History

Bessie Stringfield: The Motorcycle Queen of Miami

Sep 22, 2016
Cover art courtesy of Joel Christian Gill | Author photo courtesy of NHIA

From intrepid explorers to hearty pioneers to Jack Kerouac's drug addled odyssey, the road trip is a staple of American literature and folklore. Stories of crossing the nation are allegories for freedom, expanding opportunities, and often escape.

The little known story of an African American woman crossing the country eight times during the 1930s and 40s is remarkable enough. The fact that Bessie Stringfield did it—alone—on a motorcycle is downright astonishing.

USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/EJSXqM

Each year, eight-hundred thousand Latinos turn 18 in the United States - add up the 4 years since the last election, and you've got a whole lot of young voters. Today, a new app designed to increase turnout among young Latinos - an crucial block that haven't always shown up to the polls. 

Plus, the author of The Way Things Work - a quintessential coffee-table book from 1988 made up of detailed illustrations to explain everything from catapults to calculators. The classic book just got an update for the digital age.

And conservation by drone - we'll hear about a program designed to save black-footed ferrets from the plague by air-dropping vaccines.

Sean Winters via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/HN51N

When a seasoned magazine editor took her daughter to the bookstore, they found scientists and explorers in magazines for boys. For girls: princesses, cover girls in make-up and tips for shinier hair.

On today’s show a new magazine for girls has plenty of creative, inspiring ideas, and no lipstick! 

Also today, aspiring doctors get all they can from med school, for the rest, they turn to actors. We'll find out how playing sick is helping to make better doctors. And the 5-second rule gets the science treatment.

John Debay via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/6U7o1M

Julia Ward Howe is famous for writing the civil war song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” - but did you know her life was the subject of the first Pulitzer Prize winning biography, back in 1917? We’re learning about the unlikely sisters who took home the first Pulitzer prize 100 years ago.

Plus, you've seen one photo of the pyramids at Giza, or the Eiffel Tower, and you've just about seen them all.  We'll talk to an artist who photographs the most documented tourist destinations in the world - by not taking photos of them.  

8.17.16: The Man With Made-Up Memories & Blood Brother

Aug 17, 2016

Dr . Martin Luther King Jr, Emmit Till, Medgar Evers  -  many sacrificed their lives during America's struggle  for civil rights. So did Jonathan Daniels, a white student from New Hampshire.Today, the authors of a new biography dig into Daniels' life and activism.

Plus, what makes up a memory? For years, filing cabinets or computer folders were used as metaphors for how our brains store and retrieve memories - the truth is a lot less reliable. One man's near-death experience reveals a lot about how and what we remember.

Ben Beltran via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7uuhG8

In the 1968 Olympic games, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the medal stand - with the eyes of the world upon them - and raised their fists to the sky. Today, John Carlos talks about athletic activism today and the force of that protest nearly fifty years ago.

Plus, the multi-million dollar industry of suffering. A filmmaker explores why people pay money to grind through obstacle courses races through mud, icy ponds and electric shocks? Are we primitive beings taking flight from desk jobs? Or does running through fire just make for a better Facebook post?

Deb Cram

The Bookshelf is NHPR's series on authors and books with ties to the Granite State.  All Things Considered host Peter Biello features authors, covers literary events and publishing trends, and gets recommendations from each guest on what books listeners might want to add to their own bookshelves. 

If you have an author or book you think we should profile on The Bookshelf, send us an email. The address is books@nhpr.org.

6.23.16: How We Can Be More Nordic & Citizen Khan

Jun 23, 2016
Valerio Fuoglio via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/dcPCcv

Bernie Sanders’ proposals for free education and healthcare were flatly rejected by those who said "we are not Denmark". A new book argues that the policies and protections in Nordic countries don't work because of shared benevolence, but because they benefit everyone's selfish interests. Today, a Finnish expat gives the US a pep talk.

Then, Zarif Khan migrated to America in the early 20th century and became prosperous and beloved in his Wyoming town...though the law prevented his citizenship.

Elias Levy via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/orHiFR

There are a lot of adjectives used to describe great white sharks:  Giant. Fearsome. Deadly.  But author and naturalist Sy Montgomery has seen sharks up close and might choose another word - like sublime. Today, the ocean's most mysterious and misunderstood predator gets a closer look.

