HomeWelcome to 1910 Willimantic!

Welcome to 1910 Willimantic!

Welcome to the history of Willimantic 1910

This meta-exhibit on the Digital Windham website focuses on the history of the city of Willimantic around the year 1910.

Main Street, Willimantic looking east

Why 1910?

The year 1910 was, in one sense, an 'average' year in American history - no major American wars, with only a mild economic recession. On the other hand, 1910 unfolded during a transitional period for the United States. Technological change continued to accelerate - some already-established technologies gained wider adoption, other technologies were just being introduced, with others just a few years away. Social and political reformers and their organizations gained political power and sought to reform education, protect the environment and protect workers. This broad and amorphous Progressive movement was validated with Theodore Roosevelt's presidency from 1901-1909.

Demographic change was also accelerating. Eight new western states were admitted into the union between 1889 and 1907, while the nation's population grew 20% between 1900 and 1910. An increasing number of new Americans were coming from different parts of the world, including southern and eastern Europe. In the same period, multiple Congresses passed a growing number of laws to restrict further immigration into the U.S. from non-northern European countries. All these factors, and more significant changes in the next several decades, gradually shaped the modern America of the 20th century.


Willimantic experienced all these national trends in the first decade of the 20th century, and this exhibit on the history of the town circa 1910 illustrates the ways in which such trends were experienced by its residents.

Because 1910 was an average year for Willimantic as well as for the country at large, we have chosen, in phase I, to focus on the structures, and infrastructures, present in Willimantic at the time. This phase of the project is an experiment in exploring the history of a small city in average times, rather than focus on a period of crisis or momentous change.

This first phase is also, we should add, an experiment in using data and data visualizations to understand the past rather than rely primarily on narrative and case studies of individual people, places and events, as previous contributions to the broader Digital Windham project have done. We hope you will find the results informative, that their open-ended nature encourages you to further explore the history of Willimantic and make your own connections between past and present, and that the site serves as a foundation for future research on Willimantic's history.

The sections of this project include:

1. People in 1910

2. Places in 1910 (expected January 2024)

3. Transportation Infrastructure

4. Social and Cultural Groups

5. Educational Infrastructure

6. Emergency Services Infrastructure

You can also access these exhibits using the 1910 Willimantic tab above. Individual images, maps, and data visualizations can also be viewed in Browse Items.


Most of the work on this project took place over the academic year 2022-2023, although much of the data was created earlier. A variety of students and professors have contributed to this 1910 Willimantic project:

  1. The initial prerequisite for 1910 Willimantic was a project by Drs. Emil Pocock and Ania Kirchmann, who, along with student assistance, including Jennifer McNeil (Class of '09), transcribed the censuses for Willimantic.

  2. Several students contributed additional data entry work, notably Dana Meyer ('19), Allen Horn ('21) and Matt Coppinger ('21).

  3. Paula Hernández Aulet ('24) created the exhibit on Willimantic's transportation infrastructure circa 1910. She also spent an additional semester editing and expanding the other exhibits.

  4. Emma Dashnaw ('23) created the exhibit on the many social and cultural groups and associations which the residents of Willimantic participated in.

  5. Jenna Rice ('23) created the exhibit on Willimantic's educational infrastructure in 1910.

  6. Jacob Krupa ('23) created the exhibit on emergency services in Willimantic in 1910, particularly the police and fire department sections.

  7. The exhibits on People and Places in 1910 Willimantic were created by Paula Hernández Aulet and Tom R. O'Brien ('25), with the guidance of Dr. Jamel Ostwald.

  8. Dr. Ostwald supervised the project, cleaned the data, added some contextual summaries, and created the data visualizations and digital maps unless otherwise noted.