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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.






Rat Day (Ep72)

The Boston Women’s Municipal League was a civic organization made up of mostly middle and upper class women, at a time when most women didn’t work outside the home. In 1915, they declared war on rats. Over the next few years, Women's Municipal League published literature on eradicating rats, carried out an extensive education campaign, and in 1917 hosted a city-wide Rat Day with cash prizes for the citizens who killed the most rats. Show notes:


The Curious Case of Phineas Gage (Ep71)

In 1848, railroad worker Phineas Gage suffered an unusual injury, in which a three foot tamping iron was blown through his skull, making him on of the greatest medical curiosities of all time. We’ll discuss his time in Boston, his life post-injury, and the impact of his case on modern neuroscience. Content warning: The details of Gage’s accident and injury are a little gory. Show notes:


Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, with Ryan Walsh (Ep70)

This week, Ryan Walsh joins us to discuss Boston in 1968, the James Brown concert that might have prevented a riot, a cult that took over Roxbury’s Fort Hill, the strange history of LSD in our city, and a musical movement called the Bosstown Sound. Most of all, though, we will discuss his book Astral Weeks, a Secret History of 1968 and the Van Morrison record that inspired it. Show notes:


Picturing the South End, with Lauren Prescott (Ep69)

We’re joined this week by Lauren Prescott, the executive director of the South End Historical Society and author of a new book simply titled "Boston’s South End." It’s part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Postcard History Series,” and it features hundreds of images from the South End Historical Society’s collection of historic postcards dating from the 1860s to the mid 20th century. Show notes:


The Execution that Almost Killed the Death Penalty (Ep68)

In 1848, a murder case nearly brought an end to the death penalty in Massachusetts. When a young black man named Washington Goode was convicted of first degree murder that year, there hadn’t been an execution in Boston for 13 years. White men who had been convicted of the same crime had their sentences commuted to a life in prison, and tens of thousands of petitions poured in asking the governor to do the same thing for Goode. Yet even so, he was sent to the gallows. Why? Show notes:...


Classics: Boston Resists the Fugitive Slave Act (Ep67)

We used our studio time this week to record something special that will air next month. Without a new episode, we didn’t want to leave you without any HUB History this week. Instead, here are three classic episodes honoring black and white abolitionists in 19th Century Boston. Recorded last February, in the wake of President Trump’s attempt to implement a “Muslim Ban,” these episodes focus on Boston’s resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act, which was seen as an unjust law. Show notes:...


Cotton Mather REALLY Hated Pirates (Ep66)

This week, we’re talking about the conflict between Puritans and pirates in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Cotton Mather is remembered for his role in the Salem Witch Trials, but he was the childhood minister to Ben Franklin, ultimate symbol of the American Enlightenment, and he died less than fifty years before our Declaration of Independence was signed. In a way, Mather was one of the last Puritans, and some of his most famous sermons are the ones he wrote for mass executions of...


The Boston Strangler (Ep65)

For almost two years in the early 1960s, women in Boston lived in fear of a killer who became known as the Boston Strangler. Thirteen women were killed, and the murders were eventually attributed to Albert DeSalvo, based on his confession, details revealed in court during a separate case, and DNA evidence linking him to the last murder victim. It’s been over fifty years since DeSalvo was imprisoned on unrelated charges, leaving many people to question whether he was really the lone killer....


Harvard Indian College: Promises Broken... and Kept (Ep64)

There's an oft forgotten clause written into Harvard’s 1650 charter promising to educate the Native American youth of Massachusetts. This week's episode looks at the early, mostly unsuccessful efforts to create an Indian College on the Harvard campus, the abandonment of that plan after King Philip’s War soured the English settlers on their earlier plans for Christianizing local Native American tribes, and how modern scholarship is helping to rediscover this legacy and rededicate Harvard to...


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...


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...


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...


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:


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:


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...


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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