From The Archives

Novelist E.L. Doctorow eschewed the label "historical fiction," though his novels undeniably used America's past to set the stage for the present. While the settings of his book were American history (pre-World War 1 era, the Civil War, the Red Scare) and the characters that populated his books often touted familiar names, his writing style steered well-wide of you high school history text book. His numerous awards stand testament to the relevance of his work.

The condition of New Hampshire’s Great Bay Estuary has been one of the biggest environmental priorities in New Hampshire for decades -- and NHPR has been covering the story extensively.

We were there in 2010, when the Environmental Protection Agency designated Great Bay as officially impaired – meaning it could mandate upgrades to wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the estuary.

American author Erskine Caldwell was born in Georgia in 1903. His most famous novel, 1932’s Tobacco Road, boldly addressed the South’s inequalities during the Great Depression.

“He was writing about racial relations when one did not write about racial relations," said Phillip Cronenwett of Dartmouth College in 1989. "He was writing about the difference between the rural wealthy and the rural poor when one did not talk about that sort of thing.”

This week, we’re taking a fresh look at Caldwell, whose writing depicted what he saw as the realities of society – however unpleasant those realities might be.

ABC Quilts was founded in 1988, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, with the mission to lend comfort to babies born with AIDS. Now, its volunteers also make and deliver handmade quilts to abandoned babies and those affected by their mother’s drug or alcohol abuse.

Ellen Ahlgren of Northwood, New Hampshire began ABC Quilts, delivering six baby quilts to Boston City Hospital, each carrying the inscription “with love and comfort to you.” Soon after, ABC Quilts began to grow rapidly, and has since delivered more than half a million quilts worldwide.

From the archives this week, the story of Ellen Ahlgren and ABC Quilts, from reporter Leslie Bennett. 


Predicting the future of technology is never easy. The incredible capabilities of the smartphone in my pocket today were nearly inconceivable in 1989.

That’s when NHPR’s Leslie Bennett made this fateful comment:

“It seems like telephones have gotten as complicated as they’re ever going to get. I may regret saying that.” 

Ouch – sorry, Leslie. She was speaking from Datatech ’89, a business technology trade show in Manchester. The vendors she spoke with shared their visions for office technology in the ‘90s and beyond:

“These fax machines can talk back and forth to each other. And we do have some that are live, actually hooked up to live telephone lines … We can talk to Japan if we want to, or Russia, or anywhere else.” 

That’s right … fax machines were a hot item in 1989. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What exciting gadget from today will be a fossil tomorrow?

From The Archives this week, we revisit Leslie Bennett’s story from Datatech ’89.


From the archives this week, former NHPR arts producer Phillip Bragdon caught up​ with Karl Drerup after he won the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award in 1989.

When Karl Drerup and his wife Gertrude first came to their little house in Thornton in 1946, it was the end of a very long journey – one that started in 1930 when Drerup left his native Germany to study in Italy. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, a return to Germany was impossible. Gertrude was Jewish, and Karl had designed anti-government posters. The Drerups took refuge first for several years in the Canary Islands, and finally settled in New York City in 1937.


Most New Englanders have likely heard of the Salem Witch Trials – a particularly notorious episode in colonial Massachusetts that resulted in the executions of 20 people for suspected witchcraft in 1692 and 1693. Less widely known is that over three decades earlier, Portsmouth, N.H. had its own witch hunt chapter. From the archives this week, we dig into reporter Robbie Honig's June 1988 story.


In 2002, an historic marker was erected on the site to commemorate the event.

Presidential candidates have always sought New Hampshire audiences. But once in office, the chief executive hasn't often returned. Twenty years ago in 1995, President Bill Clinton became the first sitting president to visit N.H. since Calvin Coolidge swung through in the 1920s. 

Courtesy Craig Michaud via Wikimedia.

Republican hopefuls with their eyes on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave are flooding New Hampshire this month. Decrying the state of the nation and the Democrat in the Oval Office is part of today's rhetoric, but history shows us, is nothing new. 

Carl Sandberg once defined a poem as an "echo asking a shadow to dance." NHPR’s Best of Public Radio celebrated National Poetry Month with some dancing in the form of three interviews from the NHPR vaults. All three interviews came from our former arts and culture program The Front Porch; it aired from 2001 to 2007 and welcomed many of New Hampshire’s finest artists as well as artists from beyond our borders.

Brandon Anderson via Flickr CC

In recent decades, the nation’s overall homicide rate has dropped. 2013 - the most recent year for which statistics are available - had the lowest homicide rate, 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people, since 1957.

But as NPR reported earlier this week, about one-third of murder cases go unsolved.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cc_chapman/4878972642/in/photostream/" target="blank">CC Chapman</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

The New England Patriots are getting ready for the Superbowl on Sunday, they’ll be playing the Seattle Seahawks for the championship. Eleven years ago they were in a similar position, gearing up for the match against the Carolina Panthers.

From the Archives this week we found this 2004 interview from NHPR’s The Front Porch. Host John Walters spoke with then (and current) State Senator from Manchester, Lou D’Allessandro. John spoke with D’Allessandro about his football career at UNH as well as his 1961 tryout for a new football franchise in Boston.