Then, maybe you heard about the guy visiting Yellowstone who put a cold, abandoned baby buffalo in his car and drove it to a ranger station.  Attempts to reunite the little guy with its herd failed and it was euthanized - inciting an online riot over how humans interact with wild animals. 

Happy Father's Day

Jun 17, 2016
http://gph.is/1sHPC2C

American Dueling Grounds, Chuck Klosterman, & SpaceX

Jun 10, 2016
Nat Welch / https://flic.kr/p/dZ3KLR

Dueling was once a common part of the American experience. Today, we’ll learn more about this history and some popular dueling spots that that public can still visit today.

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/sc9pR8

In July, nutrition fact labels  will see their first major overhaul in twenty years. Among the changes, a jumbo version of the calorie number - three times bigger than the rest of the listed information. Today, if we focus too much on calories, do we miss the bigger problem?

And what if we're wrong about everything? Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman takes on the difficult task of predicting how our present will be viewed hundreds of years from now. We'll talk about the next great American novelist, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and the improbable factor that kept Hamilton on the ten dollar bill.

5.30.16: Happy Memorial Day

May 30, 2016
Bill Dickinson via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/c6kur7

Each Memorial Day, the country comes together to remember the fallen – but history hasn’t always been so kind. When President Lincoln was assassinated, many publicly celebrated his death...and not just in the south. 

On today’s show, we’ll shatter the myth of a country united in mourning. Then, we'll look at why some important historical events go entirely unremembered – like the sinking of the Sultana, America’s deadliest maritime disaster. 

Listen to the full show:

Athenamama via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/JpXUh

Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn are familiar names, but what about Caccini, Strozzi, and Maconchy? Today, we hear sounds and stories from the forgotten female composers of classical music.

Then, one sales strategy has stood the test of time, making the transition from 1950s house parties to digital media - multilevel marketing, or direct sales. But what might seem like an awkward annoyance is actually changing social dynamics for hundreds of thousands of women. 

Library of Congress

Founded in the 1830s, the Queen City's Amoskeag Manufacturing Company became an industrial powerhouse of international renown, making Manchester a magnet for immigrant laborers and later, union activism. We're talking with two Granite State historians about this period and its relevance today.


Scott Anderson via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/qwUuhb

“Birthday suit”, “in the buff”, “wearing nothing but a smile.” Call it what you will, on today’s show we’ll strip bare the American nudism movement and we’ll explore the progressive-era origins and continuing tensions over what it means to take it all off.

Then, people love dogs - but few pay attention to the most common variety - village dogs. We're speaking with two experts who have spent their lives traveling around the world and studying the truest essence of dog. 

watchsmart via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/3iMTue

Radio broadcast news from the front during World War II. Vietnam was captured on television. Today, uncensored scenes from Syria's civil war are uploaded onto YouTube by the thousands.  Now, we’re learning what amateur videos reveal about Syria's brutal war.

Then we’ll talk to an author who decided to do what no one has done in more than a century: cross the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. Along the way he found not only the forgotten history of our country but also the emerging present.

Stanley Zimny via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pAMnYj

On the Titanic, metal gates kept the unwashed from the upper crust - today's cruises offer high-rollers seclusion using key cards and velvet ropes.Today, travel perks in the new Gilded Age.

Then, from Little House on the Prairie, to the pastoral scenes printed on butter packages,  Americans tend to think of the agrarian past as wholesome and simpler . But, the real family farm has not always been pure or pretty.

Plus, Sean Hurley searches for buried treasure with a group of metal detectives.

History Unfolded, Impostor Syndrome, & Fishpocalypse

Apr 29, 2016
Luc De Leeuw via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/5eM3mF

You can't confront the horror that was the Holocaust without facing inescapable questions of America's role. What did the United States know about the Holocaust and how did it respond? Today, the United States Holocaust Museum is asking the public to help uncover how the American press covered the genocide of millions of Jews - and whether or not anyone was listening.

Then, recent public health crises like Ebola and Zika show how fear grabs public and media's attention. But there's another virus potentially be more harmful on a mass scale that's crept under the radar. Today, we'll hear about a virus that's killing off Tilapia by the millions - and what that could mean for our global food supply.

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7jeDS3

Recent public health crises like Ebola and Zika show how fear grabs public and media's attention. But there's another virus potentially be more harmful on a mass scale that's crept under the radar. Today, we'll hear about a virus that's killing off Tilapia by the millions - and what that could mean for our global food supply.

