Over two-and-a-half years ago, this column focused on a deserving member of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, Dr. Emily Dunning Barringer, a courageous and remarkable physician who once lived in New Canaan. This October the Connecticut Hall of Fame celebrates its 20th year of existence.
Conceived as an outgrowth of the Connecticut Forum in the fall of 1993, the idea of establishing a venue for honoring the considerable achievements of Connecticut women rapidly gained momentum, thanks largely to the efforts of Geena Clonan, then the managing director of the Connecticut Forum. On May 19, 1994, 46 Connecticut women were inducted — 36 of them posthumously. Among those inductees were Connecticut notables such as Ella T. Grasso, Katherine Hepburn, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Since then there have been annual inductions. This year’s induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 6.
The displays honoring the inductees have been placed in various venues and have also been part of a traveling exhibition. It is estimated that over 350,000 residents have viewed the exhibition. Today its permanent home is at Southern Connecticut State University at 320 Fitch Street in New Haven on the bottom floor of Schwartz Hall. An offshoot of the program is the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail, which includes 14 sites around the state that are dedicated to preserving and interpreting women's history.
Here are this year’s four inductees, followed by a brief description that appears on the CWHF website:
Congresswoman Rosa Delauro — “U.S. representative of Connecticut’s 3rd District since 1990, sharp political strategist, and champion of women’s causes.”
Barbara Hackman Franklin — “President and CEO of Barbara Franklin Enterprises, 29th U.S. Secretary of Commerce, led the first White House effort to recruit women for high-level government jobs.”
Linda Koch Lorimer — “Vice-President of Yale University, visionary leader in higher education, spearheading strategic partnerships locally and abroad.”
Augusta Lewis Troup — “Union organizer, journalist and promoter of the suffrage movement, beloved educator and advocate for teachers and minority groups.”
One of the most appealing aspects of an organization such as the CWHF is that it often can re-focus our attention on heroic people from the distant past whose story should be more widely known. Such is the case with Augusta Lewis Troup, the only member of this year’s inductees who is deceased.
According to Notable American Women (1607-1950) Vol. 2, Augusta Lewis was born in New York City in 1848. Orphaned at an early age, she was raised by a wealthy and well-connected family. Lewis received a classical education from tutors and from the Brooklyn Heights Seminary and a convent school in Manhattanville. Fluent in French, she began writing for a French-language newspaper. She then became interested in typesetting and worked her way to prominence in that field — one that had been historically dominated by men.
A union activist, Augusta Lewis became a champion for the working class. She met another union activist named Alexander Troup. The two were married at Cold Spring on the Hudson on June 12, 1874. Alexander Troup had recently become the publisher of the New Haven (CT) Union, a newspaper sympathetic to union causes. The couple lived in the Elm City for many years, raising their seven children there. Meanwhile, Augusta Troup wrote numerous articles and editorials advocating for the downtrodden. She was particularly allied with the suffrage movement, advocating for the Italian-American community in New Haven, and advocating for female teachers — who often were paid far less than their male counterparts in education.
Augusta Lewis Troup died of valvular disease of the heart in September of 1920. She had lived just long enough to see the ratification of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920, that gave women the right to vote. A junior high school on Edgewood Avenue in New Haven was dedicated to the memory of Augusta Lewis Troupe in 1926. Recently renovated, the Troupe School stands proudly as a reminder of the courage and foresight of Augusta Lewis Troupe, who will rightfully be remembered on November 6th as she takes her place in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.