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The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.

The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.
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The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.






Puritan UFOs (Ep63)

What did TV character Fox Mulder have in common with John Winthrop, the Puritan founder of Boston? They both recorded strange lights in the sky and other unexplained phenomena in extensive detail. This week, we’re going to explore the close encounters Winthrop described in 1639 and 1644. There were unexplained lights darting around the sky in formation at impossible speeds, ghostly sounds, and witnesses who claimed to have lost time. It’s a scene straight out of the X-Files, except these are...

Duration: 00:26:26

Ep62: Ten Paces, Fire! Boston's Hamiltonian Duel

Early in the morning of March 31, 1806, two young men of Boston faced each other across a marshy field outside Providence, Rhode Island. With the sun beginning to peek above the horizon, they marked out ten paces between themselves, then stood facing one another. Each had a friend at his right hand, as they coolly leveled their pistols at one another. Now, one of the friends called out, “Are you ready… Present… Fire!” And both men squeezed the triggers on their dueling pistols. If that...

Duration: 00:50:11

Ep61: Annexation, Making Boston Bigger for 150 Years

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Boston transformed itself from a town on a tiny peninsula to a sprawling city. In part, this was done by creating new land in the Back Bay and South Boston, but the city gained a great amount of area by annexing its neighbors. The first was Roxbury, which joined the city of Boston 150 years ago this week. Dorchester, Brighton, West Roxbury, and Charlestown would follow. Other towns, like Cambridge and Brookline would not. Find out why in this...

Duration: 00:39:59

Ep60: Holidays on the Harbor (Dec 25, 2017)

If you’ve been listening to the show for a while, you’ll know that the Boston Harbor Islands are one of our favorite local destinations. This week, we’re sharing three stories from the Harbor Islands, all of which originally aired within the first 20 episodes of the podcast. We’ll hear about the zoo shipwreck, a hermit who made her home on the harbor, and the secret Harbor Island base where Nazis were smuggled into the country after World War II. Show notes:

Duration: 00:30:13

Ep59: Corn, Cotton, and Condos, 378 Years on the Mother Brook (Dec 18, 2018)

Everyone knows the Charles River and the Neponset River, but have you ever heard of the Mother Brook? It is America’s first industrial canal, built by Puritan settlers in the earliest days of Massachusetts Bay Colony, and vital to the development of Dorchester, Hyde Park, and Dedham. Plus, by connecting the rivers on either side, it turns the landmass occupied by Newton, Brookline, and most of Boston into an island! Show notes:

Duration: 00:42:06

Ep58: Harvard's Human Computers Reach for the Stars (Dec 11, 2017)

During an era more associated with the Wild West, a group of women in Cambridge made historic advances in the field of astronomy, discovering new stars and fundamental principles about how our universe works. In the beginning, they were treated as menial clerical workers and paid a fraction of what their male counterparts got. Only decades later did they win academic respect, earning advanced degrees and finally the title Professor. They were the Human Computers of the Harvard University...

Duration: 00:45:10

Ep57: Boston and Halifax, a Lasting Bond (Dec 4, 2017)

On December 6, 1917, a munitions ship blew up in Halifax Harbor, causing the largest explosion until the atomic bomb was invented. The city was devastated; thousands were killed and injured. Before the day was over, Boston had loaded a train with doctors, nurses, and supplies. The train raced through the night and through a blizzard to bring relief to the desperate city. Today, Nova Scotia gives Boston a Christmas tree each year as a token of thanks. Show notes:

Duration: 00:42:23

Ep56: Classic Killers (Nov 27, 2017)

Last week's episode got us thinking about serial killers in Boston. In this week's show, we're revisiting two classic episodes about Boston's lesser known serial killers. Meet The Nightmare Nurse and a chilling figure who called himself The Giggler. Show notes:

Duration: 00:25:43

Ep55: The Boy Fiend, Boston's Youngest Serial Killer (Nov 20, 2017)