Then, Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 - but you wouldn't know that by looking at his exquisitely preserved corpse. So what's the secret?

Dennis Wilkinson via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/bQFguT

You can't confront the horror that was the Holocaust without facing inescapable questions of America's role. What did the United States know about the Holocaust and how did it respond? Today, the United States Holocaust Museum is asking the public to help uncover how the American press covered the genocide of millions of Jews - and whether or not anyone was listening.

Then, Google and other companies are betting than autonomous vehicles will be safer than they're human led counterparts...but proving it won't be easy.

JDHRosewater via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pXMPW8

It's known on the street as Ecstasy, MDX, or Molly, but MDMA is now being tested as a way to treat the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic PTSD. Today, one of the premier drivers of MDMA research brings his mission to fund clinical trials to New England.

Then, fans of Downton Abbey know that it takes a well-oiled domestic staff to keep a British estate looking pristine. We’re taking deeper look into the history of British servitude...and cleaning.

4.12.16: Jackson vs. Trump & Birds, Birds, Birds

Apr 12, 2016
PROscreenpunk via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4JiDy2

Imagine a political outsider who's thin on policy and big on celebrity.  He's crude. He draws enormous crowds, and his popularity has party leaders panicking.  I'm talking of course about presidential candidate Andrew Jackson. Today, we'll look at some parallels between the elections of 2016 and 1824.

Then, New Englanders are cautiously optimistic about the end of a mild winter - with one devoted group especially keen to see what the spring brings – birdwatchers. 

Chiot's Run via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/a9qgh4

Once a staple of medicine, the case study is in decline - replaced in recent years by a treasure trove of patient data.  But what happens when doctors and doctors-in-training rely on statistics over story?  Today on Word of Mouth, a defense of the medical case study.  

Then, crowdfunding has been used to fund countless projects and but now people are turning to it for a whole new purpose - staying out of jail.

Plus, a history of the humble mason jar.  

Calsidyrose via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/fA4tsd

Facial recognition software is now everywhere - in airports, stores, on our gadgets and on social media. The goal is improving security and improving public safety, but along with our growing dependency on biometrics comes a problem: not all faces are treated equally. Today, the inherent bias of facial recognition software.

Plus, once the drug of choice for dropping out of the rat race, LSD is now being touted as a "hot new business trend".  We'll talk to a journalist who tried out the new Silicon Valley method of taking tiny doses of acid to improve performance at work. 

UncoveringWestport via Flickr / https://flic.kr/p/4JX1zF

Bullying, R-rated topics and shouting matches during presidential debates have left some Americans wondering whatever happened to civility in politics?  But in the British Parliament, being rude is a long-standing tradition. Today, a history of Parliament's bad manners.

Also, while we usher in spring with a last minute nor'easter, we’re looking back at the most devastating storm in New England history: the hurricane of 1938. 

Plus, a tech reviewer looks at a hot new item in the world of consumer drones.

angeladellatorre via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/9Ng42y

Studying medicine requires intelligence, discipline and considerable expense, making it one of the most prestigious professions in America. But that wasn’t always the case.  We take a look into the shady practices that lead the people of New York City to riot against doctors in the eighteenth-century. 

3.14.16: Lists of Note & The Ghost in the MP3

Mar 14, 2016
Pekka Nikrus via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/dktav6

Grocery lists, to-do lists, guest lists – human beings are compelled to put things into manageable order…and sometimes the result is anything but mundane. Today we look at some of the most memorable lists ever written – from Walt Disney’s un-used dwarf names, to a day in the life of country legend Johnny Cash. 

click-see via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/V62An

From the solitary writer to the reclusive painter, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, Olivia Laing meditates on her own bouts of loneliness, what it has meant to the world's great creative minds and why such an essential human experience cannot be wholly worthless.

Then, a historian on what ads seeking the capture of runaway slaves reveal about the identity, character and lives of runaways. 

2.17.16: Sex in the Sea & the Secret World of Casinos

Feb 17, 2016
Thomas Hawk via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/9C8MGs

Parents have long used "the birds and the bees" to help explain how babies are made...They'd really have some explaining to do if they looked under the sea.  Today, the mating rituals of lobsters, and other examples of love down below.

Plus, casinos are dizzying places filled with blinking lights, blaring sounds, and outrageous carpet motifs...all designed to bewilder and seduce gamblers to bet high and lose big. We'll get a behind the scenes look at how casinos work from code words to house superstitions.

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