Secrets of the Tape/Mountain Mail Bag/Banned Birth Control Box
Secrets of the Tape - A man in Opelika, Alabama, thinks he may have inherited the first commercially produced automobile tape player in the U.S. Even more fascinating is the possibility that the technology to produce this early tape player was stolen from the Nazis in the closing days of World War II. HISTORY DETECTIVES takes a great American road trip to examine how the U.S. gained the industrial upper hand following the Second World War. Mountain Mail Bag - While browsing through a Montana antique store, a resident of Modesto, California, discovered an unusual leather satchel. A tattered label on the bag read, "-oe Tho---son... presented .useum by the President. -merican Railway Express." According to legend, a Norwegian immigrant by the name of John Thompson risked life and limb to hand-deliver the post across the high Sierra Mountains in the years before the Civil War. "-oe Tho--- son" appears to be "Snowshoe Thompson," the mailman's nickname. Could this bag be one that Thompson used on his arduous journeys? To find out, HISTORY DETECTIVES explores the history of the U.S. Postal Service, shedding light on the tremendous contributions of this pioneering legend. Banned Birth Control Box - A Missouri resident recently inherited a number of items that had been in her family for more than 130 years, including an unusual wooden box. The label affixed to the inside of the box contained the date 1894 and language that suggested the box once contained a birth control device. How would a family in remote, rural Missouri obtain such a device, during a time when these items were banned and considered lewd and immoral? HISTORY DETECTIVES examines a case that just may change the way we think about the history of family planning in America.
Doc Holliday's Watch/Civil War Female Soldiers/Japanese Internment Camp Artwork
Doc Holliday's Watch - Four years ago, a pawn store clerk in Tulsa, Oklahoma, met a customer with a pawned antique watch, engraved with a potentially historic inscription. Could this watch have been a gift from the fearless frontier lawman Wyatt Earp to the dentist, gambler and gunman "Doc" Holliday, perhaps in gratitude for his help fighting the Clanton outlaw gang at the OK Corral? HISTORY DETECTIVES uncovers the surprising facts behind this legendary gunfight and the real relationship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Civil War Female Soldiers - A Louisiana resident owns a Civil War photograph featuring a fine-boned, slight-figured soldier. The soldier is simply identified as a member of the 2nd Louisiana Infantry... but could it be a woman in disguise? HISTORY DETECTIVES learns more about the remarkable contributions of women during the Civil War and determines if this could indeed be the only known photo of a Confederate woman soldier. Japanese Internment Camp Artwork - In a San Francisco historical archive, an intern recently discovered a set of 10 postcard-size watercolors of what appears to be a prison camp. Piecing them together, the intern was surprised to find they were painted on the back of a Japanese-American internment notice from 1942. What is the story behind these paintings? Who was the artist? And what was his or her fate? HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to the West Coast to solve the puzzle, uncovering the dramatic story of one of the 120,000 Americans citizens who spent years behind barbed wire, guilty only of being of Japanese descent.
Hermann Goering's Shotgun/Calf Creek Arrow/The Edison House
Hermann Goering's Shotgun - In the dying days of the Third Reich, Hermann Goering, the former head of the mighty German Luftwaffe, was holed up in his castle in the German countryside, addicted to opium and terrified of capture by the advancing Allies. A Lewiston, New York, man believes his shotgun may have belonged to Goering and was looted at the time of his arrest in 1945. A signed affidavit from an American soldier says that he removed the gun from Goering's castle "from the wall over the living room fireplace" during the arrest. HISTORY DETECTIVES investigates the possible link to Hitler's once- feared right-hand-man. Calf Creek Arrow - An Oklahoma resident discovered an unusual bison skull while fossil hunting in a dry riverbed. Lodged in the bone was a handmade point, which the contributor believes dates back to the Calf Creek culture, around 3000 B.C. Could this be just another hoax or an incredible archeological discovery? HISTORY DETECTIVES learns more about this group of nomadic hunter-gatherers, while putting this handmade point through the extreme rigors of modern forensic testing.~~The Edison House - A Union, New Jersey, resident has heard a strange story about his home: that it was designed and built by inventor Thomas Edison. But Edison is known for inventing the motion-picture camera, electric lighting and wireless telegraphy, not house construction. HISTORY DETECTIVES investigates and discovers a surprising story of technological innovation, failed inventions and an approach to housing that was 30 years ahead of its time.
