Stuff You Missed in History Class

1223 EpisodesProduced by iHeartRadio & HowStuffWorks

Join Holly and Tracy as they bring you the greatest and strangest Stuff You Missed In History Class in this podcast by HowStuffWorks.

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Smithsonian American Art Museum: An Interview With Stephanie Stebich

April 24th, 2019

Holly had the privilege of sitting down with Stephanie Stebich, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, for a chat in the museum. The …

James G. Fair, Silver King

April 22nd, 2019

Fair was a contemporary of Levi Strauss, living and working in San Francisco around the same time as the denim magnate, but though Fair often appears on lists of the richest men in U.S. history, he doesn’t have the same …

SYMHC Classics: John Dee, Her Majesty's Secret Sorcerer

April 20th, 2019

We're revisiting an episode from 2011 featuring previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. Born in 1527 to a Welsh family, John Dee grew to become one of Queen Elizabeth's most memorable advisors. Join Sarah and Deblina as they …

Bacon's Rebellion, Part 2

April 17th, 2019

Last time, we talked about the many reasons Virginia colonists were frustrated by the 1670s, including the price of tobacco, taxation, and …

Bacon’s Rebellion, Part 1

April 15th, 2019

For a long time Bacon’s Rebellion was primarily interpreted as a precursor to the Revolutionary War, with patriotic colonists rising up against the …

SYMHC Classics: Rosalind Franklin, DNA's Dark Lady

April 13th, 2019

We're reaching back to 2011 for an episode from Sarah and Deblina about a woman scientist. The men who are usually credited with discerning DNA's structure won the Nobel Prize in 1962, but they used Rosalind Franklin's …

Stop-motion Animation History With LAIKA Studios

April 10th, 2019

Holly recently got to visit the set of LAIKA's new film "Missing Link," and the production team there agreed to be part of an episode about the …

Baron Franz Nopcsa

April 8th, 2019

Nopcsa lived an adventurous, scholarly life, funded entirely by his family money. He identified dinosaurs, inserted himself into Albanian politics, …

SYMHC Classics: The Battle of Hastings

April 6th, 2019

Today we're traveling back to a episode from 2014 about the Battle of Hastings, which is often boiled it down to a sentence: The Normans invaded Britain in 1066, and their victory ended the Anglo-Saxon phase of English …

Juliette Gordon Low

April 3rd, 2019

The, founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America had an early life that’s somewhat surprising. But she was deeply interested in helping other from an early age, and when she learned about the scouting …

The Tiara of Saitaphernes

April 1st, 2019

Our April Fool’s Day story is the tale of an elaborate hoax. It starts with the Scythians and how their artifacts became highly prized in 19th …

SYMHC Classics: Laura Bridgman's Education

March 30th, 2019

Today we're revisiting the 2012 episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina on Laura Bridgman, the first deafblind person to be educated -- a feat accomplished by Samuel Gridley Howe in the 1830s. People from around …

The Life and Disappearance of Ettore Majorana

March 27th, 2019

Had his life had taken a different course, he may have become as widely known as Albert Einstein. In the 1930s, Majorana contributed to the field of quantum mechanics in ways that fundamentally shaped the field. And …

6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

March 25th, 2019

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was part of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. The 6888th was the only battalion of black women from the U.S. to serve in Europe during World War II.

Learn more …

SYMHC Classics: Emmy Noether, Mathematics Trailblazer

March 23rd, 2019

Today we revisit a 2015 episode about Emmy Noether pursued a career in mathematics in the early 20th century in Germany, despite many obstacles in her path. She became one of the most respected members of her field, and …

Fanny Brice, Part 2

March 20th, 2019

Comedian Fanny Brice's personal life was often a mess even though her onstage personas were all about laughter. Even as her beloved, Nick Arnstein, was in deep legal trouble, she supported him, started a family, and …

Fanny Brice, Part 1

March 18th, 2019

Fanny made a space for herself on stage as a comedian because she felt she could never be pretty enough to be an actress. And her personal life was a …

SYMHC Classics: Caroline Herschel, Astronomy's Cinderella

March 16th, 2019

Today we revisit a 2014 episode about Caroline Herschel, who managed to break the barrier of women in scientific fields far earlier than you might …


March 13th, 2019

Sappho is described as the greatest female poet of ancient Greece. Or, the greatest Greek lyric poet, period. Her reputation as one of the world’s finest poets has persisted for more than 2500 years, but the …

Raphael Lemkin and the Genocide Convention

March 11th, 2019

Dr. Raphael Lemkin is often described as the person who coined the term “genocide.” And he did do that – but was also the driving force behind the existence of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the …

SYMHC Classics: Evliya Çelebi, World Traveler and Companion to Mankind

March 9th, 2019

Today we revisit a 2012 episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. Evliya Çelebi grew up in 17th century Istanbul as the "boon companion" of …

Transatlantic Cruising Before the Titanic

March 6th, 2019

Ships were of course carrying cargo for centuries before the idea of carrying passengers in any sort of vacation sense existed. But once the Black Ball line decided to prioritize passenger comfort, the development of …

Olga of Kiev

March 4th, 2019

Most of what we know about Olga comes from the Russian Primary Chronicle, also known as the Chronicle of Nestor or the Tale of Bygone Years. Some elements of the story may borrow more from legend than from history – it …

SYMHC Classics: Katie Sandwina, the Glamorous Strongwoman

March 2nd, 2019

We're revisiting a 2015 episode about Katie Sandwina, who wowed crowds from an early age, first as a wrestling act and then exclusively as professional strongwoman. During a time when women's suffrage was a hot button …

Alexandre Dumas Père

February 27th, 2019

Alexandre Dumas wrote such classics as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, and both those books’ sequels, eight Marie Antoinette romances, and a BUNCH of other novels and plays. And essays. And travel …

General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

February 25th, 2019

General Dumas sounds like a character out of one of his son’s books. Because he pretty much was. His life is a series of dramatic and daring adventures, including an impressive rise up through the ranks of the French …

SYMHC Classics: John Snow and Mary Seacole

February 23rd, 2019

Today's classic is a double feature! First, Katie and Sarah's look at Dr. John Snow's famous "ghost map" in 2009, and then the related work of nurse …

The Rabbit Test

February 20th, 2019

After the discovery of hormones in the early 20th century, new methods of pregnancy testing were developed. Some of these involved animal use, but …

A Brief History of Vodka

February 18th, 2019

The story of vodka is one that’s closely tied to cultural identity for several countries, but where did it originate, and how did it evolve over …

SYMHC Classics: Rose Bertin, the First Fashion Designer

February 16th, 2019

We're revisiting an episode from 2014, where we discuss the legendary wardrobe of Marie-Antoinette. Where did all those glorious clothes come from? In large part, they were the work of Rose Bertin, a milliner who found …

Paul Julius Reuter

February 13th, 2019

Paul Julius Reuter had a knack for filling in the gaps in communication systems, and make a lot of money doing so. And eventually, he managed to to …

Mary Winston Jackson, NASA Engineer

February 11th, 2019

Jackson is most well known as the first black woman to become an engineer at NASA. But she also worked to clear the way for other underrepresented …

SYMHC Classics: Victoria and Albert

February 9th, 2019

We're looking back at an episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. She's one of Britain's best-loved queens, but Victoria's parentage made her an unlikely heir. When she became queen at 18, she rebelled from her …

A. Gustave Eiffel, Part 2

February 6th, 2019

The second part of our look at Gustave Eiffel's life picks up just after he closed down all business interests in South America, and leads into some of his most famous work, including the Statue of Liberty and the …

A. Gustave Eiffel, Part 1

February 4th, 2019

Gustave Eiffel’s expertise in iron work was sought for projects throughout Europe and South America, and he worked on one of the most iconic structures in the U.S. His career is mostly an impressive series of successes, …

SYMHC Classics: Leading the Charge - The Massachusetts 54th

February 2nd, 2019

This episode revisits a 2012 episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. A 1792 law prevented African Americans from taking up arms in the Civil War. As attitudes against blacks serving changed, black regiments were …

The Perdicaris Incident

January 30th, 2019

The Perdicaris kidnapping happened in Morocco in the early 20th century, but impacted American history significantly. It has been fictionalized in writing and film, but it is plenty dramatic all on its own. 

Learn more …

The Regulator War

January 28th, 2019

This episode was inspired by the TV series "Outlander." The Regulator War, aka the War of the Regulation, aka the Regulator Movement, was a North …

SYMHC Classics: The Flannan Isles Disappearance

January 26th, 2019

This 2013 episode delves into a maritime history mystery. The Flannan Islands have been rumored for centuries to be haunted or have some supernatural darkness. In 1900, three men vanished from the lighthouse on Eilean …

Sushruta, Father of Plastic Surgery

January 23rd, 2019

Sushruta’s Compendium is one of the foundational texts of Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine. He’s also known as the father of plastic surgery, and was writing about medicine and surgery at least 200 years …

Teresa Carreño

January 21st, 2019

Not only was Teresa Carreño the most famous pianist of her day, she is considered to be Venezuela’s first international super star. And her personal life was just as compelling as her public persona. 

Learn more about …

SYMHC Classics: Lisztomania

January 19th, 2019

This 2015 episode is all about pianist, composer and conductor Franz Liszt. He was basically the first rock star who drove fans into fits of swooning …

Sojourner Truth, Pt. 2

January 16th, 2019

Last time, we talked about Sojourner Truth's enslavement and how a religious vision after she was free led her to moving to New York City. Today, we’re picking up with another vision, which marked a huge shift in how …

Sojourner Truth, Pt. 1

January 14th, 2019

Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist in the 19th century. But because a speech most famously associated with Truth is a …

SYMHC Classics: The Famous Speech Chief Seattle Never Made

January 12th, 2019

Today we're revising a 2013 episode about the Suquamish chief who is best remembered for a speech he gave upon discovering that Governor Stevens wanted land to build a railroad. However, the speech's origins are …

A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 2

January 9th, 2019

In the first part of this two-parter, we covered ballet’s origins and early evolution. We left off with the founding of the Academie Royale de …

A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 1

January 7th, 2019

For a long time, there was no formalized dance in western culture. Eventually, court performers in Europe were asked to also teach their audiences …

SYMHC Classics: Catherine de' Medici and the Scarlet Nuptials

January 5th, 2019

In this classic 2010 episode of the Medici super series, Katie and Sarah follow up on the further adventures of Catherine de'Medici. Listen in and …

Unearthed! in 2018! Part 2

January 2nd, 2019

Wrapping up coverage of things found, discovered and dug up in 2018, this second in our two-part Unearthed! episode includes a little potpourri, edibles and potables, shipwrecks, exhumations and repatriations.  

Learn …

Unearthed! in 2018! Part 1

December 31st, 2018

It's time for Unearthed 2018, where we talk about the historical things discovered or dug up in the past year. Part one includes a bunch of research into human migration patterns, mummies, mass graves, and human …

SYMHC Classics: Catherine de' Medici, Italian Orphan

December 29th, 2018

Today we're revisiting a 2010 episode from Katie and Sarah about Catherine de' Medici, who remains the most famous female member of the Medici clan. Orphaned at a young age, Catherine survived struggles with childhood …

Unearthed: Francisco Franco

December 26th, 2018

We’re taking a look at Francisco Franco and the Spanish Civil War. We've talked about Spain’s parliament voting to exhume the remains of dictator …

Christmas Triple-Feature: Stille Nacht, St. Nick & Scrooge

December 24th, 2018

We're taking a look at three creative works that have become staples of the Christmas season. All three of them have played a huge part in how people observe and celebrate Christmas in parts of the world, and they all …

SYMHC Classics: Charles Dickens Takes America

December 22nd, 2018

This episode revisits the story of Charles Dickens on tour, featuring previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. Dickens is best known for chronicling life in London, but he also wrote about the United States - and not in a …

Buddy Bolden and the Birth of Jazz

December 19th, 2018

Bolden is often referred to as the first jazz performer, and his playing is legendary. But his life story, cluttered by lack of documentation and …

The Trial of Mary Queen of Scots

December 17th, 2018

Mary Stuart is one of history’s most memorable figures, with myriad compelling chapters in her life. The Babington Plot was a convoluted bit of …

SYMHC Classics: Rival Queens -- Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I

December 15th, 2018

Today we revisit an episode from 2009 in preparation for a new episode coming this week about the Babington Plot. Although they were cousins, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart had little in the way of familial affection. …

Interview: Hayley Milliman of Museum Hack

December 12th, 2018

Museum Hack writer Hayley Milliman joins Holly to talk about the company's irreverent approach to getting people excited about history, and discusses …

Six Impossible Episodes: Deja Vu in the U.S. and Canada

December 10th, 2018

Several times over the past few years, we’ve done an episode on something from U.S. history, and afterward we’ve gotten notes from listeners about the same thing happening in Canada – although this episode starts with …

SYMHC Classics: Les Filles du Roi

December 8th, 2018

We're revisiting an episode from 2014: the Filles du Roi, or King's Daughters. While the building of a population in a new colony seems like a tricky …

Nell Donnelly Reed

December 5th, 2018

Nell Donnelly Reed built a successful business starting before women even had the right to vote in the U.S. Her story combines fashion, education, …

The Rise of the Straw Hat and the Riot of 1922

December 3rd, 2018

The Straw Hat Riot of 1922 is a strange piece of history, and it all centered around the boater hat. How did how the boater become so important to men’s fashion in the early 20th century? And how did that lead to a very …

SYMHC Classics: Philo T. Farnsworth

December 1st, 2018

Today we're revisiting the life of Phylo T. Farnsworth, often called the "Father of Television." His initial idea for electronic television came to him as a teen. He's also become something of an icon representing the …

Auguste Escoffier

November 28th, 2018

Any chefs in our listening audience undoubtedly know about Auguste Escoffier, but people who haven’t studied cuisine may not realize that this one …

Friedel Klussmann and San Francisco's Cable Cars

November 26th, 2018

San Francisco’s cable cars are the last working system of their kind. The reason they haven’t been completely replaced by more modern modes of transportation is largely the advocacy of a woman named Friedel Klussmann.

SYMHC Classics: Cosmetics From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World

November 24th, 2018

We're revisiting an episode from 2014 about makeup, which has a rich and lengthy history that spans the globe and crosses cultures. From 10,000 …

The Mirabal Sisters

November 21st, 2018

There were four Mirabal sisters -- Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa, and Dede. The sisters are national heroes in the Dominican Republic, but they weren’t very well-known elsewhere until 20 or so years ago when they became …

SYMHC Live: The USO and Bob Hope

November 19th, 2018

This show, performed live at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, covers a brief overview of USO history, and then delves into Bob …

SYMHC Classics: Stede Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate

November 17th, 2018

Today we revisit our 2013 episode on Stede Bonnet, who left his family in 1717 and became a pirate. Despite having no seafaring experience, Bonnet's …

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte

November 14th, 2018

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to earn a medical degree. She lived at a time when a lot of change was happening in …

Dwight Frye

November 12th, 2018

If you don’t know Dwight Frye by name, you’ve probably seen one or two of his performances. He was one of the lesser-known horror actors that helped make the genre Universal’s great success of the 1930s, but he also had …

SYMHC Classics: Encephalitis Lethargica

November 10th, 2018

Today we're revisiting one of our scariest episodes of all time, from 2013. From 1916 to about 1927, a strange epidemic spread around the world. It caused unusual symptoms, from drastic behavior changes to a deep, …


November 7th, 2018

Kristallnacht was a massive act of antisemitic violence that was named for the shards of glass left littering the streets in more than a thousand …

Shirley Chisholm

November 5th, 2018

From her college years, Chisolm was politically active. Her drive and desire to make positive change led her to many political firsts, including …

SYMHC Classics: 5 Historical Storms

November 3rd, 2018

We're traveling back to a 2012 episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina about catastrophic storms, which are almost historical characters in their own right, leaving indelible marks on the places they affect. Here, …

SYMHC Live: Not Dead Yet - Safety Coffins and Waiting Mortuaries

October 31st, 2018

For the west coast tour, Holly and Tracy talked about the fear of being buried, which reached a fever pitch in Europe and the U.S. from the 18th to …

Pisadiera & Baba Yaga

October 29th, 2018

These are two entities with a number of similarities: They’re both women, often described as crones or hags, and there’s no clear origin point for either of them. But they’re very different as well. They come from …

SYMHC Classics: The Sisters Fox - They Talked to Dead People

October 27th, 2018

This 2011 episode from Sarah and Deblina features the Fox family, which began hearing strange noises in 1848, and sisters Maggie and Kate started communicating with spirits. They built a career as mediums, and today …

The Beheading of Sir Walter Raleigh

October 24th, 2018

Among other things, Sir Walter Raleigh was a courtier, an explorer, a historian, a Member of Parliament and a soldier. He was part of England’s …

Charles Addams, Part 2

October 22nd, 2018

After TV producer David Levy adapted the cartoons of Charles Addams into "The Addams Family," Charlie's life changed in a number of ways. As Addams aged, he sort of settled down, but as with everything, he did so in his …

SYMHC Classics: He Was Killed by Mesmerism

October 20th, 2018

We're revisiting a 2010 Halloween episode from Sarah and Katie. Today, Franz Mesmer is hailed as the father of hypnosis. His original pursuit was called mesmerism, but what exactly was it? How did it (supposedly) work?

Charles Addams, Part 1

October 17th, 2018

Charles Addams was a compelling figure. He visited cemeteries for fun, he raced cars, he collected crossbows. But Addams surprised a lot of people in …

The Sinking of the SS Princess Sophia

October 15th, 2018

The sinking of the SS Princess Sophia was a massive tragedy for both Canada and the United States. But it was also really overshadowed by the end of World War I and the flu pandemic, so it’s been nicknamed the unknown …

SYMHC Classics: The House of Worth and the Birth of Haute Couture

October 13th, 2018

Today we revisit an episode from 2014. Before Charles Worth, the idea of ready made clothes for purchase didn't really exist. Neither did the idea of …

The Allegedly Haunted Island of Poveglia

October 10th, 2018

This uninhabited Italian island that has come to be called all manner of scary things, including, “plague island,” “island of ghosts,” and “the Venetian island of no return,” among others. What's the real story on …

Vernon Lee

October 8th, 2018

Violet Paget, more often known by her pen name Vernon Lee, was a historian and an art and literary critic, and she wrote on myriad subjects including …

SYMHC Classics: The Trial of Goody Garlick

October 6th, 2018

We're revisiting a 2013 tale of a witch trial. Decades before the Salem trials, an East Hampton woman was tried for witchcraft. Before Lion Gardiner's daughter died, she accused Goody Garlick of bewitching her. 

Learn …

Alvin York

October 3rd, 2018

We’re coming up on the centennial of the act of heroism that earned Alvin York the Medal of Honor. His name is known thanks to the 1941 film “Sergeant York,” but it takes a lot of liberties, and omits what he believed …

Peg Entwistle, Ghost of Hollywood

October 1st, 2018

Her story is often told in a sort of sloppy shorthand: She went to Los Angeles to become an actress, failed, and then became desperate. But that …

SYMHC Classics: Mary Anning, Princess of Paleontology

September 29th, 2018

Today we're revisiting an episodefrom Sarah and Deblina about Mary Anning. She started hunting for fossils in Lyme Regis in the early 1800s. Around 1811, she uncovered the complete skeleton of an ichthyosaurus. She made …

Interview: Mindy Johnson and the Women of Disney, Pt. 2

September 26th, 2018

In part two of this interview, Mindy busts some myths about women and their work in the Walt Disney Studio, and shares some stories of how new …

Interview: Mindy Johnson and the Women of Disney, Pt. 1

September 24th, 2018

Mindy Johnson has spent years tracking down the stories of the women who shaped Walt Disney's life, and the success of the Walt Disney Studios. She contextualizes the lives and contributions of these women in the larger …

SYMHC Classics: Victoria Woodhull, Little Queen for President

September 22nd, 2018

Today we revisit a Sarah and Deblina episode from 2011. In 1872, the Equal Rights Party nominated Victoria Woodhull for president, but her radical …

Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute for Sexual Science

September 19th, 2018

Magnus Hirschfeld was a groundbreaking researcher into gender and sexuality in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work was dedicated to scientific study with the hope of dispelling stigma around …

SYMHC Live: Anne Royall

September 17th, 2018

Today we've got our live show from our recent East Coast tour, all about Anne Royall. She was a travel writer and a muckraking journalist way before Theodore Roosevelt coined that term, at a time when there were very

SYMHC Classics: The Radium Girls

September 15th, 2018

Today we revisit an episode from prior hosts Sarah and Deblina. Between in 1917, hundreds of women got jobs applying radium-treated paint to various products. Many experienced severe health problems. Five former workers …

Lady Anne Blunt, Part 2

September 12th, 2018

As Anne matured and her marriage fell apart, she continued to travel between the Arabian desert and England, always working to improve her horse breeding program. Eventually, she and Wilfrid separated, and her final …

Lady Anne Blunt, Part 1

September 10th, 2018

Anne was the daughter of Ada Lovelace (and the granddaughter of Lord Byron). While she was born into England’s aristocracy in the 19th century, her work breeding horses is what gives her life historical significance. 

SYMHC Classics: The Oneida Utopia

September 8th, 2018

Today's episode revisits preacher John Humphrey Noyes founding the Oneida community in 1848. In this episode, Deblina and Sarah recount the rise and fall of the Oneida community -- including its focus on shared labor, …

Christine de Pizan and the Book of the City of Ladies

September 5th, 2018

Christine de Pizan is often described as a late-Medieval writer. But just “writer” does not really sum up everything she did. She wrote  verse, military manuals, and treatises on war, peace and the just governance of a …

Interview: Anne Byrn's 'American Cookie'

September 3rd, 2018

We're delighted to have Anne Byrn back on the show to talk about her latest book, "American Cookie." Anne shares her vast knowledge of historical …

SYMHC Classics: The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, Part 2

September 1st, 2018

We're revisiting part two of the Great Moon Hoax! As the New York Sun's series of astonishing moon discoveries concluded, most people recognized that it was a hoax. But what made people buy into the tall tale in the …

A Condensed History of Air Conditioning

August 29th, 2018

From hand fans to today’s high-end air conditioning technology, people have always found ways to deal with heat and humidity. And as mechanical …

The Georgia Gold Rush

August 27th, 2018

In the late 1820s, north Georgia became the site of the first gold rush in the United States, predating the more famous California gold rush by two …

SYMHC Classics: The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, Part 1

August 25th, 2018

We're revisiting a silly two-parter from 2015. In August 1835, the New York Sun ran a series about some utterly mind-blowing discoveries made by Sir John Herschel about the lunar surface. The serial had everything: moon …

The Battle of Ambos Nogales

August 22nd, 2018

Two cities, both named Nogales, were established, one on each side of the U.S.-Mexico border, after the Gadsden Purchase but before Arizona’s statehood. In the summer of 1918, ongoing tension led to a battle at the …

Interview: Mary Robinette Kowal on the 'Lady Astronaut' Duology

August 20th, 2018

Mary Robinette Kowal’s work has inspired several episodes of the podcast. She has just written a pair of books that are called the Lady Astronaut …

SYMHC Classics: Bessie Coleman, Daredevil Aviatrix

August 18th, 2018

Today revisits an episode from Sarah and Deblina about Bessie Coleman, who dreamed of becoming a pilot. Because she was a black woman, no American …

Lucretia Mott

August 15th, 2018

This is the studio version of our live show from this years Seneca Falls Convention Days at Women's Rights National Historical Park. Lucretia Mott …

Zoot Suit Riots

August 13th, 2018

The word “riot” here is really a misnomer. This conflict wasn’t so much about property damage as it was about attacking people. It also wasn’t really …

SYMHC: Hedy Lamarr and Wireless Technology

August 11th, 2018

Today's classic revisits an episode from Sarah and Deblina. Hedy Lamarr was an extraordinarily beautiful film star, but she wasn't just another …

Levi Strauss

August 8th, 2018

Levi’s story is historically interesting because it touches on a lot of important moments in U.S. history. His business was tied to the California …

Battle of Amiens

August 6th, 2018

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, near the end of World War I. Amiens was the start of what came to be known as the 100 Days Offensive, which was the Allies’ final push to win the war. 

SYMHC Classics: 5 Historical Hoaxes

August 4th, 2018

Today's episode revisits a Sarah and Deblina episode about historical hoaxes. For example, a N.Y. cigar maker once commissioned a gypsum skeleton to pass off as a 10-foot-tall petrified man called the Cardiff Giant. …

John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams Abroad

August 1st, 2018

John Quincy Adams probably comes to mind as the son of second U.S. President John Adams, and the 6th president of the U.S. But he and his wife, Louisa Catharine Johnson Adams worked in the realm of international …

Unearthed! in July, 2018, Part 2

July 30th, 2018

Continuing the 2018 mid-year edition of unearthed goodies, this episode will cover shipwrecks, exhumations, repatriations, and edibles and potables. 

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SYMHC Classics: The Johnstown Flood

July 28th, 2018

Today's show revisits a 2012 episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. On May 31, 1889, the South Fork dam gave way, sending 20 million tons of water rushing toward Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The water swept up …

Unearthed! in July, 2018, Part 1

July 25th, 2018

The July edition of Unearthed! is a two-parter this year. We’re breaking with tradition and starting with a few things that happened at the very end …

Author Jason Porath: Tough Mothers

July 23rd, 2018

Jason is back to talk about his follow-up to his book "Rejected Princesses." This one is called "Tough Mothers" and it's all about feisty, smart and …

SYMHC Classics: Gertrude Bell, The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq, Part 2

July 21st, 2018

The second installment of this Sarah and Deblina classic two-parter follows Gertrude Bell on her adventures after World War I begins. The British …

Dred Scott vs. Sandford part 2

July 18th, 2018

When Dred Scott v. Sandford was decided in 1857, the court decision ruled that enslaved Africans and their descendants weren’t and could never be …

Dred Scott vs. Sandford part 1

July 16th, 2018

Dred Scott v. Sandford is one of the most notorious Supreme Court cases of all time. It wasn’t just about Dred Scott. It was also about his wife Harriet and their daughters Eliza and Lizzy. This episode covers Dred and …

SYMHC Classics: Gertrude Bell, The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq

July 14th, 2018

This classic revisits an episode from Sarah and Deblina, talking about Gertrude Bell, the first woman to graduate with a First in Modern History from Oxford. Instead of marrying young, she went to Persia. Inspired, she …

Libertalia: Legendary Pirate Utopia

July 11th, 2018

Libertalia, which, in truth, may be completely fictional, is called a pirate settlement, though the man who spearheaded it claimed he wasn't actually a pirate. And it was set up as a sort of utopia, where men governed …

Annie Edson Taylor, Niagara Daredevil

July 9th, 2018

Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor’s whole barrel trip was part of a much bigger story of …

SYMHC Classics: How the New York Draft Riots Worked

July 7th, 2018

We're revisiting an episode from 2011 featuring previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. To recruit troops for the U.S. Civil War, the Federal Congress passed the Union Conscription Act in 1863, which drafted able-bodied men …

Emma Lazarus

July 4th, 2018

Emma Lazarus became one of the United States’ first successful Jewish American writers, moving in the New York literary scene of the late 1800s. She …

Victorian Orchidelirium

July 2nd, 2018

Orchids date back millions of years. But in the 1800s, the plants became a status symbol and the cornerstone of a high-dollar industry. Collecting …

SYMHC Classics: Dr. Virginia Apgar

June 30th, 2018

This episode revisits the life of Dr. Virginia Apgar, who broke new ground in the fields of obstetrics and anesthesiology in the middle of the 20th …

Great Train Wreck of 1918

June 27th, 2018

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of one of the worst train wrecks in United States history. More than 100 people died. And even though it’s usually noted as the worst train wreck in American history, it was kind …

Elizabeth Jennings Graham

June 25th, 2018

Today’s topic is a person who is sometimes called a 19th-century Rosa Parks. When Elizabeth boarded a horse-drawn streetcar in Manhattan in 1854, a chain of events began which became an important moment in the civil …

SYMHC Classics: Mansa Musa and the City of Gold

June 23rd, 2018

Today's episode revisits a Sarah and Deblina episode that revisits a tale of incredible wealth. When emperor Mansa Musa went on a pilgramage from …

Six Impossible Episodes: Evacuating Children

June 20th, 2018

All six of today’s topics are mass evacuations of children and youth because of a war or other unrest, and include Kindertransport, Operation Pedro Pan, and Operation Babylift. 

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The Tunguska Event

June 18th, 2018

On June 30, 1908 at approximately 7:15am, the sky over Siberia lit up with what was described by witnesses as a massive fireball, or the sky engulfed …

SYMHC Classics: Alan Turing, Codebreaker

June 16th, 2018

This is a revisit of a Sarah and Deblina episode on Alan Turing, who conceived of computers decades before anyone was building one. He also acted as a top-secret code breaker during World War II. Despite his …

Hurricane San Ciriaco

June 13th, 2018

Hurricane San Ciriaco struck Puerto Rico at a precarious point in its history. The United States had just taken possession of the island, and the 40 or so years leading up to the Spanish-American War had also been …

Julian Eltinge, Greatest of All Impersonators of Women

June 11th, 2018

Eltinge was one of the highest-paid and most famous actors of the early 20th century, and acted alongside Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and …

SYMHC Classics: The Mystic Margery Kempe

June 9th, 2018

We're traveling back to a 2013 episode about Margery Kempe. Born in the 1300s, Margery had 14 children with her husband before dedicating her life to …

The Colorful Life of Carmen Miranda

June 6th, 2018

Carmen Miranda is one of those historical figures who remains hugely iconic – we STILL see her image, or some derivative of it, on a regular basis. …

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

June 4th, 2018

Ida B. Wells-Barnett connects to a lot of episodes in our archive. She fought against lynching for decades, at a time when it wasn’t common at all …

SYMHC Classics: We All Scream for Ice Cream

June 2nd, 2018

We're revisiting a yummy topic from 2013! There is actually some disagreement about the actual origin point of ice cream, but almost everyone agrees …

Winsor McCay, Part 2

May 30th, 2018

Even as his career in comics was at its zenith, Winsor McCay continued to explore other business ventures for his art. He added vaudeville …

Winsor McCay, Part 1

May 28th, 2018

McCay is credited as a pioneer in early animation. But before he made drawings come to life, he worked as a billboard artist, an artist-journalist, and then a comics creator for newspapers. 

Learn more about your …

SYMHC Classics: Five Historical Robots

May 26th, 2018

Today we revisit an episode on the technology of yesteryear. Long before Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the term "robot" in his 1920 play …

James Whale

May 23rd, 2018

James Whale created iconic films in the early half of the 20th century. He's one of the main reasons that Universal Pictures became synonymous with the horror genre. But his interests as a creator were far wider than …

The Defenestrations of Prague

May 21st, 2018

“Defenestrate” just means “to throw out of a window.” And apart from sounding like the punch line to a joke about Daleks … there has been a surprising amount of defenestration in Czech history. And almost all of it has …

SYMHC Classics: From Brontë to Bell and Back Again

May 19th, 2018

We're revisiting another episode from Sarah and Deblina., in which they talk about how the Brontë sisters quickly rose from obscurity to notoriety after their three novels were published under the Bell pseudonym. 

Learn …

Frank Lenz, the Cyclist Who Vanished

May 16th, 2018

In the 1890s, Frank Lenz started a bicycle tour around the world. He never finished, and his ultimate fate remains uncertain, though there are pretty …

Nisei in World War II: The MIS, 100th and 442nd

May 14th, 2018

The 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team were segregated units for soldiers of Japanese descent that were created during …

SYMHC Classics: Growing Up Brontë

May 12th, 2018

This classic revisits the Brontë sisters. They're considered some of the best writers of the 19th century but their past may surprise you. Join Sarah and Deblina as they discuss the sisters' childhood tragedies, …

Henry Every, Successful Pyrate

May 9th, 2018

Every carried out what’s been described as the most profitable and brutal pirate raid in history. It became a massive international incident, and Britain tried to repair its relationship with the Mughal Empire through a …

Lotte Reiniger's Shadow Animation

May 7th, 2018

Lotte was interested in silhouettes and paper cutting from the time she was a child. And she developed that interest into animation, and created the first feature-length animated film in the 1920s.

Learn more about your …

SYMHC Classics: Jimmy Winkfield, Derby Pioneer

May 5th, 2018

Today's episode revisits the story of Jimmy Winkfield, who won the Kentucky Derby twice. When this podcast was published originally, he was the last African-American jockey to win the race. Winkfield moved abroad in …

The Bisbee Deportation

May 2nd, 2018

The 1917 Bisbee Deportation has elements of a labor strike, a wartime hysteria, a vigilante mob, and a mass propaganda effort, all rolled into one. …

Mohenjo Daro

April 30th, 2018

Mohenjo Daro is in the Indus river valley in present-day southern Pakistan. This ancient city has a unique identity in that we don’t know a lot about …

SYMHC Classics: Ambrose Bierce

April 28th, 2018

Ambrose Bierce was a soldier, a journalist, an editor, a satirist and a philosopher. He was a complicated man with an unwavering moral code and a …

Wendell Scott: Black NASCAR Driver in the Jim Crow Era, Pt. 2

April 25th, 2018

Scott eventually managed to break into NASCAR racing, becoming the first black driver to do so. His career was a constant struggle, as he paid his own way and often had to be his own pit crew while competing against …

Wendell Scott: Black NASCAR Driver in the Jim Crow Era, Pt. 1

April 23rd, 2018


Wendell Scott was a black driver from the early days of NASCAR. After driving a taxi, working as a mechanic, and hauling moonshine, he started racing …

The First Celebrity Chef: Marie-Antoine Carême

April 18th, 2018

Today, there is an entire industry around celebrity chefs. But the first celebrity chef in the western world's history was born in late 18th-century France.

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The Ancient City of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis

April 16th, 2018

The city of Ephesus fell under many different rulers throughout its history, as wars and shifting politics changed Asia Minor. For centuries, it …

SYMHC Classics: Here, Kitty Kitty, the Domestication of the Cat

April 14th, 2018

Today, we're going back to  an episode about kitties in history! The human culture shift to an agricultural lifestyle started the domestication of …

Elbridge Gerry’s Monstrous Salamander

April 11th, 2018

Elbridge Gerry signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Gerrymandering is the drawing of political districts to …

The Life and Magic of Henry 'Box' Brown

April 9th, 2018

Brown was born into slavery and escaped in an astonishing way. His story of gaining his freedom was so sensational that he basically spent the rest of his life making a living talking about it in one form or another.

SYMHC Classics: Nellie Bly & Stunt Journalism

April 7th, 2018

Today we're revisiting an episode from Sarah and Katie. Born in 1864, Nellie Bly wasn't your average journalist. She feigned insanity to gain entry into a mental institution. Join Sarah and Katie as they take a closer …

Cajamarca and the End of the Inka Empire

April 5th, 2018

The Battle of Cajamarca, also known as the Massacre of Cajamarca, ultimately led to the end of the Inka Empire. But it might have gone much …

The East India Company's Theft of China’s Tea Secrets

April 2nd, 2018

Great Britain's relationship with tea is part of its cultural identity. But before the mid-1800s, China was the only source of tea, which was a …

SYMHC Classics: April Calahan on France's Fashionable Resistance

March 31st, 2018

Today we're revisiting a talk with fashion historian April Calahan about the surprising ways that women of France protested German occupation during WWII.

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The Highland Clearances

March 28th, 2018

The Highland Clearances were a long, complicated, messy series of evictions in the Highlands and western Islands of Scotland, when tenant farmers were forced from their homes to make way for sheep pastures.

Learn more …

Andrew Carnegie

March 26th, 2018

Carnegie was a child of poverty who became one of the richest men on Earth. But his life, while largely charmed, had a massive scar of bad judgment …

SYMHC Classics: Marian Anderson

March 24th, 2018

Today's show returns to Marian Anderson. An acclaimed contralto, Marian Anderson was barred from singing in Constitution Hall because of her race. …

Ignaz Semmelweis and the War on Handwashing

March 21st, 2018

Ignaz Semmelweis made a connection between hand hygiene and the prevention of childbed fever in the 19th century. He wasn’t taken seriously then, but …

Constance Markievicz

March 19th, 2018

Born Constance Georgine Gore-Booth to a wealthy Protestant family, Constance Markievicz made a somewhat surprising transition to become a leader in the Irish Nationalist movement.

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SYMHC Classics: The Easter Rising of 1916

March 17th, 2018

Today's show revisits one of the most pivotal events in modern Irish history. It was a precursor to a number of other events that have happened since then, both within and outside of Ireland.

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The Daring Imposter Cassie Chadwick

March 14th, 2018

Cassie Chadwick (born Elizabeth Bigley) committed fraud at a level that would be almost impossible to pull off in today’s world of instant …

The Minuscule Science of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek

March 12th, 2018

Leeuwenhoek wasn’t REALLY a scientist -- he had no formal training. But he made dozens of scientific discoveries. He’s credited with discovering microscopic life in a variety of forms, using lenses he ground himself.

SYMHC Classics: The Luddites

March 10th, 2018

This classic revisits the Luddite uprising -- protests in northern England, in which workers smashed machines in mills and factories. This wasn't the …

Giorgio Vasari

March 7th, 2018

Vasari was an artist and architect in 16th-century Italy. But what really made him famous was his writing. He penned biographies of famous artists, but he wasn't exactly exacting about the details.

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Phillis Wheatley

March 5th, 2018

Perceptions and interpretations of Phillis Wheatley's life and work have shifted since the 18th century. This episode examines Wheatley's published writing while enslaved, and how her place in the world of black …

SYMHC Classics: The Red Ghost of Arizona and the U.S. Camel Corps

March 3rd, 2018

We're revisiting the story of a a mysterious beast that trampled a woman in Arizona in 1883. First described as a demon, the creature turned out to be a camel. But what was it doing in the American Southwest in the …

Sadako Sasaki’s 1000 Cranes, Part 2

February 28th, 2018

The show's 1000th episode continues the story of Sadako Sasaki, who died of A-bomb sickness after the bombing of Hiroshima. This second part of her story focuses on the peace movement that grew out of her life.

Learn …

Sadako Sasaki’s 1000 Cranes, Part 1

February 26th, 2018

At the end of World War II, the United States used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A young girl named Sadako Sasaki eventually developed …

SYMHC Classics: Who was the real Lone Ranger?

February 24th, 2018

Today we're revisiting an episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. The Lone Ranger has traditionally been portrayed by white actors, but many believe this character is based on a former slave named Bass Reeves.

The Last Carolina Parakeet and Other Endlings

February 21st, 2018

On February 21, 1918, the last known Carolina parakeet died at the Cincinnati Zoo. We examine the stories of this endling and two others to see how …

Hawaii's Legend of the Menehune

February 19th, 2018

The story of the Menehune is one that's been handed down through oral history for generations. But can the roots of this mythological group of people …

SYMHC Classics: Villisca Ax Murders

February 17th, 2018

This episode revisits the Villisca murders. In 1912, a small Iowa town was the scene of a chilling and brutal crime. Eight people were murdered in their beds by an assailant who has never been identified.

