Dept Stores, G.Fox and the Black Freedom Movement

This summer the Connecticut Historical Society is hosting an exhibition called Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow. It’s a traveling show that originated at the New-York Historical Society. The exhibition explores the struggle for full citizenship and racial equality that unfolded after the Civil War. Even though northern states like Connecticut did not institute Jim Crow segregation by law, discrimination and segregation were the norm in many public spaces, including elegant department stores like New York City’s Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Hartford’s G. Fox. In this episode, Dr. Traci Parker of the University of Massachusetts, with some editorial commentary from host Natalie Belanger talk about what department stores like G. Fox meant to consumers and retail workers alike, and how they become sites of struggle in the civil rights movement.

Dr. Parker’s new book is Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement: Workers, Consumers, and Civil Rights from the 1930s to the 1980s published by the University of North Carolina Press. For more information about G. Fox Dept Store, contact the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

This episode was produced by Natalie Belanger and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan.

Norwalk’s Village Creek Ahead of Its Time

After World War II, one Connecticut community made a conscious effort to reject racial segregation. The founders of Village Creek in Norwalk created a cooperative neighborhood which promised not to discriminate based on “race, color, creed or politics.”

Over the next decades, the Villagers faced criticism from many quarters, but the community survived and thrives today. In this episode, Natalie Belanger and Melica Bloom of the Connecticut Historical Society take a look at the founding of Village Creek, and some of the challenges it faced over the decades.

 If you’d like to learn more about the Village Creek Association, visit the Connecticut Historical Society’s Research Center. And visit their special exhibition, “Patios, Pools and the Invention of the American Backyard,” a travelling exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution, on view through February 23, 2019. Find out more at chs.org.

And for more great Connecticut stories, subscribe to Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history. The current issue is about our creative history and the upcoming spring issue explores in a surprising variety of stories how important water is to Connecticut’s story. Find out more at ctexplored.org.

We wish to thank Natalie Belanger, CHS Adult Programs Manager, and CHS Exhibit Developer Melica Bloom. This episode was produced by Natalie Belanger and Patrick O’Sullivan. Music on this episode by Miles Elliot @miles_aheadmusic.

Keeping it Clean in World War I

In the 1910s, a group of Connecticut reformers formed a society aimed at solving a growing crisis – the spread of venereal diseases. The United States’ entry into WWI provided this so-called “social hygienist” movement with an unprecedented opportunity to influence the sexual mores of Americans. In this episode produced by Connecticut Historical Society’s Natalie Belanger, Natalie tells us how that worked out for these well-intentioned reformers—especially one George P. Thayer, a crusader for clean living that saw a little more in France than he’d bargained for.

This episode is sponsored by Attorney Peter Bowman. Find out more at bowman.legal.

Read more about Connecticut in World War I at ctexplored.org in the Spring 2017 and Winter 2014/2015 issues. 

The Smithsonian’s Eric Hintz: Hartford as a Place of Invention

The Smithsonian’s Eric Hintz reveals why he featured Hartford as one of six places of invention in a special exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. Find out how Samuel Colt, Elisha Root, and Mark Twain figure into the story and the ingredients he’s discovered that mark Connecticut as a standout place of invention in the late 19th century.

Visit ctexplored.org/listen for links to stories of invention, including episode 19’s interview with Connecticut Historical Society curator Ilene Frank about their exhibition, “Connecticut Innovates!,” on view through March 25, 2017.

Thank you to Eric Hintz and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, and Jody Blankenship and the Connecticut Historical Society. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan.

Make a gift to support Grating the Nutmeg at ctexplored.org/friends and use coupon code “gratingthenutmeg” to designate your gift. Gifts will be shared between Connecticut Explored and the state historian for outreach.

Connecticut Innovates

What does it take to be considered innovative? What is Connecticut’s history of innovation? Find out with this interview with Connecticut Historical Society curator Ilene Frank and exhibit designer Jordan Klein about their new exhibition Connecticut Innovates! on view November 11, 2016 to March 25, 2017. 

Visit ctexplored.org/listen for links to stories about Connecticut’s innovators: Sikorsky, Ensign-Bickford, Pepperidge Farm, Peter Paul, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, Kaman, and more!

Great Finds! – Inside and Out

The Great Find!
A pair of 18th century portraits comes up for auction. Should the Connecticut Historical Society make a bid? This is a behind-the-scenes story in more ways than one! Host: Elizabeth Normen, CT Explored. Featuring Ilene Frank, Connecticut Historical Society

Pleasant Valley Drive-In 
Did you go to the drive-in movies when you were a kid? You still can! Join Jennifer LaRue for another segment inspired by the “Small Towns, BIG Stories” theme of the Summer 2016 issue of Connecticut Explored. 

Growing Up in Connecticut
Are you a millennial, Gen Xer, Baby Boomer, or member of the Silent Generation? Relive your childhood with the Connecticut Historical Society’s special exhibition “Growing Up in Connecticut.” (picture, left) Host: Elizabeth Normen, CT Explored. Featuring Ben Gammell, Connecticut Historical Society

Click here for COVID-19 visiting rules. Click here for the CHS’s digital programs.