Coney Island Lion/Legacy of a Doll/Ballet Shoes
In this special episode of HISTORY DETECTIVES, three young people, junior super sleuths, join the expert hosts for three exciting mysteries. Coney Island Lion - A New York resident recently purchased a pair of giant zinc lion's claws from the estate sale of a deceased collector of amusement park memorabilia. He believes the claws once adorned a huge lion that greeted visitors to the famed Steeplechase Park in Coney Island just outside of New York City. Could this be an artifact from bygone days, when tens of thousands flocked to the park for a breath of sea air and a whiff of excitement on its many rides? A young aspiring filmmaker who spent her childhood at Coney Island joins HISTORY DETECTIVES to explore the colorful history of one of the earliest amusement parks in the country. Legacy of a Doll - A Maryland woman owns a beautiful, antique and rare"Greiner" doll. Pinned to its dress is a note saying the doll once belonged to a former slave of the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Her grandson joins HISTORY DETECTIVES to help her uncover the true story behind the doll and its legacy as they explore the complex and intriguing story behind General Lee's relationship with slavery. Ballet Shoes - A 13-year old ballet dancer in Long Island, New York, recently learned from her grandmother that her deceased grandfather once made ballet shoes for many of the top dancers in the 1920s and 30s, including the legendary Ziegfeld star Marilyn Miller. According to grandma's tale, "Master Michele" created superb dance shoes from his tiny workshop on 42nd Street. His apprentice had been none other than Salvatore Capezio, who went on to become one of the most famous designers of ballet shoes. The junior contributor joins the HISTORY DETECTIVES to find out if there is truth to the grandmother's tale.
Leisureama Homes/Jim Thorpe Tickets/1667 Land Grant
Leisureama Homes - A Long Island man is the grandson of Andrew Geller, the designer of Leisureama homes. Geller created the model kitchen "Splitnik," used during one of the most famous television moments of the Cold War - the fiery exchange between Nixon and Khrushchev during the "Kitchen Debate" at the American Exhibition in Moscow in 1959. From "Splitnik," Geller later developed the Leisureama home. The contributor has a newspaper advertisement suggesting the Leisureama homes were widely sold in Florida, but so far he has been unable to locate them. HISTORY DETECTIVES tries to track down the missing homes, while learning more about this defining moment in cold war history and the influence of leisure on architecture. Jim Thorpe Tickets - A Jamestown, New York, resident was startled to discover a pair of sports tickets in a used book. The tickets, dated 1927, are for a basketball game featuring Jim Thorpe, the legendary Native-American athlete who was known for his 1912 Olympic gold medals and Herculean strengths as a football and baseball player. However, none of his biographers refer to a career as a professional basketball player. HISTORY DETECTIVES examines whether Thorpe had an unreported career in a third professional sport, as a basketball player, and uncovers some startling facts about the private life of one of the world's greatest professional athletes. 1667 Land Grant - A Fairfax, Virginia, resident holds a fragment of aged parchment that may be evidence of one of the first revolts against slavery in the Americas. The document appears to be a 1667 land grant to an African-American woman named Christina. The signature on the deed is of General Richard Nicolls, the first governor of New York. HISTORY DETECTIVES investigates how an African- American woman - the wife of a former slave - acquired what is now a valuable piece of real estate in downtown Manhattan, referred to in the document as "the land of the blacks."
