Connecticut History Podcasts
Grating the Nutmeg is the premiere podcast about Connecticut History. A collaboration between the Office of the Connecticut State Historian and Connecticut Explored magazine, our producers roam the state to find the best and most unusual stories, events, people and places linked to our past.
Listen to featured episodes below, subscribe on your favorite podcast app, or just say “Alexa,(or “Google”),play the Grating the Nutmeg podcast.” You can also listen to and download the entire Grating the Nutmeg library at http://gratingthenutmeg.libsyn.com.
Episode 96: Rough Justice for Nathan Hale
State historian Walt Woodward takes a new look at the actions surrounding the Revolutionary War execution of state hero Nathan Hale, and finds there are still some burning questions left to be answered about this hasty and irregular event. It’s a story from Walt’s new book Creating Connecticut: Critical Moments That Shaped a Great State, just out from Globe Pequot Press. As you’ll soon hear, when looking for answers about the Rough Justice handed out to Nathan Hale by the British in New York in 1776, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Episode 93: Connecticut and the Flu Pandemic of 1918
The influenza pandemic of 1918, like C0VID-19, stopped life as people-knew-it in its tracks. In this episode, State Historian Walt Woodward asked the questions we’re asking about today’s pandemic to the pandemic of a century ago.
Where did it come from? How did it spread? Who did it affect the most? How did the medical community respond to it? How did state and local governments respond? What social distancing measures were taken? And how did its impact change Connecticut and its people?
Walt found history, as always, to be an important reference point. We think you will, too. If you like what you hear, please share it with your friends.
Episode 91: Tom Linskey’s Hearth-Cooked Fest
Twice a year, restoration carpenter Tom Linsky and his wife Sally Irons host a heart-cooked colonial feast in their historic 18th century Portland home, as a benefit for their favorite charities. For those events Chef Tom Linskey spends an entire week prepping, preparing, and cooking a totally hearth-cooked panoply of colonial dishes to serve for the benefits’ guests. Last month (February 2020), State Historian Walt Woodward stopped in to see Tom throughout the week to learn about hearth-cooking and feasting in the colonial era. The result was a delicious and wonderfully informative encounter with hearth-cooking and colonial foodways.
You can view photos of the hearth cooking experience and some of the items in the Linskeey’s colonial tavern room on the Connecticut State Historian’s Facebook page.
Episode 86: Who Paid for the American Revolution?
In our first episode for 2020, state historian Walt Woodward interviews author and historian Tom Shachtman talks about his just released book, The Founding Fortunes: How America’s Wealthy Paid for and Profited From America’s Revolution. In this fascinating economic history covering the years from the Birth of the Republic to the end of the War of 1812, Shachtman asks an important question most historians don’t consider: Who paid for the war for independence?
The answers come with some profound insights that still resonate in the present. Shachtman also helps us understand the national significance of a number of famous Revolutionary Connecticans, including Jeremiah Wadsworth, SIlas Deane, Eli Whitney, John Fitch, and Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
Episode 49: The Professor’s Secret Life
All the time Joel Kupperman was a soft spoken, distinguished philosophy professor at the University of Connecticut, he carried a secret he discussed with no one – not even his family. That secret? That he had once been America’s greatest child radio and tv star .
Joel Kupperman was so popular he was written about by J D Salinger, Philip Roth, Nora Ephron, and the poet William Friedman. Now, as he slips into dementia , his son, the award-winning graphic novelist Michael Kupperman has created a graphic memoir about his father’s hidden past. All the Answers uncovers Joel Kupperman’s life as a Quiz Kid, and the cost being the most popular child celebrity in America inflicted, not just on Joel, but his whole family.
This is one of our best ever podcasts, and at the end, we’ll tell you how to enter to win a free copy of the book.
Episode 47: How We Learned, Loved, & Mourned
It was home to America’s first law school and to one of the first schools in which a woman could get a real education. Litchfield today is one of Connecticut’s prettiest towns. Join state historian Walt Woodward on a field trip to the Litchfield Historical Society, where Executive Director Cathy Fields talks about her amazing institution and it’s two brand new exhibits – one of the Sarah Pierce’s Litchfield Female Academy and another on expressions of sorrow and mourning in the early 1800s.
