By Elizabeth J. Normen
(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Winter 2011/2012
You know that feeling you have when you turn out to be right, after all? With this issue, we begin our 10th volume, and we’re feeling it. Arms pumping, fists in the air, proud, amazed, thrilled! 10 years!
When we started Connecticut Explored nearly a decade ago (under our first name, Hog River Journal), there were many skeptics who wondered whether a local history magazine could be viable. They asked sensible questions such as, “Can you point to another example? If it was possible, wouldn’t it already exist?” And “How do you know there’s a market for it; have you done your market research?”
Fortunately, we weren’t swayed by the sensible, or we would have missed creating something that has been such a joy to produce, and, judging from your comments and responses to reader surveys, such a joy to read. We were fortunate to find individuals and entities willing to take a gamble: Roy and Nancy Normen, Claire Pryor and the late Millard Pryor, Chris Larsen, Trinity College, my husband Paul Eddy and myself, an anonymous donor, and our founding organizational partners: the Amistad Center for Art & Culture, Connecticut Landmarks, Hill-Stead Museum, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art—along with our first Friends and 200 people who subscribed before we’d produced a single issue. Hartford Public Library, then led by Louise Blalock and now by Matthew Poland, took us in, provided a home base at the Hartford History Center, and has never wavered in its support since the very start.
And just whose idea was this? Back in 2000, Cindy Cormier and Claudia Thesing both worked at Hill-Stead Museum and lamented that there was no money to publicize the research being conducted in area museum collections and archives, including theirs. They understood that no one museum could afford to produce a publication. But what if, they asked, a group of museums and educational organizations banded together and pooled their limited resources? Could they publish something REALLY great, with big glossy images and lively graphic design?
The answer was a resounding “Yes!” Has it been smooth sailing ever since? Of course not. As I’ve learned, publishing a magazine is not a complicated business, but it is difficult—and possibly endangered.
Our fate is in your hands, as it has always been. Ours is first and foremost a subscriber-supported magazine. We exist because you care about Connecticut history and love reading about it. We exist because many of you make sustaining contributions through the Friends of Connecticut Explored. Your devotion convinces our small (but exceptional) number of advertisers, foundation funders, and organizational partners to join you.
So stand up, thrust your fists into the air, and congratulate yourself all year long on being part of Connecticut Explored’s 10th anniversary. In addition to some terrific issues, watch for special celebratory events and announcements throughout the year [see page 10].
And if you haven’t yet made your gift to the 10th Anniversary Friends of Connecticut Explored, there’s still time to have your gift matched (up to a total Friends’ gifts of $25,000) by The Connecticut Humanities Council before December 31, 2011. We’ve already set our sights on our 20th anniversary—and we won’t get there without you!