Home for Unwed Mothers/Long Expedition Encampment/Evelyn Nesbit Portrait
Home for Unwed Mothers - The only clue a Kansas City, Missouri, resident has of the identity of her parents is a medallion of the Virgin Mary that was attached to her diaper when she was presented for adoption from a Home for Unwed Mothers. In this emotional story, the History Detectives help the contributor finally find her birth parents and the home from which she was adopted. Long Expedition Encampment - An Omaha, Nebraska, resident holds land along the Missouri River, where archaeologists are currently digging an encampment from the "Long Expedition," which took place in 1819, just 16 years after Lewis and Clark. Some historians consider Long, the first to be accompanied by scientists, the more significant voyage of the two. HISTORY DETECTIVES learns more about the relatively unknown story of scientific exploration in the American West and determines the authenticity of a potentially major archaeological discovery. Evelyn Nesbit Portrait - A woman in New Jersey owns a portrait she believes is a lost masterpiece by one of America's greatest illustrators and artists, Howard Chandler Christy. The painting's subject is purportedly Evelyn Nesbit, the actress and model who came to fame in 1906 when her husband killed a famous architect accused of "taking advantage" of her. The resulting scandal rocked New York in the early 1900s, and the subsequent legal proceedings became the " trial of the century." But is this painting authentic? Can HISTORY DETECTIVES shed light on that famous case? In a wide-ranging investigation, the detectives reveal startling conclusions about the history of American art, the scandals of "Gilded Age" society and changing ideas of female beauty.
The Chisholm Trail/Harry Houdini Poster/Mckinley Casket Flag
The Chisholm Trail - In the decades following the Civil War, more than six million cattle were herded from Texas to the railhead in Kansas in one of the greatest known migrations of animals. These 19th-century cattle drives along the so-called Chisholm Trail lifted the state out of post-Civil War poverty, provided much needed food to the cities of the East and gave birth to the legend of the American cowboy. In the small town of Donna, Texas, near the Mexican border, a historic marker declares that the famous trail ran through this area, yet many dispute the idea that the trail ever made it this far south. A local historian wants to set the record straight. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to the heart of Texas to help solve a local mystery and shed light on this key chapter in American history. Harry Houdini Poster - A Chicago man was replacing roof insulation in his home when he realized that the old material contained scores of old posters for a "Harry Houdini" magic show. The theater where the performance allegedly took place no longer exists. The contributor is eager to determine the poster's authenticity as well as to learn what kind of show Houdini was performing in Chicago. Houdini built his reputation on elaborate tricks and illusions. In later years, he devoted portions of his stage acts to questioning the spiritualists and clairvoyants who claimed they could contact the dead. HISTORY DETECTIVES ventures to New York City and Las Vegas to peer behind the magician's veil and examine the final chapter in Houdini's career. Mckinley Casket Flag - A Battle Ground, Washington, man has a flag that he claims once draped the casket of U.S. President William McKinley. The 25th president was assassinated in 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. The contributor says the purported McKinley flag was given to his great-grandfather, Charles Kennedy, who served as McKinley's bodyguard. HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to Cincinnati and Canton, Ohio, to investigate McKinley's legacy through the eyes of his supporters and detractors.
Wartime Baseball/Confederate Eyeglass/Howard Hughes' Invention
Wartime Baseball - A Seattle man has a baseball, given to him by his father, that is autographed by baseball icon Dizzy Dean. The ball is dated July 12, 1944, and his father claims he played catcher in a wartime ballgame that brought together two legendary pitchers: Dizzy Dean and Negro League star Satchel Paige. It seems far-fetched that an Air Force Staff Sergeant could have shared the field with these two sports heroes, especially in an era when both the military and baseball were segregated. HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to Washington State, Indiana and Illinois to investigate whether the autographed ball could be evidence of the influence of America's national pastime on racial integration. Confederate Eyeglass - A contributor in Terre Haute, Indiana, has a tiny brass eyeglass that, when peered through, reveals an image of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The owner believes miniature "Davis" eyeglass pieces were a wartime adornment of confederate supporters in the North who used these objects to secretly identify themselves to one another. HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to New York and Virginia to examine the intricacies of microphotography and the truth behind a possible sympathizer "secret handshake." Howard Hughes' Invention - In the early morning hours of June 1st, 1909, Howard Hughes Sr. packed a secret invention into the trunk of his car and drove off into the Texas plains. At an oil well near Goose Creek, Texas, a crew of workers watched in awe as Hughes showed off his new creation: a twin-cone roller rock bit that would ultimately allow oilmen around the world to tap into previously unreachable oil reserves. But was it in fact Hughes who invented this device? A man in San Jose, California, has a letter that he believes will prove his grandfather deserves credit for the invention. HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to McMinnville, Oregon, and Houston, Texas, to explore the mysteries of the Texas oil industry and the Howard Hughes dynasty.
