Connecticut History Out Loud! GRATING THE NUTMEG PODCAST



Brought to you by Connecticut Explored and the Office of the State Historian



Grating the Nutmeg offers stories about Connecticut history that you can listen to on your phone, tablet, or computer whenever you want.


MAKE A DONATION to Friends of Connecticut Explored and use coupon code Gratingthenutmeg to support the podcast. All gifts with this coupon code will be shared with the Office of the State Historian to support its outreach efforts. 


Episode 28: Connecticut in World War I: Letters from the Front
34 Minutes. Release Date: April 5, 2017
With equal doses of wit and bravado, hear the stories of New Britain’s Stanley Works employees serving in France with World War I-era music recorded from the original records in the collection of Henry Arneth.

We wish to thank Karen Hudkins and Andrea Kulak from the New Britain Industrial Museum, Henry Arneth, and CCSU students Jacob Carey, Joe Guerrera, and Ryan Paolino. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan. 

For more Connecticut in World War I:
Episode 25: On to Mexico: The Connecticut National Guard
Episode 24: “The Conquest of America,” A WWI Cautionary Tale

Connecticut in World War I, Part II, Spring 2017
Connecticut in the Great War, Winter 2014/2015


Episode 27: Sam Colt Mines the West
38 Minutes. Release Date: March 21, 2017
Central Connecticut State University history professor Leah Glaser retells the story of Sam Colt’s investment in the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company in the 1850s, a company that was incorporated in Cincinnati, Ohio to exploit silver mines in the new Arizona Territory. Colt never set foot in Arizona but that didn’t mean he didn’t pour energy, money, and firearms into making the venture a success. Unfortunately, the Apache, the Civil War, and myriad other challenges came into play.

Recorded February 28, 2017 at the University of Hartford as part of the Presidents’ College and Connecticut Explored’s “Connecticans in the American West” lecture series. Produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan.

Read the Story: Sam Colt Mines the Arizona Territory

Episode 26: Catharine Beecher Educates the West
44 Minutes. Release Date: March 8, 2017
What was it like when a young schoolteacher from Connecticut arrived to teach in a rough frontier school in 1850? Find out in this podcast by Eastern Connecticut State University English professor Allison Speicher. Speicher tells us about why the famous Catharine Beecher, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, was so driven to send New England school teachers to the west—and what those teachers found when they arrived.

This talk was recorded February 21, 2017 at the University of Hartford as part of the Presidents’ College and Connecticut Explored’s “Connecticans in the American West” lecture series. The episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan.

Read the Story: Catharine Beecher Educates the West

By Donna Neary

Episode 25: On to Mexico: The Connecticut National Guard
35 Minutes. Release Date: February 24, 2017
Museum of Connecticut History curator Dave Corrigan tells the forgotten story of the Connecticut National Guard’s service on the Mexican border in 1916—the first test of these young soldiers in a hostile environment before they shipped out to France six months later.

Part of our Commemorating World War I coverage. Recorded February 14, 2017 at the University of Hartford, part of the three-part Presidents’ College Lecture Series “Connecticans in the American West,” organized in collaboration with Connecticut Explored’s Winter 2016-2017 issue on that theme. Produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan.

Watch for the other two lectures in that series in future episodes of Grating the Nutmeg.

READ MORE: Spring 2017


“The Crown Prince occupies the Mark Twain House,” illustration from “The Conquest of America,” Charles Moffatt, 1916

Episode 24: “The Conquest of America,” A WWI Cautionary Tale
40 Minutes. Release Date: February 2, 2017
This spring, Americans will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I–including with CT Explored’s Spring 2017 issue. To whet your appetite for some of the surprising stories ahead, state historian Walt Woodward retells war correspondent Cleveland Moffett’s cautionary tale from 1915 of an imagined “German invasion of Connecticut.” It was serialized in the national magazine McClure’s, and released in book form as The Conquest of America in 1916. 

See illustrations from the book here, and download the entire book in .pdf form here.


Episode 23: The Great American Road Trip!
35 Minutes. Release Date: January 12, 2017
A celebration of the adventure, fun, and excitement of a road trip along the byways and back roads of America. Featuring the stories of the diners, motels, gas stations, and roadside amusements that are featured in Road Trip!, the New Haven Museum’s exhibition on view through June 15, 2017.

Visit for photos and more information on Connecticut’s roadside eateries, and listen to episode 10, “Poets & Patriots in Stonington,” for our visit to the Sea Swirl in Mystic.

