History

Titanic: Voyage To The Past
12:01 am
Fri April 13, 2012

Remembering The Titanic's Intrepid Bandleader

Portraits of Wallace Hartley (top center) and the other musicians aboard the Titanic, published after the ship sank in 1912.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 5:17 am

This weekend marks the centennial of the Titanic disaster. One hundred years ago Saturday, the ship that, as legend had it, "God himself couldn't sink," struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. It was about 20 minutes to midnight on April 14, 1912. Two hours and 40 minutes later, the Titanic was gone.

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Around the Nation
2:53 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Unknown No More: Identifying A Civil War Soldier

A Civil War soldier poses for a photograph, in this image contributed to the Library of Congress by Tom Liljenquist and his family.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:53 am

A Washington, D.C.-area collector and his family have donated more than 1,000 Civil War photographs to the Library of Congress. But you won't find the men in these photos in history books — they're enlisted soldiers, and most of them are unidentified.

In one striking photo, the man depicted has crazy sideburns, a steady expression, and very clear eyes — maybe gray, or perhaps blue. He holds a rifled musket at his side. He is a Union soldier in the Civil War. And the only things we know about him are what we can learn from a single photo.

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Environment
3:35 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Shake It Off: Earth's Wobble May Have Ended Ice Age

A wobbling of the Earth on its axis about 20,000 years ago may have kicked off a beginning to the end of the last ice age. Glaciers in the Arctic and Greenland began to melt, which resulted in a warming of the Earth, a new study says. Above, Greenland's Russell Glacier, seen in 1990.
Veronique Durruty Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 9:25 am

The last big ice age ended about 11,000 years ago, and not a moment too soon — it made a lot more of the world livable, at least for humans.

But exactly what caused the big thaw isn't clear, and new research suggests that a wobble in the Earth kicked off a complicated process that changed the whole planet.

Ice tells the history of the Earth's climate: Air bubbles in ice reveal what the atmosphere was like and what the temperature was. And scientists can read this ice, even if it's been buried for thousands of years.

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Latin America
3:45 am
Mon April 2, 2012

30 Years On, Argentina Still Claims Falklands

People walk past a Falklands War memorial in Ushuaia, Argentina, on Sunday. Some Argentines want Britain to give up the Falkland Islands, which Argentina tried to take over in a bloody war in 1982.
Natacha Pisarenko AP

Thirty years ago, on April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, leading to a short but bloody war with Britain. Argentina lost, and the islands in the frigid South Atlantic stayed under British control.

Argentina still claims the islands, however, and is pressuring Britain like never before.

On a recent day, the ornate Palais de Glace museum in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, was packed with visitors browsing through a collection of photographs from the Falkland Islands war.

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Planet Money
4:56 am
Thu March 22, 2012

From Abe Lincoln To Donald Duck: History Of The Income Tax

U.S. Treasury Department/Walt Disney

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 9:02 am

The story of how the U.S. wound up with the income tax is the story of two wars, a Supreme Court justice on his death bed, and Donald Duck.

It's also the story of how the government overcame three obstacles.

Obstacle No. 1: Logistics

How do you make sure people pay?

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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Clue In Old Photo Leads To New Search For Amelia Earhart's Plane

Amelia Earhart. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
AP

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 12:21 pm

New analysis of a photo taken in 1937 has led investigators to think it might show a piece of the landing gear from aviator Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra plane, which disappeared in June that year somewhere in the South Pacific.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
11:50 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Polygamy's Surprising Feminist Roots

Globally, the prevailing form of polygamy is of one man with multiple wives – generally older men marrying younger wives. Social scientists have quantified that crime rates are higher in those cultures, with younger men having few prospects for family life. And it is no great shakes for young, often pre-pubescent girls forced into marriage by culture, economics, and tradition.

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All Tech Considered
3:41 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Digital Technologies Give Dying Languages New Life

In an undated photo, members of the Siletz tribe gather for the Siletz Feather Dance in Newport, Ore. The tribe is using digital tools to help preserve its native language.
Courtesy of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 8:45 pm

There are some 7,000 spoken languages in the world, and linguists project that as many as half may disappear by the end of the century. That works out to one language going extinct about every two weeks. Now, digital technology is coming to the rescue of some of those ancient tongues.