Coca-Cola Trade Card/Vicksburg Map/Lawrence Strike
Coca-Cola Trade Card - A contributor in Parkersburg, West Virginia, owns what seems to be an extraordinary piece of memorabilia: a pocket-sized card, dated 1886, depicting an image of a female model and imprinted with a rhyming verse that begins, "One very sultry, summer day/Through Atlanta, toiled on his way/A lawyer, overcome with heat,/His lips could only just repeat,/Coco-Cola ..." Trade cards were a popular vehicle for tradespersons to advertise their wares and often included entertaining poems or rhymes. Could this card be a unique piece of early Coca-Cola advertising? HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to Coca-Cola's headquarters in Atlanta to trace the legacy of the soft drink empire and examine its influential role in American commerce and advertising. Vicksburg Map - A contributor from Tucson, Arizona, owns a map that he believes is connected to the Civil War siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. His great-grandfather commanded several batteries in this pivotal 1863 battle, and this document has been in the family ever since. President Lincoln called the victory at Vicksburg the "key" to breaking the back of the Confederacy, giving the Union armies undisputed control of the Mississippi River. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to Mississippi and Washington, DC, to dig up details of this key Civil War battle. Lawrence Strike - A contributor in Massachusetts owns a billy club with the words "Lawrence Strike" and the date 12/1/1912 cut crudely into the side. He's curious about the significance of these markings. In January 1912, tens of thousands of immigrant women, men and children led the Bread and Roses strike at a textile factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The workers clashed with textile mill operators and police as they asserted their demand for humane working conditions. During this cold and snowy January, pitched battles were fought in the streets of Lawrence in one of the most brutal strikes in U.S. history. HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to Massachusetts to investigate a struggle that paved the way for improved labor conditions throughout the country.
Alternative Service Certificates/Carolina Mystery Books/Mickey Mouse's Origin
ALTERNATIVE SERVICE CERTIFICATES: A contributor in Aiken, South Carolina owns a remarkable collection of wartime home front memorabilia, including a pair of mysterious $5 certificates titled "Brethren Service Committee." The certificates are dated 1943 and state that the contribution is intended as an "alternate service to war." Certain churches and religious groups granted "conscientious objector" status during wars in the 20th century -- are these certificates evidence of one person's attempt to buy their way out of serving in World War II? HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to Pennsylvania and Maryland to gain a deeper understanding of religious and moral objection to military service. CAROLINA MYSTERY BOOKS: A South Carolina man has a beautiful eight-volume set of Edward Gibbon's "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" that he acquired at a local library sale in Edgefield, South Carolina. The volumes are dated 1789 and are inscribed with the signature John Calhoun. The contributor suspects the books belonged to John C. Calhoun, the 19th-Century American political giant and intellectual architect of the Confederacy. Along with Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Henry Clay of Kentucky, Calhoun was part of The Great Triumvirate of statesmen who set the terms of debate on the most challenging issues of their time, including banking, state's rights, westward expansion, and slavery. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to South Carolina to uncover whether the books in question shaped the thinking of a politician who was nicknamed the "cast-iron man" for his staunch determination to defend the causes in which he believed. MICKEY MOUSE'S ORIGIN: Popular history has it that Mickey Mouse was born from a drawing sketched on a napkin by Walt Disney during a train ride from New York to Los Angeles in 1928. Mickey Mouse became the biggest fictional character moneymaker in the world, bringing in over $5.8 billion annually. A San Francisco toy collector, however, believes his small mouse figurine may turn the legend of Mickey on its ears. With a red label on its chest that reads "Micky" and a patent label on the bottom of one foot that says "Pat. Aug. 17, 1926, " the figure appears to have been produced two years before Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse. HISTORY DETECTIVES traces the ancestry of America's most famous mouse and sheds light on some of the earliest bare-knuckle business fights in the toy industry.
