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History Detectives Previous Broadcasts

Wb Cartoons, Galvez Papers, Mussolini Dagger (Episode #810H)

KQED 9: Fri, Jan 19, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

Tukufu Zuberi doesn't recognize many of the characters in this box of cartoon drawings and cels, but together they tell an unexpected story about the early days of animation and the people behind the art.
Then, Elyse Luray unravels a love story when she explores why a regional governor cared enough about a slave to sign her emancipation papers.
And (in a repeat segment), did this elaborate dagger once belong to Benito Mussolini? Wes Cowan retraces the last steps of Fascist Italian dictator to find the answer.

Jackie Robinson All-Stars, Modoc Basket, Special Agent Five (Episode #809H)

KQED 9: Thu, Jan 18, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

Tukufu Zuberi tallies the facts on a 1940s Jackie Robinson All-Stars scorecard. Black and white athletes played this game before Robinson became the first black major league baseball player. What role did this game play in the integration of major league baseball?
Then, we see the name 'Toby' worked into the weave of this basket. Could that be Toby Riddle, the woman congress honored as a heroine of the Indian Wars of the American West?
And, why would J. Edgar Hoover endorse a crime radio drama? Does the script portray actual events?

Hot Town Poster, Face Jug, Lost City of Gold (Episode #808H)

KQED 9: Wed, Jan 17, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

This poster tells the story of a battle brewing. We see a clenched fist, what looks like a stern police officer, and the words: Hot Town - Pigs in the street. Who made this poster and why?
Then, did the artist mean to scare someone with the grimace on this face jug? What's the story behind this peculiar pottery?
And, if this inscription on a rock in Phoenix is authentic, Spanish explorers arrived in America much earlier than records show.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre, George Washington Miniature, Stalag 17 (Episode #807H)

KQED 9: Tue, Jan 16, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

Two generations of prominent Chicago families say this 12-gauge shotgun played a role in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Can HD confirm their story?
Then, combing through documents in one of Manhattan's first taverns, a man finds a miniature painting of George Washington's profile. Why is this find much more than a piece of art?
And, 65 years ago a fellow prisoner sketched George Silva's portrait from inside a WWII German prisoner camp. George wants to find out what happened to the artist. His search leads to a moving meeting.
(These 3 encore segments first aired as part of 3 different episodes in 2009.)

Korean War Letter, Diana, Lookout Mt. Painting (Episode #806H)

KQED 9: Mon, Jan 15, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

Rhonda Bradley never met her father. He's still listed Missing in Action from the Korean War. In a letter dated 1953, her father mentioned a man he said saved his life. Eduardo Pagan researches the "Korean War Letter" to find the man Rhonda believes is a hero.
Then Tukufu Zuberi searches for the author of Diana: A Strange Biography. Could "Diana" be groundbreaking literature as the first widely published and true lesbian autobiography?
Then, Wes Cowan digs into the mystery of the "Lookout Mt. Painting," depicting a Civil War battle. How did the artist of this painting end up in prison at the Rock Island Arsenal?

Cromwell Dixon, Bartlett Sketchbook, & Duke Ellington Plates (Episode #805H)

KQED 9: Fri, Jan 12, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

Elyse Luray pilots an airplane to relive the memory of one of America's first, and youngest, barnstormers. Pilot "Cromwell Dixon" lost his life at 19 when his airplane crashed.
Then, details in "Bartlett's Sketchbook" suggest the scenes illustrate the first ever US-Mexican border survey. Eduardo Pagan wonders whether the sketchbook made that journey, and if it belonged to Bartlett?
Finally, a dumpster find may be a jazz history treasure. In the encore segment, Tukufu Zuberi sets out to find whether these metal "Duke Ellington Plates" printed the first copy of the Ellington hit, Take the A Train.

Andrew Jackson's Mouth/Barton Letter/Spybook (Episode #804H)

KQED 9: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

"Andrew Jackson's Mouth": The reunification of two halves of a vandalized sculpture of President Andrew Jackson?
"Barton Letter": Why did Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, write a letter about a Civil War soldier?
"Spybook": Does a Pennsylvania man have a notebook that once belonged to a World War I spy?

Lauste Film Clip/Baker's Gold/Transatlantic Cable (Episode #803H)

KQED 9: Wed, Jan 10, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

"Lauste Film Clip" - Did an HD viewer find a clip of the first talking picture?
"Baker's Gold" What's the story behind Gold Rush sketches of five and eight-pound gold nuggets?
"Transatlantic Cable" Did a beachcomber find a section of the first transatlantic cable?

