By Elizabeth J. Normen
(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Summer 2022
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In Winter 2011/2012 we decided to leave the State of Connecticut—editorially speaking—and explore stories about Connecticans who made their mark abroad. We followed up in Winter 2016/2017 with an issue about Connecticans in the American West. Various issues about wars take readers beyond our state borders, too.
For this issue, we decided to flip the script and take a look at people who weren’t from Connecticut but are somehow connected to our state history. We included people who came and stayed and others, such as President George Washington (page 40), Abolitionist Frederick Douglass (page 38), and Southern writer Grace King (page 20), who didn’t stay long but left a glimpse in the historical record of their brief time here and the people they met. One quick visitor was not a person at all: the Hindenburg in October 1936 (page 26).
We’ve covered stories about people who adopted our state, too. UConn’s Dr. Fiona Vernal brings us the story of the origins and early years of Hartford’s West Indian community and the importance of the city’s West Indian Social Club in making newcomers feel welcome and at home here (page 34). Greenwich Historical Society curator Maggie Dimock shares how Impressionist painter John Henry Twachtman found an artistic refuge in Greenwich, the subject of the historical society’s special exhibition Life and Art: The Greenwich Paintings of John Henry Twachtman opening this fall.
I was born in Connecticut, though my roots only go back a couple of generations. I consider anyone who has adopted Connecticut as their home state to be a Connectican and appreciate the richness brought to our state by the influx of immigrants (one side of my family among them) and migrants that began in the early 19th century. The impact of those in most of this issue’s stories, though, was more glancing. Still, sometimes the viewpoint of someone just passing through forces us to revisit our preconceived notions about who we are, and we can gain a less insular perspective.
This may be the last of the nearly 80 publisher’s letters I will have written since the first issue, in Fall 2002. A search, announced in the spring issue, has been underway since March to find the next publisher for CTExplored. Connecticut Explored and all of the people involved in its publication have been so important to me over the last 20 years. I look forward to thanking them all publicly this fall, welcoming the new publisher, and telling the magazine’s history in a special story in the Fall 2022 20th anniversary issue. Until then, enjoy the summer, my favorite season in Connecticut!
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