Episode 45: Trouble in the Land of Steady Habits
On the 200th anniversary of the creation of the state Constitution of 1818, we remember one of Connecticut’s least well known but most important events. Hear State Historian Walter Woodward’s Old State House talk about the events that led to the Constitution of 1818, and all that document did and didn’t do.
Episode 44: The Amazing Story of America’s First Cookbook
February 19, 2018
When co-host Brenda Miller suggested we do a podcast with the authors of a new book about America’s first cookbook (published in 1796), I thought a culinary episode might be a nice change of pace.
What we found, though, is that Keith Staveley and Kathleen Fitzgerald have not only written an extraordinary history of Amelia Simmons’s Hartford-published American Cookery, they’ve also written one of the best books about Connecticut history in a generation. This is an episode you don’t want to miss!
Episode 42: Treasures of the Watkinson Library
January 2, 2018
It’s a brand new year, and what better way to start 2018 than with a Treasure Hunt? Join Brenda Miller, Executive Director of the History Center at Hartford Public Library and State Historian Walt Woodward as they explore the treasures of the Watkinson Library at Trinity College with curator Rick Ring.
Episode 41: Have Archaeologists Found Connecticut’s Jamestown?
November 23, 2017
Archaeologists working at Wethersfield’s Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum recently found something completely unexpected – signs of a 17th century palisade adjacent to the historic house where General Washington met with French Comte de Rochambeau to plan the campaign that won the American Revolution. Along with the soil stain that showed there was a defensive wall, they also found artifacts dating to the time of the 1637 Pequot War, which Connecticut declared after a Wangunk-Pequot attack on Wethersfield that left 9 people dead. Could this fort — as archeologist Ross Harper posits — be Connecticut’s Jamestown?
Join Wethersfield residents at the Webb-Deane-Stevens museum as the archaeologists provide a surface-to-paydirt (that is, a 20th-to-17th century) description of what they’ve found so far.
Episode 39, Part 1: Witch-Hunting in Connecticut – The European Prelude
October 26, 2017
In this special three-part series on Witch-Hunting in Connecticut, we investigate the surprising story of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut. Why did Connecticut execute New England’s first witch? Why was Connecticut early New England’s fiercest prosecutor of witches? And how did European witch-hunting affect the same practice in New England? We cover all this and more in an exciting three-cast. Episode One talks about the European witchcraft tradition from witch Connecticut’s witch hunts were derived.
Episode 39, Part 2: Witch-Hunting in Connecticut – The Connecticut Trials
October 26, 2017
In part two of our special series, Witch-Hunting in Connecticut, you’ll hear the sobering tale of Connecticut’s role in New England witch-hunting, from executing the first witch, to the Hartford Witch hunts of the 1660s, to the trial of Katherine Harrison, arguably the most important witchcraft trial to take place before Salem.
Episode 39, Part 3: Witch-Hunting in Connecticut – Interview with Richard Ross
October 26, 2017
In Part 3 of our special Witch-Hunting in Connecticut series, Brenda Miller, Executive Director of the Hartford History Center, and State Historian Walt Woodward interview historian Richard Ross about his new book Before Salem: Witch- the Connecticut River Valley 1647-1663. Ross’s historical spadework provides many new insights into one of Connecticut’s most important, and least well-known, events.
Episode 37: Aboard the First Yacht to Sail the Connecticut River
September 18, 2017
Listen as we take a Connecticut River Museum sunset excursion about the Onrust, a replica of the first European boat to enter the Connecticut River, with a teller of tall tales and some very talented young artists – all in search of a few million swallows.
Episode 33: World War I Reenactors Tell All!
