History Detectives Previous Broadcasts

Uss Thresher/Pete Gray Cartoon/Manhattan Project Letter (Episode #510)

KQED World: Sat, Oct 27, 2012 -- 4:00 PM

* USS Thresher - A contributor in Chicopee, Massachusetts, has a stack of technical drawings and engineering documents he found in his late great-uncle's basement some years ago. A few of the documents bear the numbers and letters SSN-593, an appellation that belonged to the nuclear submarine USS Thresher, an attack class vessel that had been the pride of the U. S. Navy during the Cold War. On April 10, 1963, the Thresher was undergoing deep-sea trials when, along with its nuclear reactor, the vessel and all hands sank 220 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. Gwen Wright travels to New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts to explore one of the most traumatic events in U.S. Naval history and to determine just how the contributor's great-uncle could've come into possession of documents linked to one of the most secret weapons in the U.S. Cold War arsenal.
* Pete Gray Cartoon - A comic book collector in Brooklyn, New York, owns several storyboards from a cartoon comic strip dating to the immediate post-World War II period. The strip relates the story of Pete Gray, the first one-armed major league baseball player, who later became an icon for disabled WWII veterans. The contributor is curious to learn the identity of the mystery cartoonist. Because many artists from the golden age of cartoons - the late 1930s through the 50s - often moonlighted in advertising or more "respectable" trades, their identities were often undisclosed. Elyse Luray heads to Baltimore's Camden Yards and to comics hot spots in New York City to examine how cartoon artists helped reframe popular culture in the mid-20th century.
* Manhattan Project Letter - A contributor in New York City has a scrapbook of typed and handwritten documents connected with the top-secret Manhattan Project, which developed the United States' first nuclear bombs during World War II. The most intriguing item is a letter dated just after the war. It's a plea for reduced secrecy regarding nuclear affairs in the scientific community once hostilities ended. Did the scientists' letter help persuade President Harry S. Truman to change policy in the post-war era? Host Wes Cowan leads HD to New York City to track down the authors of the documents and to explore the delicate balance between science, military power and democracy.

Preston Brook's Riding Crop/Home of Lincoln Assassination Plot/Revolutionary War Cannon (Episode #206Z)

KQED World: Fri, Oct 26, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Preston Brook's Riding Crop - A Long Island man owns a beautiful old riding crop he claims was given to an ancestor by the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. But this is no ordinary present. Its owner believes it was given to Preston Brooks to congratulate him for beating anti-slavery campaigner Charles Sumner senseless in the Senate - a public attack many regard as a significant moment in America's move toward division and Civil War. To find out if the story behind the crop is true, HD taps into New York City, Columbus, Georgia, and Sea Cliff, New York, where they unravel a startling story of politics, filibustering and mistaken identity.
* Home of Lincoln Assassination Plot - A resident of Greenwich Village, New York, has a question about the home she's been living in for the last few years. She's heard a rumor that John Wilkes Booth, the infamous assassin of Abraham Lincoln, spent some time in her house. Not only that, she's heard that her home is where the plot for the assassination was hatched. Is this really where Lincoln's murder was planned?
* Revolutionary War Cannon - A Boston woman is fascinated by an old cannon kept in a local national park storage facility. She has heard that in 1774, members of the Boston Militia stole the cannon from the Boston Armory and hid it on her ancestor's land. Could the attempt by British forces to retrieve this and other cannons have precipitated the first battle of the Revolutionary War? HD travels to Massachusetts to investigate exciting evidence, shedding light on events leading up to the War of Independence and the founding of the United States.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Oct 26, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

Dueling Pistols/Evelyn Nesbit Portrait/Little Big Horn Bayonet (Episode #205Z)

