Hartford, Conn, May 19, 2015 – A 1798 map of Connecticut’s Western Reserve, which extended to Ohio. A brass button display. A lithograph of P.T. Barnum’s life. A textile union charter. A vintage radio and headphones. A fedora hat. A tobacco sewing machine. A coffee grinder. A missile warhead. A handmade Native American white doeskin wedding dress and moccasins. A West Indian American parade costume from Hartford. A spacesuit.
These are just a few of the items that are now on on display in the Connecticut Historical Society’s (CHS) new ‘Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories’ exhibit, which opened this week.
Culminating a five-month crowdsourcing history effort with individuals, historic and cultural organizations and companies, the 50 objects in ‘Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories’ – as well as an online gallery of more than 150 uniquely Connecticut objects that have been suggested to date.
‘Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories’ asks “If an object could define Connecticut, what would it be? What objects – from the past and from today – help tell the stories that define our state as a changing place, a community, and an idea?”
“We know that no one object, nor 50 objects, can completely represent Connecticut’s history. We planned this exhibit as part of an effort to gather diverse suggestions about what defines our state from not only historians but also from the general public, and various communities, organizations and companies who have made our state what it is today,” said CHS Executive Director Jody Blankenship.
The 50 items selected for the physical portion of the exhibit – and those in the online gallery – help tell the history of our state’s entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership, up to and including the present. They reveal the everyday lives of Connecticut’s original residents and of the diverse communities who have immigrated here from Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia. The 50 items selected come from the CHS collection, other historical societies and museums, people who own the object or item and people who recommended an object they did not own, but which CHS tracked down and borrowed from its source.
The Connecticut Historical Society is grateful to its premier sponsors: Seabury – An Active Life Care Community and Seabury at Home; its exhibition sponsor, Travelers; traveling exhibit sponsor United Technologies and contributing sponsors Reid and Riege P.C. and Shipman & Goodwin LLP.
CHS project partners for the Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories exhibit include Connecticut Explored Magazine, the Connecticut River Museum, Fairfield Museum and History Center, Institute for American Indian Studies, Litchfield Historical Society, Mattatuck Museum, Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Windham Textile Museum; Leslie Lindenauer, Assistant Professor, Western Connecticut State University; Stacey Close, Associate Vice President for Equity and Diversity, Eastern Connecticut State University and Walt Woodward, Connecticut State Historian; Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut.
Connecticut: 50 Objects/50 Stories will be on display from May 19 to October 24 at CHS. The exhibit’s online gallery on the CHS website (https://chs.org/50objects/) will also be available until October 24. CHS will continue accepting submissions on the virtual site until October.
The Connecticut Historical Society is open Tuesdays through Thursdays noon to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free for CHS members and children 5 years and under. One-day admission prices are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and over, $4 for students with a valid college ID and youth ages 6-17.
Connecticut: 50 Objects / 50 Stories Object titles and Object lenders are listed below.
Complete narratives, available upon request, accompany each object in the CHS exhibit.
1. Fossil from the Connecticut River – Connecticut River Museum, Essex, CT
2. Brass Projectile Points, 1630s – Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket, CT
3. Notes Taken From a Sermon by Thomas Hooker, 1638, Hartford, from a notebook owned by Henry Wolcott – Connecticut Historical Society
4. Bellarmine Jug, 1600s – Connecticut Historical Society
5. Diary of Nathan Hale, 1775-76 – Connecticut Historical Society
6. Loyalist’s Uniform Coat, Originally owned by Munson Hoyt of Norwalk, CT in the Prince of Wales’s Loyalist Regiment, 1777-1783. Gift of Henry L. Mills. – Connecticut Historical Society
7. Early Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve, 1798, surveyed by Seth Pease of Suffield, CT and engraved by Amos Doolittle of New Haven, CT – Connecticut Historical Society
8. Student’s desk from the Litchfield Law School, about 1800, Litchfield, CT – Litchfield Historical Society
9. Cheese press, patented by Lewis Norton, 1810, Goshen, CT – Goshen Agriculture Council, Goshen, CT
10. Eli Terry Box Clock, about 1816, Plymouth, CT – American Clock & Watch Museum, Bristol, CT
11. Teaching Scrolls used at the American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb People, mid-1800s, Hartford, CT – American School for the Deaf, West Hartford, CT
12. Shad Derby Hat, 1896-1934, Windsor, CT – Windsor Historical Society
13. Leghorn Bonnet, patented by Sophia Woodhouse in 1821, made by Maria Francis, Wethersfield, CT – Wethersfield Historical Society, Wethersfield, CT
14. Chinese Friendship Album, 1824, Cornwall, CT – Cornwall Historical Society
15. Sermon written by Reverend James W.C. Pennington, Thanksgiving Day, November 17, 1842, Hartford, CT – Connecticut Historical Society
16. Bible belonging to Denis Ryan, around 1850, Hartford, CT – Denise Sacerdote Kennedy, West Hartford, CT
