoveries Rewrite the History of the War of 1812
Underwater discoveries reframe the attack on Essex in the War of 1812. See also, “The British Raid on Essex” and other articles on the War of 1812 in our special Summer 2012 issue including the state historian’s explanation on what the war was all about. Visit the Connecticut River Museum. Additional resources: Jerry Roberts, “The British Raid on Essex,” (Wesleyan University Press, 2014).
War of 1812: Attack on Stonington
Scrappy citizens beat back the British. See also, articles on the War of 1812 in our special Summer 2012 issue including the state historian’s explanation on what the war was all about.
Exploring the Beauty of the Hudson River Valley
Hudson River School artists capture the American landscape on canvas. Place to visit: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Cultural Exchange: Japanese Americans in World War II
West Coast Japanese Americans interned in WWII relocate to Connecticut. What did they encounter here?
Exploring and Uncovering the Pequot War
The arrival of the British leads to conflict. Sites to visit: Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Mystic Seaport
In Search of Seals and Fortune
A New Haven ship goes seal hunting off South America in 1802.
A Missionary to China
An unmarried minister’s daughter from Hartford becomes a missionary to China in 1899. Place to visit: the Butler-McCook House & Garden and Main Street History Center, Hartford
Puritans Settle in Connecticut
Why Rev. Thomas Hooker left Massachusetts to settle a new colony.
Connecticut Businesses Sell Abroad
Connecticut-made products and efforts to sell them across the world in the 19th century. Place to visit: Museum of Connecticut History
First Black Ambassador to First Black Republic
President Grant appoints Ebenezer Bassett to represent the U.S. in Haiti.
The Making of a Humanitarian
Frederick Walcott responds to Poland’s plight after World War I.
Helping Concentration Camp Survivors
Caroline Ferriday reaches out to help WWII concentration camp survivors. Place to visit: Bellamy-Ferriday House, Bethlehem, CT
Discoverer of Antarctica
Captain Nathaniel Palmer of Stonington discovers Antarctica in 1820. Place to visit: Stonington Historical Society
Generals Washington and Rochambeau Meet
Two generals meet on Connecticut soil and change the course of American history. See Washington-Rochambeau Trail. Site to visit: Old State House, Webb-Deane-Stevens House
Welles Builds a Navy
Glastonbury’s Gideon Welles brings order out of chaos and builds a navy in the Civil War.
Encountering a Turncoat
At the height of the Revolution, Benedict Arnold lays waste to a bustling Connecticut port city.
Eastern European Jews Move to Connecticut
Fleeing pogroms, Eastern European Jews become farmers in Connecticut. Sites to visit: Lebanon Historical Society, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford
James Mars Secures His Freedom
Connecticut’s Gradual Emancipation Act frees an enslaved Connectican.