The Carceral Connecticut Project (CCP) is an interdisciplinary, humanistic exploration of how Connecticut remembers and denies its past, funded by a generous three-year, $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. Through research, curricula, and collaborations with historical and cultural organizations in the Connecticut River Valley, the project seeks to fill archival silences and challenge assumed historical narratives on topics around race, capitalism, and violence.
Much of the CCP also uncovers Connecticut’s long history as a major manufacturer and promoter of weapons, which had a significant impact on the socioeconomic development of the early Connecticut River Valley. CSGS Director Jennifer Tucker is leading a year-long digital storytelling and exhibition project with the Coltsville National Historical Park, in which students have visited the Colt forge and foundry sheds, have undertaken work on field sites, engaged in library research, and met with historians, curators, and digital media specialists.
Students involved the CCP are conducting both individual and group projects. In summer 2022, students and faculty toured Springfield Armory Historic Site (Springfield, MA), Coltsville National Historic Park (Hartford), Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop (New Haven) and documented sites of gun manufacturing in Middlefield, CT as part of field site research on early gun manufacturing in New England.
Students in Tucker’s fall “Guns and Society” course also visited Middletown’s Greater Middletown Military Museum.
In spring 2023, several students collected image and object lists for a course collaboration and public humanities project with Brown University, RISD, and the National Parks Service. This project, made possible through support from a New England Humanities Council grant to Tucker, will continue in 2023-24. It will expand to include a collaboration between Wesleyan, Brown, RISD, and the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, CA, which has one of the largest collections of Colt revolvers in the country.