Iwo Jima Map, Copperhead Cane, Theremin (Episode #802H)

KQED 9: Tue, Jan 9, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

First, detective Eduardo Pagan investigates the history of a hand-drawn map, taken from the body of a Japanese soldier during the World War II battle of Iwo Jima, in the segment "Iwo Jima Map." Then, in "Copperhead Cane," Wes Cowan follows the story of a cane topped with a coiled snake that has ties to the anti-Abraham Lincoln group, the "Peace Democrats." Finally, in the segment "Theremin," Elyse Luray traces the origins of the Theremin - one of the first electronic musical instruments - and finds out if a New Mexico man owns one of the fewer than a dozen Theremins in the US built by Leon Theremin himself.

Space Exploration (Episode #801H)

KQED 9: Mon, Jan 8, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

This episode launches into space for an exhilarating hour exploring the excitement, promise and ingenuity that fueled America's foray into space exploration. First, detective Tukufu Zuberi tracks a scrap of metallic Mylar that could be one of America's early satellites - balloons - in the segment "Satelloon." Then, in the segment "Moon Museum," Gwendolyn Wright investigates the audacious notion that Andy Warhol's art may be on the moon. Finally, in the "Space Boot" segment, Elyse Luray tries on a jury-rigged ski boot with a magnetic metal brick bolted to the bottom that may be one of the first prototypes for a NASA space boot.

Episode #703H

KQED 9: Fri, Jan 5, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

* St. Valentine's Day Massacre - HD stares down the barrel of a shotgun for clues that one of Al Capone's men fired it in a Chicago gang massacre that shocked the nation. The gun came to the contributor's family after it was handed down through two generations of prominent Chicago families. It's a Western Field single-barreled repeating action 12-guage shotgun. The barrel and the stock were once shortened just the way the Capone gang liked its guns: easy to conceal and with greater destructive force. Elyse Luray tests the gun's firepower, consults with ballistics experts and combs through physical evidence to see if she can place this gun at the scene of the crime.
* Booth Letter - A contributor gave HD a letter indicating that, 30 years before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Booth's father threatened to kill another sitting president, Andrew Jackson. Signed "Junius Brutus Booth," the letter to Jackson reads, "You damn'd old scoundrel ... I will cut your throat whilst you are sleeping." The writer insists that Jackson pardon two men who were sentenced to death. Why did the fate of these two men incite such fury? Tukufu Zuberi travels to Nashville to consult historians at The Hermitage, the ancestral home of President Andrew Jackson, and to Washington, DC, to talk with a Booth biographer. Was the letter a hoax? Or did assassination run in the Booth blood?
* Cemetery Alarm - A Midland, Michigan, man who collects war munitions snapped up an item at an estate auction that looked like a Civil War-era weapon. On closer inspection, after consulting with other collectors, he decided he had a grave alarm: an explosive device meant to guard against grave robbers. Is this truly a grave alarm? Wes Cowan's investigation winds through tales of body snatching and cadaver dissecting, unusual crimes and the most unlikely suspects.

Episode #702

KQED 9: Thu, Jan 4, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

* Manhattan Project - A contributor is certain that his father worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. His father refused to talk about his war assignment, except to say that he sold his patent to the U.S. government for a single dollar. Along with the patent, the contributor has a letter from the Atomic Energy Commission stating that his father's patent had been declassified. Was this invention used to build the atomic bomb? To find out, Wes Cowan travels to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and discovers a plan to hide atomic secrets in plain sight.
* Galleon Shipwreck - A woman in Portland, Oregon, has a large chunk of what she believes is very old beeswax. This 23-pound block, dug up on the northern Oregon coast in the late 1930s, seems to have been deliberately carved with strange markings. For centuries, ships carried beeswax on trade routes from the Far East to the American Pacific Coast. Could this beeswax have been cargo on a legendary ship that foundered more then 300 years ago? And what do those odd markings mean? Elyse Luray goes to the Bee Lab at Oregon State University to decipher where the beeswax came from and visits an archaeologist in Olympia, Washington, to track which ship may have brought it to the Oregon coast.
* Creole Poems - A fan from Chicago recently unearthed a French manuscript rolled in a cardboard tube. "Duplessis," his great-grandmother's mother-in-laws surname, is jotted in a margin, and "Rouzan," his grandmother's maiden name, appears at the bottom of another page. No one in the family knows anything about it, but the contributor, who reads a little French, thinks he has a collection of love poems, possibly written to one of his relatives. What is this? And why has his family kept it for 160 years? The questions lead Gwendolyn Wright to New Orleans and to a piece of family history the contributor had never known.

