top of page
il_1588xN.2055635980_oeif.jpg

Hartford History Lectures

Since 2018, the HHP has organized a fall lecture series together with local historian William Hosley, and more recently with CT's Old State House and UConn History Professor Fiona Vernal as well. Through lively lectures and tours, the series seeks to engage our college and the broader Hartford community with the rich legacy of stories and people that define Hartford's heritage today. View recordings of previous lectures below.

Collections, culture, archives, and architecture

Pioneering, publishing, faith, and global reach

Schools, cemeteries, shade tobacco, and civic attachment

2020.

Women's Suffrage, The Great Flood, art, and migrations

2019.

Urban living, Twain, and an image-conscious city

Fall 2023 Lecture Series

Collections, culture, archives, and architecture

October 26, 2023

Wadsworth Atheneum's First Century: Collections and Patrons

Presented by: William Hosley

Like no other museum its size in America, the Atheneum's collections and identity were shaped by fascinating donors and patrons whose tastes and interests reflect the needs and priorities of their time and place.

Wadsworth Atheneum's First Century: Collections and Patrons

October 19, 2023

From Historical Society to Museum of Culture and History: 200 Years of Collecting Connecticut's Stories

Andrea Repacz & Andrea Slater

Founded in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society, now the Connecticut Museum of Culture and History, features remarkable collections important to the preservation and interpretation of our shared history in Hartford and beyond.

From Historical Society to Museum of Culture and History: 200 Years of Collecting Connecticut's Stories

October 12, 2023

Watkinson Library Staff

Join the Watkinson Librarians and Archivists for an engaging presentation of Trinity College's two centuries in Hartford. The past comes alive through hidden stories and extroardinary acquisitions, briding the gap between history, the present, and the future.

Tales & Treasures: Exploring Hartford through Trinity College Archives & Watkinson Library

October 7, 2023

Walking Tour: Trinity College Architecture and Archives

Presented by: Prof. Alden Gordon

Meet at Trinity Admissions Office off TC Chapel parket lot at Veron Street. Tour will conclude at the TC Library with an opportunity to view the Trinitiana exhibitions on the History of Trinity College. This walking tour will last two hours and will require a walk of about 1 mile.

Not recorded

Walking Tour: Trinity College Architecture and Archives

October 5, 2023

Why Hartford's Ethnic Heritage Matters Today

Presented by: Dr. Fiona Vernal

Through the lens of a series of articles published more than a century ago, this talk explores the history of Hartford's changing ethnic heritage and the roots and routes that have made the city home for a succession of different ethnic groups.

Why Hartford's Ethnic Heritage Matters Today

September 28, 2023

Hartford's Cemeteries & Burying Grounds: Where Art & History Meet

Presented by: William Hosley

Hartford's cemeteries and burying grounds are a gold mine for the study of local history, folk art, and statuary. These burial places are truly where art and history meet.

Hartford's Cemeteries & Burying Grounds: Where Art & History Meet

Fall 2022 Lecture Series

Pioneering, publishing, faith, and global reach

October 22, 2022

Encounters: The Global Reach of the Local Talcott Church

Moderated by: Dr. Fiona Vernal

This guided community conversation will take the Mars family as a lens for exploring how the congregants of Talcott Street Church cast their advocacy far and wide and weighed in on the emigration debates. This allows us insight into the wider network of the Mars family—particularly, Elizabeth Mars and her years of service in Liberia. It will also allow us to understand the relationship between the Connecticut Colonization society, the Hartford Female African Society, and the Charitable Society in the African Sunday School. These are important lenses for understanding the Christian missionary impulse in the Talcott Church as well as the role of black women as organizers and leaders. Hartford participated in the “The African Mission School” established at Trinity College, which was described as a “short-lived effort on behalf of Connecticut Episcopalians to develop a black leadership for the church in Liberia.” Hosted by: Connecticut’s Old State House.

Not recorded

Encounters: The Global Reach of the Local Talcott Church

October 15, 2022

Justice & Faith Hartford Walking Tour

Led by: Steve Thornton

For almost two hundred years, African Americans — both enslaved and free — maintained a vital community on Hartford’s East side. Most of these extraordinary men and women were associated with Talcott Street Congregational, the city’s first Black church. It provided a safe haven and a center of activism for the primary moral and political issues of the day. The “Justice & Faith” walking tour introduces participants to these fascinating figures and uncovers previously unknown stories that are relevant to our times. In-person only. While there is no recording of the walking tour, we are providing a link to a lecture Steve gave at the Old State House on the same topic that was not part of the Hartford History Lecture Series.

