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History Detectives Previous Broadcasts

Civil War-Era Submarine/Red Cloud's Pipe/The Edison House (Episode #201Z)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Civil War-Era Submarine - In Louisiana's bustling French Quarter sits a surprising remnant of American warfare - a Civil War-era submarine. Salvaged from the depths of a New Orleans lake, the origin of this vessel remains a murky mystery. As a young boy, the New Orleans contributor was fascinated by the presence of the iron-clad vessel and its unknown origin. As an adult, he discovered that one of his ancestors may have helped build this sub, contributing to the advanced military innovations spurred by the Civil War. Will the History Detectives rescue the story of this Louisiana man's ancestor and bring the early history of America's secretive underwater warfare to the surface?
* Red Cloud's Pipe - In California, a viewer owns an American Indian pipe that family legend suggests was given to her ancestor by the famous warrior Chief Red Cloud. The contributor knows that her great-great-grandfather was the Indian agent who moved the Oglala Lakota to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Would Chief Red Cloud have given such a gift to a U.S. government official? The quest for the answer takes HD back to the turbulent days of the 1 870s; the team uncovers a battle of wills and political scandal reaching the highest levels of government, reverberating today.
* The Edison House - A Union, New Jersey, resident has heard a strange story about his home: that it was designed and built by inventor Thomas Edison. But Edison is known for inventing the motion-picture camera, electric lighting and wireless telegraphy, not house construction. History detective and architectural historian Gwen Wright investigates and discovers a surprising story of technological innovation, failed inventions and an approach to housing that was 30 years ahead of its time.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

Episode #708

KQED World: Sat, Nov 24, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

* Mussolini Dagger - Many servicemen brought back souvenirs from World War II, but did the uncle of a Reno, Nevada, man score a dagger from Fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini? The dagger bears the symbols of Italian Fascism, and the initial "M" hangs from the belt clip. A family letter says the uncle had orders to pick up Mussolini, but when he arrived, Mussolini was already dead and hanging in the town square. The letter goes on to say that he went to Mussolini's apartment, where he grabbed the dictator's dagger. Wes Cowan connects various records, pictures and expert opinions to come up with an answer.
* Liberia Letter - A Lynchburg, South Carolina, woman has a scrapbook of handwritten letters sent to her great-great-grandmother, a freed slave who lived in South Carolina. She thinks her ancestor's brother, Harvey McLeod, wrote the letters. What caught her attention were the repeated references to Liberia. In 1877, Harvey writes: "I hope you will change your mind and come to Liberia, Africa with us." Was this family part of the post-slavery exodus to Liberia? As Tukufu Zuberi tracks the path of the letters, the story pieces together a tale of slaves adapting to freedom.
* N.E.A.R. Device - A Colorado ham radio enthusiast may have stumbled across some Cold War history. While sorting through a bucket of old power adapters, he came across a curious device, a hand-sized black box with the wording "National Emergency Alarm Repeater, Civilian Warning Device." The contributor believes it may have had something to do with nuclear attack preparedness, but he lived through the cold war and has never heard of a Civilian Warning Device. Gwendolyn Wright sifts through the secrets to find out whether anyone mass-produced this device and what happened to this Civilian Warning program.

Survivor Camera/Alcoholics Anonymous Letter/Tallahassee Mystery Cross (Episode #407)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 -- 10:00 AM

