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The Connecticut History Bookshelf: A compendium of new books on Connecticut history.

Connecticut in the Civil War

Wesleyan University Press is pleased to announce the publication of Connecticut in the Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival by Matthew Warshauer. The book shares the theme of the spring 2011 issue of Connecticut Explored.  The war is traced through many facets, including the experience of Connecticut soldiers on the battlefield and how their loved ones coped at home and in the state’s factories. Warshauer also explores the varied attitudes toward slavery and race in the state.  Mark Neely Jr., author of The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties, said, “I hope that every state’s commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War produces a study as good as this one.”

Connecticut in the Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival
(Wesleyan University Press, 2011), $29.95, cloth, available to order at in March 2011.

The Western Reserve

The Peopling of New Connecticut: From the Land of Steady Habits to the Western Reserves, edited by Richard Buel, Jr., offers insights through primary documents into the settlement of northeastern Ohio by Connecticut residents around the turn of the 19th century.  Howard Lamar, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale, calls it “An extraordinary collection of letters, diaries, sermons, and newspaper articles…a superb narrative about a central but neglected aspect of Connecticut’s history.”   [For a quick introduction to the topic, see “West of Eden” by Lary Bloom, Summer 2007 or]

The Peopling of New Connecticut: From the Land of Steady Habits to the Western Reserves (Wesleyan University Press, 2011), $24.95, paper, available to order at in April 2011.

Fife & Drum History

Connecticut’s Fife and Drum Tradition by James Clark chronicles the state’s extensive and active community of fife and drum groups.  Clark is the first to detail the colorful history of this unique musical tradition.

Connecticut’s Fife and Drum Tradition (Wesleyan University Press, 2011), $29.95, cloth, available to order at in April 2011.

New Book on Gov. John Winthrop, Jr.

State Historian Walter Woodward, a member of Connecticut Explored’s editorial board, has published Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010; $45).  Prospero’s America is the story of the Connecticut Colony governor’s keen interest in alchemy. Woodward demonstrates how Winthrop (who served as governor in 1657 and from 1659 to 1676) and his philosophy influenced New England’s cultural formation: its settlement, economy, religious toleration, Indian relations, medical practice, witchcraft prosecution, and imperial diplomacy. Winthrop’s occult knowledge provided him great authority in witchcraft cases, which as governor he used to permanently put an end to Connecticut witchcraft executions. In England, alchemical networks linked Winthrop to court patronage, which helped him obtain—and later defend—Connecticut’s remarkable royal charter.

Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), $45.00.

A History of Jewish Connecticut

A History of Jewish Connecticut: Mensches, Migrants and Mitzvahs, edited by Betty N. Hoffman (The History Press, 2010), is a collection of essays by historians and community members from across the state covering Connecticut’s Jewish history from colonial times through the role Jews played in the Civil War and into the 20th century.

A History of Jewish Connecticut
(The History Press, 2010), $20.00 for purchasing information call (860) 727-6170 or visit

New Morgan Bulkeley Bio

Wesleyan University Press is delighted to announce the publication of Crowbar Governor: The Life and Times of Morgan Gardner Bulkeley by Kevin Murphy. Crowbar Governor offers readers a privileged glimpse into Connecticut politics during the Gilded Age, when Bulkeley served as mayor of Hartford, governor of Connecticut, and first president of the National Baseball League.

Crowbar Governor: The Life and Times of Morgan Gardner Bulkeley (Wesleyan University Press, 2011) $35.00, cloth, available to order at

Jewish Farming in Connecticut

A Life of the Land: Connecticut’s Jewish Farmers (Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, 2010) by Mary M. Donohue and Briann G. Greenfield chronicles the story of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and their settlement on Connecticut farms from the 1890s up to World War II. Both Donohue and Greenfield are members of the CT Explored editorial team.