KQED World: Fri, Oct 19, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* Dueling Pistols - A San Francisco bank owns two antique pistols, allegedly used in the last great duel on U.S. soil. The duel between abolitionist Senator David Broderick and then-California Supreme Court Justice David Terry was fought in 1856. One hundred fifty years later, a bank employee wants to know if these guns are authentic - and more about the duel. HD is on the case to find out what really happened. Was it about slavery or honor? Did the duel influence the outcome of the Civil War?
* Evelyn Nesbit Portrait - A woman in New Jersey owns a portrait she believes is a lost masterpiece by one of America's greatest illustrators and artists, Howard Chandler Christy. The painting's subject may be Evelyn Nesbit, the actress and model who came to fame in 1906 when her husband killed a famous architect accused of "taking advantage" of her. The resulting scandal rocked New York in the early1900s and the subsequent legal proceedings became the "trial of the century." But is this painting authentic? Can HD shed light on that famous case? In a wide-ranging investigation, the detectives reveal startling conclusions about the history of American art, the scandals of "Gilded Age" society and changing ideas of female beauty.
* Little Big Horn Bayonet - In Cookstown, New Jersey, the family home of the famous military hero General Edward Godfrey holds a surprising secret. Recent renovations revealed an old bayonet hidden in the attic rafters. The mayor of the town, Sharon Atkinson, knows that Godfrey was a colleague of General George Custer and fought alongside him at the battle of Little Big Horn. HD sets out to determine if the bayonet could have been used in that battle. Could this town own a silent witness to one of the largest massacres of U.S. soldiers by American Indians in 19th-century history?

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Oct 19, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

The First Movie Studio/Ufa Light/King Kong Camera (Episode #204Z)

KQED World: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* The First Movie Studio - Lincoln Heights, a quiet neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, is located far from the glitz and glamour normally associated with Hollywood. But a resident of Lincoln Heights thinks the city's first motion picture studio may be located in her very own neighborhood park. Could a broken gateway once have been the grand entrance to the beginning of Hollywood history? HD travels to California - and it's lights, camera, action!
* UFA Light - When a California man bought an antique Kaschie lighter for $50 at a flea market, he didn't realize he was buying a piece of Hollywood history. The beautiful German lighter is a collectible in itself, but the engraving may make it even more valuable: "Harry Warner" on one side and "Ufatone" on the other. Harry Warner is one of the Warner brothers of the eponymous studio that produced movies aimed at garnering support for America's entry into World War II. Ufa was Germany's largest studio and Hollywood's biggest competition. So what are the names of these competitors doing on the same lighter? And what is the connection between Harry Warner, known for his anti- fascist commitment, and a studio that became the propaganda tool of the Nazi party? HD is on the case!
* King Kong Camera - A Washington resident owns an old movie camera he believes could have been used to film the original version of "King Kong." Released in 1933, the movie was a milestone in story-telling and special effects, and spawned several remakes, including one currently in pre-production under the direction of Peter Jackson. To investigate the camera's claim to fame, HD visits Washington State, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where they meet legendary animator Ray Harryhausen and discover the true story behind the ape with a weakness for blondes.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

Episode #1006H

KQED 9: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 -- 1:00 AM

Can HD return the diary of a fallen North Vietnamese soldier to that veteran's family? US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta takes part in the exchange. A notebook with recipes for large volumes of liquor makes an Indiana man wonder if his rich uncle earned money bootlegging during Prohibition. What can a ledger tell us about Hollywood's treatment of Native-American actors? How did they earn their pay? Did producers treat them fairly?

Episode #1007H

KQED 9: Tue, Oct 9, 2012 -- 8:00 PM

What are the details behind the heroic acts pictured in a poster about two African-American soldiers in World War I? Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) helps find the answer. Then, is this a hand-drawn map of Valley Forge that George Washington used during the American Revolution? And does a Tucson man own one of the first transistor radios ever made? Finally, after 70 years, a Washington man wonders whether a business card ties his father to Prohibition-era underworld crime.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED Life: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 -- 1:00 AM
  • KQED Life: Wed, Oct 10, 2012 -- 7:00 PM
  • KQED 9: Wed, Oct 10, 2012 -- 2:00 AM

