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Oct 31, 2022

How did 15 Connecticut high school students find themselves in French World War 1 trenches and what were they doing there? Find out in today’s episode!

This podcast is part of our “20 for 20: Innovation in Connecticut History” series, and we’d like your feedback. Take our 5-minute survey and get a free copy of Connecticut Explored magazine. You’ll find the survey link below. Thank you!


My guests for this episode are Christine Pittsley, Special Projects Director for the Connecticut State Library and Katy Hitson, a Connecticut student who participated in the trench restoration in France when she was in high school. Pittsley has directed several award-winning World War 1 programs, including the Digging Into History trench restoration project and the Remembering World War One Digitization program, and has been recognized as a leader in the nation's WW1 commemorative efforts.


When the United States entered Europe’s Great War, World War 1, in 1917, Connecticut manufacturers provided the military with munitions, clothing, and other goods.  In addition to the men and women who worked on the home front, roughly 63,000 state residents served in the US or Allied forces.  For those at the front lines in France, life was rough. As the war stalled at the battlefront, men dug huge earthen defensive trenches that became their battlefield homes. They experienced gas attacks, heard nonstop artillery barrages and watched the daily aerial battles. Connecticut men also sheltered in limestone caves thirty feet below the ground level and encompassing over 100 acres with rooms and tunnels.  


For more information about the CT State Library’s project, go to


To read more about Connecticut in WW1, go to these Connecticut Explored issues and stories:



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This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan of High Wattage Media.


Donohue has documented the built environment and pop culture for over 30 years. Contact her at