A Life of the Land: Connecticut’s Jewish Farmers
(Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, 2010), $24.95. For purchasing information call (860) 727-6171 or visit

A Reader’s Maritime Picks

Reader Louis Arthur Norton offers these recommendations for recently published books—including one of his own—about Connecticut maritime history:

Roy Manstan and Frederic Frese, Turtle: Davis Bushnell’s Revolutionary Vessel (Westholme Press, 2010). The history, design, and replication of the first submarine, the Turtle, an innovative and unique Revolutionary War vessel born at the mouth of the Connecticut River. $20.00

John Laurence Busch, Steam Coffin: Captain Moses Rogers and The Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier
(Hodos Historia, 2010). A detailed biography of Moses Rogers of Groton and his Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic; it changed intercontinental transportation forever. $35.00

Louis Arthur Norton, Captains Contentious: The Dysfunctional Sons of the Brine (University of South Carolina Press, 2009). Tales of Continental Navy captains, many of whom fought against each other and their British foes, including the story of aristocratic New Londoner Dudley Saltonstall, who lost 44 ships during the 1779 Penobscot Expedition and was ultimately dismissed from the Navy for dereliction of duty. $29.95

Hill-Stead Museum’s First Major Publication

Hill-Stead Museum is proud to announce the publication of Hill-Stead: The Country Place of Theodate Pope Riddle (Princeton Architectural Press, Spring 2010).  The book delves into the art, architecture, interior design, furnishings, and landscape of Pope’s magnificent creation. Pope (the name she used as a professional) was the daughter of a wealthy mid-western industrialist.  This headstrong young woman, educated at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington and on a year-long grand tour of Europe, overcame society’s expectations to become one of the country’s first female architects, a farmer, the single parent of a foster child, a Lusitania survivor, and an environmental and community activist well ahead of her time.  [Also see “The Modernism of Theodate Pope,” Connecticut Explored, Winter 2009/2010.] For more information call (860) 677-4787 or visit

Hill-Stead: The Country Place of Theodate Pope Riddle (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), $45.00.

Major Impressionist Collection Revealed in New Book

Garnet Hill Publishing Company and the Mattatuck Historical Society have published a lavishly illustrated book that tells, for the first time, the story behind iron manufacturer John Howard Whittemore and his son Harris’s community-shaping philanthropy and their legendary collection of Impressionist paintings now in museums throughout the world.  Hidden in Plain Sight: The Whittemore Collection and the French Impressionists was written by Ann Y. Smith, former director of the Mattatuck Museum Arts & History Center and longtime friend of the Whittemore family. The Whittemores were among the first American collectors of French Impressionist paintings, acquiring more than 1,000 works of art. The Whittemores also left an architectural legacy in Naugatuck and Middlebury, where they commissioned buildings by the nation’s leading architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, as well as other architects such as Henry Bacon and Theodate Pope of Hill-Stead Museum who was a family friend.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Whittemore Collection and the French Impressionists (Garnet Hill Publishing Company and the Mattatuck Historical Society, 2009), $40 in softcover, available at the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury; call (203) 753-0381, ext. 10.

Noah Webster Biography for Young Readers

Connecticut author Pegi Deitz Shea and illustrator Monica Vahula paint a rich and full portrait of the educator, patriot, political thinker and Connecticut native best known for his work in creating his dictionaries of American language. Extensively researched and far more detailed than the average children’s picture book, Noah Webster: Weaver of Words (Calkins Creek, 2009; $18.95) explores aspects of Webster’s life that readers will find surprising and enlightening, from his childhood flute-playing to his role in creating the U.S. Constitution.

Noah Webster: Weaver of Words is available at the Noah Webster House, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford.  For more information visit or call (860) 521-5362.

The Kellogg Brothers Printmakers

Two years ago, in our Fall “We Made It!” fifth-anniversary issue, we featured the story of the Kellogg brothers, the prolific Hartford printmakers who rivaled Currier & Ives.  Now the Connecticut Historical Society has published Picturing Victorian America, the first book-length account of this pioneering family of lithographers, edited by Nancy Finlay, the Society’s curator of graphics.