This historic preservation story is supported in part by Connecticut Humanities.

A Hip Road Trip, Winter 2009/2010
Lunch Wagon to Space Age Diner: Connecticut’s First Fast Food Emporiums, Spring 2006

Episode 22: The Smithsonian’s Eric Hintz–Hartford as a Place of Invention
37 Minutes. Release Date: December 27, 2016
The Smithsonian’s Eric Hintz reveals why he featured Hartford as one of six places of invention in a special exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. Find out how Samuel Colt, Elisha Root, and Mark Twain figure into the story and the ingredients he’s discovered that mark Connecticut as a standout place of invention in the late-19th century. Thank you to Eric Hintz and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, and Jody Blankenship and the Connecticut Historical Society. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan.

PLUS:  Episode 19’s interview with Connecticut Historical Society curator Ilene Frank about “Connecticut Innovates!,” on view through March 25, 2017.

Sikorsky: Still Revolutionary, Spring 2014 
Pepperidge FarmWinter 2015/2016
Peter Paul, Spring 2010
Bigelow Tea, Winter 2015/2016
Pratt & Whitney, Spring 2005
Kaman, Fall 2008
International Silver, Winter 2015/2016
The Miracle on Capital Avenue” Spring 2004

Buy “The Connecticut Brand” Collection: 6 issues full of stories on Connecticut’s history of innovation, just $35. Makes a great gift!


christmas-in-ct-imageEpisode 21: Holiday Episode 2: A Connecticut Christmas Story
33 Minutes. Release Date: December 1, 2016
Celebrate Christmas in Connecticut with two stories: from Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Mark Twain House. Featuring music from Duke Ellington’s Suite from the Nutcracker Ballet performed by the New England Jazz Ensemble. 

Our preservation story about the restoration of the Mark Twain House’s Mahogany Suite is brought to you by Connecticut Humanities. Special thanks to Beth Burgess of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Tracy Brindle of the Mark Twain House, and the New England Jazz Ensemble. For more information on the New England Jazz Ensemble, visit

“Christmas in Connecticut,” Winter 2010/2011

Episode 20: Holiday Episode 1: Soup and Stories
52 Minutes. Release Date: November 26, 2016
What do the Shroud of Turin, a  beer-drinking donkey, a walking catfish, Farmall tractors, the Blizzard of 1888,  spooky houses, and the songs from the Wizard of Oz have to do with the little towns of Lebanon and Columbia? In this, the first of 2 special holiday episodes, we celebrate one of the best things about the holiday season–the stories people share with each other. We journey to Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, where residents of the towns of Columbia and Lebanon met together on an evening in early November to share soup, dessert, and stories.

Thanks to Donna Baron, Justin Holbrook, Rick Kane, Andrea Stannard, Alicia Lamb, Marge Nicholls, Ed Tillman, Belle Robinson, and ALL the amazing story tellers who made this night so fun and memorable.

Sikorsky 1Episode 19: Connecticut Innovates!
20 Minutes. Release Date: November 16, 2016
What does it take to be considered innovative? What is Connecticut’s history of innovation? Find out with this interview with Connecticut Historical Society curator Ilene Frank and exhibit designer Jordan Klein about their new exhibition “Connecticut Innovates!” on view November 11, 2016 to March 25, 2017.

Sikorsky: Still Revolutionary, Spring 2014 
Pepperidge Farm, Winter 2015/2016
Peter Paul, Spring 2010
Bigelow Tea, Winter 2015/2016
Pratt & Whitney, Spring 2005
Kaman, Fall 2008
International Silver, Winter 2015/2016
The Miracle on Capital Avenue” Spring 2004

Buy “The Connecticut Brand” Collection: 6 issues full of stories on Connecticut’s history of innovation, just $35. Makes a great gift!

Episode 18: Governor John Dempsey, Son of Cahir
43 Minutes. Release Date: November 2, 2016
John Dempsey, governor from 1961 to 1971, was one of the most popular–and effective–governors Connecticut ever had, according to state historian Walt Woodward. Born in Ireland in 1916, he was the first immigrant governor of Connecticut since the colonial era. During his administration Connecticut was completely transformed from one of the most tight-fisted American states to one of the most socially responsible. Based on a talk Woodward gave in Ireland in 2015, Dempsey’s remarkable achievements, and how both his character and his policies were shaped by his boyhood in Cahir, Ireland, are revealed.

