Grating the Nutmeg

The podcast of Connecticut history. A joint production of the State Historian and Connecticut Explored.
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A Joint Venture of the State Historian and Connecticut Explored - with support from the Sue B. Hart Foundation.

Oct 4, 2017

Are you a member of the 9/11 generation? Do you wonder how 9/11 and its aftermath affected kids who witnessed the terrorist attack on the U.S. 16 years ago? In this episode CCSU history professor Matt Warshauer explores the 9/11 generation and wonders about the next generation who will have no emotional connection to it—right now half of high school students were born after 9/11. As Warshauer notes, this is history still in the making.

We thank Matt Warshauer, Diane Smith, Bilal Sekou, Avery Eddy, Patrick O’Sullivan, Avon Public Library, and The Old State house with audio courtesy of CT-N, the Connecticut Network.

Sep 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, with a teller of tall tales and some very talented young artists - in search of a few million swallows.

       You can travel on the Onrust too. After you listen, we'll bet you'll want to!  View Images from our excursion on the Onrust

Aug 30, 2017


Two stories from eastern Connecticut: a Ride on the Air Line State Park Trail, a rail trail with history, and the story of artist Fidelia Bridges and her newly discovered connection to Old Lyme. Featuring Carolyn Wakeman and Jenny Parsons of the Florence Griswold Museum and their summer 2017 exhibition, Flora/Fauna: The Naturalist Impulse in American Art, on view through September 17, 2017.

Read related stories at
CT Explored . org, search "Lyman Viaduct"

Florence Griswold Museum's History Blog

Thanks to Carolyn Wakeman, Jenny Parsons, and the Florence Griswold Museum.


Aug 16, 2017

Listen to a recent book talk by author Elizabeth Poliner whose  novel As Close to Us as Breathing takes us  to the 1940’s when Connecticut’s beach colonies were segregated by ethnicity and religion. Poliner masterfully weaves the story of a multi-generational Jewish family and a fatal accident in 1948, all set in “Bagel Beach”  a real Jewish beach colony in Milford, Connecticut.  We also visit the Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont - the state’s only synagogue built as a summer synagogue.

 You’ll be inspired to read this evocative novel and take a drive along CT’s shoreline to catch a glimpse of its early beach colonies in this episode of Grating the Nutmeg.

 Thanks to author Elizabeth Poliner, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, the Bagel Beach Historical Association and the Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont.  This episode was produced by Mary Donohue and Patrick O’Sullivan.

 Read more at where you’ll find authentic and fascinating tales from Connecticut history-one good story after another!  Order your subscription at


Jul 28, 2017

Listen to the compelling story of Caroline Ferriday--and how she inspired a New York Times bestselling historical novel. Ferriday's summer home, the Bellamy-Ferriday House in Bethlehem, Connecticut, recently hosted hundred of fans who came out to hear Martha Hall Kelly tell how she was inspired by a visit there to write her novel.


You'll be inspired to put a visit to Connecticut Landmarks's Bellamy Ferriday House on your bucket list of things to do this summer--in this episode of Grating the Nutmeg.


Thanks to Connecticut Landmarks, Martha Hall Kelly, and Stacey Fitzgerald. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O'Sullivan.


Read more about Caroline Ferriday:

Jul 11, 2017

Bayonet TrainingPhoto Courtesy of Donald Rogers 

        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, too. 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, too, 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.


Jun 27, 2017

Hops, Beer and Hartford’s Union Brewery Strike


Beer--that great cold drink! In 1902, Hartford’s brewers went on strike. Find out what happened, explore the resurgence of hops growing in Connecticut, and visit the Hog River Brewery, one of the state's newest craft breweries.

We wish to thank Steve Thornton, Dr. James LaMondia, Dr. Katja Mauer, Ben Braddock, and the CT Agricultural Experiment Station. Music courtesy of Klokwize and Angela Luna, on iTunes now.

This episode was produced by Mary Donohue and Patrick O’Sullivan.

Read more at where you’ll find authentic and fascinating tales from Connecticut history--one good story after another! Order our food issue, Summer 2017, at


Jun 7, 2017

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center—one of our nation’s most important historic sites—has a fresh take on the house tour and a freshly renovated interior. Find out why you should visit this summer—plus a stroll through their historic garden and the award-winning plants you’ll find there.