Presenting a complete visual overview of the Kelloggs’ production between 1830 and 1880, Picturing Victorian America provides collectors, museums, and libraries with the information needed to document the Kellogg prints in their own collections.  David Tatham, professor of fine arts at Syracuse University says, “This admirably wide-ranging and profusely illustrated history of the Kellogg firm, its prints, and their place in the rise of visual culture in America, stands as a major contribution to the history and interpretation of the popular graphic arts. It tells us much, and with fresh perspectives, about the vital interplay of pictures and people in an educated society.”

Picturing Victorian America: Prints by the Kellogg Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut, 1830-1880 (Connecticut Historical Society, distributed by Wesleyan University Press, 2009), hardcover, $65; paperback, $30.

Out of the Attic:  Inventing Antiques in Twentieth-Century New England

Briann Greenfield, associate professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and member of CT Explored’s editorial team, has written Out of the Attic:  Inventing Antiques in Twentieth-Century New England, which chronicles the cultural phenomenon of antiques and antiques collecting that bloomed in the U.S. as recently as the early 20th century.  Earlier generations appreciated heirlooms as “memory markers.” It wasn’t until the 20th century that old American furniture and decorative arts became valued for their aesthetic qualities.  Some of the early Connecticut antiques collectors including Irving Whitall Lyon, Walter Hosmer, and Henry Wood Erving of Hartford, and George S. Palmer of New London are discussed.

HEAR THE AUTHOR SPEAK:  Dr. Briann Greenfield will speak at the Connecticut Historical Society on Wednesday, December 2, 2009, 4 – 6 p.m. Free.  For more information, visit

Out of the Attic:  Inventing Antiques in Twentieth-Century New England (University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), $26.95 paper, $80 cloth.  Available to order at

Memories of Hartford’s North End

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford announces publication of Remembering the Old Neighborhood, a compilation of memories by and about residents of Hartford’s North End from the early and middle decades of the 20th century.  Memories and photographs of synagogues and churches, kosher butchers and corner drugstores, Albany and Blue Hills Avenues, Keney Park, Weaver High School, and the Lenox Theater have been contributed by more than 150 present and former residents. “Many but not all of the contributors to the book are Jewish,” said the Society’s executive director Estelle Kafer, who conceived the book. “We wanted to include all the groups who attended school, worked, shopped, raised families, played games, and lived life to the fullest in this vibrant community between 1920 and the 1960s.”
Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the Society.  Established in 1971, the Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and raising awareness of the history of Greater Hartford’s Jewish community through publications, exhibitions, and educational programming. For more information call (860) 727-6170 or visit

Architect Henry Austin Bio

Henry Austin (1804-1892) was a New England architect known for his exotic buildings in New Haven, Connecticut; Portland, Maine and elsewhere. Henry Austin: In Ever Variety of Architectural Style, by James F. O’Gorman, is a lavishly illustrated volume that deftly documents Austin’s works during the 1840’s and ’50s, the time when he was the most creative and productive. Chapters highlight his domestic work, ecclesiastical architecture, and his public and commercial buildings; and three extensive appendices provide valuable information on Austin’s books, drawings, and office. Buildings discussed in Henry Austin include New Haven City Hall, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Morse-Libby House/”Victoria Mansion” (Portland, ME), the library at Yale college, the Kellogg house, and many more.

Henry Austin: In Every Variety of Architectural Style (Wesleyan University Press, 2009), hardcover $35.

Story of Baseball and Race Set in Meriden

Rvive Books has reissued The Plated City, a novel by Bliss Perry first published by Charles Scribner & Sons in 1895.  The story takes places in a thinly disguised Meriden, Connecticut in an earlier era.  It involves the game of baseball and life in a bustling manufacturing town as experienced by a talented young ball player and his sister.  The main character was based on Frank Grant, an African American who, Perry wrote, “was a famous second baseman for Buffalo before the color line was drawn [in 1887-1889].”  Perry wrote, “the theme of the story was the color line in the North,” a controversial topic during the era of legalized segregation.  Perry, born in 1860, was editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1899 to 1909 and a prolific writer and editor; he died in 1954.