U.S.S. Indianapolis/Highlander Badge/Spirit of St. Louis
U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS: A Cleveland, Ohio man owns some intriguing artifacts that he believes may date back to a kamikaze attack on the U.S.S. Indianapolis in March 1945. Our contributor's uncle served on this battleship, and while home shared a story with his family about an attack on his boat. He returned to the ship and was killed when the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo during the final weeks of World War II. Years later, the family uncovered fragments of aluminum, military patches and a Japanese placard that the uncle had placed inside a cedar chest during his time on leave. Could these items be from the kamikaze attack on the U.S.S. Indianapolis? HISTORY DETECTIVES ventures to Texas and Washington, D.C. to examine the virulence and desperation of the Japanese suicide attacks that led up to one of the greatest sea disasters in U.S. naval history. HIGHLANDER BADGE: While scuba diving in the Savannah River 13 years ago, a Georgia man uncovered a mysterious badge. Though it is slightly corroded, the HISTORY DETECTIVES are able to decipher Latin inscriptions, the imprint of a thistle, the British Crown and the number "71." Initial research reveals that a regiment within the British Army was in fact a group called the 71st Highlanders from Scotland. The HISTORY DETECTIVES discover the badge could have been lost by one of the Highlanders, who were among the fiercest troops of the War. Their deployment to Georgia and South Carolina signaled the importance of the British High Command's so-called Southern Strategy. But the puzzle remains: how did the badge end up in the river? Was it during a desperate maneuver by the British to turn the tide of the war and reclaim their U.S. colonies? HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to Georgia and South Carolina to find out. SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: Two brothers from Parsippany, New Jersey, grew up listening to their uncle's claim that he built the engine for the Spirit of St. Louis - the plane made famous by Charles Lindbergh's historic nonstop flight across the Atlantic. A letter addressed to the uncle from the Wright Aeronautical Corporation in 1927 thanks him for his "enthusiasm and outstanding cooperation" following "Captain Lindbergh's recent achievement," but makes no direct mention of his role in the event. The family legend leads HISTORY DETECTIVES to uncover the forgotten history of Lucky Lindy's legendary flight.
Orphan Film Reel/Chinese Opium Scale/Hermann Goering's Shotgun
ORPHAN FILM REEL: A contributor from Elsmere, KY was searching his grandfather's Ohio attic when he stumbled upon a reel of 35mm nitrate film in a canister marked "Dangerous Hour - Eddie Polo." Eddie Polo was a legendary stuntman in the 1920's silent film world, but very few of his films remain. In its early days, silent film was seen as a transitory production, and movie companies such as Paramount and Universal dumped entire archives into the Pacific Ocean, melted nitrate prints to extract the silver, or used the flammable stock for special effects on their back-lot sets. HISTORY DETECTIVES ventures to Kentucky and Ohio to determine whether this reel could be one of thousands of silent films that have been lost forever to film history. CHINESE OPIUM SCALE: A woman in Missoula, Montana bought an old fiddle case in the Montana mining town of Butte in the 1960s. When she made the purchase, she was told the case didn't hold a fiddle, but rather a scale that Chinese immigrants in the area had used for weighing out opium. Trade in opium was legal in the US until 1909, and it was commonly used both as a medicine and as a drug. The Chinese were among the first immigrant groups to arrive in Montana in the 1800s, working building the railroads, as gold miners, and in restaurant and laundry businesses. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to Montana to find out how Chinese immigrants survived for decades in Big Sky Country, particularly during a time when anti-Chinese sentiment was rampant in the U.S. HERMANN GOERING'S SHOTGUN: In the dying days of the Third Reich, Hermann Goering, the former head of the mighty German Luftwaffe, was holed up in his castle in the German countryside, addicted to opium and terrified of capture by the advancing Allies. A Lewiston, New York, man believes his shotgun may have belonged to Goering and was looted at the time of his arrest in 1945. A signed affidavit from an American soldier says that he removed the gun from Goering's castle "from the wall over the living room fireplace" during the arrest. HISTORY DETECTIVES investigates the possible link to Hitler's once-feared right-hand-man.
