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Arts & Culture

A History Class Brings Dignity To Murdered Hartford Woman Ada Brown

Photo of Ada's headstone in Hartford, Connecticut. The inscription reads "Ada, Wife of William S. Brown, Died October 20, 1884, Age 32"
Eileen Newman
Photo of Ada's headstone in Hartford, Connecticut.

Part of an October 21, 1884 Hartford Courant article reporting on Ada Brown's murder. The headline says "Murder in Sheldon Street: Ada Brown, a Depraved Woman, Stabbed To Death"
Credit Hartford Courant / Proquest
Part of an October 21, 1884 Hartford Courant article reporting on Ada Brown's murder.

In 1884, a young Hartford woman named Ada Brown was murdered in her home.  It made national news, but Ada’s story faded into obscurity. This hour, we learn why a history class at University of Saint Joseph spent the past semester digging into her story, 136 years later.

And we learn what it meant to one of Ada’s descendants.

Black and white photo of tenemant buildings alongside the Park (Hog) River in Hartford, circa 1895. Laundry hangs on clotheslines across the river in front of ramshackle tenemant buildings.
Credit Connecticut State Library
Photo of tenement buildings alongside the Park River (Hog River) in Hartford, circa 1895. Ada Brown lived in tenement housing near where this photo was taken. Today, this section of the Park River has been buried underground.

Sepia photo of Elena Brown as a young woman. She holds her hands up beside her face.
Credit Eileen Newman
Photo of Elena Brown, the daughter of Ada Brown, as a young woman.


  • Jennifer Cote - Associate Professor of History at University of Saint Joseph
  • Lily Stilson - 2021 graduate of University of Saint Joseph, where she majored in history
  • Eileen Newman - descendent of Ada Brown

Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

Arts & Culture historyHartford
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.
Carmen Baskauf was a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show Where We Live, hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil from 2017-2021. She has also contributed to The Colin McEnroe Show.

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