The Plated City, (Rvive Books, 2009), $17.95 in paperback.  To order call Rvive Books at (203) 454-4454 or e-mail

Connecticut Climate Book

Wesleyan University Press is delighted to announce Dr. Mel’s Connecticut Climate Book by Connecticut meteorologist Dr. Mel Goldstein. Available  for $24.95 in paperback, it’s the first book to “tell all” about our state’s unique climate and major weather events, and it includes lots of historical data and photographs. Look for it at your favorite bookseller.

New Book on Geology and Connecticut

Wesleyan University Press is pleased to announce the July 2009 publication of Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture by Jelle Zeilinga de Boer. This new book explores our state’s unique geology and shows how it has provided an economic base and inspired art and folklore.  For more information visit

Westover School Celebrates 100 Years

Westover School, a private high school for girls in Middlebury, Connecticut, is celebrating its centennial this year in 2009.  Founded by early feminist educator Mary Hillard and architect Theodate Pope Riddle (a Miss Porter’s School graduate whose home in Farmington is now Hill-Stead Museum) and featuring grounds by noted landscape designer Beatrix Farrand, it has evolved from a “finishing school” for the daughters of the Protestant elite to a college-preparatory school accommodating the diversity of today’s girls.  Wesleyan University Press has published a history of the school by author and alumna Laurie Lisle.

Westover: Giving Girls a Place of Their Own not only chronicles the school’s formation and early theories about educating girls but also the continuing debate over the validity of single-sex education, a challenge current head-of-school Ann Pollina has taken on with relish.  Westover alumna and former Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut Eunice Groark remarked, “This book is a great read for anyone who is interested in the American history of girls’ education from the early 20th century to the present. …Tragedy, glory and a great future make this book hard to put down.”

Westover:  Giving Girls a Place of Their Own, Laurie Lisle, Garnet Books, Wesleyan University Press, 2009.  Hardcover, $29.95.

The Life of Beatrice Fox Auerbach

University of Hartford Professor Emeritus Virginia Hale, Ph.D., has written a biography of Beatrice Fox Auerbach (1887-1968), chief executive from 1938 to 1965 of G. Fox & Company, Hartford’s premier retail outlet and at one time the largest privately owned department store in the country.  Auerbach was known for her retail innovation and for introducing then-progressive labor practices such as a five-day work week and employee medical and retirement plans; she was the first in U.S. retailing to hire African Americans in other than menial jobs, and she provided advancement opportunities for women.  In addition, Auerbach was known for her philanthropy.

A Woman in Business:  The Life of Beatrice Fox Auerbach (Self published through XLibris, 2008) is available in area bookstores in paperback for $19.99 and in hardcover for $29.95.

Historic Photos of Connecticut

For those of us who can’t get enough of historic images of Connecticut, middle school social studies teacher, college adjunct, and educational consultant Sam L. Rothman has gathered nearly 200 images from the 1860s to the 20th century, drawn from the Library of Congress, the Connecticut State Library, Bristol Historical Society, Stafford Historical Society, the University of Connecticut, and Eastern and Central Connecticut State University archives.  Rothman provides captions and chapter introductions.

Historic Photos of Connecticut (Turner Publishing, 2008) is available in area bookstores in hardback for $39.95.

Images of East Hartford

From Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series comes a new look at East Hartford. Once part of the city of Hartford until the town successfully separated from the city in 1738, East Hartford has since continued to grow, and readers will discover images of its past including the Silver Lane pickle logo, the trains, trolleys, historic buildings and special events that make up East Hartford’s past. East Hartford includes never before seen vintage photographs from both public and private collections as well as information about the town’s aviation and railroad history.