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Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

February 14th, 2018

Gertrude Stein is an icon in the world of modernist literature. Alice B. Toklas is often described as her partner and assistant, but she was also published writer, and “assistant” really doesn't cover how important she …

Pauline Sabin

February 12th, 2018

The battle over Prohibition is often framed as a battle of the sexes, with women serving as the “moral” voice of sobriety. But a woman named Pauline …

SYMHC Classics: Abelard and Heloise

February 10th, 2018

This episode revisits the story of poet, philosopher and theologian Abelard, and his student Heloise. This is a tragic love story, complete with …

The Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

February 7th, 2018

Memphis sanitation workers stayed off the job starting January 12, 1968 in a strike that lasted for nine weeks. This was the strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was …

Aspasia and Pericles

February 5th, 2018

This is often held up as one of history’s great love stories – Plutarch wrote that Pericles kissed Aspasia every single day. And that’s very sweet and romantic, but their high-profile relationship was central to a key …

SYMHC Classics: Double Agent James Armistead and the American Revolution

February 3rd, 2018

Today's classics revisits an episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina about James Armistead. He was a slave in Virginia, but got his master's …

Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton

January 31st, 2018

Mary-Russel Ferrell Colton was a painter, author and educator. But she's most famous for co-founding of the Museum of Northern Arizona and related …

Anne Lister

January 29th, 2018

At a time when many women sought husbands to ensure financial stability, Anne Lister was looking for a wife. She was also writing thousands of pages of diaries, including sections written in code about her relationships.

SYMHC Classics: Who was Emanuel Swedenborg?

January 27th, 2018

Today we're visiting an episode from past hosts Katie and Sarah. When the philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg sought mechanical explanations for nature, he found himself struggling with his faith as he searched for evidence …

The Donation of Constantine

January 24th, 2018

In the 8th century, a document was written that had a lasting impact on the course of medieval Europe. The Donation of Constantine granted a large amount of Roman Empire land and power to Pope Sylvester I and his …

Rufus Wilmot Griswold

January 22nd, 2018

Griswold is most commonly known as Edgar Allan Poe's rival, and for creating negative characterizations of Poe that have endured more than a century. …

SYMHC Classics: How Lord Byron Worked

January 20th, 2018

Today’s classic podcast comes to us from previous hosts Katie and Sarah. Coming up on January 22, 2018 is the 230th birthday of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Who was this poet, and why is he associated with so many …

The Wilmington Coup of 1898, Part 2

January 17th, 2018

In 1898, a mob of armed white men enacted a violent plan against Wilmington, North Carolina’s black community. It was the only known successful coup …

The Wilmington Coup of 1898, Part 1

January 15th, 2018

Resistance to post-Civil War reconstruction efforts, hotly contested elections, political corruption, and open racism all led to a climate of unrest …

SYMHC Classics: The Phoenician Alphabet

January 13th, 2018

This classic episode revisits the Phoenicians, great ship-builders, sailors and textile experts. But they're most known for developing the alphabet that many modern alphabets are descended from.

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Author Interview: Kathryn Lougheed on Tuberculosis

January 10th, 2018

Tuberculosis is often thought of as a disease of the past, but it remains a problem in many parts of the world. Microbiologist and author Kathryn …

Mary Breckinridge and the Frontier Nursing Service

January 8th, 2018

We have talked before on the show about pioneers who advanced the medical field specifically as it relates to infants, and today’s subject is definitely another to add to that list. But, there are some problematic …

SYMHC Classics: The Explosive Career of Antoine Lavoisier

January 6th, 2018

Today we're revisiting the life of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, who was a chemist, biologist, geologist, physiologist, and economist. But at the end of …

Unearthed! in 2017, Part 2

January 3rd, 2018

In part two of our annual recap, we walk through what's been literally and figuratively unearthed in 2017, including things institutions found in …

Unearthed! in 2017, Part 1

January 1st, 2018

In our annual recap, we walk through what's been literally and figuratively unearthed in 2017, including anticlimactic headlines, shipwrecks, medical …

SYMHC Classics: Sophie Blanchard and Balloonomania

December 30th, 2017

Today's classic episode revisits Sophie Blanchard, a timid girl who grew into a trailblazer, and became famous in the early 1800s as the first woman to become a career balloonist.

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Unearthed!: The USS Indianapolis

December 27th, 2017

Today, the U.S.S. Indianapolis is most known for its crew’s horrifying wait for rescue after being torpedoed following a secret mission at the end of …

NORAD Tracking Santa: A Cold War History

December 25th, 2017

The story that circulates about how NORAD started tracking Santa is pretty heart-warming, but doesn’t completely hold up. So there’s some …

SYMHC Classics: The Christmas Truce

December 23rd, 2017

For Christmas, we're revisiting an episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. During the first Christmas of World War I, British and German …

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Part 2

December 20th, 2017

The exploits of the Special Operations Executive are the stuff of legend. This episode continues to look at a few of the group's missions, and what became of the SOE after WWII.

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The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Part 1

December 18th, 2017

After the Germans invaded France in 1940, an idea sprouted in the highest levels of Great Britain's leadership. From that idea, the Special Operations Executive was born. And in many ways, it changed the way wars were …

SYMHC Classics: Deaf President Now

December 16th, 2017

A revisit to an episode on fairly recent history: In 1988, the appointment of a hearing president at Gallaudet University sparked a protest that …

The Historical Roots of Holiday Treats

December 13th, 2017

Tasty treats associated with winter holidays - candy canes, wassail and gingerbread - have some slightly hazy origins, because the evidence of their …

Three Astonishing Belles

December 11th, 2017

This episode features three unique women, all of whom are notable in their own way. The two things they have in common: They each have a surprising aspect to their stories, and they each have the name Belle.

Learn more …

SYMHC Classics: Rabbit-proof Fence

December 9th, 2017

We're revisiting an episode about settlers bringing animals and plants to Australia, including rabbits. The rabbit population exploded, and …

Skellig Michael

December 6th, 2017

This small island off the west coast of Ireland recently became a film star, but Skellig Michael has a rich history all its own. An ancient monastery, lighthouses and the island's status as a bird sanctuary all make up …

Six Impossible Episodes by Request

December 4th, 2017

This installation of Six Impossible Episodes is a bit of a hodge podge, with several oft-requested topics. Included are Olive Yang, the Silent Parade of 1917, Glencoe Massacre, Marion Downs, Lena Himmelstein and the …

SYMHC Classics: The Halifax Explosion

December 2nd, 2017

Today, we're revisiting an episode from previous hosts Sarah and Deblina. The Halifax Explosion was one of history's worst man-made, non-nuclear explosions. The disaster killed about 2,000 people, and part of the city …

The Lumière Brothers, Part 2

November 29th, 2017

Despite the huge impact the Lumières made with their multi-function motion picture camera, they didn't stay in the movie business. Louis went back to …

The Lumière Brothers, Part 1

November 27th, 2017

The Lumières are often associated with early film technology, but that wasn't the only area where they innovated. This first of two parts covers …

SYMHC Classics: Sei Shonagon and the Heian Court

November 25th, 2017

Today we're revisiting a bit of Japanese history. Thanks to the pillow book of lady-in-waiting Sei Shonagon, we have a first-person account of court …

The Aberfan Disaster

November 22nd, 2017

In 1966, a mining disaster in Aberfan, Wales, killed 144 people. It was a completely preventable tragedy, but none of the victims were in the mine itself, and 116 of them were children.

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The War Between Great Britain and the Zulu Kingdom

November 20th, 2017

Great Britain’s efforts to control southern Africa eventually led to war with the Zulu Kingdom. A brutal series of engagements claimed the lives of …

SYMHC Classics: Edward Jenner, Father of Vaccines

November 18th, 2017

We're revisiting a classic episode, all about early strides in treating smallpox, which has been around longer than recorded history. Edward Jenner made great strides in eradicating it.

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Fort Shaw Indian School: Basketball Champions (pt. 2)

November 15th, 2017

In 1904, the Fort Shaw Indian School women’s basketball team spent four months at the St. Louis World’s Fair. The team performed mandolin recitals, …

Basketball Comes to Fort Shaw Indian School (pt. 1)

November 13th, 2017

The Fort Shaw Indian School was part of a boarding school system designed to make Native American students conform to white culture. In a surprising …

SYMHC Classics: Frances Glessner Lee and Tiny Forensics

November 11th, 2017

Today's show revisits the story of a Chicago heiress who helped develop forensic investigation standards still in use today. Her most notable contribution to the field came in the form of tiny homicide dioramas.

Learn …

Suffragists’ Night of Terror at the Occoquan Workhouse

November 8th, 2017

In November 1917, guards at the Occoquan Workhouse assaulted and terrorized 33 women from the National Woman’s Party. They were serving sentences for …

The Murder of William Desmond Taylor

November 6th, 2017

Even in its youth, Hollywood's rapidly growing film industry had a reputation for debauchery. When a high-profile director was murdered, it added to …

SYMHC Classics: The White Rose and Nazi Germany

November 4th, 2017

This week, we're revisiting an episode from previous hosts! During World War II, the Nazi party did not tolerate dissent, but some Germans did …

3 Reformation Women: Katharina, Marguerite & Jeanne

November 1st, 2017

Katharina von Bora, Marguerite d’Angoulême and Jeanne d’Albret all left their mark on the Reformation, but all in different ways. Each of them has a …

Carl Tanzler's Corpse Bride

October 30th, 2017

Carl Tanzler loved a woman, and his love for her continued long after her death. But whether she loved him back is a matter of dispute. Just the …

SYMHC Classics: New England Vampire Panic

October 28th, 2017

Today, in honor of Halloween weekend, we're revisiting an episode about vampirism. Starting in the late 1700s and, small rural communities in New England were sometimes stricken with a panicked fear that the dead were …

Edward Gorey

October 25th, 2017

Based just on his art, you might imagine Edward Gorey as a dour Englishman, with the peak of his career sometime in the 1920s or '30s, whose childhood was marked with a series of tragic deaths. But Gorey was none of …

Esther Cox and the Great Amherst Mystery

October 23rd, 2017

After a traumatic event, strange things began happening around Esther Cox. In the 1870s, Amherst, Nova Scotia was abuzz with theories as to whether …

SYMHC Classics: A Conspiracy Starring Aaron Burr

October 21st, 2017

We're revisiting an episode from previous hosts! After Aaron Burr slew Alexander Hamilton in the duel of 1804, his legislative career was over. In …

The Mysterious Disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston

October 18th, 2017

Aaron Burr's daughter was incredibly smart and very well educated. She also vanished without a trace as an adult, and her ultimate fate is still a …

SYMHC Live at NYCC: Rodolphe Töpffer and the First Comic Book

October 16th, 2017

Before there were superheroes, a Swiss teacher drew entertaining doodles for friends. As he developed his sketches into stories told with multiple …

SYMHC Classics: Building Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Pt. 2

October 14th, 2017

We're revisiting the second installment in the story of the Haunted Mansion. This one goes from concept to fully-realized theme park attraction and …

The Green Children of Woolpit

October 11th, 2017

In the 12th century, two children, green in color, appeared in Suffolk, England. The green children were written about in the 12th and 13th centuries …

SYMHC Live at SLCC: Lon Chaney, Man of a Thousand Faces

October 9th, 2017

Not only was he a star as an actor, he was famed for his use of makeup. He was passionate about completely transforming himself for each role, and …

SYMHC Classics: Building Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Pt. 1

October 7th, 2017

This classic episode dives into one of the most iconic Disney park attractions -- the Haunted Mansion. Its development process that was anything but …

U.S.S. Akron

October 4th, 2017

The loss of the U.S.S. Akron was the biggest single tragedy in aviation history at the time that it happened. But unless you’re an aviation or U.S. Navy history buff, you may not know much about this airborne aircraft …

The Mystery of the Devil’s Footprints

October 2nd, 2017

In February 1855, mysterious prints that looked like hoof marks appeared all over the English seaside county of Devon. But figuring out who or what made those prints is a puzzle that continues to befuddle people.

Learn …

SYMHC Classics: The Life of Johnny Appleseed

September 30th, 2017

The image of Johnny Appleseed walking around in rags, barefooted with a bindle, planting apple trees and moving on is actually pretty accurate. Join …

Hernandez v. Texas

September 27th, 2017

Hernandez v. Texas addressed civil rights for Mexican Americans, was the first case to be argued before the Supreme Court by Mexican American attorneys, and set a new precedent in how the 14th Amendment was interpreted …

The Crash at Crush and Other Train Wreck Spectacles

September 25th, 2017

For a brief window from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, people in the United States were watching train wrecks for fun. These staged spectacles …

SYMHC Classics: Dr. Livingstone, I Presume

September 23rd, 2017

We're revisiting the story of Dr. Livingstone as told by previous hosts! In this episode, Deblina and Sarah recount the adventures of Livingstone and …

Emin Pasha, I Presume? (Part 2)

September 20th, 2017

When we left off in part one, Emin Pasha had become governor of Equatoria in what's now South Sudan. But things took a dramatic turn in the 1880s, leading to Henry Morton Stanley mounting a relief expedition to go get …

Emin Pasha, né Eduard Schnitzer (Part 1)

September 18th, 2017

Emin Pasha's story connects to so many other historical things, particularly in the context of both the Ottoman Empire and African history. First, …

SYMHC Classics: Voynich Manuscript Update

September 16th, 2017

New theories have emerged that make it the right time to once again go back to an old favorite, the Voynich Manuscript. Since our Voynich Manuscript …

Marchesa Luisa Casati

September 13th, 2017

While many have admired heiress Casati over the years for her life led entirely based on her aesthetics, when you examine her biography, you find a woman who was incredibly selfish and was even described by close …

Five First Flights

September 11th, 2017

When people say the Wright Brothers were first to fly, they're talking about a very particular set of circumstances. There are other contenders to …

SYMHC Classics: Albert J. Tirrell, the First Sleepwalking Killer

September 9th, 2017

We're revisiting the murder of Mary Ann Bickford on Oct. 27, 1845. Her paramour Albert J. Tirrell was eventually charged with murder. Tirrell hired Rufus Choate to defend him, and Choate claimed his client had episodes …

Léonard Autié: Hair, Grandeur and Revolution, Pt. 2

September 6th, 2017

As Louis XVI's time as king was less and less stable in the face of the French Revolution, Léonard stepped away from the royal family and into his …

Léonard Autié: Hair, Grandeur and Revolution, Pt. 1

September 4th, 2017

Marie Antoinette's hairdresser set the styles of France during King Louis XVI's reign. But when he first arrived in Paris, he had almost nothing. Just how did he manage such a meteoric rise?

Learn more about your …

SYMHC Classics: Emu War of 1932

September 2nd, 2017

We're revisiting the story of large numbers of emus making their way through Australia, severely damaging wheat farms. The military tried to help, but may have just made things worse.

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The Sinking of the H.L. Hunley

August 30th, 2017

The story of the H.L. Hunley really begins with the Union blockade of the Confederacy during the Civil War, which was ordered less than a week after …

The Motherhood of Mamie Till-Mobley

August 28th, 2017

The reason Emmett Till's murder played such a consequential role in the Civil Rights movement is because of choices of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. …

SYMHC Classics: Wreck of the Ten Sail

August 26th, 2017

This episode revisits the biggest shipping disaster in Cayman Islands history, in which 10 ships went down together one night in 1794. Why would so …

John von Neumann

August 23rd, 2017

One man and his incredible intellect affected so many different disciplines. From game theory to computers to the Manhattan Project, von Neumann and his remarkable abilities helped shape the 20th century.

Learn more …

A Handful of Eclipses in History

August 21st, 2017

Humans have been recording instances of solar eclipses for thousands of years. Today, we're walking through some of the famous eclipses in history, …

SYMHC Classics: The Contentious Invention of the Sewing Machine

August 19th, 2017

We're revisiting our 2013 episode on the invention of the sewing machine and the epic patent battle associated with it. The mechanization of stitching happened by way of a series of inventions, several of which finally …

Frederic Tudor, the Ice King

August 16th, 2017

Tudor hatched a clever plan: In cold weather, he would harvest ice for cheap, and then sell it all around the world when it was hot, singlehandedly …

Charles VI of France: The Mad King

August 14th, 2017

France’s mad king Charles VI reigned in the middle of the Hundred Years War between England and France. While his early reign hinted at greatness, things soon spiraled downward.

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SYMHC Classics: The Origin of Cheeses

August 12th, 2017

We're revisiting a classic episode, about cheese! It's been around for more than 9,000 years. But how did humans learn to make it? And how did all the different types of cheese develop?

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The Kallikaks and the Eugenicists

August 9th, 2017

Spurred by the same fears, prejudices and societal issues that were driving the progressive movement in general, the eugenics movement in the U.S. focused on identifying, sequestering and even sterilizing people who …

The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857

August 7th, 2017

The Sepoy Rebellion was the result of many, many influences and stressors on the cultures of India living under British rule. In Britain, it's called …

SYMHC Classics: The Count of St. Germain

August 5th, 2017

We're revisiting a classic episode, all about the Count of Saint Germain. His story features teleportation, alchemy and even rumors of immortality. Was he a spy? A concealed royal? A skilled con man? Or just a …

Ibn Battuta, the Traveler of Islam

August 2nd, 2017

Ibn Battuta's 14th-century travels were extensive. He was away from home for roughly 24 years and during that time traveled through virtually every Muslim nation and territory, becoming the traveler of the age.

Learn …

Frederick Douglass

July 31st, 2017

Frederick Douglass was an orator, writer, statesman and social reformer. His early life shaped the truly remarkable advocate he became, and the two …

SYMHC Classics: Jane Austen

July 29th, 2017

We're revisiting a classic episode, all about Jane Austen. She was not a shy spinster who wrote some little books mostly to amuse her own family, and she wasn't a real-life Elizabeth Bennett. Her life was very different …

Carry A. Nation, Part 2

July 26th, 2017

After her initial "smashings," Carry A. Nation became a full-time activist, traveling from town to town to destroy saloons and preach temperance. She …

Carry A. Nation, Part 1

July 24th, 2017

Several events in Carry Nation's early life catalyzed her temperance activism. Her marriages and her faith were particularly important in shaping the …

The Evacuation of Dunkirk

July 19th, 2017

With a huge number of British Expeditionary Force troops stranded in one location, a massive evacuation operation was undertaken. While it was considered a success, the costs to the Allies were high.

Learn more about …

The Battle of France and the Flight to Dunkirk

July 17th, 2017

Retellings of the Dunkirk rescue often leave out how the Allied forces got into such a predicament, with a huge part of the British Expeditionary Force stranded. Today, we'll talk about the lead-up to WWII and its …

NASA History: Chief Historian Bill Barry on Hugh Dryden

July 12th, 2017

The NASA space program likely wouldn't be what it is today without the work Hugh Dryden did before NASA even existed, and his guidance in its early …

Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun

July 10th, 2017

Despite growing up in a convent and coming very close to taking religious vows as a nun, Catalina de Erauso wound up living a life of danger and adventure. A lot of today's episode falls into the general category of …

William Hogarth

July 5th, 2017

In the early 18th century, an engraver-turned-artist made his mark on the art world by producing satirical prints in series that commented on …

Unearthed! in July 2017!

July 3rd, 2017

It's time for another mid-year edition of Unearthed! The show covers new research and information about the Lions of Tsavo, human taxidermy, a photo …

The Eastland Disaster

June 28th, 2017

The Eastland disaster was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in American history. And in this particular case, safety regulations actually made …

Roses Through Time

June 26th, 2017

Humans have painted roses, written about them, and assigned them symbolic meaning for centuries. But this much-beloved flower predates mankind, and …

A Brief History of Veterinary Medicine

June 21st, 2017

Animals and humans have been living together for centuries, but standardized veterinary care developed over a long period of time in many different places.