Survivor Camera/Alcoholics Anonymous Letter/Tallahassee Mystery Cross
SURVIVOR CAMERA: A woman in Boynton Beach, Florida has an antique camera she inherited from her uncle, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. Adolf Fingrut stayed behind when his family members left Poland in the 1920's. His niece wants to know which of two conflicting family stories is true: did Uncle Adolf survive the Holocaust by going into hiding with the help of his gentile girlfriend, or did he take photographs for the Nazis with this camera? During World War II, some Jewish photographers faced the horrific dilemma of working with the Nazis in documenting their atrocities or going to the death camps. HISTORY DETECTIVES will be in New York to investigate how Adolf Fingrut kept one step ahead of death and shed light on the existential nightmare of survival during wartime. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS LETTER: A man from Laurel, Maryland owns a mysterious letter that was written in 1942. It's a tribute addressed to his grandmother on the occasion of his grandfather Herbert Wallace's death, acknowledging Mr. Wallace's support for the organization Alcoholics Anonymous. "We of the A.A. Group have never had a better friend, nor a stauncher one, than Herb when the going was hard," the note states. It is signed by a man named Bill Wilson. The contributor does not believe that his grandfather was an alcoholic, so is curious to learn how the supposedly sober, well-heeled customs attorney was involved in the early days of one of the most miraculous social movements of the modern era. HISTORY DETECTIVES searches New York's Westchester County, Brooklyn and Manhattan for personal insight into a movement that has changed the lives of millions worldwide and helped shape society's attitudes about alcoholism. TALLAHASSEE MYSTERY CROSS: About 15 years ago, archeologists at the Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, Florida made an astonishing discovery. In the process of excavating several hundred bodies at the site of this 17th century Spanish mission, they unearthed a beautiful and undamaged glass-like cross. The current Chief of the Apalachee Tribe says his ancestors once lived near the mission, but fled when British forces raided in the early 1700s. He wants to confirm whether the cross was made centuries ago by his own ancestors. HISTORY DETECTIVES journeys to Florida to examine the Spanish efforts to proselytize among native tribes and explore the fusing of native and Christian ideologies and symbols into a unique version of New World Catholicism.
Calf Creek Arrow/Doc Holliday Watch/Black Star Line Certificates
CALF CREEK ARROW: An Oklahoma resident discovered an unusual bison skull while fossil hunting in a dry riverbed. Lodged in the bone was a handmade point, which the contributor believes dates back to the Calf Creek culture, around 3000 B.C. Could this be just another hoax or an incredible archeological discovery? HISTORY DETECTIVES learns more about this group of nomadic hunter-gatherers, while putting this handmade point through the extreme rigors of modern forensic testing. DOC HOLLIDAY WATCH: Four years ago, a pawn store clerk in Tulsa, Oklahoma, met a customer with a pawned antique watch, engraved with a potentially historic inscription. Could this watch have been a gift from the fearless frontier lawman Wyatt Earp to the dentist, gambler and gunman "Doc" Holliday, perhaps in gratitude for his help fighting the Clanton outlaw gang at the OK Corral? HISTORY DETECTIVES uncovers the surprising facts behind this legendary gunfight and the real relationship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. BLACK STAR LINE CERTIFICATES: A North Carolina woman recently found two Black Star Line stock certificates that had been purchased by her great grandfather in 1919. She didn't know the significance of the documents, but what looked like a Marcus Garvey signature on the papers saved them from the trashcan. Garvey founded the steamship company through his United Negro Improvement Association in 1919. Could this document be a rare artifact from Garvey's heyday? HISTORY DETECTIVES takes a closer look at this controversial and enigmatic figure who fought for economic self-reliance and political self-determination for African Americans.
