Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut is a fantastic classroom resource for middle-school students. Venture’s story is both exciting and engaging, and this book makes it accessible for middle-school students across the state. I teach a local history class on Venture Smith at Stonington High School. High school students are entranced and engaged by Venture’s life story, and they love the way it is interwoven into their local history. Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut makes this same connection available to all middle school students in Connecticut. I highly recommend it.

Nancy H. Steenburg, Ph.D., University of Connecticut; project historian for the Stonington Historical Society's Venture Smith project


2020 Connecticut Center for the Book Finalist for "The Spirit of Connecticut" Award

Students learn about Connecticut's founding through the real life of Venture Smith

In this true story of freedom first published in 1798, Connecticut's Venture Smith tells students about his rise from slavery to become a successful farmer, fisherman, and trader in the American Revolutionary era.



Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut provides teachers and students alike with a riveting, first-hand account of what life was really like for a person of color in colonial Connecticut. It delivers an alternative perspective of American history other than the traditional upper class, white male viewpoint so prevalent in our 19th century town histories. Venture Smith is a role model for all Americans, and this book should be read not only by middle school students and their teachers, but by everyone.” Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D., Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, Connecticut, director of archaeological excavations at The Venture Smith Archaeological Site in Haddam Neck, Connecticut, and co-author of The Venture Smith Homestead

READ MORE including what kids are saying about Venture Smith's Colonial Connecticut
  • ELA - Two types of non-fiction text including Smith's first person narrative published in 1798
  • Social Studies - Designed for the State of Connecticut Social Studies Frameworks for grade 5, "Early United States History;" suitable for grades 5 - 8
  • Local history -  Uses a true Connecticut story to illustrate national themes
  • Diverse Perspectives - Integrates African American and Native American history into the story of the founding of Connecticut


Available to Educators in Print, Online -- or Both!

  • OPTION 1: Low-cost 3-year classroom license that eliminates the hassle of annual renewal and submitting a head count. Includes:
    • 108-page online book with 27 illustrations, maps, and charts; glossary, and bibliography
    • Curriculum Guide--Inquiry-based lesson plan
    • Primary source library to support student inquiry projects
    • Deep discount on print copies 
    • Use Subscribe Now button above right to subscribe or get a 7-day free trial to review the entire site
  • OPTION 2: Low-cost print copies in any quantity
    • 108-page book with 27 illustrations, maps, and charts; glossary, and bibliography
    • Free curriculum guide with purchase of 20 copies or more
    • Online primary source library to support student inquiry projects
    • Click HERE
  • OPTION 3: SAVE! Hybrid Class Pack includes
    • 25 print copies plus
    • 3-year online classroom license
    • Use Subscribe Now button above right 

TEACHERS: WEBINAR about the resource presented by the State Department of Education

Listen WNPR's Where We Live interview with author Elizabeth Normen

Available to the public, too! Click HERE to buy a print copy


Message to Teachers                                                          

Part I: Meet Venture
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2:  I was Born at Dukandarra
Chapter 3:  War Comes to My Home
Chapter 4:  Far From Home

Part II: Venture in Colonial America
Chapter 5: Venture Comes of Age
Chapter 6: Venture Gets Married & Runs Away
Chapter 7: A New Owner
Chapter 8: Venture’s Third Master Rents Him Out
Chapter 9: Venture Buys His Freedom
Chapter 10: Free at Last
Chapter 11: Venture Purchases Meg’s Freedom
Chapter 12: 100 Acres in Connecticut
Chapter 13: Calling Out Cheats and Counting Blessings
Chapter 14: Historians Fill in the Blanks

Part III: Colonial Connecticut
Chapter 15: Connecticut’s Beginnings
Chapter 16: Building a Puritan Colony
Chapter 17: Growing Pains
Chapter 18: The Colonial Economy

PART IV: Slavery in Colonial Connecticut  
Chapter 19: Slavery in Colonial Connecticut
Chapter 20: Laws About Slavery
Chapter 21: Slavery and the American Revolution
Chapter 22: The End of Slavery in Connecticut
Chapter 23: Why Venture’s Story is Important

Contact us

Professional development: We'll come to your school to familiarize teachers with the resource and strategies for teaching difficult history. A fee is charged.

Museum Stores and Book Stores: Contact us for wholesale newsstand orders at or call 860-233-5421

Direct questions or comments to or call 860-233-5421

About the Publisher

Venture Smith's Colonial Connecticut is published by Connecticut Explored Inc. and written by Elizabeth J. Normen, publisher of Connecticut Explored, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 2012. Normen was named the Bruce Fraser Friend of the Social Studies in 2017 by the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies for Where I Live: Connecticut, the social studies resource for third/fourth grade. Connecticut Explored Inc. publishes:

Connecticut Exploreda quarterly magazine for a public history audience. Find free articles from past issues on For more information about Connecticut Explored, and to subscribe at the educator's discount, visit

Grating the Nutmeg, the podcast of Connecticut history produced in collaboration with the state historian. Listen to the free podcasts at

Where I Live: Connecticut, the social studies resource for third/fourth grade. Where I Live: Connecticut launched in fall 2017 and has been adopted by more than 75 school districts in Connecticut. Free access to the 80-page e-book and more than 80 pages of additional content written at grade level is available at Print copies are available for $8 each or $136 for a class pack of 25 copies at

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