Grating The Nutmeg



The podcast of Connecticut history. A joint production of the State Historian and Connecticut Explored.


  • 125. Precious Memories Captured in Hair

    01/09/2021 Duration: 20min

    In this episode, join Mary Donohue, Asst. Publisher of Connecticut Explored, for a discussion with Dr. Helen Sheumaker about Victorian jewelry and wreaths made from human hair. Dr. Sheumaker is the author of Love Entwined: The Curious History of Human Hair Work.  She teaches history and American Studies at Miami University of Ohio. Find out more about this now unfashionable way to remember your loved ones!   Read Dr. Sheumaker’s feature story in the Fall 2021 issue of Connecticut Explored-order your copy at   And see more about her book here: This episode was produced by Mary Donohue, Assistant Publisher of Connecticut Explored, and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan. Donohue has documented Connecticut’s built environment and popular culture for over 30 years. Contact her at  And our thanks to the Lane Public Library in

  • 124. Lydia Sigourney, Benedict Arnold, & The Battle of Bunker Hill

    19/08/2021 Duration: 35min

    What do the nineteenth century author Lydia Sigourney, the 18th century hero-turned-traitor Benedict Arnold, and the Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill have in common? They all come together in the story you are about to hear from Sigourney’s 1824 book SKETCH OF CONNECTICUT FORTY YEARS SINCE. Sigourney’s book, written early in her career, is a rare historical treat: a tale by a future-famous writer, written in 1824, reminiscing about life forty years earlier in 1784. The past remembering the past, in this episode of Grating the Nutmeg.

  • 123. Connecticut Seen: The Photography of Pablo Delano and Jack Delano

    30/07/2021 Duration: 36min

    In this episode, join Mary Donohue, Asst. Publisher of Connecticut Explored, for a discussion with Pablo Delano, visual artist, photographer and professor of fine arts at Trinity College - and the artist behind the new book Hartford Seen, published in 2020 by Wesleyan University Press. His work is featured in the photo essay “Visually Breathtaking Hartford Explored” in the Summer 2021 issue of Connecticut Explored magazine. Professor Delano’s father, Jack Delano, was a renown American New Deal-era photographer for the Farm Security Administration who photographed Connecticut in 1940.   To see more of Pablo Delano’s work, visit and look for his new book Hartford Seen wherever you get your books or order here For more information on “The Museum of the Old Colony” exhibition, see the exhibit website and exhibition information below: Official website: Web page from the last iteration of the project at Center f

  • 122. The New Connecticut Yankee

    15/07/2021 Duration: 55min

    In this special summer episode we visit Frank and Lisa Catalano, who in their 18th-century home garden in Lebanon, are using some very inventive approaches to bring back an old Connecticut tradition – self-sufficient food production. It's a history show for garden geeks . . . or maybe a garden show for history geeks. 

  • 121. Rooted in History: Connecticut’s Trees

    29/06/2021 Duration: 01h05min

    In this episode, Dr. Leah Glaser and students from her 2021 Public History class at Central Connecticut State University present stories about the state’s witness trees — a project that evolved out of a semester-long class on local and community history. Trees are central characters in the state’s history, myths and legends. They witnessed the changing environmental, political, social, economic, and cultural landscape for decades and even centuries. What’s a witness tree, you ask? Find out in this episode of Grating the Nutmeg.   Find Dr. Glaser’s article about witness and memorial trees in the Spring 2021 issue of Connecticut Explored online at   Dr. Leah Glaser is a professor at Central Connecticut State University and Coordinator of the Public History Program. Her 2021 class researched tree stories and each student presented one story on the podcast. Contact her at Andy King-The Mashantucket Pequots and the rhododendron D

  • 120. How Four Connecticut Inventors Helped Change The Way We Live, Think, & Act