* Survivor Camera: A woman in Boynton Beach, Florida has an antique camera she inherited from her uncle, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. Adolf Fingrut stayed behind when his family members left Poland in the 1920's. His niece wants to know which of two conflicting family stories is true: did Uncle Adolf survive the Holocaust by going into hiding with the help of his gentile girlfriend, or did he take photographs for the Nazis with this camera? During World War II, some Jewish photographers faced the horrific dilemma of working with the Nazis in documenting their atrocities or going to the death camps. HD will be in New York to investigate how Adolf Fingrut kept one step ahead of death and shed light on the existential nightmare of survival during wartime.
* Alcoholics Anonymous Letter: A man from Laurel, Maryland owns a mysterious letter that was written in 1942. It's a tribute addressed to his grandmother on the occasion of his grandfather Herbert Wallace's death, acknowledging Mr. Wallace's support for the organization Alcoholics Anonymous. "We of the A.A. Group have never had a better friend, nor a stauncher one, than Herb when the going was hard, " the note states. It is signed by a man named Bill Wilson. The contributor does not believe that his grandfather was an alcoholic, so is curious to learn how the supposedly sober, well-heeled customs attorney was involved in the early days of one of the most miraculous social movements of the modern era. HD searches New York's Westchester County, Brooklyn and Manhattan for personal insight into a movement that has changed the lives of millions worldwide and helped shape society's attitudes about alcoholism.
* Tallahassee Mystery Cross: About 15 years ago, archeologists at the Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, Florida made an astonishing discovery. In the process of excavating several hundred bodies at the site of this 17th century Spanish mission, they unearthed a beautiful and undamaged glass-like cross. The current Chief of the Apalachee Tribe says his ancestors once lived near the mission, but fled when British forces raided in the early 1700s. He wants to confirm whether the cross was made centuries ago by his own ancestors. HD journeys to Florida to examine the Spanish efforts to proselytize among native tribes and explore the fusing of native and Christian ideologies and symbols into a unique version of New World Catholicism.

Leisureama Homes/Jim Thorpe Tickets/1667 Land Grant (Episode #310)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

* Leisureama Homes - A Long Island man is the grandson of Andrew Geller, the designer of Leisureama homes. Geller created the model kitchen "Splitnik," used during one of the most famous television moments of the Cold War - the fiery exchange between Nixon and Khrushchev during the "Kitchen Debate" at the American Exhibition in Moscow in 1959. From "Splitnik," Geller later developed the Leisureama home. The contributor has a newspaper advertisement suggesting the Leisureama homes were widely sold in Florida, but so far he has been unable to locate them. HD tries to track down the missing homes, while learning more about this defining moment in cold war history and the influence of leisure on architecture.
* Jim Thorpe Tickets - A Jamestown, New York, resident was startled to discover a pair of sports tickets in a used book. The tickets, dated 1927, are for a basketball game featuring Jim Thorpe, the legendary Native-American athlete who was known for his 1912 Olympic gold medals and Herculean strengths as a football and baseball player. However, none of his biographers refer to a career as a professional basketball player. HD examines whether Thorpe had an unreported career in a third professional sport, as a basketball player, and uncovers some startling facts about the private life of one of the world's greatest professional athletes.
* 1667 Land Grant - A Fairfax, Virginia, resident holds a fragment of aged parchment that may be evidence of one of the first revolts against slavery in the Americas. The document appears to be a 1667 land grant to an African-American woman named Christina. The signature on the deed is of General Richard Nicolls, the first governor of New York. HD investigates how an African- American woman - the wife of a former slave - acquired what is now a valuable piece of real estate in downtown Manhattan, referred to in the document as "the land of the blacks."

Survivor Camera/Alcoholics Anonymous Letter/Tallahassee Mystery Cross (Episode #407)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 -- 7:00 AM

* Survivor Camera: A woman in Boynton Beach, Florida has an antique camera she inherited from her uncle, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. Adolf Fingrut stayed behind when his family members left Poland in the 1920's. His niece wants to know which of two conflicting family stories is true: did Uncle Adolf survive the Holocaust by going into hiding with the help of his gentile girlfriend, or did he take photographs for the Nazis with this camera? During World War II, some Jewish photographers faced the horrific dilemma of working with the Nazis in documenting their atrocities or going to the death camps. HD will be in New York to investigate how Adolf Fingrut kept one step ahead of death and shed light on the existential nightmare of survival during wartime.
* Alcoholics Anonymous Letter: A man from Laurel, Maryland owns a mysterious letter that was written in 1942. It's a tribute addressed to his grandmother on the occasion of his grandfather Herbert Wallace's death, acknowledging Mr. Wallace's support for the organization Alcoholics Anonymous. "We of the A.A. Group have never had a better friend, nor a stauncher one, than Herb when the going was hard, " the note states. It is signed by a man named Bill Wilson. The contributor does not believe that his grandfather was an alcoholic, so is curious to learn how the supposedly sober, well-heeled customs attorney was involved in the early days of one of the most miraculous social movements of the modern era. HD searches New York's Westchester County, Brooklyn and Manhattan for personal insight into a movement that has changed the lives of millions worldwide and helped shape society's attitudes about alcoholism.
* Tallahassee Mystery Cross: About 15 years ago, archeologists at the Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, Florida made an astonishing discovery. In the process of excavating several hundred bodies at the site of this 17th century Spanish mission, they unearthed a beautiful and undamaged glass-like cross. The current Chief of the Apalachee Tribe says his ancestors once lived near the mission, but fled when British forces raided in the early 1700s. He wants to confirm whether the cross was made centuries ago by his own ancestors. HD journeys to Florida to examine the Spanish efforts to proselytize among native tribes and explore the fusing of native and Christian ideologies and symbols into a unique version of New World Catholicism.