Lou Gehrig Autograph/Cleveland Electric Car/Philadelphia Freedom Paper
Lou Gehrig Autograph - An Oregon man has a baseball ticket that bears a "Lou Gehrig" autograph and a scribbled date: July 4, 1939. The contributor's mother was an avid Yankees fan who regularly paid homage to the team at their home stadium in the Bronx. The date is one of the most famous in baseball, when Gehrig announced his retirement, stating to a Yankee Stadium crowd of 62,000 that he was "the luckiest man on the face of the earth." For months, unbeknownst to Gehrig and his fans, he had been suffering the progressive effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a degenerative disease. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to Yankee Stadium and Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame to learn whether this ticket was in fact signed by Lou Gehrig and to explore how the athlete once known as the "Iron Horse" was memorialized by fans and by his own family. Cleveland Electric Car - A Cleveland man with a passion for trains has long wondered about an electric street car in his city's transit museum. He is curious to learn what happened to the city's once extensive and highly praised electric trolley car network. Streetcars were once the most popular form of urban transportation in the country - by World War I, most cities of more than 10,000 people had an electric railway system. But by the 1950s, this form of transportation had all but disappeared. HISTORY DETECTIVES hits the road to Washington, DC, and Cleveland, Ohio, to track the evolution of urban mass transit systems, and investigate the fate of downtown areas and the rise of suburban sprawl. Philadelphia Freedom Paper - A Bronx, New York, man with a longtime interest in African-American history recently purchased an intriguing document at a flea market; he believes it is a "freedom paper" for an African-American man named John Jubilee Jackson. The paper was issued in Philadelphia in 1821, and indicates that Jackson was from Virginia, a state where, by 1780, nearly half of all slaves resided. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to Philadelphia, Mystic, Connecticut, and New York City to investigate the document and the life of John Jubilee Jackson, uncovering the remarkable and contradictory reality of free blacks struggling to get by in a racist society.
Superman Sketch - An Ohio woman has a drawing that she discovered in the attic of her home. It is an undated sketch of the cartoon hero Superman with a note that reads, "With Best Wishes to Randall, from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster." Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were the creators of Superman, but the contributor has no idea how her late father, Randall, obtained this apparently original piece of artwork. A plausible connection is Randall's army service during World War II - a time when the man of steel, along with other popular American cartoon characters, was featured as a hero in action against German and Japanese forces. HISTORY DETECTIVES journeys to Ohio, New York and New Jersey to investigate the early days of Superman and how this comic icon was used to inspire American GIs during wartime. Lost Musical Treasure - A man in Port Washington, Wisconsin, who owns a pair of metal "masters" that were used to press shellac records in the 1920s and 30s, has a hunch they could represent surviving fragments of a lost moment in American musical history. The contributor's great uncle was the master sound engineer for one of the more peculiar recording enterprises in the United States, Paramount Records. He worked for the Wisconsin Chair Company, which, among other things, manufactured phonograph cabinets. The company's salesmen were savvy about the broad spectrum of musical talent at the time and established a tandem recording label, ultimately bringing some of the best blues artists from the Mississippi Delta to Wisconsin to record in the factory. HISTORY DETECTIVES travels to Wisconsin and New York to determine the significance of these metal masters and to explore how one company captured the regionally and culturally diverse music played around the nation in the 20s and 30s. Rebel Whiskey Flask - It's the fall of 1794 and trouble is brewing in western Pennsylvania. Thousands of protestors are daring to fight back against the newly established U.S. government, protesting a tax on whiskey. President George Washington responds, marching 13,000 soldiers into Pennsylvania to quash the rebellion - the first time the federal government has turned its troops on its own people. Fast-forward to the present day: a woman in New Jersey has uncovered a glass whiskey flask that she believes may be a relic from this historic uprising. HISTORY DETECTIVES ventures to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Corning, New York, to determine the flask's relevance and to dig deeper for clues surrounding the so-called "Whiskey Rebellion."
3-D Cuban Missile Crisis/Amos 'n' Andy Record/Women's Suffrage Painting
A woman in Portland, Oregon, has a portable projection screen that may have helped save the Free World. It came her way with a letter stating that in 1962, it was borrowed from a club of 3-D photography enthusiasts in Dayton, Ohio, to show President John F. Kennedy the aerial spy photos that helped him resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. Is it possible that, as the world faced nuclear Armageddon, the U.S. Air Force turned to an amateur club to help identify Russian missiles? HISTORY DETECTIVES visits Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and learns how the world's first supersonic photo-recon aircraft was rigged with 3-D cameras to improve its view of Cuba's camouflaged missiles. Wes Cowan leads HISTORY DETECTIVES to Dayton, Washington, DC, and Portland to pursue the case of this unassuming screen that may have played a role in preventing World War III. Amos 'n' Andy Record - A man in Lakeland, