50 Objects. 50 Stories. Endless Conversations.

by Jody Blankenship, Executive Director, Connecticut Historical Society

What’s your Loyalist's CoatConnecticut story? At the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS), we’re highlighting 50 Connecticut-defining items in our new exhibit, Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories. In parallel, the exhibit’s online gallery has 150 items and that number continues to grow!

Earlier this week, more than 220 CHS members and guests previewed Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories; the exhibit opened to the public on May 19. Its distinct items were selected as part of CHS’s very first ‘crowdsourcing history’ initiative, a project that is engaging residents, historical organizations and companies across our state.

During the exhibit preview, CHS member Nina Lesiga admired a spacesuit (alsoSpace Suit called an Extravehicular Mobility Unit) loaned by UTC Aerospace Systems. Deborah Key’s favorite object was a luminescent doeskin wedding dress, loaned by the Institute for American Indian Studies. Jamie & Kit Eves of the Windham Textile and History Museum contributed paint-stained coveralls once worn by an Electric Boat employee.

The exhibit includes a variety of items that tell of the complex and fascinating history of our state – including video tapes from the ESPNTapefirst filming of ESPN’s SportsCenter in 1979, a British Loyalist’s red wool coat from the Revolutionary War, a coffee grinder that was originally from Puerto Rico and kept in Hartford’s La Paloma Sabanera, teaching scrolls used at the American School for the Deaf, Nathan Hale’s diary, and shorthand notes of The Rev. Thomas Hooker’s 1638 sermon that is the basis for the Fundamental Orders, the world’s first written constitution.

Join the conversation and visit Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories through your own lens here at CHS now through October 24. And it’s not too late to suggest a piece of Connecticut’s history that matters to you. We will continue to accept objects and stories for the exhibit’s online gallery through October at chs.org/50objects.

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Jody Blankenship believes that history provides a framework and context for understanding and thriving in our ever-changing world. As executive director of the Connecticut Historical Society, he understands that Connecticut’s unique narrative encompasses a broad swath of the American experience that gives us perspective about who we are and where we are going.

Before joining CHS in 2013, Jody served as education director at the Kentucky Historical Society and outreach and field services manager at the Ohio Historical Society. He is a graduate of the American Association of State and Local History’s Seminar for Historical Administration. He received an MA in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York at Oneonta, and a BA in History and Education from Ohio Northern University.

Under Jody’s leadership, the Connecticut Historical Society is collaborating with the numerous historical organizations across the state that are collecting, interpreting and sharing Connecticut’s story. He continually seeks opportunities where history can be applied for the advancement of the public good, supporting the creativity, passion and courage of our state’s residents to act on the critical challenges of our time.