As we trade our Valentine’s red for St. Patrick’s green, we also move from Black History Month to Women’s History Month. Warm up to the subject with Hartford’s beloved Gwen Reed…

 

Gwen Reed came to Hartford as the daughter of a migrant farm worker and grew up to become a beloved actress, storyteller and teacher. In June 1937, Reed debuted on stage in a small role as “1st lady” in “Trilogy in Black,” a production of the Connecticut Federal Theatre Project’s Negro Unit. She went on to act in “The Emperor Jones,” “The World We Live In,” “Mississippi Rainbow,” and “One Third of a Nation,” becoming a Federal Theatre favorite. Reed, who worked in the Windsor tobacco fields for 40 years, performed in or directed over 25 theatrical productions in the Greater Hartford area. She often appeared on the “Ranger Station,” a children’s program on Channel 3, and originated the Playtime for Tots program for pre-school children in Bellevue Square, Hartford. She toured the country from 1946-1964 portraying “Aunt Jemima” for the Quaker Oats Company. You can explore her story through the Gwen Reed Collection, archived in the library’s Hartford History Center.