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The Cuyahoga River's Last Fires

June 19th, 2017

In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, not for the first time, but for the last time. This event is often credited with helping pass the Clean Water Act and inspire the creation of the Environmental …

The Extinction of the Stephens Island Wren

June 14th, 2017

The extinction of one New Zealand bird species is often attributed to a single cat. While feline predation played a significant role in the end of …

William Moulton Marston & the Creation of Wonder Woman

June 12th, 2017

Most people know Wonder Woman as an embodiment of truth and justice, but don't know much about the comic's earlier years or its creator. Marston lived an unconventional life, and in many ways, Wonder Woman was an …

Louis Riel

June 7th, 2017

Riel was labeled both a traitor and a hero in his time. His work as a political leader for the Métis Nation in the Red River Rebellion led to the …

Annette Kellerman

June 5th, 2017

Australian Kellerman gets a lot of the credit for developing the women's one-piece bathing suit. But she was also a competitive swimmer, as well as a vaudeville and film star who designed her own mermaid costumes.

Learn …

Maria Sibylla Merian

May 31st, 2017

As a naturalist illustrator, Maria Sibylla Merian helped dispel many entomological myths and improved the scientific study of insects and plants, and …

The Ladies of Llangollen

May 29th, 2017

In the late 18th century, Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler, also known as the Ladies of Llangollen, abandoned their life in the upper tiers of …

The Scopes Trial

May 24th, 2017

The Scopes Trial, aka the Monkey Trial, played out in Dayton, Tennessee, in the summer of 1925. It all stemmed from a state law prohibiting the …

Hitler’s Early Rise and the Night of the Long Knives

May 22nd, 2017

Over the course of several days in 1934, Adolf Hitler, who was at the time the Nazi Party Leader and Reich Chancellor, directed an action which …


May 17th, 2017

While he's known primarily as the astronomer who promoted the idea of a heliocentric solar system, Copernicus was also a master mathematician and a …

Six Impossible Episodes: Soldiers, Snipers and Spies

May 15th, 2017

This installment of our impossible episodes series features a set of stories that are all about front-line heroism. Most of them are listener requests.

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Horace de Vere Cole and the Dreadnought Hoax

May 10th, 2017

Cole was a lifelong prankster, but none of his stunts could compare with his scheme to gain access to the HMS Dreadnought by getting his friends -- …

The Philadelphia MOVE Bombing

May 8th, 2017

The MOVE organization is often labeled as a black liberation group or a black power group, but it’s more complex than that. After a protracted, …

The Kentucky Derby's First 50 Years

May 3rd, 2017

Although horse racing in general has been around much longer than the Kentucky Derby, including in the United States, the Derby itself has become the nation's most famous and prestigious horse racing event.

Learn more …

The Cato Street Conspiracy

May 1st, 2017

Urbanization and mechanization, and all the downsides they brought with them, had continued in Great Britain in the years since the Luddite Rebellion. In response, a radical group plotted to assassinate the Prime …

Abbott and Costello, Part 2

April 26th, 2017

Abbott and Costello made it big in Hollywood during WWII, but the later part of their career together was beset by tragedy, money issues and personal …

Abbott and Costello, Part 1

April 24th, 2017

The comedy team of Abbott and Costello created some of the most memorable sketches in history. Their perfectly balanced energy catapulted them from …

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study

April 19th, 2017

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is one of the modern world's most infamous incidents of unethical medical research. The study's researchers told its …

Walt Whitman, Poet of Democracy

April 17th, 2017

Whitman is often touted as the best and most important poet in U.S. history, but he also worked as a teacher and a journalist. And his poetry career …

A Brief History of Foreign Food in the U.S.

April 12th, 2017

One of the most diverse things about the U.S. is its food industry. Foodies obsessively seek out the “authentic” flavors of any given culture. But …

Three Nuclear Close Calls

April 10th, 2017

There have been many moments in history when the world came perilously close to a full-scale nuclear war, due to false alarms or miscommunication. …

Prospect Park, Part 2

April 5th, 2017

In our second episode about Brooklyn's 150-year-old public park, we interview three guests, each with a unique knowledge of the park's history and …

Prospect Park, Part 1

April 3rd, 2017

Brooklyn's massive public green space tells the historical story of its community. From an undeveloped tract of land, the space was developed to become an Olmsted and Vaux masterpiece.

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Live From Salt Lake Comic Con FanX: H.P. Lovecraft

March 29th, 2017

Writer H.P. Lovecraft created worlds and stories that continue to be influential more than 80 years after his death. His life story is at turns odd, sad, problematic and utterly fascinating.

Learn more about your …

Aphra Behn, Writer and Spy

March 27th, 2017

There's really not a lot concretely known about the life of Aphra Behn, who, in addition to being a spy, was a dramatist, poet, novelist, translator, and the first woman in English literature known to have made her …

Mongolian Princess Khutulun

March 22nd, 2017

Khutulun's story is a little bit cloudy, in part because it’s many hundreds of years old, and in part because accounts of her life involve a …

Jules Cotard and the Syndrome Named After Him

March 20th, 2017

Jules Cotard was the first psychiatrist to write about the cluster of symptoms that would come to be called “Walking Corpse Syndrome.” But his work …

The New London School Explosion

March 15th, 2017

This was one of the worst disasters in Texas history, the worst school disaster in U.S. history, and it was a horrific tragedy that stemmed from a …

The King's Evil and the Royal Touch

March 13th, 2017

The practice of the monarch laying on hands to cure sick people lasted from the medieval period all the way to the 18th century in Britain and …

Speaking With Auschwitz Survivor Michael Bornstein

March 8th, 2017

Holly interviews Michael Bornstein and his daughter Debbie Bornstein Holinstat about their book "Survivors Club." The book chronicles the story of …

Lady Jane Grey, the Nine-day Queen

March 6th, 2017

For a very short time between Edward VI and Mary I, Lady Jane was, at least nominally, Queen of England and Ireland, but whether she had any right to the title is still the subject of dispute.

Learn more about your …

John Kidwell and the Founding of Hawaii’s Pineapple Industry

February 27th, 2017

From his start as an apprentice to a nurseryman in London, John Kidwell would go on to catalyze the establishment of Hawaii’s pineapple industry. His …

Interview: Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

February 27th, 2017

Dr. Gates joins Holly to talk about history's impact on our future, Black History Month, and his upcoming PBS series "Africa's Great Civilizations."

Jamaica's Maroon Wars

February 22nd, 2017

Maroons are Africans and people of African ancestry who escaped enslavement and established communities in the Caribbean and parts of the Americas. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Jamaica's Maroon communities clashed …

Bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple

February 20th, 2017

Rabbi Jacob Rothschild was a vocal activist who spoke out for civil rights despite the danger in doing so. White supremacists bombed The Temple in Atlanta in a direct reaction to Rothschild's work for equality.

Learn …

Executive Order 9066 & Japanese Internments, Part 2

February 15th, 2017

After Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, people were incarcerated in inadequate and dehumanizing camps. Even …

Executive Order 9066 & Japanese Internments, Part 1

February 13th, 2017

Roughly 122,000 Japanese immigrants and American citizens of Japanese ancestry were removed from their homes on the West Coast and incarcerated for …

The Women's March on Versailles

February 8th, 2017

In 1789, a group of protesters -- mostly women -- marched from Paris to Versailles to pressure King Louis XVI to address France's food shortage.

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Ira Frederick Aldridge, Famous Unknown Shakespearean

February 6th, 2017

He was one of the first Americans to achieve fame as a Shakespearean actor — and the first black man to do so, becoming a famous figure on the Victorian stage. But Aldridge has largely been excluded from biographies of …

Lucille Ball

February 1st, 2017

Lucille Ball was the grande dame of American comedy. The famed star worked in modeling, radio and film, but she really made her mark in television, and her work set the standard for the TV sitcom.

Learn more about your …

Ed Roberts and the Independent Living Movement

January 30th, 2017

Ed Roberts was a disability rights activist, known as the father of the Independent Living movement. That movement combines advocacy, resources and …

Inês de Castro and Pedro I of Portugal

January 25th, 2017

When Prince Pedro of Portugal was married off in the 1300s, he only had eyes for his new wife's lady in waiting. The story of Inês and Pedro's love has everything: romance, deception, murder, and a corpse crowned as …

African Art History With Carol Thompson

January 23rd, 2017

Holly is joined in the studio by Carol Thompson, Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art at the High Museum of Art. Carol shares her incredible …

Great Zimbabwe

January 18th, 2017

Great Zimbabwe was a massive stone city in southeastern Africa that was a thriving trade center from the 11th to 15th centuries. But when Europeans first learned of it in the 16th century, they were certain it wasn't …

Maria Montessori

January 16th, 2017

While she's mostly associated with education, Maria Montessori worked in several fields. Her theories on early education still shape the way kids learn today around the globe.

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Edmonia Lewis

January 11th, 2017

The American sculptor was a celebrated artist in her day, but she receded from the spotlight; her final years remained a mystery for quite some time. …

Henry Dunant, Founder of the Red Cross

January 9th, 2017

After witnessing the brutality of a battle first-hand, Swiss-born Dunant dedicated his life to easing the suffering brought by war. But he did so at great cost to his personal life.

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Beer History with Erik Lars Myers

January 4th, 2017

Erik Lars Myers, founder, CEO and head brewer at Mystery Brewing Company, talks about the history of beer, including how it connects to charity, …

Unearthed! in 2016, Part 2

January 2nd, 2017

Part two of our annual roundup of unearthed news is a bit of a hodgepodge. It features identifications, very large finds, edible finds, art and letters, and some historical debunkings. And of course, we have everyone's …

Unearthed! in 2016, Part 1

December 28th, 2016

It's time to talk about all the things that were unearthed in 2016! This first of two episodes covers stuff it seems like happens every year, things …

Unearthed! Piltdown Man

December 26th, 2016

The Piltdown Man is one of the world’s most infamous instances of scientific fraud, and it derailed the study of evolution for decades. How exactly …

Maccabean Revolt

December 21st, 2016

The uprising of the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire during the Hellenistic period is an integral part of the Hanukkah story. After the …

The Krampus and Friends Holiday Special, Part 3

December 19th, 2016

Since last year's episodes on non-Santa holiday figures were so popular, there's another installment for 2016! This time around, Frau Perchta, …

Belinda Sutton's Post-enslavement Petitions

December 14th, 2016

After she became a free woman, Belinda Sutton successfully petitioned for compensation for her years of enslaved labor. This was one of many legal …

An Interview With Sears Historian Jerry Hancock

December 12th, 2016

Jerry, a Sears scholar and history teacher, joins Holly in the studio to talk about the historical significance of the building where HowStuffWorks …

The Palmer Raids, Part 2

December 7th, 2016

After a bombing attack on his home, Attorney General Palmer launched a series of raids on perceived threats to national security. Thousands of people were rounded up, many without cause or warrant, and kept in …

The Palmer Raids, Part 1

December 5th, 2016

After WWI, there was a great deal of social unrest in the United States. Additionally, there was a fear that Communist revolutionaries would try to …

Alabama Governor George Wallace

November 30th, 2016

Wallace was one of the most prominent voices against the Civil Rights Movement and its objectives. He spent multiple campaigns for both governor and …

Rejected Princesses with Jason Porath

November 28th, 2016

Author and illustrator Jason Porath joins Tracy and Holly in the studio to talk about women from history featured in his new book, including the …

The Dakota War of 1862 and the Whitestone Hill Massacre

November 23rd, 2016

In 1862, murder led to war between the Dakota and the United States. What followed was a campaign of retribution against multiple indigenous peoples, …

James Webb and NASA’s Early Days

November 21st, 2016

People are often surprised to learn that the namesake for the James Webb Space Telescope wasn't a scientist or engineer, but a lawyer and a bureaucrat. He was NASA's second administrator, and led the agency through …

The Attica Prison Uprising (Part 2)

November 16th, 2016

The riot at Attica Correctional Facility in September 1971, demanding better living conditions and basic human rights, remains a significant moment in the history of the U.S. prison system. But many of the problems that …

Life at Attica, 1971 (Part 1)

November 14th, 2016

Attica Correctional Facility originally opened in rural, upstate New York in 1931. In 1971, conditions at the prison were at a point where they were humiliating, dehumanizing and counterproductive to rehabilitation.

The First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable

November 9th, 2016

Establishing a submarine telegraph cable to connect North America and Europe took ingenuity, but more than anything else, it required tenacity. There were numerous stumbling blocks before there was finally a direct …

Six Impossible Episodes: Déjà Vu Edition

November 7th, 2016

We often get requests for topics that are so similar to existing episodes that they would sound like repeats. Here are six that will probably sound …

The Reynolds Pamphlet Live from NYCC Presents

November 2nd, 2016

In the summer of 1791, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Maria Reynolds began an affair that would lead to blackmail, political …

The Hagley Woods Murder

October 31st, 2016

In 1943, a skeleton was found in a tree near Birmingham, England. More than 70 years later, it's still unknown who the deceased was and how the body ended up in an elm tree.

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A Cruise Through History's Ghost Ships

October 26th, 2016

There have been numerous instances of ships found adrift with no one on board. Four of those nautical mysteries are featured here, with some truly …

Vincent Price: A Talk With His Daughter Victoria Price

October 24th, 2016

If you only know of Vincent Price from his films, you may be surprised by his rich life story. Victoria Price joins the show to talk about her famous father and his life beyond the silver screen.

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Interview: Anne Byrn's 'American Cake'

October 19th, 2016

Baking expert Anne Byrn joins Holly to talk about the place of cake in U.S. history, from the early colonies right up to the modern era. The …

Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol

October 17th, 2016

From 1897 to 1962, a small theater in Paris gave became famous for its grisly, terrifying plays. The Theatre du Grand Gignol became a cultural …

The Orphan Tsunami

October 12th, 2016

In January of 1700, a tsunami struck the coast of Japan. While the connection between earthquakes and tsunamis was known, it actually took a very long time to figure out where the catalyzing earthquake had taken place.

Vardø Witch Trials

October 10th, 2016

At the height of Europe's witch trials, the northern coast of Norway had a disproportionate number of executions for sorcery. The small fishing community in the Arctic circle staged 140 trials, and sentenced 91 of the …

The Bell Witch

October 5th, 2016

In the early 1800s, a family in Tennessee allegedly experienced what seemed to be a haunting on their family farm. Many narratives have blossomed from the Bell Witch story, but when you really try to look at the facts, …

The Cod Wars

October 3rd, 2016

Fishing plays vital role in the culture and economy of both the United Kingdom and Iceland. A dispute between the countries over fishing territory …

SLCC Live! Robber's Roost, Outlaw Hideout

September 28th, 2016

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, a chunk of rough and unwelcoming stretch of territory in the Canyonlands area east of the Dirty Devil River became a safe haven for scoundrels, including Butch …

The New Orleans 1900 Race Riot

September 26th, 2016

In July 1900, an interaction between New Orleans police and two black men set off a chain of horrific events. A man hunt, bloodthirsty mobs and …

SLCC Live! How Historical Fiction Gets Made

September 21st, 2016

Tracy and Holly were joined by authors Bryan Young, E.B. Wheeler and Brian McClellan during Salt lake Comic Con for a talk about how authors weave …

Mary Alice Nelson, aka Molly Spotted Elk

September 19th, 2016

Molly was born on Indian Island, Maine, and she turned to dance to help her family make ends meet. But because audiences and companies in the U.S. …

Live at the DMA: Pierre de Coubertin and the Modern Olympics

September 14th, 2016

Coubertin had a vision to unite the world through sport, and he eventually managed to launch the modern Olympic Games. But those first few times out, things weren't always smooth.

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John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

September 12th, 2016

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, set out to create an armed revolution of emancipated slaves. Instead, it became a tipping point leading …

The Montgolfier Brothers and Their Balloons

September 7th, 2016

As man was looking to the skies and yearning to fly, two inventive brothers came up with an idea to set humans aloft. The Montgolfiers were among …

The London Match Girls Strike of 1888

September 5th, 2016

The London Match Girls Strike of 1888 was an important labor rights event in Britain. Women working in a match factory took a stand against hazardous and unfair working conditions, and impacted organized labor in the …

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with John B. King

August 31st, 2016

Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. discusses the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which gave rebelling states 100 days to return to …

Thomas Day’s Quest for the Perfect Wife

August 29th, 2016

Eighteenth-century Englishman Thomas Day decided that the only way to have a perfect wife was to create one. So he adopted two orphans and attempted to train them, sometimes in incredibly abusive ways.

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The Boy Jones, After Buckingham

August 24th, 2016

Even though Edward Jones served two prison sentences for his intrusions into Buckingham palace, it seems that the authorities were willing to do almost anything to keep him away from London.

Learn more about your …

The Boy Jones, Queen Victoria's Persistent Intruder

August 22nd, 2016

Not long after young Victoria became queen, a young man got into Buckingham Palace, wandered around, and attempted to steal several items. It was …

Anglo-Cherokee War

August 17th, 2016

During the French and Indian War, a clash between Cherokee tribes and the British -- who had been allies -- slowly escalated on the southern end of the larger conflict.

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Anne Bonny & Mary Read

August 15th, 2016

Famed lady pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read are often requested as a topic by listeners. But telling their story requires navigating some rather suspect historical accounts.

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Yosemite and James Hutchings, Pt. 2

August 10th, 2016

Because he saw himself as Yosemite's ambassador, Hutchings was surprised when the state of California told him his land claim was invalid. He fought …

Yosemite and James Hutchings, Pt. 1

August 8th, 2016

Once Yosemite had been seen by white men, it became the focus of a great deal of attention, both for its natural wonders and for the potential money to be made there. James Hutchings spent the majority of his life …

Bracero Program

August 3rd, 2016

For parts of the 20th century, the U.S. and Mexico had agreements in place allowing, and even encouraging, Mexican nationals to enter the U.S. to …

Butter v. Margarine

August 1st, 2016

Industries and governments had a really weird preoccupation with protecting people from margarine way before it was made with the hydrogenated oils that led to its unhealthy reputation in more recent years. There's even …

Isaac Merrit Singer

July 27th, 2016

While his name is most strongly associated with the sewing machine, Isaac Singer's life is a tale far beyond the story of mechanized stitching. A philanderer and cut throat businessman, Singer managed to accrue huge …

Desmond T. Doss

July 25th, 2016

Doss was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, though he's not the only one. Two other men, Thomas W. Bennett and Joseph G. LaPointe, Jr. also showed tremendous valor and received the same …

U.S. Contraband Camps

July 20th, 2016

When three escaped slaves showed up at a Union position during the U.S. Civil War, the decision of how to handle the situation fell to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. His actions led to a situation for which the government …

Unearthed! in July!

July 18th, 2016

We're halfway through the year, and we have SO MANY unearthed items already! So, after polling listeners, we're adding a mid-year edition of our …

Aviatrix Lilian Bland

July 13th, 2016

Miss Bland was a jockey, a sports photographer, a journalist, a car dealer and a pioneer farmer. She also built Ireland's first powered airplane, …

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

July 11th, 2016

She was a black Canadian-American who became the first woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper. She advocated against slavery, for better lives for free black people, and for women's rights.

Learn more …

The Late Victorian Manure Crisis

July 6th, 2016

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many cities were facing the same issue: so much horse manure, they couldn't keep up with it. It created unhygienic …

The Jacobite Rising of 1745

July 4th, 2016

Portrayals of this piece of Scottish and English history are often simultaneously romanticized and oversimplified. It's a great deal more complicated …

The Discovery of 'Planet' Ceres

June 29th, 2016

For a long time, astronomers believed that there must have been a planet lurking in the gap between Mars and Jupiter. What they found was Ceres, and this object's story is one of scientific cattiness and our …

The Achaemenid Empire

June 27th, 2016

The Achaemenid Empire was founded by Cyrus II in the 6th century B.C.E., and it became an empire unlike any the world had seen up to that point.

