For years now, the Grassroots Historians program here at the Bridgeport History Center has invited historians from all walks of life – be they enthusiasts, archivists, students, academics, or someone who just loves one topic so much – to make use of the collections, write about what fascinates them, and raise awareness of the rich material within the Bridgeport History Center. The articles span a variety of topics, all centered around Bridgeport collections.
Mary K. Witkowski is the former Bridgeport City Historian and the Department Head of the Bridgeport History Center, Emeritus. She is the author of Bridgeport at Work, and the co-author with Bruce Williams of Bridgeport on the Sound. Mary has had a newspaper column in the Bridgeport News, a blog for the Connecticut Post, and a weekly spot on WICC. She continues to be involved in many community based activities and initiatives on local history and historic preservation.
Bridgeport native Andy Piascik is an award-winning author who writes for many publications and websites. He is the author of three books the most recent of which, the novel In Motion, was published earlier this year by Sunshine Publishing. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Eric D. Lehman teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Bridgeport, and is the author of several books, including Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City; Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum and the Dawn of American Celebrity; Afoot in Connecticut: Journeys in Natural History; and A History of Connecticut Wine; and ; A history of Connecticut food : a proud tradition of puddings, clambakes and steamed cheeseburgers. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carolyn Ivanoff is a retired high school administrator and independent historian. She writes and speaks frequently on American History in a variety of formats and venues. Her book, We Fought at Gettysburg, was published in March 2023. The book follows the 17th Connecticut, the Fairfield County Regiment, through the Gettysburg campaign and beyond in the summer of 1863. Many personal accounts by the survivors of the regiment, along with numerous photographs from the William Warren manuscript and archives at the Bridgeport Public Library, are published here for the first time. We Fought At Gettysburg follows the 17th Connecticut, the Fairfield County Regiment, through the Gettysburg Campaign and beyond in June and July of 1863. William H. Warren dedicated his life to compiling the accounts of his comrades in the 17th Connecticut. Many are published here for the first time. These are the words of those who lived through the trauma of combat and survived to write about it. Many of these men were wounded, taken prisoner, lost friends, suffered themselves on this great battlefield of the war. These men tell what they experienced at Gettysburg in their own words. They describe what they saw, thought, and felt on the battlefield. Their story is told here through fascinating firsthand accounts, numerous photographs, including a photographic index of the regiment, and maps by Phil Laino. Available from Gettysburg Publishing and wherever books are sold. Author’sWebpage: https://sites.google.com/site/carolynivanoff/
Richard Sattanni has been a writer for over nine years. He did an editorial column entitled “Remember When” for the “Bridgeport News” and a column for “The Fairfield Independent. “ He has published two books with Americastarbooks.com and recently was published by “The Senior Newsletter” of Bridgeport. He has posted numerous stories on Figment.com that readers can enjoy free of charge. Sattanni is retired and looks forward to many more writing endeavors.
Steve Thornton is a retired union organizer and community activist who has led strikes and organizing campaigns in Connecticut for the past 35 years. He has trained hundreds of people in nonviolent direct action and thousands of workers to become rank and file leaders. Steve has worked to build coalitions between various groups working on economic, racial, and environmental justice. His international work includes making solidarity connections with working peoples' struggles in Havana, Belfast, Managua and Oslo. His work as an organizer is featured in Social Movements and Activists in the USA by Stephen Valocchi.
Michael Treadwell - Grassroots Historian Michael Treadwell is interested in the history of Bridgeport and other local history topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Sacred Heart University and recently wrote a paper on a 19th Century dispute between Episcopal churches in Weston and Easton and the lawsuit that entangled them. He may be reached at: email@example.com
Robert Novak has been studying local history for over 20 years, and is currently an independent community historian at hometownhistoryct.com. He is employed as a captain in the Bridgeport Fire Department, is an officer in the Bridgeport Firefighters' Historical Society, and wrote four books including "Images of America - Bridgeport Firefighters".
Charles Brilvitch is the former Bridgeport City Historian and is the foremost expert on the architectural history of the City of Bridgeport. He is the author of Walking Through History: The Seaports of Black Rock and Southport, and A History of the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe.
Michelle Black Smith is a curator, cultural historian, and divinity school student. She received her Bachelor’s Degree at Princeton University with a major in Art History, and her Master’s Degree with Honors at S.U.N.Y. Fashion Institute of Technology with a major in Museum Studies. Black Smith has either acted as guest curator or consultant to numerous museums, arts organizations and cultural and educational institutions, including but not limited to, the Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Museum, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Motown Historical Museum, Henry Ford Museum, Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine, Black Fashion Museum, and the Bridgeport, CT Public School system. She is a lecturer at schools and libraries, and institutions of higher learning. Black Smith resides with her family in her home town of Bridgeport, where she is a co-founder of the city’s first charter elementary school.
Britney Murphy is currently a PhD student at the University of Connecticut. Her area of interest is 20th Century Urban American History. In May 2017, Britney received the Connecticut Celebration 350th Scholarship from UCONN, for her research on the Mount Trashmore removal campaign.
Lennie Grimaldi is author of Only In Bridgeport: An Illustrated History of the Park City, now in its fourth edition. He also moderates the daily webzine www.onlyinbridgeport.com, writes biography and legacy projects on behalf of retired executives and runs a public relations company Momentum Communications www.momentumtime.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey Johnson is a longtime Professor of Music at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. A lecturer and author, he has published four acclaimed books on music theory and performance practice with Greenwood Press and Dover Publications. He is host of a regular classical music radio program on Sunday mornings on WMNR and is producer of Evening at the Opera on Tuesday nights. He and his wife live in Bridgeport. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Elizabeth is curator of the Historical Society of Easton, Connecticut and also writes for the Easton Courier. Trained in art and architectural history at Yale University, she has taught art and art history for students from grade school to college. Inspired by her new hometown's archives, her current research often focuses on municipal and church documents. She serves on Easton's Historic Review Committee and helped write its newly adopted Demolition Delay Ordinance protecting local notable building. As a mother of three, she enjoys walking the trails of the Aspetuck Land Trust with her family and exploring the historic sites of greater Fairfield County.
Mr. Ortiz is a curator and artist who was born in Bridgeport. He has worked at or curated exhibitions at many area museums and galleries including the Barnum Museum, Discovery Museum, Housatonic Community College Art Gallery, as well as galleries and museums throughout Connecticut and the New York metropolitan area. In addition, Mr. Ortiz has served as curator for individual artists and collectors in New Orleans, Connecticut, and New York.
Bill Menosky is a management consultant, whose grandfather worked at the Auto-Ordnance Corporation during the war years and he was the inspiration for Bill to research and document this forgotten Bridgeport factory. Bill has also been the Secretary of the Thompson Collectors Association (www.theTCA.net) for the past twelve years. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Gazillo is currently servicing as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with the Bridgeport Food Policy Council and the Bridgeport Farmers Market Collaborative through the University of Connecticut Extension Food Justice Project. She is also a Candidate for a Masters of Art in Sustainable Development with a focus in Policy Advocacy and Analysis from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT. Her area of interest includes looking at the intersections of race and class within the United States Food System. She is also passionately invested in advocating for food chain workers rights and food justice.