Jesse Pomeroy was a Victorian era serial killer who stalked the streets of Boston. He predated Jack the Ripper by a decade, and the Boston Strangler by almost a century. At only 14 years old, he was known as the Boy Fiend, a child who tortured and killed his fellow children, becoming Boston’s youngest serial killer. Show Notes:

Duration: 00:43:14

Ep54: The 1747 Boston Impressment Riot (Nov 13, 2017)

In 1747, a British Commodore began kidnapping sailors and working men in Boston, and the people of the city wouldn’t stand for it. Three days of violence followed, in a draft riot that pitted the working class of Boston against the Colonial government and Royal Navy. Show notes:

Duration: 00:37:58

Ep53: The Radical Heywoods (Nov 5, 2017)

This week’s show profiles Angela and Ezra Heywood: writers, activists, free-love advocates, suffragists, socialists, labor reformers, and abolitionists who shocked the sensibilities of Victorian Boston. Show notes:

Duration: 00:37:32

Ep52: Our Year in Review (Oct 30, 2017)

We're celebrating our first "podcastversary" with a look back at our favorite episodes so far, some reflections on podcast production, and our plans for switching things up in the year ahead. Stay tuned for the end, where we ask our listeners an important question about the future of the show. Show notes:

Duration: 00:52:03

Ep51: Confederates on Boston Harbor (Oct 23, 2017)

During the Civil War, thousands of Confederate soldiers, diplomats, and politicians were imprisoned behind the walls of Fort Warren on Georges Island. Today, the fort is home to the only Confederate monument in Massachusetts, but not for much longer. Show notes:

Duration: 00:42:43

Ep50: The Great Brinks Caper (Oct 16, 2017)

The Brinks robbery, an infamous 1950 heist in Boston’s North End, captivated the nation and baffled the FBI. It was the largest robbery in American history up to that time. Show notes:

Duration: 00:28:22

Ep49: The Tong Wars and the Great Chinatown Raid (Oct 9, 2017)

This week's episode takes on the early history of Boston’s Chinatown, two murders that took place there at the turn of the twentieth century, and a terrifying crackdown on Chinese Americans in Boston that sparked an international incident and has parallels in today’s headlines. Show notes:

Duration: 00:40:33

Ep48: The X-Ray Man (Oct 2, 2017)

This episode examines the life of Walter Dodd, who started his career as a janitor at Harvard Medical School before becoming a pharmacist, physician, and the Father of American Radiology. Though as you will hear, his journey was not without great personal sacrifice. Show notes:

Duration: 00:24:27

Ep47: This Week in Boston History (Sep 25, 2017)

Your humble hosts are out of town and off the air this week. Never fear, Jake is here, and he has this week’s historical anniversaries for your enjoyment. Show notes:

Duration: 00:16:48

Episode 46: Aeronauts, Ascents, and the Early History of Ballooning in Boston (Sep 18, 2017)

Early Boston aeronauts used balloons to perform scientific experiments, cross the English channel, take the first aerial photographs, and provide public entertainment. Whether by hot air or hydrogen, these pioneers made their way into the air, and into the history books. Show notes:

Duration: 00:34:32

Ep45: The Skin Book (Sep 11, 2017)

The Skin Book was written by highwayman George Walton and dedicated to the only man to best him in combat. While he was a prisoner at Charlestown Penitentiary, Walton wrote a memoir. According to his wishes, after his death, the book was bound in Walton's own skin and given to the man who defeated him. Today, this example of anthropodermic bibliopegy is a prized possession of the Boston Athenaeum. Show notes:

Duration: 00:35:10

Ep44: Perambulating the Bounds (Sep 4, 2017)

Since 1651, Boston has had a legal responsibility to mark and measure its boundaries every few years. Despite advances in technology, the practice of "perambulating the bounds" means that someone has to go out and walk the town lines. This law is one of the oldest still on the books, but when was the last time Boston perambulated its bounds? Listen now! Show notes:

Duration: 00:34:09

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