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Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement (Part 2)

June 22nd, 2016

Because of his previous ties to the Communist Party, his race, and his sexual orientation, the McCarthy era was extremely dangerous for Rustin. This was one of many reasons why his activism focused on other countries in …

Bayard Rustin, 'Angelic Troublemaker' (Part 1)

June 20th, 2016

Bayard Rustin was an openly gay black man born in 1912. He spent his life working tirelessly for equal rights, peace, democracy, and economic equality, including being one of the primary planners of the 1963 March on …

Harriet Tubman, Union Spy (Part 2)

June 15th, 2016

There was a whole lot more to Harriet Tubman's life and work than her time as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. During the United States Civil …

Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad (Part 1)

June 13th, 2016

Most people are familiar with her involvement with the Underground Railroad, but Harriet Tubman was also a spy for the Union during the Civil War, …

Raymond Bessone, Mister Teasie-Weasie

June 8th, 2016

British hair guru Raymond Bessone became the first celebrity hair stylist by leveraging the post-war desire for glamour and his own innate skill at marketing. His larger-than-life persona and skill with shears made his …

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

June 6th, 2016

She's sometimes called the patron saint of cats, and the story of Gertrude's religious devotion starts when she was just a young child. Her family's …

The Eruption at Heimaey

June 1st, 2016

In 1973, after a series of earthquakes, a fissure opened up on the eastern side of the Icelandic island of Heimaey. As the eruption developed over time, it became more dangerous, and a variety of measures were …

The Women of Bauhaus

May 30th, 2016

While the Bauhaus school is well known, and its original manifesto proclaimed an environment of equality, most of the women who went to the school …

April Calahan on France's Fashionable Resistance

May 25th, 2016

Fashion historian April Calahan joined Holly for a talk about the surprising ways that women of France protested German occupation during WWII.

Learn …

Tarrare, a Case of Polyphagia

May 23rd, 2016

Insatiable hunger completely dominated every aspect of this French man's existence in the 18th century. His life took a series of twists and turns, …

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

May 18th, 2016

No starving artist, Vigée Le Brun was the first woman to ever become a court painter in France when she was commissioned to paint Marie Antoinette. She painted royalty and nobility throughout Europe, even as her …

Six Impossible Episodes: Possible Apocrypha

May 16th, 2016

We get a lot of requests for topics that are very interesting, but for which there's very little information. In some cases, those people or events …

Hercules Mulligan, Spy on the Inside Pt. 2

May 11th, 2016

After years of protesting and resisting British rule in New York, Mulligan passed important information on to George Washington, possibly saving his …

Hercules Mulligan, Spy on the Inside Pt. 1

May 9th, 2016

Hercules Mulligan was indeed a real person who passed intelligence to George Washington, mostly through two means - one was an enslaved man named …

Women in the USPS

May 4th, 2016

Women have been part of mail delivery in the U.S. since colonial times, but it took centuries for women postal workers to become commonplace. Even …

Live From FanX: Nazis, the Occult and Indiana Jones

May 2nd, 2016

It's fairly common knowledge that the Nazis were prolific looters and that there was occult interest among the officers of the organization. How …

Live From FanX: Salt Lake City's Place in Film History

April 27th, 2016

You may not know that Salt Lake City has been home to some key moments in film history. Guest host Bryan Young joins Holly to talk about everything …

A Brief History of the 'White Wedding'

April 25th, 2016

Have you ever wondered why so many of today's weddings feature white dresses, tiered cakes and registries for silver and dishes? Queen Victoria (and the rest of her era) get a lot of the credit.

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The Easter Rising of 1916

April 20th, 2016

The Easter Rising is considered to be one of the most pivotal events in modern Irish history, and it was a precursor to a number of other events that have happened since then, both within and outside of Ireland.

Learn …

A History of Pizza Live at C2E2

April 18th, 2016

Pizza-like foods go way, way back in history, long before we associated the delicious dish with Italy. How did pizza's pedigree develop, and how did it get to its second home in the U.S.?

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Oliver Haugh, Serial Killer Pt. 2

April 13th, 2016

After his parents' home burned down under mysterious circumstances, Oliver Haugh was put on trial for murder. Haugh did little to help his own case, …

Oliver Haugh, Serial Killer Pt. 1

April 11th, 2016

In his early career Dr. Haugh claimed to be working on the next step in human evolution. But he was really a man enslaved by his addiction to cocaine …

The Shared Sign Language of Martha's Vineyard

April 6th, 2016

By the early 18th century, it was not uncommon for people in Martha's Vineyard to be deaf from birth. This had a profound effect on the culture of …

Interview: Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso

April 4th, 2016

Dr. Kali Nicole Gross joins Tracy to discuss a murder that took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1887. The details of the investigation and …

Zheng He and the Treasure Ships

March 30th, 2016

Zheng He led expeditionary voyages from China in the 15th century. While there are many tall tales about his accomplishments, his actual life was …

The Tupac Amaru Rebellion

March 28th, 2016

The Tupac Amaru rebellion was a conflict between Spain and its colonies in South America which took place from 1780 to 1783.

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WASP of WWII with Dr. Katherine Sharp Landdeck, Part 2

March 23rd, 2016

The duties of the women of the WASP evolved over time, and some of them were quite dangerous. And once the program ended, there were -- and still are …

WASP of WWII with Dr. Katherine Sharp Landdeck, Part 1

March 21st, 2016

The Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII was formed to see if women could fly military aircraft, and potentially free up male noncombat pilots to …

Knitting's Early History

March 16th, 2016

Because of its functionality in providing needed clothing for humans, knitting has been around for a long time. Exactly how long isn't entirely clear, but we do know a good bit about how knitting has traveled with us …

Denmark's Early Royalty and the Jelling Stones

March 14th, 2016

The beginning of Denmark's monarchy more than a thousand years ago is linked to two large rune stones at Jelling. Is it possible that the stones were part of an effort on Harald Blåtand's part to revise the history of …

The Crescent Hotel and Norman Baker

March 9th, 2016

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is home to a beautiful Victorian hotel with a long and winding history. A colorful part of that history involves a man who …

Hildegard von Bingen

March 7th, 2016

Hildegard was a Christian mystic of medieval Europe who was way, way ahead of her time. If she had lived a few hundred years later, and been male, …

Leprosy and the Ko'olau Rebellion

March 2nd, 2016

When Hansen's disease was introduced to Hawaii, businessmen, especially from the U.S., were having an increasing influence on the Hawaiian government. That influence directly affected how Hawaii handled the disease.

The Great Vowel Shift, or A Brief History of English

February 29th, 2016

Language is alive. It shifts and changes; pronunciations and spellings morph throughout time. English is no exception.

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China and Japan After the Doolittle Raid

February 24th, 2016

After the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, the punishment that Japanese forces doled out in China for their part in helping the U.S. was brutal and …

The Crayola Crayon Story

February 22nd, 2016

It's now a childhood classic, but the modern Crayola crayon has roots in the same company where carbon black was made for car tires at the turn of …

Robert Smalls: From Contraband to Congress

February 17th, 2016

After his daring and impressive escape from slavery, Smalls was considered to be contraband, which was a term used for formerly enslaved people who joined the Union. But this was the beginning of an impressive career as …

The Incredible Escape of Robert Smalls

February 15th, 2016

Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1839. He escaped from enslavement during the U.S. Civil War, in a particularly …

Jimmy Doolittle and the Doolittle Raid

February 10th, 2016

The Doolittle Raid was an attack on Japan launched by the U.S. in retaliation for Pearl Harbor. But the leader of the mission was a legend long …

A Brief History of the Pietà

February 8th, 2016

While Michelangelo's sculpture of Mary holding the deceased body of Christ is the most famous depiction of that moment in art, that scene has been …

The Vanport Flood

February 3rd, 2016

On May 30, 1948, a flood destroyed Vanport, Oregon. What really makes the story more than a historical footnote is how it tied in to the racial makeup of both Portland and Oregon at the time.

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The Bawdy House Riots of 1668

February 1st, 2016

In early modern London, there was a tradition of sorts where apprentices would amass on holidays and physically destroy brothels. One of the largest …

Queen Victoria: The Lady Hastings Scandal

January 27th, 2016

Queen Victoria reigned for more than six decades, but her early years as ruler were peppered with a number of disastrous missteps. By participating …

The Honey War

January 25th, 2016

The Honey War wasn't really about honey. It was a dispute over state lines. There are some bee trees in the mix, as well as some truly sub-par …

Courrières Mine Disaster of 1906

January 20th, 2016

One of the worst mining tragedies in history, the explosion that sent fire through the Courrières mine tunnels claimed more than a thousand lives. It also created awareness of dangerous issues in mines that hadn't …

The Schoolhouse Blizzard

January 18th, 2016

In 1888, a blizzard so sudden and severe hit the American Midwest and claimed the lives of hundreds, some of whom died just outside the safety of shelter. Weather prediction of the fast-moving storm simply didn't reach …

Dame Nellie Melba, Part 2

January 13th, 2016

The second part of our episode on the Australian diva focuses on her career in the early 1900s, her charity work and her belief that singers had to work -- and work hard -- to be constantly perfecting their technique.

Dame Nellie Melba, Part 1

January 11th, 2016

Born Helen Porter Mitchell in Melbourne, Australia in 1861, Nellie Melba would rise to fame as a singer. Her life was everything you'd expect from a …

Author Interview: Fashion History With April Calahan

January 6th, 2016

April has two books out about fashion history, one featuring historical fashion plates, and another on the pochoir technique used to create fashion illustrations in the early 20th century.

Learn more about your …

Unearthed in 2015, Part 2

January 4th, 2016

More of the 2015 news items of historical significance! The second part of this topic includes firearms, letters, blackboards, sculpture and of …

Unearthed in 2015, Part 1

December 30th, 2015

As has become an annual tradition on the show, we're capping off 2015/starting 2016 with a roundup of things that have been unearthed, either figuratively or literally, over the year. Read the show notes here.

Learn …

The Whiskey Rebellion

December 28th, 2015

Resistance to excise taxes levied against U.S. whiskey distilleries in the 1790s led to violence and rebellion. Tensions finally came to a head on …

The Krampus and Friends Holiday Special, Part 2

December 23rd, 2015

In addition to the characters we talked about on our last episode, there are even more colorful holiday traditions that may be a bit surprising to …

The Krampus and Friends Holiday Special, Part 1

December 21st, 2015

Krampus has become really popular in recent years, but there are many holiday characters from various cultures around the world that all have …

The Disappearance of the Sodder Children

December 16th, 2015

The Sodder family's West Virginia home caught fire on Christmas Eve, 1945. Five of the children were never seen again, though their bodies weren't recovered from the rubble.

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Our Most-requested Episodes (We Already Have)

December 14th, 2015

We often get episode requests, but because there are so many episodes in the back catalog, some of the most common requests have already been covered. So in today's podcast we're going to hit the highlights on the …

Katharine Dexter McCormick: The Money Behind the Pill

December 9th, 2015

Katharine McCormick made her mark in two different areas: She was a big part of the movement for women's suffrage in the U.S. And, she was a huge - and for a while, almost entirely forgotten - part of the development of …

The Road to the Declaration of Sentiments

December 7th, 2015

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott met in London in 1840 and bonded instantly over a shared anger at injustices against women. Their friendship led to the creation the Women's Rights Convention in 1848, and the …

A Brief History of Diving Technology

December 2nd, 2015

Humans have always longed to explore underwater, but the need to breathe air has been an obstacle. From as far back as the 4th century B.C.E., clever …

The Gallipoli Campaign

November 30th, 2015

One of the most infamous aspects of World War I was its long, brutal stalemate along the enormous system of trenches known as the Western Front. The …

Sophia Duleep Singh, Part 2: Suffragette Princess

November 25th, 2015

Sophia Duleep Singh's education was focused on turning her into a proper lady, in line with her status as a princess. But she also became deeply …

Sophia Duleep Singh, Part 1: Princess In Exile

November 23rd, 2015

A princess of the Sikh empire, Sophia Duleep Singh grew up in Great Britain, and was Queen Victoria's god daughter. But her childhood was not exactly …

St. Clair's Defeat, or the Battle of a Thousand Slain

November 18th, 2015

In 1791, a confederation of Native American tribes destroyed about half of the American army. The catalyst for that conflict was a lengthy period in which unfair treaties, biased against native peoples, were all too …

Durable' Mike Malloy

November 16th, 2015

In 1932, a speakeasy owner and several friends planned to commit a murder to cash in fraudulent insurance policies. But carrying out their plot was …

NY Super Week LIVE: Assassination History Pt. 2

November 11th, 2015

Part two of our live show is the Q&A portion of the evening. Our audience asked such amazing and insightful questions that it resulted in some …

NY Super Week LIVE: Assassination History Pt. 1

November 9th, 2015

In October, we went to New York Super Week for our first live show! Joining us was author Bryan Young, who wrote a book about presidential …

The Life and Times of Sir Isaac Newton

November 4th, 2015

You may know the apple/gravity story, but Isaac Newton's life was so much more than that. Not only did he contribute huge concepts to physics, mathematics and astronomy, he also busted counterfeiters.

Learn more about …

The Harlem Hellfighters and Henry Johnson

November 2nd, 2015

In WWI, a black U.S. Army unit became one of the most decorated of the war. When these soldiers returned home, they were greeted as heroes, but were …

Gilles Garnier, the Werewolf of Dole

October 28th, 2015

Sixteenth-century France had a serious case of werewolf panic. Did Garnier really transform into lupine form and attack and eat humans? Or were the …

A Brief History of Moonshine

October 26th, 2015

People have fermented foods to make alcohol for much of human history. For this episode, when we refer to "moonshine," we're talking specifically …

History Mysteries Double Feature

October 21st, 2015

Two troubling tales from the 1920s share the stage in this episode. First, newlyweds that vanished on what would have been a historic boating trip. …

Author Interview: Jason Surrell and The Haunted Mansion

October 19th, 2015

To celebrate the Halloween season with a little Disney flair, Holly chatted with the author of "The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic" …

Linda Hazzard and Starvation Heights

October 14th, 2015

Hazzard had no medical training but called herself a doctor. Her patients often signed over all their money to her, gave her their jewelry, and made her their legal guardian, even as she starved them to death in a …

Sir Christopher Lee

October 12th, 2015

Christopher Lee wasn't just a film star - he was, by any account, an amazing man. He spoke multiple languages, was an incredible singer and had …

A Brief History of Redlining, Part 2

October 7th, 2015

Part two of this discussion of redlining explores the language that assessors used when making color-coded maps of neighborhoods in segregated …

A Brief History of Redlining, Part 1

October 5th, 2015

Redlining is a word used to describe a lot of different patterns of economic discrimination. But during the Great Depression, real estate-related discrimination included systemized grading of neighborhoods based on the …

A Historically Inspired Gentleman's Wardrobe

September 30th, 2015

Jason Merrill of Blackbird Finery joins Holly in the studio to talk about adopting the styles and accessories of yesteryear into modern wardrobes.

Macario Garcia

September 28th, 2015

Macario Garcia was a Mexican-born soldier who served in the U.S. military in WWII, earning a Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart. But after his …

The Oregon Trail: An Interview With Rinker Buck

September 23rd, 2015

Author Rinker Buck's new book details the trip he and his brother Nick made along the Oregon Trail. Holly chatted with Buck about his journey, his …


September 21st, 2015

Franz Liszt was a pianist, a composer and a conductor, and basically the first rock star who drove fans into fits of swooning and screaming. Some …

Six More Impossible Episodes

September 16th, 2015

These are six (more) subjects frequently requested by listeners, but that aren't really workable as stand-alone episodes for one reason or another. Featuring the Capuchin Catacombs, Sybil Ludington, Jeanne de Clisson, …

The Black Hole of Calcutta

September 14th, 2015

In 1756, after a skirmish between the British East India Company and the nawab of Bengal, dozens of captives were put into a holding cell intended …

Asia and the 'New World': An Interview with Dennis Carr

September 9th, 2015

It's easy to think of globalization as a new invention, but it really has its roots in the 16th century. Museum of Fine Arts Boston curator Dennis …

Emmy Noether, Mathematics Trailblazer

September 7th, 2015

In the early 20th century in Germany, Emmy Noether pursued a career in mathematics, despite many obstacles in her path. She became one of the most respected members of her field, and developed mathematical theory that's …

The Unsinkable Violet Jessop

September 2nd, 2015

We love to talk about shipwrecks, but Violet Jessop was a shipwreck survivor -- several times over. She traveled the world aboard some of the most …

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse

August 31st, 2015

In 1781, British forces shifted their efforts in the American Revolutionary War to the southern states. Major General Nathaniel Greene and his troops …

The Franco-Mexican Pastry War

August 26th, 2015

When a French pastry chef complained to King Louis-Phillippe that his shop in Mexico was destroyed in a riot, it catalyzed a conflict between the two nations. But the military action of the Pastry War was really about a …

Good Humor v. Popsicle

August 24th, 2015

There was a time when Popsicle and Good Humor couldn't stop suing one another about frozen treats on sticks. Many legal battles were fought over milk …

Joe Carstairs, Part 2

August 19th, 2015

As Carstair's speedboat racing career faltered, the heiress traveled the world and found other diversions, until she decided to purchase an island in the Bahamas. Then she turned Whale Cay into a kingdom of her own …

Joe Carstairs, Part 1

August 17th, 2015

Marion Carstairs, who preferred the name Joe, was an early 20th-century heiress who bucked traditional gender roles and for a time, hid her wealth …

The Billion Dollar Spy with Author David E. Hoffman

August 12th, 2015

During the Cold War, the CIA and KGB were in a constant game of cat and mouse to steal each other's secrets. David E. Hoffman talks with us about the …

The Vanishing of the U.S.S. Cyclops

August 10th, 2015

In 1918, a U.S. Navy collier vanished without a trace after leaving Barbados. The ultimate fate of the Cyclops remains a mystery almost 100 years …

The Amazons of Dahomey

August 5th, 2015

The kingdom of Dahomey may have had the world's first full-time, all-female combat fighting force. How did these women rise to become some of …

The Phaistos Disk of Minoan Crete

August 3rd, 2015

Like other artifacts that defy deciphering, this clay disk, found on Crete in the early 1900s, has puzzled researchers and stirred up controversy for decades. Is it a religious incantation, a calendar, a spell? Or is it …

Mary Ann Cotton

July 29th, 2015

In the mid-1800s, Mary Ann Cotton is believed to have poisoned as many as 21 people with arsenic, many of them her own children. She left a trail of bodies behind her everywhere she went, but it was her cavalier remarks …

Calamity Jane

July 27th, 2015

Calamity Jane is one of those historical figures whose reputation has in many ways eclipsed the real story. But she was, without a doubt, a unique character who in many ways lived outside the social norms of her time.

Dahomey and the Royal Palaces of Abomey

July 22nd, 2015

The Royal Palaces of Abomey are a series of earthen palaces in what is now Benin. The complex is culturally and historically important to West …

Diogenes of Sinope

July 20th, 2015

Diogenes of Sinope was the father of the Cynicism school of philosophy. He was also an incredibly eccentric figure who spoke out against pretense, …

A Condensed History of Rhodesia

July 15th, 2015

In 1888, Cecil Rhodes and John Smith Moffat duped the king of the Ndebele people into a treaty which led to the expansion of British territory in Africa. From then until the late 1900s, Rhodesia was governed by a white …

A Brief History of Peanut Butter

July 13th, 2015

Peanut butter got its name in the 18th century, but it's been around in some form for hundreds and hundreds of years. The more modern history of the spread features changes to the recipe and even a little litigation …

Child Migrant Program

July 8th, 2015

In the 19th and 20th centuries, 150,000 child migrants were sent from Britain to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Rhodesia. Many of these children ended up in far worse conditions than they left behind. Read the show …

Dr. Virginia Apgar

July 6th, 2015

Dr. Virginia Apgar broke new ground in the fields of obstetrics and anesthesiology in the middle of the 20th century. When babies are born today, one …

A Brief History of Harmonicas

July 1st, 2015

The deceptively simple harmonica has roots as far back as ancient China, though it really came into its own in Europe in the 1800s.