Justice & Faith Hartford Walking Tour

October 6, 2022

Presented by: Antoinette Brim-Bell

In 1841, Ann Plato becomes the first African American writer to publish a collection of essays. When scrutinized through a white canonical literary lens or juxtaposed with accepted African American authors, her work is generally criticized for being derivative and of “little literary merit,” rendering Plato a footnote in history. This presentation will explore Ann Plato’s literature against this assessment, situating the publication of Essays as a treatise that strategically optimizes the author’s opportunity for social and physical mobility. Hosted by: Connecticut’s Old State House.

Ann Plato of Hartford: Pioneering Black Writer

September 29, 2022

Rev. James W.C. Pennington: A National and Local Voice for Freedom

Presented by: Dr. Stacey Close

A lecture on the life of the Reverend James W.C. Pennington, educator and pastor of the Talcott Street church in the 1840s and 1850s, with an emphasis on his impact as a leader of the Black community in Hartford and the context of national events and the abolition movement. Hosted by: Connecticut’s Old State House.

Rev. James W.C. Pennington: A National and Local Voice for Freedom

September 22, 2022

Hartford’s Religious Book Publishing Industry, 1795-1835

Presented by: William Hosley

The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival in the United States from about 1795 to 1835, increasing membership and stimulating several social and moral reforms, including temperance, the emancipation of women, and anti-slavery. The “evangelical empire,” so-called, was centered in Hartford through the Connecticut Missionary Society and other sundry tract producers. Religious book publishing earned Hartford prominence in the rapidly evolving publishing industry. Mark Twain was attracted to Hartford because of the publishing industry, and each of the individuals featured in the coming lectures – Pennington, Plato, and Mars – published books in Hartford. Hosted by: Connecticut’s Old State House.

Hartford's Religious Book Publishing Industry, 1795-1835

September 17, 2022

Black Community Formation

Presented by: Frank Mitchell

Dr. Mitchell will speak on the process of creating the exhibit and share insights about the Talcott Street church, its school, its people, and its significance to understanding the history of Hartford’s Black community. Hosted by: Capital Community College.

Not recorded

Black Community Formation

Fall 2021 Lecture Series

Schools, cemeteries, shade tobacco, and civic attachment

November 18, 2021

Hartford Public High School: The First Fifty Years

Presented by: R.J. Luke Williams

The Hartford Grammar School, which had a long history dating back to the school started by Thomas Hooker in 1638, was the secondary school for young men in Hartford until 1847. In that year, school leaders, influenced by the ideas of Henry Barnard, himself a graduate of the HGS, decided to bring together the English Course of the First District School and the Classical Course of the HGS and rename the school the “Hartford Public High School,” but it was also called the “English and Classical High School.” It was “public” in the sense that both men and women could enroll. It was a bold move, preceded by much agitation, but it made Hartford stand out as urbane, cosmopolitan, and progressive. This presentation will explore what HPHS was about in the early years: the composition of the student body, the curriculum, and its governance. Many students attended colleges and achieved prominence and influence as adults, especially in the city of Hartford.

Hartford Public High School: The First Fifty Years

November 13, 2021

Spring Grove Cemetery and Faith Congregational Church Tour

Led by: William Hosley

In this tour, you will explore the historic Spring Grove Cemetery with William Hosley and then cross the street to tour Faith Congregational Curch, Southern New England United Church of Christ, with members of the church's history committee.

Spring Grove Cemetery and Faith Congregational Church Tour

November 4, 2021

Presented by: Dr. Fiona Vernal

In 1910 after many experiments, shade tobacco supplanted broadleaf to become the dominant crop in the Connecticut River Valley. Join us for a look at what this premium brand tells us about the the role of tobacco in the history of land use, labor, and immigration of the Greater Hartford region and the Connecticut River Valley.

Shade Tobacco Stories: Land, Labor, and Immigration in the Connecticut Tobacco Valley

October 28, 2021

Connecticut's Capitol: A National Treasure Explored

Presented by: William Hosley

The State House Connecticut nuilt (1874-79) at the height of the Gilded Age is one of the essential landmarks in the Capital City. This program explores many facets of this building's allure and, once again, a center of state and national attention.

Connecticut's Capitol: A National Treasure Explored

October 21, 2021

Why Hartford History Matters Today

Presented by: William Hosley

Close observation and an awareness that every place has great stories transforms everyday learning and living into a pathway for civic attachment.

Why Hartford History Matters Today

Fall 2020 Lecture Series

Women's Suffrage, The Great Flood, art, and migrations

October 21 2020

Women's Suffrage and More: Edna Purtell and Mary Townsend Seymour

Presented by: Dr. Tracey Wilson

Woman’s suffrage is a story of cross class-alliances, lobbying for multiple issues, and negotiating important divisions. Learn more about how the Connecticut woman’s suffrage movement had a profound impact on those who participated and the attempts made to move the vote just for men.

