Idea Bank: History Day 2017–Taking a Stand in History


Mary Townsend Seymour Takes a Stand

In early 20th century Hartford, Mary Townsend Seymour helped found the local NAACP chapter and worked for labor rights. She fought battles and formed daring alliances to promote the cause of local African Americans.
Summer 2003: Audacious Alliance: Mary Townsend Seymour

Maria Sanchez: From Immigrant to Advocate

Maria Sanchez came to Hartford from Puerto Rico. She became a pillar of Hartford’s Puerto Rican community working behind the scenes to better her community.
Summer 2003: Maria Sanchez: Godmother to Hartford’s Puerto Rican Community

Protestors Demonstrate Against the Vietnam War

Fall 2003 A War Contested

African Americans Take a Stand During the Civil War

A letter from Joseph Cross to his family tells of his experiences fighting for the Union in the Civil War.
Fall 2003: Fighting For Freedom: Joseph O. Cross
Spring 2011: Black Abolitionists Speak
Winter 2012/2013: Rev. James Pennington: A Voice for Freedom

Hartfordites Fight Fascism in Spain

Spring 2004: Hartford Labor Militants Fight the Spanish Civil War

A Strong Mayor for Hartford

In 2002, the voters of Hartford approved an amendment to the city charter, effective January 1, 2004, which fundamentally altered the form of government in the city. The primary change provided for the direct election of a “strong” mayor, replacing a supposedly nonpartisan, apolitical city manager as the operating head of the city.
Summer 2004: Politics of Change: Mayor vs Manager

Connecticut’s Black Governors

Before African Americans had many rights in Connecticut, they elected their own leaders. A group of students researched their stories and erected a monument in their honor.
Summer 2004: Monument to the Black Governors

Jews in Early Connecticut

Summer 2005: Making their Presence Known

By the early 1840s, Connecticut’s Jews, a group that was predominantly German before the 1880s, had successfully established themselves in the social and business life of both Hartford and New Haven but were not allowed full religious equality in Connecticut.
Spring 2016: Gaining Religious Equality

Hartford’s First African American Church

In 1819, a group of African Americans in Hartford grew weary of being assigned seats in the galleries and in the rear of churches and decided to begin worshipping on their own in the conference room of the First Church of Christ, now Center Church, in Hartford. This would become the first black Congregational Church in Connecticut, the third oldest in the nation.
Summer 2005: Faith Congregational Church: 185 Years, Same People, Same Purpose

The Fight for Women’s Suffrage

Fall 2005: Setting the Watch Fires of Liberty
Spring 2016: The Long & Bumpy Road to Women’s Suffrage in Connecticut

The Ill-Fated Campaign to Found an African American College in New Haven

In 1831, a group of black and white abolitionists from across the eastern seaboard launched a campaign to build the nation’s first black college.
Summer 2007: Cast Down on Every Side: The Ill-Fated Campaign to Found an “African-American College” in New Haven

The Bemans: A Family of Reformers

An African-American family fights for equal opportunities in ante-bellum Middletown.
Winter 2008/09: A Family of Reformers: The Middletown Bemans

Taking a Stand Against the Evils of Drink

In 1784, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, treasurer of the United States Mint, and nationally recognized physician, published an article titled An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors on the Human Body and the Mind. The article was expanded into a book in 1790 and widely published throughout the United States. His findings galvanized local ministers, medical professionals, and ordinary citizens to publicly advocate for the restriction and even complete abolition of the manufacture, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages.
Winter 2008/09: Flying the Banner for Temperance

Protecting Connecticut on the High Seas

Five Navy ships called Connecticut, and their history.
Spring 2009 Five Connecticuts Defend Our Nation

Letting Women on the Court

The history of women’s basketball in Connecticut.
Fall 2009: Girls Can Play Too!

Connecticut’s First Female Lawyer

Spring 2010: Breaking the Legal Barrier

Connecticut’s First African American Woman to Practice Law in Connecticut

Spring 2014: The Trailblazing Bessye Bennett

Early Female Architect

Winter 2009/10: The Modernism of Theodate Pope

Women In the Civil War

Spring 2011: Heroes on the Homefront

Women Who Changed the World

Summer 2011: Women Who Changed the World

WWII–Joining the Tuskegee Airmen

Fall 2011: I Wanted to Fly

An Early Connecticut Feminist

Charlotte Perkins Gilman makes her way in the world.
Winter 2011/12: A Connecticut Feminist Prophet

Stonington Repels the British

During the War of 1812, the local militia bands together to face down the British Imperial Navy and succeeds against all odds.
Summer 2012: Attack on Stonington
The Stonington Battle Flag is considered by some to be the “little sister” of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Summer 2012 Stonington’s Star Spangled Banner

Taking a Stand Against the War of 1812

Connecticut and several other New England states consider seceding from the United States.
Summer 2012: The “Notorious Hartford Convention”

Essex Tries to Repel the British

A British raid in Essex results in the single greatest loss of American shipping of the entire War of 1812.
Summer 2012: The British Raid on Essex

Politics Turns Left in Bridgeport

Jasper McLevy, a socialist, takes office.
Fall 2012: Bridgeport Votes for a Change

The Pequot War

British settlers upset 10,000 years of Native American life. It quickly leads to a devastating war.
Fall 2013 Exploring and Uncovering the Pequot War

Fighting for Worker’s Rights

Winter 2013/2014: The Labor Movement in Connecticut

Suppressing Worker’s Rights

Winter 2013/2014: The Mere Presence of a Gattling

Early Advocate for Gay Rights

Canon Jones was on the vanguard of gay rights.
Summer 2014: An Early Advocate for Gay Rights in CT

Defining an American Language

The teacher & political activist from West Hartford who goes on to write the most universal English dictionary in the world.
Fall 2014: Noah Webster: Father of American Copyright Law

The Power of the Press

The role that politics has played in the shaping of the Hartford Courant.
Fall 2014 The Political Fires that Fueled The Courant

Women in World War I

Explores the ways in which residents—some prominent and many not—supported the war effort both before and after the U.S. entered the conflict.
Winter 2014/2015: Greenwich Women Face the Great War

Fighting for the Spotlight

Two African American women from Hartford succeed on stage and screen.
Spring 2015 Marietta Canty
Spring 2004: From Fields to Footlights: Gwen Reed

Taking a Stand for Historic Preservation

The fight to save the Amos Bull House in Hartford
Summer 2015 Saving Hartford’s Amos Bull House
One graduate student’s fight to have a Hartford Civil War Memorial recognized. It’s now inside the state capitol.
Summer 2015 The Forlorn Soldier
The campaign to put the Genius of Connecticut back on top of the state capitol dome.
Summer 2015 The Genius of Connecticut-Give Her Wings!

A Coach With a Big Heart

Hartford’s former fire chief recounts the profound influence a Hartford teacher had on him, and how it inspired him to pay it back to the community.
Fall 2015: I Called Him Mr. Hurley

Protesting the Income Tax

The October 5th 1991 Anti-Income Tax Rally on the grounds of the State Capitol. Official estimates placed attendance at 40,000, while rally organizers claimed 70,000 citizens attended.
Spring 2016 The Anti-Income Tax Rally of 1991

A Life-long Communist and Community Activist: Al Marder

Alfred Marder (b. 1922), life-long resident of New Haven, World War II veteran, and University of Connecticut graduate, came to adulthood during the turbulent times of the Great Depression. He joined the Communist party as a teen in 1938, served as the chairman of the Connecticut Young Communist League, and was one of the organizers of the campaign for the first evening college in the state.
Spring 2016: Al Marder: A Life of Conviction
Also available: Interview with Al Marder



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