    15/06/2021 Duration: 52min

    State Historian Walt Woodward talks with award-winning author and materials scientists Ainissa Ramirez about her award-winning and highly acclaimed book The Alcehmy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another.  On virtually every national Top Science Book of the Year List for 2020, The Alchemy of Us is a wonderfully readable, lively, smart and witty account of the development of eight inventions that have not only transformed the way we live, but have transformed us, too. Not surprisingly, half of those inventions have important Connecticut connections. Ramirez and Woodward discuss the roles Samuel F Morse, Edwin Land, Ansonia’s William Wallace and New Haven’s George Coy played in creating inventions that have helped the world Convey, See, Capture and Think in new and different ways. It’s a fascinating and surprising story fest with one of the science world's best story tellers.   

  • 119. Uncovering Connecticut’s LGBTQ History

    28/05/2021 Duration: 34min

     Lives of the state’s LGBTQ citizens have moved from being hidden and solitary to claiming visible, powerful, valuable, and contributing places in society. In this episode, Mary Donohue, Asst. Publisher of Connecticut Explored, interviews CCSU Assistant Professor of History William J. Mann about when and how the LGBTQ movement started in Connecticut, what legislative goals and strategies drove the movement, and what the current goals are for the LGBTQ movement. Mann discusses the impact of AIDS and the ways that the LGBTQ community supported its members. He describes how his students helped to research and uncover the people and events highlighted in the online exhibition, “Historic Timeline of Connecticut’s LGBTQ  Community.” Mann wrote CT Explored’s “A Brief History of Connecticut’s Gay Media,” available at   Mann teaches LGBTQ history, film history, and the history of AIDS. He is the director of CCSU's LGBTQ Center. From 1989-1995, he was the e

  • 118. The Connecticut RIver Valley Flood of 1936

    15/05/2021 Duration: 46min

         In this episode, Josh Shanley – firefighter, paramedic, and Emergency Management Director for Northampton, Massachusetts, talks about the Great Connecticut RIver Flood of 1936, its devastating effects, long-term consequences, and the message it has for a world in climate change. Based on his new book, Connecticut River Valley Flood of 1936 from the History Press. 

  • 117. Before 42: Ball Players of Color in Connecticut

    01/05/2021 Duration: 30min

    Connecticut Historical Society's Natalie Belanger talks with labor historian Steve Thornton of The Shoeleather History Project about Black baseball in Connecticut. Thornton is the author of Connecticut Explored's "African American Greats in Connecticut Baseball," Summer 2018. Read or Watch More!To learn more about the Negro Leagues, check out this recent talk at the CT Historical Society by Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. "African American Greats in Connecticut Baseball," Summer 2018 Shoeleather History Project at Follow the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League here.  This episode was produced by Natalie Belanger and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan. Photo Credit: Johnny "Schoolboy" Taylor and Savitt Gems business manager Bernie Ellovich, 1930s-40s. Connecticut Historical Society 1990.51.988  

  • 116. Connecticut In Motion: The Story of Our Time

    15/04/2021 Duration: 54min

    No one knows more about transportation in Connecticut than historian, civil engineer, and highway and transportation planner Richard DeLuca. In this recent virtual lecture for Cheshire Public Library, promoting his new, second volume on Connecticut transportation history Paved Roads and Public Money  (Wesleyan University Press), DeLuca underscores the inseparable relationships among population, technology, and the environment. 

  • 115. America’s First Public Rose Garden - Elizabeth Park

    03/04/2021 Duration: 31min

    Visitors have been enchanted by the thousands of soft and fragrant rose petals in Elizabeth Park’s Rose Garden since it opened in 1904. Climbing roses intertwined in overhead garlands, hybrid tea roses and heritage roses in every color symbolize romance, friendship, and passion. Elizabeth Park on the Hartford-West Hartford border is home to the country’s oldest public rose garden. Visitors by the thousands come to stroll in the rose garden and sit in the vine-covered gazebo. Generations of prom goers as well as wedding parties have had their photos taken there. But how did Elizabeth Park become the public park it is today? Find out how Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, a contested will and  a beloved wife are all part of the story. Mary Donohue interviews Elizabeth Park’s Rosarian Stephen Scanniello about all things roses.   Read more! Sign up for our free newsletter