Leisureama Homes/Jim Thorpe Tickets/1667 Land Grant (Episode #310)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Leisureama Homes - A Long Island man is the grandson of Andrew Geller, the designer of Leisureama homes. Geller created the model kitchen "Splitnik," used during one of the most famous television moments of the Cold War - the fiery exchange between Nixon and Khrushchev during the "Kitchen Debate" at the American Exhibition in Moscow in 1959. From "Splitnik," Geller later developed the Leisureama home. The contributor has a newspaper advertisement suggesting the Leisureama homes were widely sold in Florida, but so far he has been unable to locate them. HD tries to track down the missing homes, while learning more about this defining moment in cold war history and the influence of leisure on architecture.
* Jim Thorpe Tickets - A Jamestown, New York, resident was startled to discover a pair of sports tickets in a used book. The tickets, dated 1927, are for a basketball game featuring Jim Thorpe, the legendary Native-American athlete who was known for his 1912 Olympic gold medals and Herculean strengths as a football and baseball player. However, none of his biographers refer to a career as a professional basketball player. HD examines whether Thorpe had an unreported career in a third professional sport, as a basketball player, and uncovers some startling facts about the private life of one of the world's greatest professional athletes.
* 1667 Land Grant - A Fairfax, Virginia, resident holds a fragment of aged parchment that may be evidence of one of the first revolts against slavery in the Americas. The document appears to be a 1667 land grant to an African-American woman named Christina. The signature on the deed is of General Richard Nicolls, the first governor of New York. HD investigates how an African- American woman - the wife of a former slave - acquired what is now a valuable piece of real estate in downtown Manhattan, referred to in the document as "the land of the blacks."

Episode #608

KQED World: Sat, Nov 17, 2012 -- 4:00 PM

* John Adams Book - A woman in Littleton, New Hampshire, inherited her husband's aunt's belongings, which include a curious late-18th-century book titled Trials of Patriots. It contains what appears to be President John Adams' signature in three places, and includes an inscription, "Charles Adams from His Father, 1794." The book is a collection of transcripts chronicling the sedition trials of Irish and Scottish radicals. If the book is indeed from Adams to his son, it could reveal pivotal clues about the inner-workings of this presidential family. In Boston and John Adams' hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, Gwendolyn Wright examines the Adams family's correspondence and conflict as they balanced home life with public service.
* Sioux Spoon - A woman in Portland, Oregon, has a curious spoon that once belonged to her grandmother. It's known in her family as "the spoon of atrocities." An eerie scene is etched into its sterling silver bowl: wagons, buildings and a crowd of spectators gathered before a gallows with figures hanging from them. A disturbing message is inscribed: "Hanging 38 Sioux In 1862 Mankato, Minn." What is this tragic scene and why has it been etched into what looks like a commemorative spoon? Wes Cowan travels to Mankato, New Ulm and Minneapolis, Minnesota, to explore the clash between white settlers and Sioux in the mid-19th century - and a struggle that led to the largest mass execution in American history.
* NC-4: First Across the Atlantic - Almost 10 years before Charles Lindbergh's famous solo flight across the Atlantic, the NC-4 was the first aircraft to make the transatlantic journey in May 1919. A woman in Saratoga, California, has a small square of canvas-like fabric that she believes comes from the NC-4, one of four U.S. Navy "flying boats" that had originally been commissioned to alert American destroyers to the locations of German U-boat submarines that were wreaking havoc on merchant ships along the U.S. coast during World War I. Due to early mechanical problems, the NC-4 was considered by many aviation insiders to be the least likely candidate to complete the trek across the Atlantic. In Pensacola, Florida, and Hammondsport, New York, Elyse Luray investigates the little-known story of the NC-4 and its historic voyage.

