The Shoeleather History Project

Stories from Hartford's Grassroots

The Rebel Girl on May Day

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn celebrated May Day with Connecticut textile workers on May 1, 1912. This little-known speech was a special moment, uniting the radical idealism of the Industrial Workers of the … Continue reading

April 30, 2016 · 1 Comment

Hartford’s City Mother

The small plaque in the south corner of the State Capitol identifies the names of early 20th century Connecticut women who campaigned for the right to vote. One of those … Continue reading

November 13, 2015 · 1 Comment

Deeds, Not Words: Emmeline Pankhurst Speaks to Hartford

The British campaign to win the vote for women was led in large measure by Emmeline Pankhurst. She spoke to a Hartford audience in 1913 (see below). Her presentation is … Continue reading

November 8, 2015 · Leave a comment

Beatrice Longman Breaks the Mold

Connecticut has no shortage of war memorials and statues featuring prominent business and political leaders. The celebration of the state’s ordinary working people, however, is almost nowhere to be found. … Continue reading

September 29, 2015 · 1 Comment

The Woman in Red

If she hadn’t worn her red dress to the picket line, Amelia Sabich might have lived a normal, quiet life. But then, she would never have inspired thousands of workers–including … Continue reading

March 10, 2015 · Leave a comment

Isabel Blake, Welfare Warrior

Isabel Blake challenges state legislators to “meet with us and talk things over.” The legislators stay silent. “We don’t bite,” Blake says, “we don’t have much to eat, but we … Continue reading

April 15, 2014 · Leave a comment

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: Lessons from a Tragedy

Sol Bidek’s family lived in a tenement on Market Street in Hartford. They waited several days for word  from New York.  Finally, they got the news: their sister was safe. … Continue reading

January 19, 2014 · 1 Comment

Baseball Crazy

No ESPN, no sports radio, no internet scores. In 1913, all Hartford baseball fans had was the Megaphone Man. He stood in front of the old Hartford Courant building on … Continue reading

January 13, 2014 · 5 Comments

More Hidden History of the Wobblies

A Shoeleather History of the Wobblies: Stories of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Connecticut is a new book that documents the organizing efforts of this unique labor group … Continue reading

January 10, 2014 · 5 Comments

No Room at the Inn

Ethel Thompson and her family reached Hartford after midnight. She entered the Hotel Essex on Main Street and went to the front desk to check in. The night clerk got … Continue reading

November 9, 2013 · Leave a comment

Why the Union Vote Counts

Will the union vote count on election day? For the last one hundred years it has, in Hartford and around the country. And every politician knows it, even if the … Continue reading

October 25, 2013 · Leave a comment

No Business as Usual: Vietnam War

On a cool and sunny fall day in Hartford, ten thousand people jammed into Bushnell Park with one goal: to stop the war in Vietnam. As the single largest protest … Continue reading

August 29, 2013 · 3 Comments

Hartford Sex Trade: Prostitutes and Politics

Ann Dunn and Caroline McElroy were unceremoniously escorted to the police station where they were charged with prostitution. The arrest of the two Hartford women came in the summer of … Continue reading

June 16, 2013 · Leave a comment

Red Emma

One of the most dangerous women in America spoke in Hartford on February 12, 1913. “Red Emma” Goldman talked about love and marriage, a subject that was as revolutionary as … Continue reading

May 10, 2013 · Leave a comment

A Feeling of Solidarity

It was March, 1912. Emily Pierson and her sister suffragists were on a statewide tour of Connecticut, putting up posters, distributing handbills, speaking wherever they could find a space. Pierson’s … Continue reading

May 10, 2013 · 2 Comments

Two, Three, Many Rosa Parks

Sixty-one years ago, Rosa Parks was removed from a city bus by a Montgomery, Alabama police officer. Her arrest sparked a successful 381-day bus boycott by African Americans in that … Continue reading

May 3, 2013 · 1 Comment

Factory Girls Strike for Their Health

The factory owner demanded sixty hours a week from the young women employed at the Government Envelope Works on South Ann Street. But apparently this was not enough for the … Continue reading

May 2, 2013 · Leave a comment

Women of the Prison Brigade

On a cold winter morning in February 1919, the “Prison Special” pulled into the Union Place train station. Departing from a passenger car were twenty-five women from all walks of … Continue reading

April 21, 2013 · Leave a comment

Hartford’s City Mother

 The small plaque in the south corner of the State Capitol identifies the names of early 20th century Connecticut women who campaigned for the right to vote. One of those … Continue reading

April 18, 2013 · Leave a comment

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The Shoeleather History Project