  • 114. When Tombs Are Also Crime Scenes

    15/03/2021 Duration: 37min

    Sometimes tombs become crime scenes. State Archaeologist Emeritus Nick Bellantoni talks with Walt Woodward about two such cases in which he was called in to do forensic archaeology, and the process of doing historic detective work in pursuit of justice. He also provides the latest developments concerning the discovery of revolutionary war skeletons in a basement in Ridgefield in December 2019. 

  • 113. Yale Needs Women

    01/03/2021 Duration: 43min

    In 1969, women were allowed entry to undergraduate study at Yale for the first time. Their experience was not the same as their male peers enjoyed. Isolated from one another, singled out as oddities and sexual objects, and barred from many of the school’s privileges, the young women nonetheless met the challenge of being first and changed Yale in ways it had never anticipated. Mary Donohue interviews historian and Yale alumna Anne Gardiner Perkins, author of Yale Needs Women: How the First Group of Girls Rewrote the Rules of an Ivy League Giant and New Haven leader Constance Royster, one of Yale’s first women undergrads. Anne Gardiner Perkins is an award-winning historian and higher education expert, and the author of Yale Needs Women, which won the 2020 Connecticut Book Award. Ms. Royster holds a J.D. from Rutgers University Law School – Newark, and a B.A. cum laude from Yale University. Read more!“UConn Law: The Trailblazing Bessye Bennett,” Spring 2014 “Yale’s Grace Murray Hopper College,” Fall 2017 This

  • 112. And So The Tomb Remained

    15/02/2021 Duration: 58min

    What secrets about the past can an ancient tomb reveal? The answers, as State Archaeologist emeritus Nick Bellantoni explains, are many, surprising, and incredibly interesting.   In this conversation about Nick's new book, And So the Tomb Remained: Exploring Archaeology and Forensic Science in Connecticut's Historical Family Mausolea, State Historian Walt Woodward and Bellantoni, who in his 30 plus years as state archaeologist entered more tombs that any other archeologist, talk about Nick's experiences doing restoration, recovery work, and crimonal investigations  in the tombs of some of Connecticut's oldest and most powerful families.

  • 111. The New Haven Black Panther Trials

    01/02/2021 Duration: 21min

    Fifty years ago, Ericka Huggins and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers were on trial for their lives in New Haven. In this episode, Natalie Belanger of the Connecticut Historical Society takes a look back at the New Haven Black Panther trials, using some of the many primary sources available.    To learn more about the New Haven Black Panther Trials: To see Robert Templeton’s courtroom sketches of the Black Panther Trials, go here. The trial transcripts are available digitally through Yale Law School’s Lillian Goldman Law Library. The online exhibit, “Bulldog and Panther: The 1970 May Day Rally and Yale,” at Yale University Library, covers the events leading up to the May Rally, and its aftermath. The recording of Alex Rackely’s interrogation can be heard via Youtube through this link to the New Haven Independent’s reporting of its discovery. Editor Paul Bass co-wrote, with Douglas W. Rae, Murder in the Model City: The Black Panthers, Yale, and the Redemption of a Killer. Yohuru Williams’s essay, “The New

  • 110. Polish Jewish History, World War II and a Jewish Child’s Survival

    18/01/2021 Duration: 53min

    This lecture was presented by Dr. Leon Chameides for the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, Voices of Hope, and The Emanuel Synagogue.  Learn more about Polish-Jewish history and how our guest Dr. Leon Chameides  survived the Nazi occupation of Poland as a Jewish child. Despite the fact that many American Jews trace their family to Poland, there are many misconceptions about Polish history and the history of Polish-Jewish relations. Dr. Leon Chameides was born in Poland in 1935 and spent the war  years hidden in a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic monastery. He went to England in 1946 and came to the United States in 1949. He was Director of Pediatrics at Hartford Hospital for 10 years.    To read more about Dr. Chameide’s life and family, look for his book Strangers in Many Lands, available on Amazon books. For more information about Hartford’s Jewish history, go to the website of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford at and for more about Connecticut’s connection to the Ho