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Olive Oatman

June 29th, 2015

In 1851, Olive Oatman's family was attacked while traveling near the Gila River in Arizona. Olive was taken by her attackers, and lived for five years with Native Americans before being ransomed by the U.S. government.

Archaeology Interview: Harvard Indian College

June 24th, 2015

Holly chats with archaeologists Patricia Capone and Diana Loren about Harvard's Indian College, the school's importance to Colonial history and the …

Henry Gerber and Chicago's Society for Human Rights

June 22nd, 2015

In the 1920s, the Society for Human Rights was founded in Chicago with the intent to decriminalize homosexuality. The society's founder was inspired by Germany's homosexual emancipation movement.

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The Compton's Cafeteria Riot

June 17th, 2015

In 1966, a restaurant in San Francisco's Tenderloin district was the site of a violent incident in LGBT history. After the riot, a grassroots effort …


June 15th, 2015

Hokusai lived during a time when there wasn't a lot of contact between Japan and the West. But even so, he drew influence form Western art, and Western art was greatly influenced by his own work.

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Nate DiMeo's Memory Palace

June 10th, 2015

Tracy and Holly talk with fellow podcaster Nate DiMeo of The Memory Palace about his research and writing process. You'll also get to listen to two …

Charles IX of France

June 8th, 2015

Much like many of the other mad royals that have been discussed on the podcast through the years, Charles IX of France was prone to fits of rage so intense that people at court feared for their lives.

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The American Hippo Ranch Plan, Part 2

June 3rd, 2015

Once the effort to import hippos to the U.S. got the backing of a politician, two men with wild and intertwined histories, Frederick Russel Burnham …

The American Hippo Ranch Plan, Part 1

June 1st, 2015

In 1910, the U.S. had a meat shortage and a water hyacinth overgrowth problem. The obvious solution to the double dilemma: Import hippos from Africa.

An Interview With Dr. Elizabeth P. Archibald: Ask the Past

May 27th, 2015

Dr. Elizabeth P. Archibald of Ask the Past has delved deep into old manuscripts to find pertinent and impertinent advice from the past. In this …

A Brief History of Time Capsules

May 25th, 2015

People feel very strongly about time capsules, even though the contents are often a little underwhelming. What actually qualifies as a time capsule, …

Frankie Manning and the Lindy Hop, Part 2

May 20th, 2015

Once Manning became a professional dancer and choreographer, his work took him all over the world. After WWII derailed his swing dancing, he had a hard time returning to a world where musical tastes had changed. Read …

Frankie Manning and the Lindy Hop, Part 1

May 18th, 2015

Frankie Manning grew up loving dance, learning and practicing in ballrooms and private parties in New York. His innovations in creating new moves for the Lindy hop led him from dancing as a hobby to a career as a …

The Wright Brothers: An Interview With David McCullough

May 13th, 2015

David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, talks about his research and discoveries about the Wright brothers, their extreme …

The St. Kitts Slave Revolt of 1834

May 11th, 2015

Until the 1830s, the dominant industry on St. Kitts was sugar, and the majority of the people living there were enslaved Africans who kept that industry going. When the act that was supposed to free them fell short of …

The Siege of Béxar

May 6th, 2015

The famed Battle of the Alamo was toward the end of the Texas Revolution - a sort of pivot just before the last battle. But at the revolution's …

Alice Roosevelt

May 4th, 2015

The eldest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt was a firebrand who never shied away from the public eye. She was nicknamed "the Second Washington …

Two Other Alcotts: Bronson and May

April 29th, 2015

Louisa was not the only notable Alcott. Her father, Bronson Alcott, made a name for himself as a philosopher and a teacher. And her youngest sister, May Alcott, was an artist, who was really growing in prominence before …

Louisa May Alcott

April 27th, 2015

Once you examine Louisa May Alcott's life story, the inspirations for her writing become clear. But while she had some things in common with her most famous heroine, a lot sets her apart from Jo March. Read the show …

The Sutherland Sisters

April 22nd, 2015

In the late 1800s, seven sisters with musical talent and incredibly long hair made waves in the circus and on the stage. They made millions as …

The Sham Battle and the Cochecho Massacre

April 20th, 2015

It was half performance for the British troops, and half actual sham, and it led to an attack on Dover by the Pennacook tribe in 1689.

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S.A. Andrée and the 1897 North Pole Balloon Mission

April 15th, 2015

Andrée hoped to succeed in reaching the North Pole where others had failed by doing it by air. With a seemingly endless positivity, he and two other …

The Lady Who Turned to Soap

April 13th, 2015

Saponification is the process of turning to soap, and in certain conditions, cadavers do it. The Soap Lady is one of the most famous cases of an adipocere-covered corpse, but there are many like her.

Learn more about …

Immigration History: Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Part 2

April 8th, 2015

The second half of our interview with Dr. Annie Polland from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum focuses on specific figures in the building's …

Immigration History: Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Part 1

April 6th, 2015

The U.S. is, at its heart, a nation of immigrants. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum works to preserve the history of many families who left their home countries to start lives in New York. Read the show notes here.

The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, Part 2

April 1st, 2015

As the New York Sun's series of astonishing moon discoveries concluded, most people recognized that it was a hoax. But what made people buy into the tall tale in the first place? Read the show notes here.

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The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, Part 1

March 30th, 2015

In August 1835, the New York Sun ran a series about some utterly mind-blowing discoveries made by Sir John Herschel about the lunar surface. The serial had everything: moon poppies, goat-like unicorns, lunar beavers and …

P.A.R.C., Mills and Special Education

March 25th, 2015

Until 1975, children with disabilities in the U.S. weren't guaranteed the right to a public education. The ruling in Brown v. Board sparked a series …

The History of Carousels

March 23rd, 2015

Carousels are part of childhood, but they were originally billed as an entertainment for adults and children alike. And even further back than that, …

Dr. Vera Peters

March 18th, 2015

Dr. Peters helped revolutionize the treatment of both breast cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma. But, at the time, her work was largely dismissed. Read …

King Djoser and Egypt's First Pyramid

March 16th, 2015

The pyramids at Giza are iconic Egyptian landmarks, but they weren't the first to appear. Djoser and his vizier Imhotep are credited with starting the pyramid trend.

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Hartford Circus Fire

March 11th, 2015

In 1944, one of the most disastrous fires in U.S. history broke out during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance. Dozens of lives were lost and hundreds of people were injured as the largest big …

The Night Witches

March 9th, 2015

The Night Witches were an all-female bombing regiment in the Soviet Air Force. Flying biplanes meant for dusting crops and training new recruits, they dropped 23,000 tons of bombs on German forces in WWII. Read the show …

Artemisia Gentileschi

March 4th, 2015

She's often called the greatest female painter of the Baroque period, though there were only a few to compare her to. Her work is extraordinary, and reflects the influences of her father Orazio Gentileschi and …

Codex Gigas

March 2nd, 2015

This massive medieval manuscript, nicknamed "The Devil's Bible," contains multiple lengthy entries, a few shorter pieces, and several illustrations. …

The Aftermath of Brown v. Board

February 25th, 2015

Though the Brown v. Board ruling overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, it didn't suddenly solve the segregation problem and end racism in the United States.

The Road to Brown v. Board

February 23rd, 2015

It would be next to impossible to have ever had a class on American history or the American Civil Rights Movement and not heard about Brown v. Board. …

Leo Baekeland, The Father of Plastics

February 18th, 2015

Dr. Leo Baekeland, the inventor of the first synthetic plastic, was a wealthy man at a young age thanks to his innovation in photograph developing. …

Plessy v. Ferguson

February 16th, 2015

The ruling in this infamous U.S. Supreme Court case stated that segregation was legal as long as the separate facilities were equal. But most people …

The History of Narcolepsy, Part 2

February 11th, 2015

Once several cases of narcolepsy were documented in the late 1880s, study of the condition became more common. But it was well into the 20th century …

The History of Narcolepsy, Part 1

February 9th, 2015

People were experiencing sleep disorders long before they were studied to the degree they are now. The first European account of narcolepsy appeared …

Six Impossible Episodes

February 4th, 2015

A handful of our most-requested podcast topics that don't have enough solid research for a whole show: Stagecoach Mary, Edward Mordrake, Robert the …

The Catalpa and the Fremantle Six

February 2nd, 2015

An international jailbreak! In the 1860s, a crew from the United States mounted a mission to Western Australia to rescue imprisoned members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood who had been imprisoned by Great Britain.

The Ghost Army

January 28th, 2015

During WWII, the U.S. Army formed a top-secret military unit with one goal: Use artistic and theatrical skills to confuse the enemy. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops turned their creativity into incredible strategic …

The Glamorous Strongwoman

January 26th, 2015

From an early age, Katie Sandwina wowed crowds, first as a wrestling act and then exclusively as professional strongwoman. During a time when women's …

Antoni Gaudi, Part 2

January 21st, 2015

Once Gaudi's work was displayed at the 1878 Paris World's Fair, his career took off. Through his connections to industrialist Eusebi Güell and architect Joan Martorell, Gaudi was given opportunities to work on …

Antoni Gaudi, Part 1

January 19th, 2015

You probably know Gaudi's work, even if you don't recognize his name. His distinctive architecture is featured throughout Barcelona. But his life started humbly, as the son of a Reus coppersmith.

Learn more about your …

The Dark Legacy of Sea Monkeys

January 14th, 2015

Despite all the fun cartoons on the packaging featuring tiny humanoid sea creatures having wacky fun and wearing clothes, Sea Monkeys are just brine shrimp. But the story of Sea Monkeys and their inventor is actually …

Year Without a Summer

January 12th, 2015

In 1816, a volcano eruption in Sumbawa, Indonesia, along with several other factors, created an unusual -- and catastrophic -- series of weather …

Unearthed in 2014! Part 2

January 7th, 2015

More of the 2014 history news roundup! This time out: We've got several assorted things that didn't really fit any other category, followed by …

Unearthed in 2014! Part 1

January 5th, 2015

It's time to look at some of the stuff that was literally or figuratively dug up in 2014. This episode includes: connections to past episodes, some …

Unearthed! Stonehenge

December 31st, 2014

When news about new findings at the Stonehenge site broke late in 2014, it seemed like time to update the original Stonehenge episode. But then it turned out, there wasn't an existing episode about this famous ruin. …

Unearthed! Franklin's Lost Expedition

December 29th, 2014

On September 1, 2014, a team of searchers discovered artifacts from the Franklin Expedition. Over the course of seven dives, additional artifacts from the Erebus were recovered. Read the show notes here.

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Eggnog Riot

December 24th, 2014

In 1826, liquor was forbidden at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Cadets smuggled alcohol into the barracks anyway, and a …

Christmas Tree Ship

December 22nd, 2014

It's a Christmas episode, a shipwreck and a ghost story rolled into one! It's the story of the the Rouse Simmons, which sank in Lake Michigan while …

Nome Serum Run

December 17th, 2014

In 1925, a diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska put a community in grave danger -- without the proper supplies to fight the disease. A daring sled-dog relay was mounted to deliver needed medicine to small community and …

The Great Hedge

December 15th, 2014

For most of India's recorded history, salt has been both abundant and subject to taxation. This continued to be the case after the British East India …

The Lost Roman Legion

December 10th, 2014

The story of the Ninth Legion is a favorite among history fans who love a good mystery. But is there really any mystery here, or is the story of their fate more mundane? Read the show notes here.

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The Iroquois Theater Fire

December 8th, 2014

In 1903, Chicago's newly-opened Iroquois Theater burned, killing at least 600 people. The horrible, incredibly tragic incident was the result of …

Henry Hudson, Part 2

December 3rd, 2014

This episode picks up in the middle of Hudson's third voyage, as the Half Moon is making its way down North America's east coast. As Hudson doggedly pursues the idea of a northern sea route from Europe to Asia, he makes …

Henry Hudson, Part 1

December 1st, 2014

Henry Hudson's voyages have all the makings of a juicy story: maritime exploration, horrible treatment of indigenous peoples, treacherous waters, treacherous shipmen, a mercenary switch in loyalties to countries, mutiny …

The Sinking of the S-5

November 26th, 2014

1920, the S-5 left the Boston Navy Yard on its first mission, with a crew of 36 officers and enlisted men. While performing a crash dive as part of a performance evaluation, the crew found themselves on a sinking …

The Verreaux Brothers

November 24th, 2014

Jules Verreaux and his two brothers collected an impressive array of flora and fauna specimens from around the world for placement with museums and …

The Vanishing of Sister Aimee

November 19th, 2014

Aimee Semple McPherson was an extraordinary figure in the early 20th-century religious landscape. As an evangelist, she rose to incredible popularity …

Poverty Point

November 17th, 2014

Poverty Point is a collection of earthwork mounds and ridges situated next to Bayou Maçon in Louisiana. It has features that make it unique among …

The House of Worth and the Birth of Haute Couture

November 12th, 2014

Before Charles Worth, the idea of ready made clothes for purchase didn't really exist. Neither did the idea of a design house that showed seasonal …

The Expulsion of the Jews From Spain

November 10th, 2014

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue ... and Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and Isabella, queen of Castile expelled the Jewish population from Spain.

Walter Reed

November 5th, 2014

Reed did truly groundbreaking work into the causes and prevention of yellow fever, building on a foundation of other doctors and researchers. His …

Maria Tallchief

November 3rd, 2014

This Native American dancer was the first grand ballerina of the United States. Through her partnership with famed choreographer George Balanchine, she helped shape ballet in America and served as an inspiration for …

The History of Halloween Candy

October 29th, 2014

Candy and Halloween go hand-in-hand, but when did candy become the standard for trick-or-treating, and who invented the holiday's most famous sweet …

Villisca Ax Murders

October 27th, 2014

In 1912, a small Iowa town was the scene of a chilling and brutal crime. Eight people were murdered in their beds by an assailant who has never been identified. Read the show notes here.

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Beast of Gevaudan

October 22nd, 2014

Attacks on women and children of Gevaudan in the 1760s sparked a huge effort to hunt and kill the mystery beast behind them. While efforts to track the animal struggled, France was gripped in terror. Read the show notes …

Christina of Sweden

October 20th, 2014

Christina was a smart, learned woman, but not a particularly good ruler. Her entire life was marked by being kind of a contradictory, restless …

Bela Lugosi, Part 2

October 15th, 2014

While his name instantly conjures an image of the dashing, sophisticated vampire that helped spark an entire horror film genre, Lugosi really lost …

Bela Lugosi, Part 1

October 13th, 2014

While he's mostly associated with the role of Dracula, Bela Lugosi's early life was significantly affected by WWI, the fall of the Austro-Hungarian …

Sylvia Rivera

October 8th, 2014

Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera is often compared to Rosa Parks. She became famous, in part, for participating in the Stonewall riots, and she spent her life campaigning bravely, stridently and vocally for the rights …

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

October 6th, 2014

In 1959, nine students ventured into the Ural mountains for a ski hiking trip, and never returned. While much speculation has swirled for more than …

Ethan Allen, Part 2

October 1st, 2014

Allen's later years were marred by some unwise political alliances he made in his effort to gain independence for Vermont. After his political work …

Ethan Allen, Part 1

September 29th, 2014

Ethan Allen was a huge personality, a founder of Vermont, and an important figure in the Revolutionary War. His story also includes some fascinating …

A Culinary History of Spam

September 24th, 2014

This famous Hormel Foods product was invented in the 1930s to make use of a surplus of shoulder meat from pigs. Not only was it an instant hit in the …

The Lady Juliana

September 22nd, 2014

Great Britain didn't only send criminals to Australia as punishment; they also wanted to colonize the continent. But to do that, they had to send …

China's Cultural Revolution: Rewriting a Nation

September 17th, 2014

In 1969, the tone and direction of the Cultural Revolution shifted dramatically. For the next seven years, until Mao Zedong's death, he tried to …

China's Cultural Revolution: Red Guard and Purges

September 15th, 2014

Mao's plan to once again put China on the path to modernization was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The first phase was a very aggressive, …

Fritz Zwicky, The Father of Dark Matter

September 10th, 2014

Fritz Zwicky is often described as a genius, but also as a caustic figure. His insights into astrophysics are downright baffling, but his prickly interactions with peers were problematic to his career and his place in …

The Great Famine

September 8th, 2014

In the wake of the Great Leap Forward, issues with supply and demand, variables of weather and labor and a series of poor decisions resulted in a …

Dazzle Camouflage

September 3rd, 2014

British Royal Navy lieutenant and artist Norman Wilkinson is usually credited with the idea of disruptive camouflage. But, another man, naturalist John Graham Kerr, claimed that he had the idea three years earlier. Read …

The Great Leap Forward

September 1st, 2014

In the mid-20th century, Chairman Mao Zedong launched an ambitious plan to revolutionize Chinese agriculture and industry, build up the economy and …

Hetty Green, the Witch of Wall Street

August 27th, 2014

She was the wealthiest woman in the U.S., skilled when it came to amassing a fortune. But her eccentric behavior and miserly ways led to bad press and a less-than-flaterring nickname. Read the show notes here.

Learn …

The Heathen School

August 25th, 2014

The Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut was founded with the plan that it would draw young men from world cultures, educate them, convert …

Andrews' Raid, or: The Great Locomotive Chase Pt. 2

August 20th, 2014

As the second part of the story picks up, James Andrews and 22 men have commandeered a northbound train in Big Shanty, Georgia. Its conductor, …

Andrews' Raid, or: The Great Locomotive Chase Pt. 1

August 18th, 2014

The Great Locomotive Chase was a very daring - but very failed - plot to commandeer a train and destroy a crucial stretch of railroad during the Civil War. It's a wild and fun story that covers a lot of ground as it …

The Discovery of Longitude

August 13th, 2014

People knew how to find their north-south position even before we had the idea of "latitude." But once people lost sight of land, they didn't have reliable way of figuring out how far east or west they'd gone - how to …

The La Scala Opera House

August 11th, 2014

The Teatro alla Scala is one of the most renowned opera houses in the world, and is Italy's crown jewel of the arts. Even if you have only a passing knowledge of opera, odds are, you know a name connected to the history …

Victor Lustig: Con Man Extraordinaire

August 6th, 2014

He's most famous for selling an iconic structure he didn't own, but Robert Miller, known better by his alias Count Victor Lustig, led a life of …

A Brief History of Colors

August 4th, 2014

Pigments and dyes have come from all manner of animals, vegetables and minerals. From ochre to cochineal red to the rarest of purples, color has been …

The Klondike Big Inch Land Promotion

July 30th, 2014

In the mid-20th century, one ad company had a wacky plan to actually dole out land deeds as part of a cereal promotion. How did they manage it? And …

The Tulsa Race Riot and Black Wall Street

July 28th, 2014

"Black Wall Street" was a nickname for Greenwood, a vibrant suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was destroyed in a race riot in 1921. And while …

Battle of Blair Mountain

July 23rd, 2014

In 1921, coal miners fed up with unfair labor practices and exploitation took up arms against their employers. The resulting conflict lasted five …

Les Filles du Roi

July 21st, 2014

While the building of a population in a new colony seems like a tricky endeavor, France's King Louis XIV launched a scheme to do just that by …

The Doctors' Riot of 1788

July 16th, 2014

In the late 1700s, medical colleges needed cadavers for educational dissection, but there were no legal means for obtaining them. This led to some …

Cosmetics From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World

July 14th, 2014

Makeup has a rich and lengthy history that spans the globe and crosses cultures. From 10,000 B.C.E. to the 20th century, people have been using …

The Battle of Mons and the Angels That Followed

July 9th, 2014

The Battle of Mons was one of the earliest battles of World War I. In the months after the battle, stories spread that a supernatural presence had covered the British army, preventing it from being destroyed. Read the …

Suleiman the Magnificent and the Siege of Vienna

July 7th, 2014

The Ottoman Empire's Suleiman the Magnificent was a head of state, a poet, a reformer of the military and a goldsmith. His reign had a significant …

The Great London Smog

July 2nd, 2014

London is no stranger to smog, which is why when the Great London Smog descended in December of 1952, nobody quite realized anything unusual was going on. At its largest, it extended 30 kilometers around London, and it …

Caroline Herschel: Astronomy's Cinderella

June 30th, 2014

Herschel managed to break the barrier of women in scientific fields far earlier than you might suspect, in part because of her association with her brother, and in equal measure due to her steadfast dedication to her …

The Yaa Asantewaa War of Independence

June 25th, 2014

The Asante-British war of 1900 capped about 100 years of war between Great Britain and the Asante Empire, which occupied part of what is now Ghana.