17. Wooden nutmeg, carved from a piece of the Charter Oak, 1856 – Connecticut Historical Society
18. John Brown pike, late 1850s, Collinsville and Unionville, CT – The Unionville Museum, Unionville, CT
19. Brownstone with drill mark, Portland, CT – Portland Historical Society
20. Goose Wing Hewing Axe, with offset hickory haft (handle), about 1860, made by the Bradley Axe Co., Weston, CT – Wilton Historical Society, Wilton CT
21. Hardtack, issued to Stephen Walkley, Jr. of Southington, CT on Sept. 12, 1864 in Petersburg, VA. Gift of Abbott Lowell Cummings. – Connecticut Historical Society
22. United States Button Company Display, 1876, Waterbury, CT – Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT
23. “Scenes from a Long and Busy Life: The Sun of the Amusement World From Which All Lesser Luminaries Borrow Light.” Chromolithograph, about 1881, the Strobridge Lithographing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio – The Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, CT
24. Union Charter, 1903, Local Chapter of the United Textile Workers of America, American Thread Company, Willimantic, CT – Windham Textile and History Museum, Willimantic, CT
25. Carved Walrus Tusk (cribbage board), about 1905, Hudson Bay, Canada – Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT
26. AM radio, 1923, The C. D. Tuska Company, Hartford, CT and Headphones, about 1923, Hart and Hegeman Manufacturing Company, Hartford, CT – Vintage Radio and Communications Museum, Windsor, CT
27. Fedora Hat (Air Lite, Holly Hills), 1950s, made in Danbury, CT – Danbury Museum & Historical Society, Danbury, CT
28. Ice Tongs, about 1925, Staatsburg, NY – Burnside Ice Company, East Hartford, CT
29. Men’s swimming suit, about 1930, Fairfield, CT – Fairfield Museum & History Center, Fairfield, CT
30. Parachute, made by Pioneer Parachute Co., 1940s, Manchester, CT – Manchester Historical Society, Manchester, CT
31. Landis Portable Tobacco Sewing Machine, patented 1957, Manheim Township, PA – Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum, Windsor, CT
32. Stanley Powerlock Tape Rule, 1980s, Stanley, New Britain, CT – New Britain Industrial Museum, New Britain, CT
33. Work Coveralls, 1955-85, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, CT – Windham Textile and History Museum, Willimantic, CT
34. Coffee grinder, originally from Puerto Rico, kept in La Paloma Sabanera, a popular coffee shop and bookstore on Capitol Avenue in Hartford from 2004 to 2013. – Cotto family, Hartford, CT
35. School Gym Uniform, worn by Julia Chase-Brand, 1961, Manchester, CT – Manchester Historical Society, Manchester, CT
36. New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company Bond, July 1, 1949. – Keith Ainsworth, Madison, CT
37. Travelers Insurance Company Umbrella, 1960s, Hartford, CT – Connecticut Historical Society
38. WDU-17/B Warhead for Sidewinder/Rolling Airframe Missile Warhead – Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company, Simsbury, CT
39. 45 RPM Vinyl Record of the Hartford Whalers Victory March (“Brass Bonanza”), 1970s, Hartford, CT – Connecticut Historical Society
40. Gavel used by Ella Grasso at the 1976 Democratic Convention, New York, NY – Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, New Haven, CT
41. Banner (and suit) from the 1978 National Equal Rights Amendment march on Washington, D.C., worn by Columbia Anne Botticello of Glastonbury, CT – Connecticut Historical Society
42. ESPN SportsCenter, Kenny Mayne’s shot-sheet from his SportsCenter tryout in 1989, and original video tapes from the first SportsCenter telecast, September 7, 1979. – ESPN, Bristol, CT
43. Model of Holocaust Memorial, made by Elbert Weinberg of Hartford, CT, 1981 – Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, West Hartford, CT
44. Handmade Wedding Dress and Mid-Calf Moccasins, made with Brain Tanned White Doeskin, about 1990, with replicated wampum hair ornament and necklace. Made by the late Maisie Shenandoah, Clan Mother of the Oneida Indian Nation, for her family member Butch Lydem’s fiancée Kay Kayser (Schaghticoke). – Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, CT
45. Space Suit, made by UTC Aerospace Systems – UTC Aerospace Systems, Windsor Locks, CT
46. Costume from the Hartford Stage production of Chick, The Great Osram by David Grimm in 2007, Hartford, CT – Hartford Stage, Hartford, CT
47. State of Connecticut Marriage Licenses, December 8, 2008, Guilford, CT – Craig Holmes and Gregory Gomes, Middletown, CT; and State Senator Beth Bye and Tracey Wilson, West Hartford CT
48. UConn Basketball Jerseys – Diana Taurasi and Kemba Walker – University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
49. Headdress worn at The West Indian Celebration Parade, 2014, Hartford, CT – Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT
50. Frank Pepe Pizzeria box, 2015, New Haven, CT – Frank Pepe Pizzeria
About the Connecticut Historical Society
A private, nonprofit, educational organization established in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society is the state’s official historical society and one of the oldest in the nation. Located at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford, the CHS houses a museum, library, and the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center that are open to the public and funded by private contributions. The CHS’s collection includes more than 4 million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical materials accessible at our campus and on loan at other organizations.
The CHS collection, programs and exhibits help Connecticut residents connect with each other, have conversations that shape our communities, and make informed decisions based on our past and present.