July 11, 2017
Hear three extraordinary World War I reenactors talk about what they do, why they do it, and what it all means. You’ll go for a ride in a WWI ambulance, and you’ll meet Gayle Hall, who brought photos of her grandfather and his World War I medals to share with the State Library’s NEH funded World War I digitization project.
View some great images, many courtesy of historian/photographer Donald Rogers, from the recent World War I weekend at the historic Waldo House in Scotland, CT (where we recorded these interviews) on the Connecticut State Historian Facebook Page.
Episode 30, Part 3: P.T. Barnum’s The Art of Money Getting, Rules 10 – 20
May 27, 2017
Episode 30, Part 2: The First Ten Rules for Making Money, by P.T. Barnum
May 12, 2017
Ready to ride the road to riches?
In part 2 of The Art of Money Getting, you’ll hear America’s 2nd millionaire and first entertainment mega-mogul, P. T. Barnum, describe the first 10 rules for succeeding in business and life. Written more than 150 years ago, the advice is as good today as int was back then. And it’s written in Barnum’s wise, witty, and of course, truly entertaining, style.
Between each rule is an excerpt of Barnum-era music that was recorded on Edison cylinders, the first ever recorded music. Gathered from the digital cylinder audio archives at the University of California at Santa Barbara, they are a delightful comic foray into the world Barnum helped create.
Episode 30, Part 1: The First Ten Rules for Making Money, by P.T. Barnum
May 8, 2017
This month, the “Greatest Show on Earth” folds its tent after a run of 146 years. To commemorate, we’re honoring “The Greatest Showman on Earth,” P. T. Barnum, with a look back at his life and a full reading of his still-useful book, The Art of Money Getting. His 20 rules for achieving success and attaining wealth are still as sound as when he first wrote them back in 1858. And no wonder, because as Kathy Maher, Executive Director of the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport tells Barnum was not only America’s first entertainment mega-mogul, he was the nation’s second millionaire. Consider it a get-rich-quick theme in three parts — yours for free on Grating the Nutmeg.
Episode 24: The German Invasion of Connecticut in World War I
February 2, 2017
This spring, Americans will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. This year and next, events around the state will explore and remember Connecticut’s special role as the “Arsenal of the Nation” in the conflict once called “the war to end all wars.”
To help whet your appetite for some of the surprising stories ahead, State Historian Walt Woodward retells the little-known tale of the World War I “German Invasion of Connecticut” as recorded by war correspondent Cleveland Moffatt in 1915. It’s home front story to end all home front stories that was serialized in the pages of the national magazine McClure’s in 1915, and released in book form as The Conquest of America in 1916.
Episode 20: Holiday 2016 – Soup and Stories
November 26, 2016
In this, the first of Grating the Nutmeg’s 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.
State Historian Walt Woodward emceed this event, held to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the Lebanon and Columbia Historical Societies. It was a magic evening that saw two communities come together as one family to share some of the most interesting and surprising stories you can imagine.
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? Listen and hear!
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.
Episode 18: Governor John Dempsey – Son of Cahir
November 2, 2016
John Dempsey (1961-1971) was one of the most popular – and effective – governors Connecticut ever had. He was also the only immigrant governor of Connecticut since the colonial era, having been born in Cahir, Ireland in 1916. During his administration, Connecticut – both state and government – was completely transformed from one of the most tight-fisted American states to one of the most socially responsible. This – our first combined video AND audio Grating the Nutmeg podcast – describes Dempsey’s remarkable achievements, and reveals how both his character and his policies were shaped by his boyhood in Cahir, Ireland.
Episode 16: Drinking in History at the Noah Webster House
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. Hear all about it in “Drinking in History with Noah Webster.” See pictures on the Connecticut State Historian Facebook page.
Episode 13: DISCOVERY: Connecticut’s Most Important Dig Ever!
August 23, 2016
Take an earwitness journey to the 1659 John Hollister home site 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.
State historian Walter Woodward brings you with him on the last day of the dig for a firsthand account of what they’re finding at this amazing site, and what it means for understanding our early history. Hear from State Archeologist Brian Jones, Lori Kissel, Scott 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.