This week saw the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s "Citizens United" decision. And with the anniversary of “Granny D” day (1/25/12) tomorrow, it seems an appropriate time to take stock.

Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? What was left out of the song was Rudolph's New Hampshire connection.

PumpkinRot

So this week's feature wasn't exactly buried under an inch of dust and parchment mites, but it speaks to the best part of this time of year: telling scary stories. Back in January, Word of Mouth looked into how these stories have made the jump from summer camp and slumber parties to the web.

As Kansas City finds itself in its first World Series since 1985, its easy to think upon our own championship drought, which ended in 2004.  

It’s been a decade since Boston's boys of summer willed their way out of the American League Championship Series in unlikely fashion and finally put to bed the ghosts of Ruth, Dent, Buckner, Boone (and countless others).

Anyone who’s been paying attention the last few months knows who and what will be appearing on the ballot in a few weeks. (And if you haven’t been paying attention, get off the sidelines already!) 

But how that information gets on the ballots is a process we don’t think much about.

In the run up to the 2004 election, NHPR's Lisa Peakes visited Captial Offset Printing, the company that had printed ballots for the state for decades.

Here's her story from the NHPR archives:

With the Roosevelts running (and running) on PBS stations across the country, NH’s most famous documentarian has again put Walpole on the map. Ken Burns and his production company Florentine Films have won dozens of awards – Emmys, Grammys, a Peabody and a Columbia-DuPont Award. Much of the success can also be attributed to writer/historian Dayton Duncan who was a key collaborator on many of Florentine’s projects including The National Parks, The Civil War and Baseball.

We’re back in school again, and back at the polls. Seemed like a good time to listen back to this conversation on the Exchange from 2009. Laura spoke with a few members of a newly appointed task force to examine the state of civics education in NH.

Nicole Tung, courtesy FreeJamesFoley.org.

 

Three years ago, NHPR's Jon Greenberg sat down with New Hampshire journalist James Foley.

Foley's family in Rochester and New Hampshire officials have confirmed he was killed by ISIS militants.

He was kidnapped two years ago, but this wasn't the first time he went missing.

The Libyan government held reporter Foley and two of his colleagues for six weeks.  The three were released in 2011.

Foley was a correspondent with Global Post, an online news service. 

James Brady passed away earlier this week.

The former White House Press Secretary was also Vice Chair of the National Brain Injury Association. He came to NH for a technology expo focusing on new technology for people living with disabilities in 1995, not long after that he spoke with NHPR’s Laura Kiernan on our Perspectives program.

NPR

Earlier this week, longtime NPR reporter Margot Adler died. Morning Edition produced a great story about her career.

Archivists are all about anniversaries…we put a man on the moon 45 years ago this week, The Exchange marked that anniversary with help from the Sky Guys the other day. This week is also the 10th anniversary of Killington, VT officials meeting with NH Gov. Craig Benson about plans for secession and perhaps throwing in with the Granite State (more about that here).

George Herman “Babe” Ruth made his major league debut this week 100 years ago (7/11/1914) with the Boston Red Sox. He had just 10 at-bats in 5 games that season, pitching four, and earning $2,500

10 years ago The Front Porch (NHPR’s nightly arts program until 2007) went to Conway, NH to speak with Julia Ruth Stevens, the Babe’s adopted daughter. Stevens spoke to NHPR’s John Walters about living with the most famous man in America, “we never thought about it when we were all at home. He was Daddy and we were just like any other family.”

“Our country is a nation on the make,” according to historian Walter McDougall. He says we’re builders, dreamers, go-getters, inventers and organizers, so much so that "hustling" has become an indelible part of the American character and American history. He means it in all senses of the word, even going back as far as colonists's first arrival on American soil.

This arrived in the mail today.

This unassuming hard drive contains more than 500 GB of audio, the digital representation of 280 tape reels.  A couple months ago, I mentioned that NHPR was sending the last of the tape reels in our archive to Crawford Media to be digitized. And today the fruits of their labor appeared in the form of this orange-y goodness. (They also sent along a few pictures of the digitization process, take a look at the slideshow above).

If you have World Cup fever, you’ll know Brazil and Croatia kick off the tournament Thursday. Even if you don’t have the fever; even if the brouhaha over Landon Donovan last month didn’t register; even if you have only the faintest understanding of who David Beckham is; you know that the U.S. has never been a favorite in the sport of international soccer.

Minnesota Historical Society

On a Monday morning the weather more closely resembled Martin Luther King Jr’s hometown of Atlanta, than it did downtown Concord. But the heat and humidity didn’t discourage those who had gathered at the statehouse for the historic bill signing.

An archive is only as good as the data it captures. This is a thorny issue that archivists grapple with perennially. There wasn’t a lot of information about this week’s story in our records.

Photo by Marsmet523, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Memorial Day is probably the most archives-centric holiday in the year. While many holidays are a flush of personal memories and family traditions, Memorial Day is more about our collective memory as fellow countrymen. And archives are a conduit to our collective memory. 

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