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Battle of Poitiers

June 23rd, 2014

On Sept. 19, 1356, one of the decisive battles of the Hundred Years War took place in France. It was the first major battle after almost a decade of relative quiet, and it stacked a small English army against a French …

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Part 2

June 18th, 2014

Edna St. Vincent Millay was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and was one of the Guggenheim Foundation's judges for its poetry …

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Part 1

June 16th, 2014

Known as Vincent to family and friends, Edna St. Vincent Millay grew up poor, caring for the household and her sisters while her mother worked. From …

The S.S. Sultana

June 11th, 2014

Because the Sultana sank the day after John Wilkes Booth was captured and killed for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, it didn't make headline news. But …

Ruth Harkness and the First Panda in the U.S.

June 9th, 2014

In the 1930s a New York socialite had a dream. She wanted to be the first person to capture a panda from Asia and return to the western world with it. Her quest had a significant impact on the way the Western world …

The Treaty of Waitangi

June 4th, 2014

This document -- a treaty between the British the Maori -- established New Zealand as a nation. The spirit of the agreement was to see to the best interests of both the Maori and the Crown, but a hurried translation of …

Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923

June 2nd, 2014

Sept. 1, 1923 changed Japan forever when a devastating earthquake obliterated Yokohama and much of Tokyo, killing more than 140,000.

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Deaf President Now

May 28th, 2014

This episode breaks our rule of thumb about covering fairly recent history. In 1988, the appointment of a hearing president at Gallaudet University …

The Red Ghost of Arizona and the U.S. Camel Corps

May 26th, 2014

In 1883, a mysterious beast was spotted in Arizona and trampled a woman. First described a a demon, the creature turned out to be a camel. But what was it doing in the American Southwest in the first place? Read the …

Bets and Burlesque: Joseph Oller

May 21st, 2014

Joseph Oller was an entrepreneur with an incredible head for business. He revolutionized gambling practices as a young man, and also opened the most …

Orphan Trains

May 19th, 2014

Between 1854 and 1929, about 250,000 children in the U.S. were taken to new families by train. Except ... they weren't called "orphan trains" at the time, the children weren't all orphans, and "family" didn't always …

Frances Glessner Lee and Tiny Forensics

May 14th, 2014

Many forensic investigation standards of today have roots in the work of a Chicago heiress who was more interested in crime scenes than high society. Her most notable contribution to the field came in the form of tiny …

The Flu Epidemic of 1918

May 12th, 2014

The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which killed somewhere between 20 million and 50 million people, started just as World War I was winding down. Nobody …

Voynich Manuscript Update

May 7th, 2014

Our ongoing update series covers a more recent topic: Even though our Voynich Manuscript episode was just a little more than a year ago, the inscrutable book has been in the news a lot since then. What are the latest …

Blackbeard Update

May 5th, 2014

Since the 2009 episode on Blackbeard, a lot of new information has come to light about the life of the infamous pirate. We'll catch you up on the latest, then listen to the original episode for review. Read the show …

Gardner Museum Art Heist Update

April 30th, 2014

Just about a year ago, the FBI informed the press about new developments in the case of the massive art theft in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum that took place on March 18, 1990. We'll cover the updates, then hear …

Algebra's Arabic Roots

April 28th, 2014

Algebra doesn't have one single origin point -- it developed over time and in multiple places, with many mathematicians contributing. One of those …

The Mutiny and Massacre of the Batavia

April 23rd, 2014

While most of the survivors of the Batavia were scattered on a few tiny islands off the coast of Australia, a small group went all the way to Indonesia to get help.Meanwhile, a gruesome scenario was playing out among …

The Wreck of the Batavia

April 21st, 2014

The story of the Batavia is a perfect storm of nautical carnage: There's a shipwreck, a mutiny and a massacre. This first of two parts deals with the the first part of the voyage, the shipwreck and the rescue mission. …

Wreck of the Ten Sail

April 16th, 2014

It was the biggest shipping disaster in Cayman Islands history -- 10 ships went down together one night in 1794. Why would so many ships be traveling …

The Count of Saint-Germain

April 14th, 2014

Accounts of teleportation, alchemy and even immortality swirl around the legend of Count of Saint-Germain. Was he a spy? A concealed royal? A skilled …

The Pig War

April 9th, 2014

In 1859, the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over an issue that seems more likely to spark a feud between Hatfields and McCoys: An American settler shot a Canadian pig that was rooting around his …

King Eric XIV of Sweden

April 7th, 2014

A handsome playboy who once courted Queen Elizabeth I, Eric started his time as king with focus and ambition. But his paranoia led him to alienate …

Crucifixion in the Greco-Roman World

April 2nd, 2014

While the crucifixion of Jesus is the most most well-known instance of this type of execution, crucifixion was a practice that was both common and taboo all over the Greco-Roman world for almost 1,000 years. Read the …

Rose Bertin: The First Fashion Designer

March 31st, 2014

The legendary wardrobe of Marie-Antoinette has been criticized, envied and discussed to no end. But where did all those glorious clothes come from? In large part, they were the work of Rose Bertin, a milliner who found …

Ambrose Bierce

March 26th, 2014

Ambrose Bierce was a soldier, a journalist, an editor, a satirist and a philosopher. He was a complicated man with an unwavering moral code and a …

Elizabeth Blackwell, America's First Female M.D.

March 24th, 2014

It's not a story of a person with a childhood dream of pursuing a career that wasn't available to them. Dr. Blackwell had no interest in medicine as a child. But she paved the way for women who came after her and …

China's Foot Binding Tradition

March 19th, 2014

Foot binding was practiced in China for more than 1,000 years -- far longer than can be attributed to a mere cultural or fashion fad. Why did such an …

13 Reasons for the American Revolution

March 17th, 2014

"No taxation without representation" is often thought of as the main beef that led to the American Revolution, but it was only one of many moving …

Everest: Getting to the Top of the World, Pt. 2

March 12th, 2014

After WWII ended, efforts were resumed to conquer Everest, but it took many, many teams and missions to reach the summit. Eventually, a bee keeper and a Sherpa achieved that loftiest of goals. But what's happened on …

Everest: Getting to the Top of the World, Pt. 1

March 10th, 2014

Once a British survey effort identified Peak XV of the Himalayan range as the highest point on Earth, a committee was formed with one goal: Get to the top. Early expeditions gathered data and made runs up the mountain, …

It's the Jane Austen Episode!

March 5th, 2014

She was not a shy spinster who wrote some little books mostly to amuse her own family. She also was not a real-life Elizabeth Bennett. Jane Austen's life was very different from any of her heroines. Here's a link to our …

The Peralta Grant and the Baron of Arizona

March 3rd, 2014

In the 1880s, James Reavis launched one of the most ambitious fraud schemes of all time when he claimed a huge part of the Arizona Territory as his own. He forged and planted evidence to back up his claim and came to be …

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

February 26th, 2014

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first African-American labor union to be recognized by the American Federation of Labor. What started as a campaign for more money and better treatment became an …

The Disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater

February 24th, 2014

The 1930 vanishing of Joseph Force Crater is considered one of the largest missing person cases in U.S. history, and has fueled decades of …

Maurice Duplessis, 'Le Chef' of Quebec, Pt. 2

February 19th, 2014

While Duplessis had ingratiated himself to voters as a man of the people, he was not exactly viewed as a saint. He's often described as a man who wanted to be both loved and feared, and numerous controversies are …

Maurice Duplessis, 'Le Chef' of Quebec, Pt. 1

February 17th, 2014

Maurice Duplessis is described as everything from a lovable rogue to a political beast. He served as Premier of Quebec for longer than any other …

Abelard and Heloise

February 12th, 2014

Abelard was a poet, philosopher and theologian; Heloise was one of his students. This is a tragic love story, complete with lovers forced apart, a …

Giacomo Casanova

February 10th, 2014

Casanova led a life so full of sex and adventure that today we call any particularly charismatic and successful lover by his name. But he was also. …

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Pt. 2

February 5th, 2014

Rosa's arrest for breaking bus segregation laws catalyzed the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the keystones in the American Civil Rights Movement. It was widely covered in the national media, which brought more attention …

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Pt. 1

February 3rd, 2014

Anyone who has ever heard about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States is sure to know that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus. But that's but a tiny sliver of her …

Crown Prince Sado of Korea

January 29th, 2014

Crown Prince Sado of Korea -- sometimes called Korea's "Coffin King" -- has been described as insane, depraved and sadistic, but when you examine his short life, it's more complicated than a list of acts of savagery …

Pueblo Revolt

January 27th, 2014

History is written by the victors. But one big exception to that conventional wisdom is the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, in which Native Americans rose up …


January 22nd, 2014

You may never have heard of him, but Avicenna was one of the first, and probably the most influential, Islamic philosopher-scientists. He's listed among the great philosophers in Dante's Inferno and is mentioned in the …

Embalming and Mummification Rituals of Ancient Egypt

January 20th, 2014

So how did Ancient Egyptians actually embalm their dead? Thanks in large part to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, we have some great descriptions of …

The Sinking of the S.S. Arctic

January 15th, 2014

When the S.S. Arctic joined the Collins line fleet in the 1850s, it was by all accounts a glorious ship. But in 1854, the steamer collided with …

The Battle of Hastings

January 13th, 2014

The Battle of Hastings is often boiled it down to a sentence: The Normans invaded Britain in 1066, and their victory ended the Anglo-Saxon phase of English history. But of course, that brief description really doesn't …

The Explosive Career of Antoine Lavoisier

January 8th, 2014

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier was a chemist, biologist, geologist, physiologist, and economist. But at the end of the day, he's most often referred to as …

Listener Mail: FAQ Edition

January 6th, 2014

Time for something completely different! There are a few questions that we get asked over and over. Today, we answer four of the most-common queries posed to us in our listener mail.

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Unearthed in 2013, Part 2

January 1st, 2014

The second part of 2013's historical finds includes items unearthed by animals, amateurs and ultra-modern science. Lead coffins, rare torpedoes and …

Unearthed in 2013, Part 1

December 30th, 2013

What historical revelations revealed themselves in 2013? So many, we need two episodes to cover them all. From Viking jewelry to lost Doctor Who episodes and -- of course -- bodies in car parks, history showed up in …

The Long Winter

December 25th, 2013

During the terrible winter of 1880 and 1881, which was immortalized in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter." Laura, both real and fictional, was going on fourteen. And the winter she wrote about was a real event.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

December 23rd, 2013

For many people, Laura Ingalls Wilder is the primary source of information of what life was like for white people on the American frontier. But she …

The Lions of Tsavo, Pt. 2

December 18th, 2013

Why did lions in the Tsavo region start to attack humans in the first place? Modern behavioral and scientific research has given us some surprising insights into the causes of the 1898 attacks as well as modern lion …

The Lions of Tsavo, Pt. 1

December 16th, 2013

In 1898, two male lions killed and ate dozens of people in Tsavo and shut down construction of the Uganda Railroad. Lt. Col. John H. Patterson, a …

The Axman of New Orleans, Part 2

December 11th, 2013

The second half of the Axman story involves his famous letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune warning that he would descend on the city, but would …

The Axman of New Orleans, Part 1

December 9th, 2013

In 1918 and 1919, a rash of attacks had all of New Orleans on edge. While the Axman has turned up in modern storytelling, no fiction could top the …

Sei Shonagon and the Heian Court

December 4th, 2013

Thanks to the pillow book of lady-in-waiting Sei Shonagon, we have a first-person account of court life in Heian Japan. It's part diary, part …

The Boston Massacre

December 2nd, 2013

The name "Boston Massacre" sounds as though it was the slaughter of a bunch of innocents in colonial Boston. The reality is much smaller - and not …

Zenobia and the Roman Empire

November 27th, 2013

Our focus today is on a woman who was actually covered in the podcast several years ago. But she's a figure so mythic and with so many variations to her story that we wanted to give her another look and a little more …


November 25th, 2013

If you've only seen the Hessians referenced in movies or TV, you probably don't have a clear picture of who these very capable soldiers actually …

Edward Jenner, Father of Vaccines

November 20th, 2013

Smallpox has been around longer than recorded history. It killed royalty, shifted the tides of battles, and was so terrifying that many religions have gods, saints and martyrs associated with it. And Edward Jenner gets …

Babushka Lady

November 18th, 2013

Despite all the publicity surrounding the shooting of John F. Kennedy, the identity of one witness has remained elusive for decades. Beverly Oliver has claimed to be the "babushka lady," but there's still no concrete …

Emperor Rudolf II of Austria

November 13th, 2013

He was an art patron. He loved science. He spoke many languages. He was also known for a dark temper and instability, and his poor decisions as a …

Improbably Effective Holocaust Rescuers

November 11th, 2013

There are many amazing, heroic stories of people who risked everything to protect Jews and other people at risk before and during the holocaust. A …

Audre Lorde Pt. 2

November 6th, 2013

In addition to being a poet, Audre was a teacher, speaker, wife and mother, and become an influential presence in the feminist movement. She also wrote candidly about her battle with cancer in her groundbreaking work, …

Audre Lorde Pt. 1

November 4th, 2013

Audre Lorde called herself a "black feminist lesbian mother poet warrior," but for a lot of people, she's best known for the "poet" part. She was way ahead of her time on a lot of social fronts, including feminism, gay …

Sophie Blanchard and Balloonomania

October 30th, 2013

From timid girl to trailblazer, Sophie Blanchard became famous in the early 1800s as the first woman to become a career balloonist.

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Encephalitis Lethargica

October 28th, 2013

From 1916 to about 1927, a strange epidemic spread around the world. It caused unusual symptoms, from drastic behavior changes to a deep, prolonged …

Building Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Pt. 2

October 23rd, 2013

The second installment in the story of the Haunted Mansion going from concept to fully-realized theme park attraction covers the reboot the team went …

Building Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Pt. 1

October 21st, 2013

One of the most iconic Disney park attractions -- the Haunted Mansion -- had a development process that was anything but smooth. Budget and …

Elsa Lanchester: Becoming the Bride Pt. 2

October 16th, 2013

After her unconventional upbringing, Elsa's career as a performer began to take off in the late 1920s, around the same time she met her husband. But …

Elsa Lanchester: Becoming the Bride Pt. 1

October 14th, 2013

You may not know her name, but her image is famous. As the love interest for Dr. Frankenstein's monster in "The Bride of Frankenstein," Elsa Lanchester became a film icon, but her life story is as interesting as any …

Alan L. Hart

October 9th, 2013

Alan L. Hart was a doctor, writer, and prominent figure in the fields of radiology and tuberculosis control. He was also one of the first people in …

Was there a real Sweeney Todd?

October 7th, 2013

Sweeney Todd is a well-known fictional character, a murderous barber who colludes with a cook to bake his victims into pies. There are many instances …

Grove Park Inn

October 2nd, 2013

Like any grand old hotel, the Grove Park Inn has quite a history, involving real medicine, patent medicine, famous writers and inventors, several …

New England Vampire Panic

September 30th, 2013

Starting in the late 1700s and running for a century, small rural communities in New England were sometimes stricken with a panicked fear that the dead were somehow feeding off the living, and many graves were exhumed …

Luis W. Alvarez, Pt. 2

September 25th, 2013

The second part of the Luis Alvarez episode covers his time as part of the Manhattan Project designing detonators for atomic bombs. Beyond his controversial work, Alvarez also contributed to particle physics, mystery …

Luis W. Alvarez, Pt. 1

September 23rd, 2013

Luis Alvarez was a physicist whose broad interests connected him to some of the 20th century's most influential moments, including the bombing of Hiroshima and the assassination of JFK. His diverse work led to the …

Philo T. Farnsworth

September 18th, 2013

Phylo T. Farnsworth is called the "Father of Television" -- his initial idea for electronic television came to him as a teen. He's also become something of an icon representing the little guy -- he battled big business …

Mendez v. Westminster

September 16th, 2013

Mendez v. Westminster fought the segregation of Mexican-American students in the state of California in the 1940s -- and it went on pave the way for the much more famous Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.

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Phineas Gage

September 11th, 2013

In 1848, Phineas Gage experienced a catastrophic brain injury and survived -- though altered -- for more than 11 years. Over time, he morphed into one of the world's most famous case studies in how damage to the brain …

Marie Taglioni

September 9th, 2013

Marie Taglioni is considered THE ballerina of the Romantic era. She's often credited with revolutionizing, restyling and redefining dance, though her …

Thomas Morris Chester

September 4th, 2013

Chester was the first African American war correspondent working for a major daily paper, covering the U.S. Civil War. He also had a troubled …

The Nazca Lines

September 2nd, 2013

About 200 miles southeast of Lima, Peru, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, there are lines etched into the desert. The glyphs have remained intact for centuries, and have been avidly studied since their …

Jane Addams, Pt. 2

August 28th, 2013

Jane Addams was a leader and advocate, especially for the working poor - but her work really boiled down to a better quality of life for everyone. …

Jane Addams, Pt. 1

August 26th, 2013

Jane Addams was one of the foremost women in America's Progressive Era. She co founded the social settlement Hull House, spoke and wrote on social …

Paxton's Crystal Palace

August 21st, 2013

Sir Joseph Paxton was a 19th-century botanist who became instantly famous for the hall he designed for the Great Expo of 1851. After the expo, the Crystal Palace moved to a new location and became the centerpiece of the …

Chesapeake Bay Oyster Wars

August 19th, 2013

In the years after the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War, the oyster supply became so scarce that people turned to oyster piracy. The bloodshed …

The Mysterious Hope Diamond, Pt. 2

August 14th, 2013

The Hope Diamond is well traveled, but is it cursed? Does it have mystical powers? Why does it glow red after exposure to UV light? Analysis of the curse stories and chemical composition of the gem yield interesting …

The Mysterious Hope Diamond, Pt. 1

August 12th, 2013

The Hope Diamond has traveled across continents, been stolen in revolutions, and was even the signature accessory of a wealthy heiress for nearly …

The Flannan Isles Disappearance

August 7th, 2013

The Flannan Islands have been rumored for centuries to be haunted or have some supernatural darkness. In 1900, three men vanished from the lighthouse on Eilean Mor, leaving behind an unfinished meal and a mystery that's …

Hypatia of Alexandria

August 5th, 2013

Hypatia was one of the earliest female mathematicians and astronomers -- though she wasn't the very first, she was among the greatest. At the time of her murder, she was the foremost mathematician and astronomer in the …

Charley Parkhurst, One-eyed Whip

July 31st, 2013

Charley Parkhurst was a stagecoach whip who spent almost 20 years handling teams of horses over treacherous terrain at high speeds. After his death in 1879, his friends who came to lay out his body discovered that …

The Antikythera Mechanism

July 29th, 2013

In 1900, a shipwreck was discovered near the island of Antikythera, including an assortment of luxury goods: statues, silver coins, vases ... and …

We All Scream for Ice Cream

July 24th, 2013

There is actually some disagreement about the actual origin point of ice cream, but almost everyone agrees it's delicious. The real origin story is a …

Pluto: The Demoted Dwarf Planet

July 22nd, 2013

It was the only planet to have been discovered by an American, but it's no longer classified as a planet. Who found Pluto, and how did astronomers …

Selman Waksman and the Streptomycin Controversy

July 17th, 2013

An accomplished bacteriologist, Selman Waksman and his students and colleagues isolated many new antibiotics in the 1940s, including streptomycin and …

Boudica: Warrior Queen

July 15th, 2013

Boudica was a queen of the Iceni who staged either a successful rebellion against the Romans or a massacre, depending on who's talking.