Pretty Boy Floyd Handgun/Paul Cuffee Muster Roll/Pop Lloyd Baseball Field (Episode #210Z)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Pretty Boy Floyd Handgun - A man in La Verne, California, owns a vintage Colt automatic handgun, which family legend suggests once belonged to the Depression-era desperado, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd. According to the legend, Floyd gave the gun to the contributor's uncle who had served as the lookout for "Pretty Boy." To find out if the story behind the gun is true, Wes Cowan travels to California, Oklahoma and Missouri. In the process, he discovers why gangsters became heroes to the rural population of the Midwest and reveals the true story behind the dramatic rise and fall of a man who ranks alongside Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger as one of the most colorful bank robbers in American history.
* Paul Cuffee Muster Roll - A Las Vegas man owns an old Continental Armymuster roll issued by the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, in July 1780. Among the 16 men listed is "Paul Cuffee." The contributor wants to know if this could be evidence of an unknown episode in the life of Cuffee, a remarkable African American who was a whaling captain, shipbuilder and early advocate of the "Back to Africa" movement. HD uncovers a dramatic story of African-American achievement in the years surrounding the Revolutionary War.
* Pop Lloyd Baseball Field - Why was a baseball field in Atlantic City, New Jersey, named after an African-American ballplayer in a time of intense racial tension? HD goes to the park to unearth the explanation. John Henry "Pop" Lloyd was one of the greatest athletes of his time. A famed shortstop in the Negro Leagues throughout the first three decades of the 20th century, Pop was honored with a field in his name in 1949. What was the reasoning that led to this unlikely honor in a time of blatant prejudice and racial division?

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

Cherokee Bible/Slave Banjo/United Empire Loyalists (Episode #304)

KQED World: Sat, Nov 10, 2012 -- 4:00 PM

* Cherokee Bible - An Austin, Texas, resident of Cherokee descent inherited a mysterious bible from her father. Having grown up speaking English only, she is intrigued by what appears to be Cherokee writing in the bible, and wants to learn more about her own family's history. This native language was "invented" by the Cherokee Indian Sequoia in the early 1800s in a desperate effort to win the respect of the U.S. authorities for his people. While Sequoia succeeded in establishing literacy rates in excess of the encroaching white settlers, the Cherokee were ultimately forced to march on the infamous "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma. The History Detectives learn more about one of the most tragic events in U. S. history as they head to Oklahoma and Tennessee to tackle the genealogical mystery behind the contributor's bible.
* Slave Banjo - A beautiful, worn banjo was recently purchased by a Chicago resident on an online auction. A tattered note inside says the banjo dates to the mid-1800s and was bought from a former slave in Bethel, Ohio, by an abolitionist family some time after Emancipation. Could this be the only slave banjo known to exist? Enlisting the help of blues musician Taj Mahal, HD is off to Ohio and Maryland to trace the roots of two American families divided by racial lines during the Civil War, and to track the surprising lineage of that most American-sounding of musical instruments.
* United Empire Loyalists - A contributor from Northridge, California, recently came across a family tree, which contained the words "United Empire Loyalist" scribbled alongside several names. Curious, she began her own investigation and discovered that the United Empire Loyalists were descendants of the more than 50,000 people who fled to Canada following the defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War. (Today, UEL is the only hereditary title conferred by the Canadian government.) HD travels to Canada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to learn more about this mysterious family link to a forgotten story of the Revolutionary War.