East Hartford (Arcadia Publishing, 2009), available online at, paperback $21.99

Connecticut Mining

The search for mineral wealth in Connecticut has spanned more than 10,000 years of human history. Images of Americapresents a new book on the mining industry in Connecticut, beginning with the arrival of John Winthrop Jr. to the colony in 1635, which led to the discovery of many metal and stone deposits. This opened the door for the future United States to become an industrial giant.

Connecticut Mining (Arcadia Publishing, 2009), available online at, paperback $19.99

Rockville Church Celebrates 175 Years

In honor of its 175 years in Rockville, the Rockville United Methodist Church has published The Methodists of Rockville by David O. White.  This 230-page study includes 14 pages of photos.  This church’s story is unusual in that, though it struggled financially, it offered members of the community a wide variety of programming, though those programs had to be self-supporting—including the Sunday school.  White’s study reveals interesting and often amusing details about how these activities were organized and methods by which they remained solvent.

The Methodists of Rockville is available from the Rockville United Methodist Church, 142 Grove St., Rockville, CT 06066.  Call (860) 875-6562 for more information.

Mark Twain

Joseph Hopkins Twichell:  The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend, Steve Courtney, The University of Georgia Press, 2008.  $32.95 in hardcover.  Who would have guessed that a man as irreverent as author Mark Twain would have a minister as a best friend?  Courtney first delved into the tale of this Yale-educated preacher as co-editor of Twichell’s Civil War letters (University of George Press, 2006).  Courtney’s new book explores the rest of the man’s life and legacy, including his 40-year friendship with Twain and his advocacy for social justice as leader of one of the richest congregations during the Gilded Age.

Legends of the Leatherman

The Old Leatherman: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend, Dan DeLuca, Garnet Books, 2008.  $35 in jacketed cloth cover.  With this publication, geneaologist, and retired high school teacher Dan DeLuca culminates 20 years of research into the legend of the Leatherman, the leather-clad wanderer who, in the late 1800s, walked a predictable 365-mile circuit between the Connecticut and Hudson Rivers, sleeping in caves and accepting food from people along his route. (See HRJ, Winter 2007/2008, for Tom Howard’s story on where to find Leatherman-identified caves on the Mattatuck and Mattabeset Trails.)

Slavery:  Venture Smith

Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith, Chandler B. Saint and George A. Krimsky, Garnet Books, 2008.  $18.95 in jacketed cloth.  Chandler Saint, president of the Beecher House Center for the Study of Equal Rights, and journalist George Krimsky co-author the first in-depth exploration of the life of Venture Smith (1725-1805), who spent 25 years in slavery in Connecticut before purchasing his own freedom and establishing himself as a farmer in Colonial-era Haddam Neck.

Slavery:  Prince Mortimer

On December 21, 1811, a Middletown, Connecticut judge sentenced Prince Mortimer, a sickly eighty-seven-year-old slave, to life imprisonment for attempting to poison his master by lacing his chocolate drink with arsenic. Prince spent the next sixteen years in Connecticut’s notorious Newgate Prison, and died in 1834. A Century in Captivity, by Denis R. Caron, explores the 110 years of Prince’s life and imprisonment.

A Century in Captivity: the Life and Trials of Prince Mortimer, a Connecticut Slave (University of New Hampshire Press, 2006). Cloth $50, paperback $19.95

Slavery:  Complicity

Slavery in the South has been widely documented; however, the history of enslavement in the North–and in Connecticut–has been for the most part ignored or erased. Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery takes a new look at the state and the region known for its tolerance and claims of freedom, and reveals the truth about the slave trade of New England that linked both to the West Indies and Africa. Readers will discover the truth about the Northern empires built on profits made from slavery, see long-ignored photos and documents, and read rare accounts of the long-hidden history of slavery in the North.

Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery (Random House, Inc., 2005), hardcover $25.95