WWII Land Craft/The Abolitionist Flag/Mail OrderBrides (Episode #203Z)

KQED World: Fri, Oct 5, 2012 -- 6:00 AM

* LCT103/WW2 Land Craft - In the harbor of Bayfield, Wisconsin, a craft used for dredging and hauling rocks may hold a dramatic secret. A local man whose father fought in the World War II claims that 60 years ago the vessel played a vital role in the D-Day landings, transporting American tanks onto the beaches of Normandy. Could this ship really be one of the 1,500 "Landing Craft Tanks" designed and built to support the amphibious landings of the war? And did it really see action off the beaches of France? HD goes to Wisconsin and investigates.
* The Abolitionist Flag - Two Michigan brothers uncovered what they believed was just an old sheet in a family trunk. But could this "sheet" have actually contributed to the end of slavery in America? Was it a flag that an ancestor may have used to campaign for the creation of Free States? Or was it used as propaganda in a pivotal pre-Civil War campaign? HD explores the politically charged abolition movement to reveal the unknown and surprising past of this family and their flag.
* Mail Order Brides - In California, a photograph collector owns four small images of women taken in Chicago in the 1890s. On the back of one of the portraits are personal details and comments about the woman's inheritance, leading this collector to believe these are advertisements for mail order brides. Could he be right? HD visits California and Chicago to investigate the Victorian marriage industry, and discovers a shocking story of late 19th- century extortion and corruption.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Oct 5, 2012 -- 9:00 AM

Episode #1006H

KQED 9: Tue, Oct 2, 2012 -- 8:00 PM

Can HD return the diary of a fallen North Vietnamese soldier to that veteran's family? US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta takes part in the exchange. A notebook with recipes for large volumes of liquor makes an Indiana man wonder if his rich uncle earned money bootlegging during Prohibition. What can a ledger tell us about Hollywood's treatment of Native-American actors? How did they earn their pay? Did producers treat them fairly?

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED Life: Thu, Oct 4, 2012 -- 1:00 AM
  • KQED Life: Wed, Oct 3, 2012 -- 7:00 PM
  • KQED 9: Wed, Oct 3, 2012 -- 2:00 AM

Episode #1002H

KQED World: Mon, Oct 1, 2012 -- 5:00 AM

Wes Cowan hunts for the identity of a man whose name is engraved on a rare matched set of Civil War-era pistols, still in the original case. Tukufu Zuberi tracks down the story behind an old 78rpm, distributed by K.K.K. Records, containing songs titled "The Bright Fiery Cross" and "The Jolly Old Klansman." And Eduardo Pagan tries to prove that James Jamerson, a bass player whose bass line drove the Motown sound, owned a battered Ampeg B-15 amp that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will display - but only if inductee Jamerson really owned it.

Become a KQED sponsor

TV Technical Issues


To view previous issues and how they were resolved, go to our TV Technical Issues page.

KQED DTV Channels



Channels 9.1, 54.2, 25.1
XFINITY 9 and HD 709
Wave, DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse: Channel # may vary, labeled as KQED, or as KQET in the 831 area code.
Outstanding PBS programming, KQED original productions, and more.

All HD programs



Channels 54.1, 9.2, 25.2
XFINITY 10 and HD 710
Wave, DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse: Channel # may vary, labeled as KQEH
KQED Plus, formerly KTEH.
Unique programs including the best British dramas, mysteries, and comedies.

PBS Kids

PBS Kids

Channel 54.4, 25.4, and 9.4
XFINITY 192 (Monterey/Salinas 372 and Sacramento/Fairfield 391)
Wave: Channel # may vary.
Quality children's programming. Live streaming 24/7 at

KQED World

KQED World

Channel 9.3, 54.3 and 25.3
XFINITY 190 Monterey/Salinas 371 and Sacramento/Fairfield 390)
Wave: Channel # may vary.
Thought-provoking television — public affairs, local and world events, nature, history, and science.