  • 109. Communicating with the Spirits: Theodate Pope Riddle

    01/01/2021 Duration: 30min

    In 1938 pioneering female architect and founder of the Hill-Stead Museum, Theodate Pope Riddle of Farmington enjoyed an excursion through Europe. While in London she participated in three sittings with trance mediums, continuing an avocational interest in spiritualism that lasted 34 years.  Hear more about Riddle’s efforts to scientifically prove the ability to communicate with the deceased in this episode hosted by Mary Donohue, Asst Publisher of Connecticut Explored and Melanie Bourbeau, Curator and Director of Interpretation and Programs at the Hill-Stead Museum.   If you’d like to learn more about the Theodate Pope Riddle and Spiritualism, visit the museum’s website at and read Bourbeau’s article in the Winter 2020-21 issue of Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut History.  Theodate Pope Riddle was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame-read more here:   For more on Spiritualism in Connecticut, go to t

  • 108. Up and Down the River

    15/12/2020 Duration: 55min

             Mohegan Medicine Woman, Tribal Historian, and award-winning playwright and screenwriter Meissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel does a virtual sit-down with state historian Walt Woodward to talk about the radio drama Up and Down the River she and her equally accomplished daughter Madeline Sayet recently wrote, produced, and directed for Hartford's Heartbeat Ensemble.         The five short plays provide a unique and important window into key moments in Mohegan history and culture. Zobel provides both a writer's and a people's perspective on the stories, and tells how everyone can - for a limited time -  hear the radio drama for free on the Heartbeat Ensemble website

  • 107. Miss Florence’s Boardinghouse and American Impressionism

    06/12/2020 Duration: 31min

    In this episode, Mary Donohue talks to Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing about one of the most beautiful places to visit in Connecticut - the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. Did Old Lyme become the home to an art colony because of the good food at Miss Florence’s  boardinghouse or because of the soft, lovely light on the salt marshes along the Lieutenant River? The episode uncovers the roots of the Old Lyme Art Colony and also new exhibitions up now including Celebrating 20 Years of the Hartford Steam Boiler Collection, an exhibit that marks the arrival of 190 works of art in 2001, a gift that transformed the Griswold Museum, and a second exhibition, the Centennial of the Lyme Art Association Gallery , the museum’s neighbor, that partially recreates their 1921 inaugural exhibition in their shingle style building designed by society architect Charles A. Platt, designer of the Freer Art Gallery in Washington, DC and the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, Connecticut. Florence Griswold was inducted into the Connec

  • 106–Part 1 Steve Grant's Legendary 1991 Source-to-Sea Connecticut River Journey

    16/11/2020 Duration: 01h02min

    In the summer of 1991, reporter and environmentalist Steve Grant traveled the entire 410 miles of the Connecticut River from its source near the Canadian border in New Hampshire to the Long Island Sound by self-addled canoe. Throughout the 33 day journey, Grant reported on his voyage in stories for the Hartford Courant. His every-other-day tales made Grant a celebrity and his journey a legend. Twenty-nine years after that life-changing trip,State Historian Walt Woodward  met Grant on the banks of the Connecticut River in Hartford, to talk about the journey, the man, and the river in another time.  It's a fascinating two-part interview that covers everything from early 90's internet technology, to environmental restoration, to moose-induced traffic jams in the Great North Woods.  "The Connecticut River: First National Blueway Runs Through Connecticut," Spring 2014 "Connecticut River Legends," Spring 2019 "Pleasure Boating on the Connecticut River," Summer 2018 Read all of our stories about Connecticut's lands

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