Telling Stories With Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward

Walter Woodard ’01 Ph.D. on Oct. 17, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward talks the ins and outs of storytelling, and tries to settle what Nutmeg State residents should be called. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Walter Woodward has always been a storyteller.

As a teenager, Woodward – UConn associate professor of history and Connecticut State Historian – told stories as a folk singer, believing he was hot on the trail of Bob Dylan. Dylan’s turn to electric guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival blew Woodward’s mind. Around the same time, Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind” – a folk song – hit the country charts. This confluence of events set Woodward on a different path. He went to Nashville, where he wrote two hit country songs, “Marty Gray,” and “Could’a Been Me.”

Woodward wrote music for the “The Care Bears Movie” (1985) and eventually started his own successful advertising firm, garnering eight coveted Clio Awards for his ad spots.

His success in advertising, Woodward says, enabled him to follow a passion for history, earning his Ph.D. at UConn in 2001 and then becoming a professor at Dickinson College. Woodward was named Connecticut’s fifth state historian in 2004, allowing him to tell stories about the state in new ways, from public events to daily “Today in Connecticut History” posts and the podcast his office produces with Connecticut Explored magazine, Grating the Nutmeg.

Woodward sat down with Julie Bartucca of the UConn 360 podcast to discuss what’s made Connecticut the way it is, what he believes Connecticut residents should be called, and his own colorful history.

Listen to the podcast: