Illustrating Life

Last week Rich Malley posted about the Billings and Spencer Company complex in Hartford. He illustrated his post with an amazing watercolor done in 1898 by Hiram P. Arms, a Hartford-based illustrator.  When I first saw the painting, which is quite large, I was intrigued by all of the little vignettes Arms included, as Rich pointed out, to suggest the residential nature of the neighborhood in which the complex stood.  I thought it would be fun to explore a few of those small scenes this week.

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How Hartford Heard about the Lusitania

On May 7, 1915, the RMS Lusitania sank off the coast of Ireland from damage caused by a German submarine’s torpedo. The news appeared in The Hartford Times, Hartford’s evening newspaper, that same afternoon. The Hartford Courant, a morning paper, first carried news of the disaster the following morning. Even before these detailed accounts appeared in the local papers, Hartford residents had begun hearing about the event. How was this possible? In an age before the internet, before social media, how did news travel so far so fast? Before the late nineteenth century, news from Europe might take weeks, even months to reach the U.S. To find out Hartford residents first learned of the sinking of the Lusitania, go to Learning About the Lusitania at

Hartford Times Headline 5-7-1915