This project seeks to create more awareness of local history in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut. It is both local and national history. Brewster Street in Black Rock is named after Caleb Brewster. It was originally called Main Street since Black Rock was the seaport town center. Today the area is the core of the historic district. In 1901 Main Street was renamed Brewster Street.
The idea for this site came up because, when I happened to learn that George Washington came to Black Rock during the Revolutionary War and depended upon a Black Rock spy to win the War of Independence, I looked for little information online, however saw very little. Perhaps more surprising to me, was that few people here knew of the history. Just recently we have created a Black Rock Historical Society.
Also surprising at the time, there was no wikipedia site either, so I created one on Caleb Brewster and a recent check shows over 9,000 hits a month. This Caleb Brewster Digital Humanities site is the only external link on wikipedia. The high number of hits is due in part to the new television series by the AMC network, called “TURN“, and the book the TV series is based on by Alex Rose, George Washington’s Spies. The third series of TURN begins this April, 2016. The series is advertised as the ‘untold story’, appropriately so, because the identity of the spies were not known for 150 years until 1930.
There are many benefits to raising awareness on local history, including enriching the quality of life.
Other projects the Bridgeport Digital History Initiative has worked on include creating digital archives on a Bridgeport’s inventor and aviation innovator who preceded the Wright Brothers in motorized manned flight, Gustave Whitehead. These digital archives online helped change historians view of who was first in flight. Our research locating news articles from 1901 to 1903 (two years prio the Wright Brothers’ flight), brought to light data which scholars were not aware of. We were contacted by a scholar in Germany whose research ultimately resulted in the Connecticut state Governor signing into law that the Wright Brothers were no longer first in flight and the Bridgeport inventor was. Other projects we have worked on include a digital archive of Bridgeport Vaudeville history.