We wish to thank Katherine Kane, Judith Lohman, Beth Burgess, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Sarajane Cedrone.


Read more at where you'll find several stories on Stowe including "The Most Famous American," "Where Mr. Twain and Mrs. Stowe Built Their Dream Houses," "Lincoln and the Key to 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'," and "'Must Read Book' is 160 Years Old."

May 27, 2017

          Rules 10 through 20 of P. T.  Barnum's The Art of Money Getting or Golden Rules for Making Money are Barnum at his best: wise, funny, clear and wonderfully useful still today. Hear how America's first media mega-mogul and 2nd ever millionaire made his millions - the honest way.  Good advice and good history. Give a listen. 


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. 


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 so 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. 

Apr 24, 2017

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture in Hartford, which documents the history and art of people of African descent in America, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Connecticut Explored’s Elizabeth Normen talks with executive director Frank Mitchell about the center's history and takes you on a tour of its special exhibition “30 for 30: Art, Agency, Legacy.” The episode features music by Connecticut-based Self Suffice, the RapOet.

 Watch for Frank’s story in the Fall 2017 issue of Connecticut Explored. Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history, is available by subscription or single issue at

 Find Self Suffice’s music on iTunes and on Facebook.

We wish to thank Frank Mitchell and The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, and Self Suffice, the RapOet. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Normen and Patrick O’Sullivan.

Apr 4, 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.

For more Connecticut in World War I: Listen to episode 24 for a dramatic reading of Cleveland Moffett’s 1915 fictional cautionary tale “The German invasion of Connecticut,” and episode 25 for the story of the Connecticut National Guard’s service on the Mexican border in 1916.


Read about Connecticut in World War I in the Spring 2017 issue of Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history, available by subscription or single issue at


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.

Mar 22, 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 the venture. Unfortunately, the Apache, the Civil War, and myriad other challenges intervened. Still, Colt left an indelible impression on the American West.

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.

Mar 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.

Feb 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.

Feb 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. 

See illustrations from the book, and a link to download the entire book in .pdf form, at the Connecticut State Historian's Facebook page or Connecticut



Jan 12, 2017
23. The Great American Road Trip with New Haven Museum

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.

Dec 27, 2016
22. The Smithsonian's Eric Hintz: HARTFORD AS A PLACE OF INVENTION

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.


Visit for links to stories of invention, including episode 19’s interview with Connecticut Historical Society curator Ilene Frank about their exhibition, “Connecticut Innovates!,” on view through March 25, 2017.


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.


Make a gift to support Grating the Nutmeg at and use coupon code “gratingthenutmeg” to designate your gift. Gifts will be shared between Connecticut Explored and the state historian for outreach.

Nov 30, 2016
21 Holiday Episode 2:  A  CONNECTICUT CHRISTMAS from TWAIN & STOWE

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. 


Visit for links to Connecticut Explored's photo essay on historic Connecticut-made and Connecticut-displayed Christmas decorations.  


Make a gift to support Grating the Nutmeg at and use coupon code "gratingthenutmeg" to designate your gift. Gifts will be shared between Connecticut Explored and the state historian for outreach. 

Nov 26, 2016

   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. 

     State Historian Walt Woodward emceed this events - 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. 



Nov 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. 


Visit for links to stories about Connecticut’s innovators: Sikorsky, Ensign-Bickford, Pepperidge Farm, Peter Paul, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, Kaman, and more!


Nov 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.







Oct 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.

       In our 17th episode, Connecticut Explored's Elizabeth Normen and Jennifer LaRue explore stories from the the Fall 2016 issue on the theme of Crime and Punishment in Connecticut. 

      In "The Pirate's Pericardium," you'll hear how the membrane surrounding a notorious pirate's heart was made into a tobacco pouch and ultimately made its way onto the archives of the Greenwich Historical Society. Ruth Duncan and archivist Christopher Shields of the Greenwich Historical Society recount this fascinating story. 

      Next comes the tale one of the state's most popular tourist attractions--Old New-Gate Prison. Jack Shannahan, Sophie Huget, and state representative Tami Zawistowski tell this captivating story. 

Photo: Ruth Duncan with  the human pericardium/tobacco pouch, possibly of the notorious Gibbs the Pirate. 

Oct 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.

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