Members of the Native American Siletz tribe in Oregon say their native language, also called "Siletz," "is as old as time itself." But today, you can count the number of fluent speakers on one hand. Siletz Tribal Council Vice Chairman Bud Lane is one of them.

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The Two-Way
3:30 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Brilliant Idea: More Than 80,000 Of Einstein's Documents Going Online

A detail from what is thought to be one of only three existing manuscripts containing Einstein's most famous formula about the relationship between energy, mass and the speed of light — in his handwriting.
Sean Carberry NPR

Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 12:04 am

More than 80,000 of Albert Einstein's papers, including his most famous formula — E=mc² — and letters to and from his former mistresses, are going online at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

As NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro says on All Things Considered, "what the trove uncovers is a picture of complex man who was concerned about the human condition" as well as the mysteries of science.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
10:07 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Et tu, Macbeth?

Photo by Potatojunkie via Flickr Creative Commons

Greed...avarice...a thirst for power. Sure, these things all describe our modern corporate and political landscape, but they're also just a few of the themes at play in Macbeth. This weekend, The Acting Loft in Manchester is staging a new version of the play, one that doesn't forget the times we live in...or Shakespeare's intent.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
10:54 am
Wed March 14, 2012

The Long Con

Photo by Robert Huffstutter via Flickr Creative Commons

We can’t say with any authority when the first con artist found his mark. But we can trace the term “confidence man” to an article in The New York Herald in 1849. The Herald reporter urged citizens to stop by the city’s notorious tombs and peer at the suspect known as Samuel Williams. Many came to peer at the flim-flam man who described his effect on his marks as “putting them to sleep.”  The willingness to be duped, is of course, the genius of the con.

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History
12:01 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Girl Scouts: 100 Years Of Blazing New Trails

Brownies from Troop 65343 in Brookline, Mass. recite the Girl Scout pledge. Enrollment in the organization has declined since the 1980s, but a modernizing makeover and new focus on minority and immigrant communities have helped some.
Tovia Smith NPR

Originally published on Mon March 12, 2012 11:09 am

It's hard to imagine Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Lucille Ball as part of the same club. But they were all, at one time, Girl Scouts. Founded 100 years ago in Savannah, Ga., the Girl Scouts now count 3.2 million members.

Girl Scout cookies have become as much of an American tradition as apple pie. At a busy intersection in Brookline, Mass., a gaggle of Girl Scouts stand behind a folding table piled high with boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas and Shortbreads.

"They are really, really good," the troop collectively assures a prospective buyer.

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History
12:47 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Lost At Sea: Do You Know These Civil War Sailors?

Crewmen of the USS Monitor pose on the deck of their ironclad ship in July 1862. Robert Williams, standing at the far right with his arms crossed, is a candidate for the older sailor whose remains were discovered inside the wreck's gun turret.
Library of Congress

In 1862, the USS Monitor — a Civil War-era ironclad warship — fought one of the world's first iron-armored battles against the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. Less than a year later, a violent storm sank the Union ship off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The wreck was discovered more than a century later, and subsequent searches have turned up more than just a crumbling ship — they also found the skeletons of two of the Monitor's sailors in the ship's gun turret.

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Word of Mouth - Segment
10:33 am
Wed February 22, 2012

The Lost History of 1914

Two weeks ago, Florence Green -- the last known surviving veteran of world war one -- died. She had been a waitress in Britain’s Royal Air Force.  The story of the war that was to end all wars survives in historic accounts, novels, poems and pictures. Millions of British and American viewers recently got a glimpse of the battlefield on PBS’s popular Downton Abbey.

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All Things Considered
1:28 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

A Pond in Mont Vernon With a Controversial Name

With Town Meeting Day set for March, February is when towns hold public meetings about the budget items and warrant articles that will go before voters.

Mont Vernon, in southern New Hampshire, is no exception; its public hearing is tonight. And one of the items drawing the most attention is a request to change the name of a small body of water known as Jew Pond.

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