Learn more …

George Aiston: Outback Entrepreneur

July 10th, 2013

A member of the South Australian Mounted Police, George "Poddy" Aiston was a friend to and advocate for Aboriginal peoples, a fairly accomplished …

Particle Physics and Animals

July 8th, 2013

Felicia the ferret, who helped Fermilab in the early '70s, has been popping up in online stories and social media lately. How did she come to work in a particle physics facility, and what other animals made their homes …

The Luddites

July 3rd, 2013

The Luddite uprising was a series of protests in northern England, in which workers smashed machines in mills and factories. This wasn't the first …

John Harvey Kellogg

July 1st, 2013

While his last name is famous for breakfast cereal, John Harvey Kellogg was a 19th-century doctor with some unique (and groundbreaking) beliefs about health and wellness.His Battle Creek Sanitarium was home to anything …

Five Historical Robots

June 26th, 2013

Long before Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the term "robot" in his 1920 play "R.U.R.," mechanized creations -- automata -- were being created without electronics or computers. Many were simple, but they paved the …

The Cursed Mary Celeste

June 24th, 2013

She's often referred to as a cursed ghost ship. The history of the Mary Celeste features one unfortunate incident after another. While this vessel is …

The Irish Potato Famine: An Unnatural Disaster, Pt. 2

June 19th, 2013

In the mid-1800s, the poorest people in Ireland ate almost nothing but potatoes. Other crops were for selling. So when a blight cut a swath through …

The Irish Potato Famine: An Unnatural Disaster, Pt. 1

June 17th, 2013

The history lesson kids often get on the Irish Potato Famine could be summed up as "a blight destroyed the potato crops, and a lot of people starved …

Paul Poiret

June 11th, 2013

French designer Paul Poiret's work, which was often avante-garde, changed the fashion world in significant ways. He got rid of corsets, introduced …

Benjamin Banneker

June 10th, 2013

Despite having almost no official schooling and being a man of color in Colonial America, Benjamin Banneker turned out to be such an accomplished …

Who was the real Robin Hood?

June 5th, 2013

Robin Hood-style characters have been showing up in literature since the 14th century. Historians disagree about whether there was any truth to the legend, and we're wondering: Was Robin Hood real, and if so, who was he?

The Phoenician Alphabet

June 3rd, 2013

The Phoenicians were great ship-builders, sailors and textile experts. But they're most known for developing the alphabet that many modern alphabets …

Boxer Rebellion

May 28th, 2013

"It was a culture clash of epic proportions. The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising, was a gruesome, violent slaughter of Chinese …

Heaven on Earth: the Brook Farm Community

May 27th, 2013

In the 1840s, Boston's West Roxbury suburb -- which was completely rural at the time -- was home to an experiment in transcendentalist utopian living: the Brook Farm community. The idea was to create an environment of …

Russia's Vladimir the Great

May 22nd, 2013

Vladimir I is often credited with bringing Christianity to Russia, though he actually embraced paganism first as Grand Prince of Kievan Rus. Wishing to unite Russia under one religion, Vladimir changed the spiritual …

India's Karni Mata Rat Temple

May 20th, 2013

Though it's most famous for its rats, the story of this temple starts with Hindu goddess Durga and Karni Mata, a 15th-century mystic believed to be her incarnation. The reason for the rats in Karni Mata's temple is a …

China's Empress Dowager Cixi

May 15th, 2013

After becoming a concubine for Emperor Xianfeng at the age of 16, Cixi rose to power when he died and her young son inherited the throne. She governed China from behind a screen for more than 45 years, and eventually …

Cannibalism at Jamestown

May 13th, 2013

On May 1, 2013, forensic evidence confirmed what survivors had reported: Colonists at Jamestown resorted to cannibalism during the winter of …

Here, Kitty Kitty: The Domestication of the Cat

May 8th, 2013

The human culture shift to an agricultural lifestyle started the domestication of animals. Cats naturally moved in to help with rodents. Today, there …

The Hindenburg Disaster

May 6th, 2013

The Hindenburg tragedy is one of the world's most infamous air disasters, but the dirigible had many successful flights prior to its final voyage, …

Stede Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate

May 1st, 2013

In 1717, Stede Bonnet left his family and became a pirate. Despite having no seafaring experience, Bonnet's brief career as a pirate was eventful, …

Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy

April 29th, 2013

Though she was Canadian, Sarah Emma Edmonds fought for the Union during the Civil War. She adopted the name Franklin Thompson while traveling. Disguised as a man, she enlisted and began a career as a nurse, courier and …

The Princess who Swallowed a Glass Piano

April 24th, 2013

Princess Alexandra Amelie of Bavaria was part of the House of Wittelsbach. The princess was frail, and she exhibited unusual behavior. She told her …

Johann Beringer's Fossils

April 22nd, 2013

In 1725, Beringer was the University of Würzburg's chair of natural history and chief physician to the prince bishop. He was also unpopular, and some …

Loving v. Virginia, Part 2

April 17th, 2013

Mildred and Richard Loving's relationship went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court when they were arrested for breaking Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. On June 20, 1963, Mildred wrote a letter to the ACLU asking …

Loving v. Virginia, Part 1

April 15th, 2013

Mildred and Richard Loving's relationship went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court when they were arrested for breaking Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. On June 20, 1963, Mildred wrote a letter to the ACLU asking …

The Story of 'Happy Birthday to You'

April 10th, 2013

When teachers Mildred and Patty Hill's song "Good Morning to All" was published in 1893, there was no public performance right for songs. After the …

The Origin of Cheeses

April 8th, 2013

Cheese has been around for more than 9,000 years. But how did humans learn to make it? Journey with Tracy and Holly to ancient Anatolia, where, …

Albert J. Tirrell, the First Sleepwalking Killer

April 3rd, 2013

On Oct. 27, 1845 Mary Ann Bickford's body was found in her Boston boardinghouse room. Her paramour Albert J. Tirrell was eventually charged with murder. Tirrell hired Rufus Choate to defend him, and Choate claimed his …

Australia's Rabbit-proof Fence

April 1st, 2013

Many English settlers brought animals and plants to Australia, including rabbits. The rabbit population exploded, and rabbit-controlling fences were …

Emu War of 1932

March 29th, 2013

After World War I, Australian and British soldiers moved to rural Australia. In 1932, about 20,000 emus began making their way through Campion and …

The Contentious Invention of the Sewing Machine

March 27th, 2013

The mechanization of stitching happened by way a series of inventions, several of which finally came together. Though Elias Howe is often credited with inventing the sewing machine, his invention had more to do with the …

The Trial of Goody Garlick

March 25th, 2013

Decades before the Salem trials, an East Hampton woman was tried for witchcraft. Before Lion Gardiner's daughter died, she accused Goody Garlick of bewitching her. Goody Garlick had hearings in two towns, during which …

The Famous Speech Chief Seattle Never Made

March 20th, 2013

The Suquamish chief is best remembered for a speech he gave upon discovering that Governor Stevens wanted land to build a railroad. However, the …

The Life of Johnny Appleseed

March 18th, 2013

The image of Johnny Appleseed walking around in rags, barefooted with a bindle, planting apple trees and moving on is actually pretty accurate. Join …

The Voynich Manuscript

March 13th, 2013

The Voynich manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, who acquired it in 1912 from a Jesuit library. There are many theories as to what this book from the 1400s contains, but no one knows whether it's a cypher text, a …

The Mystic Margery Kempe

March 11th, 2013

Born in the 1300s, Margery had 14 children with her husband before dedicating her life to God. In her 40s, she began a vision-inspired pilgrimage to …

The Real Al Swearengen: Part 2

March 6th, 2013

While Al Swearengen's notoriety comes from his famous saloon, his early experiences all informed his later life. Join Tracy and Holly as they examine …

The Real Al Swearengen: Part 1

March 4th, 2013

Al Swearengen has become a widely-recognized figure in the time of the Black Hills gold rush. While his notoriety comes from his famous saloon, his …

Richard III: Unearthed!

February 27th, 2013

In 2013, experts identified the remains of King Richard III, one of England's most notorious rulers. Shakespeare wrote the king as a nephew-killing, …

The Other Pope Benedict Who Resigned

February 25th, 2013

Long before Benedict XVI's resignation, Benedict IX resigned. Benedict IX was one of the youngest (and most notorious) men ever to become pope, and …

Pablo Fanque's Fair

February 20th, 2013

The Victorian age offered few opportunities for Black-Britons, making Pablo Fanque's circus all the more impressive. Born William Darby, he was a talented equestrian performer, acrobat and show-runner. In fact, one …

Okichi, the Tragic Geisha

February 18th, 2013

Okichi's story is filled with embellishment and hazy details. Sent to serve Townsend Harris, the first U.S. Consul to Japan, she was shunned after …

Walter Potter's Wild and Wonderful Taxidermy

February 13th, 2013

By the time he was 19, Potter had preserved and mounted 98 birds. In 1880, his work had grown to a point where it had to be moved to a building, …

The Fantastic Fitzgeralds

February 11th, 2013

A week after releasing his debut novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald married Southern Belle Zelda Sayre. But Fitzgerald's drinking and Zelda's mental state …

Nikola Tesla and the War of Currents Revisited: Part 2

February 6th, 2013

By 1887, Nikola Tesla secured seven patents for components of his alternating current system. In 1888, George Westinghouse offered to hire Tesla to …

Nikola Tesla and the War of Currents Revisited: Part 1

February 4th, 2013

In 1857 Nikola Tesla began work on direct current motor issues. In 1884, he approached Thomas Edison with ideas about alternating current, but Edison …

The Booth Conspiracy

January 30th, 2013

Most people know the story of President Lincoln's assassination, but what happened afterward? In this podcast, we cover John Wilkes Booth's escape, …

Who is D.B. Cooper?

January 28th, 2013

In 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper hijacked Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305. He received a ransom of $200,000 -- and then jumped out in midair. Over the years, the FBI has searched for Cooper with little …

5 War Dogs of History

January 23rd, 2013

Dogs have been used in war for a long time and are still used today. In this episode, Sarah and Deblina look at five war dogs known for their strength, loyalty and intelligence. Tune in to learn more about war dogs from …

Ned Kelly's Last Stand

January 21st, 2013

Ned Kelly's cropped up in the news again, but who was he? The bushranger Ned Kelly became an outlaw in 1878, and his gang successfully conducted …

5 Historical Hoaxes

January 16th, 2013

Historical hoaxes are surprisingly common. For example, a N.Y. cigar maker once commissioned a gypsum skeleton to pass off as a 10-foot-tall petrified man called the Cardiff Giant. Join Deblina and Sarah as they explore …

The Great Stink of 1858

January 14th, 2013

By the 1840s, London faced a sanitation crisis. One summer the stench of the Thames drove Parliament to soak their curtains in lime, an experience that led to funding for a modern sewer system. Tune in to learn about …

The Bone Wars, Part 2

January 9th, 2013

In Part 2 of this podcast, we examine the tactics rival paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh used in their battle to achieve …

Double Agent: James Armistead and the American Revolution

January 7th, 2013

James Armistead was a slave in Virginia, but got his master's approval to enlist when the Revolutionary War came. Armistead worked as a spy, and his …

Unearthed in 2012: Part 2

January 2nd, 2013

In the second part of this annual episode, we cover historical discoveries made in 2012, from evidence of vampire burials in Bulgaria to discoveries …

The Bone Wars: Part 1

December 31st, 2012

In this two-part podcast, we explore the rivalry between paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. Marsh was a farmer's son and …

Unearthed in 2012: Part 1

December 26th, 2012

In this episode, we look back on some of the biggest historical news of 2012s. Tune in to learn how researchers revealed new theories regarding …

Who was Good King Wenceslas?

December 21st, 2012

King Wenceslas is best known as a Christmas carol, but he was a real 10th-century Bohemian prince. Wenceslas was known for his kindness to children …

Why was Juana called "la Loca"? Part 2

December 19th, 2012

In this second part of our series, Juana has become her mother's unlikely heir. Just a few years after inheriting Castile, she is declared insane and imprisoned. But was she actually mad? And why didn't her son free her …

Subterranean Cities

December 17th, 2012

In this episode, Sarah and Deblina take a world tour of some of the world's most ancient, mysterious and historically influential underground cities. Listen in to learn more about subterranean cities around the globe.

Why was Juana called "la Loca"? Part 1

December 12th, 2012

Juana of Castile has gone down in history as "Juana la Loca." But Juana's mental state was likely not as bad as it seemed. Was she instead the victim of conniving relatives? In this episode, we discuss Juana's youth, …

The Johnstown Flood

December 10th, 2012

On May 31, 1889, the South Fork dam gave way, sending 20 million tons of water rushing toward Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The water swept up everything in its path, and it only took about 10 minutes to wash away Johnstown. …

A Comanche Story: Quanah Parker

December 5th, 2012

In this episode, we tell the story of Cynthia Ann Parker's son, the Comanche war chief Quanah Parker. Quanah led Comanche forces until his defeat at Adobe Walls. He then encouraged his people to settle on the …

Mutiny on the Bounty (Update)

December 3rd, 2012

In an update to this podcast about the mutiny that took place aboard the HMS Bounty in 1789, we discuss the fate of the replica Bounty made in 1962. During Hurricane Sandy, the Bounty was headed from Connecticut to …

A Comanche Story: Cynthia Ann Parker

November 28th, 2012

A Comanche raiding party kidnapped Cynthia Ann when she was 9 years old. She lived with Comanche parents, marrying a war chief and having children. …

Gertrude Bell: The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq, Part 2

November 26th, 2012

Part 2 of this series follows Gertrude Bell on her adventures after World War I begins. The British army asked her to help them retain their …

The True Story of the Chevalier d'Eon: Part 2

November 26th, 2012

Upset with the prospect of a demotion, the Chevalier d'Eon published his diplomatic correspondence. Worried that d'Eon might reveal the King's Secret, Louis XV desperately negotiated d'Eon's return -- with one catch: …

Gertrude Bell: The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq

November 19th, 2012

Gertrude Bell was the first woman to graduate with a First in Modern History from Oxford. Instead of marrying young, she went to Persia. Inspired, she traveled across the Middle East on numerous exploratory treks. But …

The True Story of the Chevalier d'Eon: Part 1

November 14th, 2012

Recently, London's National Portrait Gallery acquired a portrait of the Chevalier d'Eon, the first oil painting in its collection to feature a man in …

Johann Dippel and the Elixir of Life

November 12th, 2012

Johann Konrad Dippel was born in 1673 at Frankenstein Castle. Originally a theology student, Dippel began dabbling in chemistry, medicine and …

Who was Tokyo Rose?

November 7th, 2012

During World War II, Allied troops often listened to Japanese propaganda, and they nick-named the English-speaking, female broadcasters "Tokyo Rose." After the war, the hunt to find them was on -- and Iva d'Aquino found …

The Mysterious Disappearance of Agatha Christie

November 5th, 2012

In December of 1926, Agatha Christie left her home and vanished: Police found her car crashed and abandoned. An 11-day manhunt commenced and …

The Case of the Colorado Cannibal, Alferd Packer

October 31st, 2012

In the winter of 1873, Alferd Packer led gold prospectors into the Rockies, but harsh conditions soon set them off course. Packer was the only …

Accused by a Ghost!

October 29th, 2012

In the early 1760s, the so-called Cock Lane Ghost haunted a London home, communicating through knocks. The ghost accused her former partner of poisoning her. However, as more details emerged people wondered if the …

What really happened in Salem?

October 24th, 2012

In 1692, girls in Salem Village experienced fevers, pains and strange behavior. A doctor deemed the affliction supernatural, and the girls pinned the blame on several people. These accusations led to a witch hunt -- but …

Ghosts of History: A Haunted House Tour

October 22nd, 2012

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the tragic histories behind some homes are enough to send a chill down your spine. In this episode, we look into the real stories behind five historic houses that are believed to be …

Mary Frances Creighton: Who was America's Lucrezia Borgia?

October 17th, 2012

When Mary Frances Creighton was arrested for poisoning her brother, the tabloids went crazy, comparing her to Lucrezia Borgia. Mary was also accused of poisoning her mother-in-law and her work caught up with her when …

Madame Lalaurie and the Haunting of Royal Street

October 15th, 2012

In 1834 a fire broke out at the Lalaurie house in New Orleans. Firefighters found mistreated slaves inside, and the family was banished. Wild rumors spread afterward, and now it's known as the most haunted house in …

Jim Bowie: Blades, Battles and the Alamo

October 10th, 2012

Jim Bowie is known as a hero of the Alamo, but he made his name in a duel-gone-wrong: He came away with several wounds, but also with a reputation as fearsome knife-fighter. So how did he become a Texan legend? And …

A Brief History of Trick-or-Treating

October 8th, 2012

Before children went door-to-door, Celts kept out evil spirits during the festival of Samhain. Halloween evolved over time, but trick-or-treating …

Bloomers and Beyond: A History of Underwear

October 3rd, 2012

In this episode, PopStuff co-host Holly Frey joins in to discuss undergarments through the ages, from the utilitarian shirt to the body-changing …

The Surprising Life of Henry Ford: Part 2

October 1st, 2012

In this second episode with CarStuff's Scott Benjamin, we pick up at the height of Ford's success: The Model T is revolutionizing America. But he …

Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare: Part 2

September 26th, 2012

Senator McCarthy's celebrity skyrocketed after he made his name denouncing spies. Fear and intimidation kept many from speaking out against him, but public opinion soon turned. Join Sarah and Ben as they discuss …

The Surprising Life of Henry Ford: Part 1

September 24th, 2012

In this episode, CarStuff's Scott Benjamin joins the show for a discussion of Henry Ford's early years, inventions and innovations. Yet as Ford's …

Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare: Part 1

September 19th, 2012

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy had a lackluster career - at least, that is, until he claimed the U.S. government was riddled with conspiratorial Communists. In this episode, Sarah and guest host Ben explore the …

Orson Welles and the War of the Worlds

September 17th, 2012

In 1938 Orson Welles produced a series of radio dramas, including one based on "War of the Worlds." The broadcast caused a mass panic, since many believed it was a real news program. In this episode, we discuss why so …

Codes! Allied Cryptography in World War II

September 12th, 2012

In this episode co-hosted by TechStuff's Jonathan Strickland, the focus is on the codes and cryptologists of World War II. Tune in to learn more …

Alan Turing: Codebreaker

September 10th, 2012

Alan Turing conceived of computers decades before anyone was building one. He also acted as a top-secret code breaker during World War II. Despite his accomplishments, he was prosecuted as a homosexual by the British …

Codes! Axis Cryptography in World War II

September 5th, 2012

In this special episode co-hosted by TechStuff's Jonathan Strickland, the focus is on the codes, cipher machines, and cryptologists of World War II. …

The Radium Girls

September 3rd, 2012

Between in 1917, hundreds of women got jobs applying radium-treated paint to various products. Many experienced severe health problems. Five former workers decided to sue the U.S. Radium corporation, and faced a …

How the Mayan Calendar Works, Revisited

August 29th, 2012

In this classic episode, former hosts Candace and Jane explain how the Mayan long count calendar works. We also discuss some other doomsday …