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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

Why does place matter? Why is place-based learning important?  

What makes Hartford worth studying?  

Watch William Hosley’s 20-minute lecture with illustrations for the answers! 


2020 Lecture Archive

September 2020 (52:10 minutes)

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. 

September 2020 (60:11 minutes)

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?

October 2020 (55:26 minutes)

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. 

October 2020 (60:12 minutes)

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. 

November 2020 (60:04 minutes)

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

2019 Lecture Archive

April 2019 (52:16 minutes)

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.  

March 2019 (53:59 minutes)

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.

February 2019 (52:30 minutes)

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.

January 2019 (1:19:50 minutes)

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. 


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.