About Laura Smith

Archivist

March is Women’s History Month!

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This photograph from 1918 shows women previously employed as telephone operators for the Southern New England Telephone Company getting ready to serve in the United States Army during World War I as Signal Corps operators in Europe. These women, all of them operators in Hartford, were specifically chosen for their positions because they were fluent in French.

On April 28, 1918, this Signal Corps class marched in a Liberty Bond parade in Hartford, holding the flags of the United States, France, Belgium, and Great Britain. The SNET company magazine, The Telephone Bulletin, cheered the women for their patriotism and bravery in preparing to go to the war front, writing “…the enthusiastic reception given these young women was wholly deserved, for with heads erect, shoulders thrown back and with martial tread, they made a striking appearance as they marched past the dense crowd on the sidewalks.”

We are celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing a photograph from our digital repository each day on our Facebook page!  Check out our posts each day to see the history and awesomeness of women at UConn and around our beautiful state of Connecticut.

“Our Community at Winchester” — an exhibit that evokes an era of union and community solidarity

 

“Our Community at Winchester: an Elm City Story,” is an exhibit, created by the Greater New Haven Labor History Association (GNHLHA), that reminds us of how communities are formed within and around factories and industrial workshops, as well as the impact and rippling effect that the disintegration of these industries have on the lives of their workers and the greater communities, towns and cities where they are located. The exhibit is currently available for viewing in the Norman Stevens Gallery in Homer Babbidge Library until early June.

As one of New Haven’s most important employers in the latter half of the 20th century, the Olin-Winchester Repeating Arms plant had an enormous impact on the Newhallville community and the city of New Haven, Connecticut. During this time, workers created a variety of social outlets, from the Winchester Club to bowling to musical performances, plays and gatherings of all kinds, creating a community within a community. But the struggle to achieve better, more equitable, working conditions was ongoing and often met with brutal resistance from the company. Later, with the introduction of Science Park, employment at the plant was repeatedly downsized until accessible work opportunities for people in the community no longer existed. The plant closed in 2006, throwing its remaining 198 employees out of work.

The stories of Winchester’s workers and the impact of this important employer throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries are told in this exhibit through the use of oral histories, photographs and documents. The exhibit utilizes materials from the records of the International Association of Machinists Local 609, now held by the GNHLHA, which represented workers at the plant beginning in 1956, as well as articles, donated images and personal recollections from those who were involved with the plant.

The photographs above show some of the panels in the exhibit as well as Greater New Haven Labor History Association director Joan Cavanagh and member Monica McGovern.

Anniversary of Colt Armory fire

Colt Armory, Hartford, Connecticut

On February 4, 1864, the East Armory of the famous Colt Patent Fire Arms Company, built in 1855 in Hartford, Connecticut, was completely destroyed in a fire, incurring $2 million in damages. Elizabeth Colt, Samuel Colt’s widow, had insured the factory buildings and the structures were quickly rebuilt, including the distinctive blue onion dome.  Today the armory is part of a National Historic Landmark District.

Celebrating Black History Month

Did you know that William Henry Johnson, the first African-American from Connecticut who volunteered to serve in the Civil War, enlisted in the all-white Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry in September 1861? Later African-American volunteers from Connecticut generally joined the all-black Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment. It wasn’t until November 1863, as the North’s insatiable need for soldiers intensified, that the Twenty-ninth (Colored) Connecticut Regiment Volunteer Infantry was formed.

Our collections include the publication “Connecticut’s African-American Soldiers in the Civil War, 1861-1865,” written in 2000 by Diana Ross McCain. You can read it in its entirely on our digital repository.

Cover of Connecticut's African-American Soldiers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, by Diana Ross McCain

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Our reading room will be closed for the two weeks between December 21 and January 4 but please contact us at archives@uconn.edu if you have questions about our collections.

uconn_asc_clc_boyson_1869_scan_of_boys_0001From Christmas Rhymes and Stories, Original and Selected, including a Visit from Santa Claus, by Kriss Kringle, published in 1887.

 

Happy Hannukah!

The Miracle of the Potato Latkes, by Malka Penn, illiustrated by Giora Carmi

Here is a page from one of the many holiday books that you can find in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection. The Miracle of the Potato Latkes: A Hanukkah Story, was written in 1994 by Malka Penn and illustrated by Giora Carmi.  This page from the book is shown here courtesy of the author and illustrator.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope everyone enjoys a delicious Thanksgiving!

Illustration from Uncle Wigglily's HolidaysIllustration by Lang Campbell in Uncle Wiggily’s Holidays or How Uncle Wiggily Had a Turkey for Thanksgiving and How He Delivered the Christmas Presents and How He Baked the New Year’s Cake, by Howard R. Garis, published in 1920.