A Grating the Nutmeg First:
Click here to watch on Youtube with slides

Dempsey was executive secretary and lieutenant governor to Governor Abraham Ribicoff and then succeeded him in office. Read more about Ribicoff and Connecticut political history:
Abraham Ribicoff Turns Connecticut Blue,” Spring 2016
Spring 2016 and Fall 2004: stories of Connecticut’s political history

Version 2

Episode 17: A Pirate’s Tale and Visit to Old New-Gate Prison
47 Minutes. Release Date: October 14, 2016
Hear about Ruth Duncan’s shocking discovery of her great great grandfather’s connection to the notorious pirate William Gibbs and about who’s clamored to get into—and escape from—Old New-Gate Prison over the last 240 years. After six years of a stabilization project, the popular historic site is on the verge of reopening to the public with an open house on October 22, 2016.

Featuring: Ruth Duncan, Christopher Shields of the Greenwich Historical Society, Jack Shannahan, Rep. Tami Zawistowski, Sophie Huget.

“The Pirate’s Pericardium?,” Fall 2016
Escape from New-Gate Prison,” Summer 2006

Episode 16: Drinking in History at the Noah Webster House
21 Minutes. Release Date: October 4, 2016
Some people say that young people these days just aren’t that interested in history museums. Don’t tell that to the Noah Webster House in West Hartford, which has found a way to attract hundreds of twenty-and-thirty-somethings to drink in history at the birthplace of the man who helped define early America.

See also Episode 4: Winter 2015-2016–Connecticut Clocks and American Words (below)

Episode 15: What’s It All About: The Law and Order Edition!fall2016cover_255x300
34 Minutes. Release Date: September 15, 2016

Was the oldest person executed under Connecticut’s now-abolished capital punishment law given a fair trial? Where did an enterprising young man find the best law school in the early years of the new nation? (hint: it wasn’t New Haven) 
Find out about these and others stories about crime and punishment in Connecticut from the Fall 2016 issue of Connecticut Explored. 

Guests: Johnna Kaplan, author of “The Mysterious Case of Gershom Marx,” and Cathy Fields, executive director of the Litchfield Historical Society: Hosts: Elizabeth Normen and Jennifer LaRue

Get the issue! Fall 2016

v14n3_255x300Episode 14:  Before BDL: Bradley Field and Eugene Bradley
41 Minutes. Release Date: September 6, 2016
What’s the history of Bradley International Airport and why is it named for someone from Oklahoma? Is it time to change the name? On the 75th anniversary of Bradley Field (almost to the day) CT Explored’s Elizabeth Normen spoke with Jerry Roberts of the New England Air Museum about the past, present, and future of Connecticut’s international airport and air museum. The last of our episodes from the Summer 2016 issue “Small Towns, BIG Stories.”

Windsor Locks: Bradley International Airport
reserving Connecticut’s Aeronautical History
Sikorsky: Still Revolutionary
Frederick Rentschler: The Sky’s the Limit
The Rise and Fall of Balloonist Silas Brooks

Red ware fragment, Hollister site, 2016. photo: Walter Woodward

Red ware fragment, Hollister site, 2016. photo: Walter Woodward

Episode 13: Discovery: Connecticut’s Most Important Dig Ever
42 Minutes. Release Date: August 23, 2016
Take an earwitness journey to the 1659 John Hollister homesite on the Connecticut River in ancient Wethersfield, and join the archaeologists, graduate students, and volunteers from many walks of life as they uncover one of the richest early colonial sites ever found in Connecticut.

Accompany State historian Walter Woodward on the last day of the dig for a first-hand account of what they’re finding, and what it means for understanding our early history. Hear from State archeologist Brian Jones, Lori Kissel, Scot Brady, Glenda Rose, Dick Hughes, Fiona Jones, Mandy Ranslow (president of FOSA – Friends of the Office of State Archaeology)  and others about their epic archeological adventure.

Summer 2014: History Underground
“Waste Not, Want Not: What a Colonial Midden Can Tell Us” by Ross Harper, Fall 2012

Episode 12: Great Finds: Inside and Out
34 Minutes. Release Date: August 2, 2016
The Great Find!
A pair of 18th century portraits comes up for auction. Should the Connecticut Historical Society make a bid? This is a behind-the-scenes story in more ways than one! Host: Elizabeth Normen, CT Explored. Featuring: Ilene Frank, Connecticut Historical Society.
Pleasant Valley Drive In
Did you go to the drive-in movies when you were a kid? You still can! Join Jennifer LaRue for another segment inspired by the “Small Towns, BIG Stories” theme of the Summer 2016 issue of Connecticut Explored. Host: Jennifer LaRue, Connecticut Explored.
Growing Up in Connecticut
Are you a millennial, Gen Xer, Baby Boomer, or member of the Silent Generation? Relive your childhood with the Connecticut Historical Society’s special exhibition “Growing Up in Connecticut.” Host: Elizabeth Normen, Connecticut Explored. Featuring: Ben Gammell, Connecticut Historical Society