Women's Suffrage and More: Edna Purtell and Mary Townsend Seymour

October 10, 2020

Tour: Hartford Art & Art Patrons at Wadsworth Atheneum

Led by: William Hosley

Tour the stories behind and artifacts belonging to artists and collectors: Frederic Church, Wallace Nutting, Sol LeWitt, Aaron Chapin, William Glackens, and John Trumbull, with path-breaking patrons and philanthropists: Samuel P. Avery, Rev. Francis Goodwin and Frank Sumner.

Not recorded

Tour: Hartford Art & Art Patrons at Wadsworth Atheneum

October 7, 2020

Presented by: William Hosley

In 1854, while Sam Colt was developing the Coltsville factory village and Armory, Hartford was hit by the biggest flood of the 19th century. Local artist Joseph Ropes, whose paintings are now housed at the Wadsworth Atheneum, was hired by Colt to create a remarkable panoramic mural, capturing with photographic accuracy what the capital city looked like on the cusp of transformation.

Hartford Panorama: Joseph Ropes, Sam Colt and the Great Flood of 1854

September 23, 2020

Three Great Migrations: How to frame Puerto Rican, African American and West Indian History in Hartford

Presented by: Dr. Fiona Vernal

We often tell this story of community succession in Hartford as a narrative of decline followed by lamentations about what Hartford used to be. What are the possibilities of framing the history in a different way, a history that explores the pull factors that made Hartford home, that kept people rooted in the city?

Three Great Migrations: How to frame Puerto Rican, African American and West Indian History in Hartford

September 9, 2020

Travelers Tower: An Icon Turns 100

Presented by: William Hosley

When Travelers Tower was new in 1919 in the midst of the American sky-scraper phenomenon, it was the 7th tallest building in the world and was the tallest building in New England until 1964. This lecture provides an armchair tour inside this remarkable building – from the top of the tower to the grand entry hall.

Travelers Tower: An Icon Turns 100

Spring 2019 Lecture Series

Urban living, Twain, and an image-conscious city

April 2019

Rediscovering the Historic Old North Neighborhood

Presented by: William Hosley

This lecture focuses on the historic neighborhood surrounding Old North Cemetery, home to the city’s most intact collection of historic buildings including Isham-Terry House (1854), Keney Clock Tower (1898) and Faith Congregational Church (1878). A National Historic District since 2004, “Downtown North” was a port of entry for generations of immigrants.

Rediscovering the Historic Old North Neighborhood

March 2019

Urban Living and Lifestyle in 19th century Hartford

Led by: Donald Poland

This lecture explores the birth of the Industrial Revolution and its impact on the Hartford landscape and its resident visionaries, including Horace Bushnell, Catherine Beecher, Frederick Law Olmsted and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Urban Living and Lifestyle in 19th century Hartford

February 2019

Mark Twain in Hartford

Led by: James Golden

Although his most famous works were set along the Mississippi River of his childhood, Mark Twain composed those novels while living in the elegant literary community of Nook Farm, in a Hartford of industry, energy, and immigration. This lecture explores the importance of Connecticut and Hartford to Twain’s life and work, including his famous neighbors.

Mark Twain in Hartford

January 2019

Building Hartford: an Architectural History

Led by: William Hosley

With four centuries of human habitation, Hartford is rich in architectural evidence. Every generation left its mark on this highly image-conscious city. This lecture explores Hartford’s architectural grandeur from the 17th century to today, from its historic churches to its shiny reflective glass towers.

Building Hartford: an Architectural History

Fall 2018 Lecture Series

April 26, 2018

Rediscovering the Hartford Art Scene, 1850-1950

Presented by: Gary Knoble, Independent Scholar 

Thursday April 26th at 5:30 - Rediscovering the Hartford Art Scene, 1850-1950 by Gary Knoble, Independent Scholar

Not recorded

hartford-heritage-logo-gray.png

March 22, 2018

For Our City’s Welfare: Protestants, Philanthropy and the Contest Over Local Identity in Nineteenth Century Hartford

Presented by: Andrew Walsh, Trinity College

Thursday March 22nd at 5:30 - For Our City’s Welfare: Protestants, Philanthropy and the Contest Over Local Identity in Nineteenth Century Hartford by Andrew Walsh, Trinity College.

Not recorded

hartford-heritage-logo-gray.png

February 22, 2018

Black History is American (& local) History, A Travelogue

Presented by: William Hosley

Thursday February 22th at 5:30pm - Black History is American (& Local) History, A Travelogue by William Hosley

Not recorded

hartford-heritage-logo-gray.png

January 25, 2018

Learn Local: Why Hartford History Matters Today

Presented by: William Hosley

Thursday January 25th at 7pm - Learn Local: Why Hartford History Matters Today by William Hosley

Not recorded

hartford-heritage-logo-gray.png

Related Links

bottom of page