Episode #601H

KQED 9: Wed, Jan 3, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

* WWII Diary - A man in Lexington, NC, has a poignant diary written by a WWII pilot. He inherited the diary 20 years ago from his father, who said it once belonged to a close friend whom he fought alongside in WWII, until the war took his friend's life in 1944. Keeping the last thoughts of this fallen soldier is now too great a burden for the contributor. Can HD return it to a living relative? The stakes are raised as the diary pages reveal the story of a young American pilot stationed in England, racing against time and all odds to return home before the birth of his first child. Host Wes Cowan heads to Florida on a quest to reunite the diary with the pilot's surviving family.
* 1856 Mormon Tale - The tattered pages of an anonymously authored 1856 book titled Female Life Among the Mormons claim to be the personal memoirs of a New York woman who married a Mormon elder at a time when polygamy was openly practiced but characterized by some abolitionists as the "enslavement of white women." In it, the author says she traveled with her husband as the Mormons were chased out of New York and Illinois, eventually settling in the Utah Territory. Throughout her journey, the author claims to have witnessed a shocking, immoral culture of violence, polygamy, sexual depravity and brainwashing. The contributor from Stanfordville, NY, wants to know what happened to the author after she escaped the so-called "horrors" of Mormon life. Could her sensational account, presented as an autobiographical work, be true? The search to find the author takes HD into a mystery that has haunted bibliographers for nearly 150 years. Host Tukufu Zuberi travels to Ithaca and New York City to sort fact from fiction.
* Annie Oakley Coin - A contributor from Bath, Maine, has an 1853 French Napoleon coin with a bent, split edge and a great bit of family lore: that the coin was shot by Annie Oakley and that Oakley herself gave the coin to two of the contributor's great-granduncles. It doesn't look like any of the souvenir coins the Wild West Show icon typically handed out to her many fans. Can HD prove that the sharp-shooting star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show shot the coin for the two brothers - and turn family lore into bona fide bragging rights? To find out, host Elyse Luray travels to Cody, Wyoming, to conduct ballistics tests, scour the Buffalo Bill Historical Center archives and even re-create one of Oakley's sure shots.

3-D Cuban Missile Crisis/Amos 'n' Andy Record/Women's Suffrage Painting (Episode #501Z)

KQED 9: Tue, Jan 2, 2018 -- 4:00 PM

* 3-D Cuban Missile Crisis - A woman in Portland, Oregon, has a portable projection screen that may have helped save the Free World. It came her way with a letter stating that in 1962, it was borrowed from a club of 3-D photography enthusiasts in Dayton, Ohio, to show President John F. Kennedy the aerial spy photos that helped him resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. Is it possible that, as the world faced nuclear Armageddon, the US Air Force turned to an amateur club to help identify Russian missiles? HD visits Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and learns how the world's first supersonic photo-recon aircraft was rigged with 3-D cameras to improve its view of Cuba's camouflaged missiles. Wes Cowan leads HD to Dayton, Washington, DC, and Portland to pursue the case of this unassuming screen that may have played a role in preventing World War III.
* Amos 'n' Andy Record - A man in Lakeland, Florida, purchased at a flea market an aluminum record with the words "Amos 'n' Andy" hand-written on its label. He is eager to learn whether this is a rare early recording of the old-time radio series. At the peak of its success, 40 million listeners - a third of America - tuned in to "Amos 'n' Andy" six nights a week, making it the longest-running and most popular radio program in broadcast history. Its creators, Correll and Gosden, were white men who made a career of impersonating blacks for comic effect. In New York City, host Tukufu Zuberi uncovers a complex portrait of 1930s race relations and the emerging power of the mass media in American popular culture.
* Women's Suffrage Painting - 20 years ago, a woman from League City, Texas, bought at a garage sale what appears to be a watercolor painting. Pictured is a trumpeting herald on a horse, and printed are the words "Official Program Woman Suffrage Procession Washington DC March 3, 1913." The contributor wants to learn if this image is the original for that program and what role it played in securing women the right to vote. The investigation sheds light on the day before Woodrow Wilson's presidential inauguration, when as many as 8,000 women descended on the steps of the US Capitol, marching for suffrage. National media accounts testify to the galvanizing effect the spectacle had on the public. Remarkably, though, the event was organized in just nine weeks. In the suffragettes' rush to define their image, who was the illustrator they turned to? In Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, host Gwen Wright searches for the mystery artist whose work helped culminate the 72- year battle for women's suffrage.

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

KQED 9: Mon, Jan 1, 2018 -- 4:00 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.

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