Bonnie & Clyde/Revolutionary War Poem/Portrait of George Washington (Episode #208Z)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 9, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Bonnie & Clyde - Could bullets owned by a woman in Brodhead, Wisconsin, be responsible for the demise of the notorious Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow? HD travels to key cities throughout the country in an attempt to link the bullets to the murderous twosome. Along the way, they chat with various experts and run extensive ballistics tests. Are these really the bullets that ended one of the most infamous crime sprees in American history?
* Revolutionary War Poem - HD goes to Salem, Oregon, to look into the story of a Revolutionary War poem found 25 years ago hidden in an antique trunk. The document appears to have been written by an American named Dan Goodhue while imprisoned in 1780 as a POW in England. Who was this man and how did his poem travel for over two centuries, across the sea and nation, to end up in Oregon?
* Portrait of George Washington - Could a portrait passed down through a Frederick, Maryland, family actually be an authentic portrait of the nation's first president, George Washington? That is the charge for HD in this fascinating story. The investigators attempt to prove whether or not the famed artist Gilbert Stuart, whose resume includes the portrait of Washington that appears on today's dollar bill, was the artist behind the drawing in question. Might this drawing prove to be a national treasure?

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Nov 9, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

The Spirit of St. Louis/Gary Powers' "Suicide Pin"/Image of Apache Warrior Geronimo (Episode #301Z)

KQED World: Sat, Nov 3, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

* The Spirit of St. Louis - Two brothers from Parsippany, New Jersey, grew up listening to their uncle's claim that he built the engine for the Spirit of St. Louis - the plane made famous by Charles Lindbergh's historic nonstop flight across the Atlantic. A letter addressed to the uncle from the Wright Aeronautical Corporation in 1927 thanks him for his "enthusiasm and outstanding cooperation" following "Captain Lindbergh's recent achievement," but makes no direct mention of his role in the event. The family legend leads HD to uncover the forgotten history of Lucky Lindy's legendary flight.
* Gary Powers' "Suicide Pin" - A toolmaker and artist in Kansas City, Missouri, found two peculiar pins, wrapped in a newspaper dated 1960, that had been manipulated to contain liquid. Could these pins be the prototypes of a poison- filled pin that U2 pilot Gary Powers was carrying when his spy-plane was shot down over the Soviet Union? HD takes a closer look at Cold War intrigue and the device that may have fueled the ultimate showdown.
* Image of Apache Warrior Geronimo - A New Mexico woman's great-great- grandfather was lieutenant governor of the New Mexico territory in he 1870s. Her only keepsake from that time is a photograph of an Indian warrior on horseback. On the back of the photo are the words, Geronimo saluting a crowd of 100,000 people and surrounded by U.S. "soldier at Ranch 101." HD investigates the connection between the lieutenant governor, Ranch 101 and the legendary Apache warrior.

Ventriloquist Dummy/Witch's House/Poems (Episode #207Z)

KQED World: Fri, Nov 2, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Ventriloquist Dummy - An African-American woman in Brooklyn, New York, has her father's black ventriloquist dummy, "Sam. " Her father, John Cooper, was the first famous African-American ventriloquist. In a time of minstrel stereotypes, did "Sam" help transform how Americans viewed race in the early 20th century? How was this dummy created and was it meant to be a protest against racial prejudice?
* Witch's House - Could a house in Essex County, Massachusetts, have once belonged to an accused witch? HD heads to New England to research the likelihood with local historians and a descendant of the accused witch, Martha Carrier, who was executed by hanging in 1692 during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Might the woman who was called the "Queen of Hell" have owned this home?
* Poems - In the first half of the 20th century, nearly 250,000 Chinese immigrants attempted to enter the United States. Because of discrimination against Chinese and laws meant to impede their passage, most were detained and interrogated on Angel Island, America's West Coast immigration center in San Francisco. The experience of these immigrants is documented in hundreds of poems that have been carved into the walls of the Angel Island detention center. Many of these have been translated, but little is known about the authors. Kathleen Wong, a second-generation Chinese American, believes that her grandfather and great- grandfather spent time on the island and that her great-grandfather may have died there. She knows little about her ancestors' experience on Angel Island and their possible connection with the poems. HD investigates the story of her family's passage to the United States to find out if any of the poems were written by her ancestors.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Nov 2, 2012 -- 9:00 AM
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