Read More:
“In Search of the Great Find: Nathan Liverant and Sons”
“Shack Attack: Connecticut’s Roadside Eateries”  and listen to Episode 10 “Shack Attack”
A Hip Road Trip: The History of the Berlin Turnpike”
Lunch Wagon to Spage-Age Diner: Connecticut’s First Fast Food Emporiums”

Episode 11: Wallace Nutting and the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
39 Minutes. Release Date: July 13, 2016

Most people know the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum as the place where George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau planned the campaign that won the American victory in the Revolutionary War. This year, a special exhibition commemorates another important event, one that happened there 100 years ago. In 1916, minister, photographer, antiques expert, and marketing entrepreneur Wallace Nutting made Webb-Deane-Stevens one of the very first historic house museums in America. Museum executive director Charles Lyle tells us the amazing story about an amazing man who was the Martha Stewart of his generation and more.

Related Stories:
“The Conference State: Washington and Rochambeau Plan for Victory”
Winter 2011/2012: “Site Line: Silas Deane”

4Episode 10: Poets and Patriots in Stonington & Shack Attack! Summer Eats in Connecticut
29 minutes. R
elease Date: June 27, 2016
More stories from “Small Towns, BIG Stories,” the summer 2016 issue of Connecticut Explored.
Poetry and Patriots in Stonington: A visit to an unexpected listing on the National Register of Historic Places: poet James Merrill’s fourth-floor walk-up pied-a-terre in Stonington. Special guest poet-in-residence Noah Warren reads from Merrill’s work and reveals how this place inspired both his and Merrill’s poetry. And Beth Moore of the Stonington Historical Society gives us a highlights tour of historic sites in Stonington.
PLUS–Shack Attack: Summer Eats in Connecticut: Find out where to get great clams, hot dogs, and ice cream at Connecticut’s most iconic roadside food shacks.

Episode 9: Small Towns, BIG Stories–Lyman Orchards Turns 275 and What’s It All About
45 minutes. Release date: June 7, 2016
Lyman Orchards in Middlefield celebrates its 275th anniversary and so state historian Walt Woodward sat down with John Lyman III to talk about the history of the 12th oldest family business in America, which also happens to be one of New England’s most popular agri-tourism destinations. 30 minutes

Then, (at minute 30) listen to What’s It All About – Summer Edition, a lively discussion with Bill Hosley and Betsy Fox about their favorite small towns with BIG stories from the summer issue of Connecticut Explored.

Related stories:
“Top 10 Treasures from Small Museums”
“Even with History, Go Local”
Summer 2016 issue

Episode 8: Living History
20 minutes. Release date: May 22, 2016
What if you could tour writer Mark Twain’s house with the maid, getting the juicy inside story? Join Connecticut Explored editor Jennifer LaRue as she tags along on one of the Mark Twain House’s new living history tours. Plus learn about the living history tour offered at the Windsor Historical Society. Then publisher Elizabeth Normen smells the lilacs in the Florence Griswold Museum’s gardens and takes you through their current exhibition celebrating executive director Jeffrey Anderson’s 40th anniversary.

Related stories:
Saving Mark Twain’s House,” by Steve Courtney, Spring 2013

Episode 7: A Communist’s Arrest in 1950s New Haven
28 minutes. Release date: April 19, 2016
In 1954, 32-year-old Al Marder was arrested in New Haven along with several others under the Smith Act for allegedly working to overthrow the US government. After a lengthy trial, during which he was defended by the celebrated civil rights lawyer Catherine Roraback, he was acquitted. With humor, grace, passion, and optimism, hear Al tell in his own words what he was fighting for and what it feels like when the full power of the state, federal, and local government is aimed at you. Recorded at New Haven Museum on April 14, 2016. An extended version including the entire 1-hour program is available as Episode 7E (Extended).

Read related stories in the Spring 2016 issue, including “A Life of Conviction: Al Marder” by Mary Donohue.

