The Flood of 1936

March 4, 2016 · Collections ·

On March 11, 1936, heavy rains fell over New England. For the next two weeks, as rivers rose from melting snow and as a second rain storm hit, the residents of Connecticut and up to half of the Eastern United States prepared for historic floods. In Hartford, the Connecticut River rose to 38 feet. Smaller rivers and tributaries overflowed their banks. Thousands had to be evacuated, fleeing their homes and business to see shelter. In Connecticut, loss of life was minimal, but property damage has been estimated to total around $20 million dollars in 1936 currency. While spring flooding was a common occurrence, the Flood of 1936 was larger and more devastation than any others.

The Connecticut Historical Society has thousands of photos documenting the floods impact. Professional photographers documented the scenes for newspapers such as the Hartford Courant. Amateurs came out, too. These snapshots taken by amateurs make up the bulk of the CHS’s Flood of 1936 photograph collection. Some photographers are identified, but many of the loose photographs are by unidentified photographers. In addition, the CHS has some scrapbooks people created with their own photos and clippings from magazines and newspapers.


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