Hartford History

Learn Local

By revealing the narrative power of real things and real places, Hartford History Lectures celebrate the value of local knowledge and access to primary resources.

As co-founder Bill Hosley says, “Every place has a story — and Hartford is a goldmine of stories for almost any kind of course.”

Stir Your Curiosity

Sept. 9th
6 – 7:30 pm

“Travelers Tower: An Icon Turns 100” by William Hosley

recorded lecture available now!

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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 will feature architect Donn Barber and who will provide an armchair tour inside this remarkable building – from the top of the tower to the grand entry hall. 

Wednesday Sept. 23rd
6 – 7:30 pm
“Three Great Migrations: How to frame Puerto Rican, African American and West Indian History in Hartford” by Dr. Fiona Vernal

recorded lecture available now!

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Hartford attracted three great waves of migrations of Puerto Rican, African American, and West Indian communities that transformed the twentieth-century trajectory of the city. 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? 

Oct. 7th
6 – 7:30 pm
Hartford Panorama: Joseph Ropes, Sam Colt & the Great Flood of 1854”  by William Hosley 

recorded lecture available now!

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

Oct. 10th
10 am – 12 pm
Livestream Tour Hartford Art & Art Patrons at Wadsworth Atheneum” led by William Hosley  Click Here

This tour will introduce us to the stories behind, and artifacts belonging to such legendary personalities as JP Morgan, Daniel Wadsworth and Sam & Elizabeth Colt. It will explore Hartford connections between famous artists and collectors like Frederic Church, Wallace Nutting, Sol LeWitt, Aaron Chapin, William Glackens, and John Trumbull and introduce path-breaking patrons and philanthropists like Samuel P. Avery, Rev. Francis Goodwin and Frank Sumner. 

Oct. 21st
6 – 7:30 pm
Womans Suffrage and More: Edna Purtell and Mary Townsend Seymour by Dr. Tracey Wilson 

recorded lecture available now!

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The Connecticut womans suffrage movement had a profound impact on the women who participated, even though they were not capable of moving those who wanted to keep the vote just for men. Womans suffrage is a story of cross class alliances, women lobbying for multiple issues, and women divided on an issue that today we might think would unite them. 

Archived Lectures

William Hosley
Rediscovering the Historic
Old North Neighborhood
Posted April 2019 (52:16 minutes)

Donald Poland
Urban Living and Lifestyle in
19th Century Hartford
Posted March 2019 (53:59 minutes)

James Golden
Mark Twain In Hartford
Posted Feb. 2019 (52:30 minutes)

William Hosley
Building Hartford
an Architectural History
Posted Jan. 2019 (1:19:50 minutes)

Made possible by:

Capital Community College and the Hartford Heritage Project are grateful to CT Humanities for funding the 2020 lecture series and tour.

Hartford History Lectures are sponsored by CT Humanities and the CCC Foundation.

Videos Produced by Michael Bies and Bruce Miller.