Episode 6: Irish in a Mill Town and Spring 2016–Voting and Protesting
45 minutes. Release date: March 13, 2016
Irish Eyes in a Connecticut Mill Town, 17 minutes. Jamie Eves of the Windham Textile & History Museum in Willimantic talks with state historian Walt Woodward about their new exhibition Irish Eyes: The Irish Experience in a Connecticut Mill Town.
What’s It All About, 13 min. The CT Explored editorial team talks about voting, protesting, and religious equality. Features Dave Corrigan on the 1991 income tax protest and Mary Donohue on the 1843 petition by Jews for religious parity in Connecticut.
Theodate’s Suffrage Journey, 12 min. Melanie Anderson Bourbeau, curator of Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, describes the suffrage journey of Hill-Stead’s architect and last resident Theodate Pope Riddle.

Read related stories in the Spring 2016 issue and
SAMPLE ARTICLE: The Anti-Income Tax Rally of 1991
Connecticut’s Irish Domestics

Episode 5: What Makes Connecticut Connecticut?
52 minutes. Release date: March 3, 2016
A musical lecture by state historian Walter Woodward featuring his Band of Steady Habits. This podcast was inspired by Connecticut Captured: A 21st Century Look at an American Classic, an exhibition of photographs by acclaimed visual documentarian Carol M. Highsmith on view at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford through March 12, 2016. This exhibition, based on Woodward  and Highsmith’s recently published book Connecticut (Chelsea Publishing, 2015), is an effort to capture in images the character of Connecticut in the 21st century. Read more at

Episode 4: Winter 2015-2016–Connecticut Clocks and American Words
37 minutes. Release date: February 2016
They Keep On Ticking: A Visit to the American Clock & Watch Museum: Clock & Watch Museum executive director Patti Philippon tells us about the Mickey Mouse watch that saved the Timex Company during the Great Depression, and so much more.
Defining the American Language: A Visit to the Noah Webster House: Webster House executive director Jennifer Matos tells out why Webster’s dictionary was so revolutionary.

Read these related stories:
Everyman’s Time: The Rise and Fall of Connecticut Clockmaking
On Noah Webster:
Father of American Copyright Law
A Connecticut Yankee Doodle Dandy
Noah Webster Slept Here and So Did I
And stories from our Winter 2015-2016 issue

Episode 3: History That’s Music to Our Ears
35 minutes. Release date: January 2016
Speed-dating at a History Conference: State historian Walt Woodward takes listeners inside the Fall 2015 Association for the Study of Connecticut History conference.
125 Years of Music: Editor Jennifer LaRue lets us listen in on the music-making of the Musical Club of Hartford, the subject of her Fall 2015 story.

Read related story:
125 Years of Music: The Musical Club of Hartford

Episode 2: Winter 2015-2015–Connecticut’s Iconic Brands
36 minutes. Release date: December 2015
What’s It All About: Editor Jennifer LaRue, publisher Elizabeth Normen, assistant publisher Mary Donohue, and curator of the Museum of Connecticut History Dave Corrigan talk about the big ideas behind their favorite stories in the Winter 2015-2016 issue.
A Birdcall Moment:
Historian Rich Malley takes listeners out into the field to demonstrate the subject of his story “The Simple Genius of the Audubon Bird Call.”
It Doesn’t Look Like a Toaster:
Editorial assistant Sarajane Cedrone takes listeners on a tour of the New Britain Industrial Museum, the subject of her story “Site Lines: Making Places,” with the museum’s executive director Karen Hudkins.

Read related stories in our Winter 2015-2016 issue

Episode 1: Introducing Grating the Nutmeg
19 minutes. Release date: November 2015
What’s It All About: Editor Jennifer LaRue, publisher Elizabeth Normen, and state historian Walter Woodward explain what Grating the Nutmeg is about and how it got its spicy name.
Lebanon’s Quiet Benefactor: Walt Woodward visits Lebanon’s historic green to learn from Ed Tollman about that town’s amazing life-long benefactor Hugh Trumbull Adams.

Read related stories in our Fall 2015 issue


Plus, these one-hour interviews by


Eric Lehman, “Tom Thumb and the Age of Celebrity.” CLICK HERE

WINTER  2014/2015

Laura Macaluso, “New Haven’s Monuments Man”–Click Here

FALL 2014 Issue

Elisabeth Petry, “Just Like Georgia Except for the Climate”– Click Here


Jerry Roberts, War of 1812: The British Raid on Essex  CLICK HERE

African American Connecticut Explored

Hear an interview with contributing author Katherine Harris on our new book African American Connecticut Explored (Wesleyan University Press, 2014).


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