You’ll also find companion photographs of the site at the Connecticut State Historian’s Facebook page (please like) and the Connecticut Explored website ctexplored.org (please subscribe to the magazine).
Episode 11: Wallace Nutting and the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
July 13, 2016
Most people know the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum as the place where George Washington and French Comte de Rochambeau planned the campaign that won the American victory in the Revolutionary War. This year, a new museum exhibit commemorates another important event, one that happened there 100 years ago in 1916. That’s when the 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 in episode 11 of Grating the Nutmeg.
Episode 9: Lyman Orchards turns 275, and “What’s It All About” Summer Edition
June 7, 2016
This year, Lyman Orchards in Middlefield celebrates its 275th anniversary. 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.
Then, 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.
Episode 6: Irish Eyes and Voting & Protesting
March 13, 2016
Just in time for St. Paddy’s Day, Jamie Eves of the Windham Textile and History Museum in Willimantic talks to State Historian Walt Woodward about their new exhibit “Irish Eyes: The Irish Experience in a Connecticut Mill Town.
Then, in “What’s It All About?”, the Connecticut Explored editorial team discusses the articles in the Spring 2016 issue focused on civic engagement including Mary Donohue on religious equality for Jews and Dave Corrigan on the income tax protest of 1991. And publisher Elizabeth Normen interviews Melanie Anderson Bourbeau, curator of Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, about the suffrage journey of Hill-Stead’s architect and last resident Theodate Pope Riddle.
It’s history worth listening to, and talking about – on Episode 6 of Grating the Nutmeg.
Episode 5: What Makes Connecticut Connecticut
March 3, 2016
This podcast was inspired by “Connecticut Captured: A 21st Century Look at an American Classic,” on view at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford through March 12, 2016. This exhibit, by acclaimed visual documentarian Carol M. Highsmith, is an effort to capture in images the character of Connecticut in the 21st century.
State Historian Walter Woodward worked with Carol Highsmith on this project, and when the exhibit opened, he and his musical group The Band of Steady Habits gave a musical lecture titled “What Makes Connecticut Connecticut.” Someone recorded the talk, and though the sound isn’t perfect, we thought you might find this account of Connecticut’s character worth a listen.
Episode 3: Speed Date a History Conference / The Musical Club of Hartford
January 14, 2016
In Grating the Nutmeg Episode 3, State Historian Walt Woodward takes you on a whirlwind tour of the Fall 2015 Association for the Study of Connecticut History conference, whose focus was “Connecticut in World War I.” In part one of a two-part program, Walt condenses talks on weapons and whaling, the wartime transformation of Bridgeport, and Connecticut’s women physicians in the war down to their essence. There’s also a lunch time conversation with CCSU professor Matt Warshauer on a new experimental course he has developed on and for the post-9/11 generation. Sections are interspersed with World War I song as performed by historian-musician Rick Spencer in one of highlight conference presentations.
In segment three, Connecticut Explored Editor Jennifer LaRue reprises her Fall 2015 article on The Musical Club of Hartford, interviewing three club members on their experiences as Club members.
Episode 1: Introducing Grating the Nutmeg: The Podcast of Connecticut History
November 22, 2015
In this premiere podcast, publisher Elizabeth Normen, Editor Jennifer LaRue, and State Historian Walt Woodward explain what Grating the Nutmeg is all about, how it got its spicy name, and what their vision for its development is.
Then, inspired by the Fall 2015 Connecticut Explored issue on the history of Connecticut philanthropy, Walt Woodward visits Lebanon’s historic green to learn from Ed Tollman about that town’s amazing life-long benefactor, Hugh Trumbull Adams.
Grating the Nutmeg is a co-production of the State Historian and Connecticut Explored, with support from the Sue B. Hart Foundation.
Listen to and download the entire Grating the Nutmeg podcast library online at http://gratingthenutmeg.libsyn.com.
Grating the Nutmeg is brought to you by Connecticut Explored and the Office of the State Historian, with support from the Sue B. Hart foundation.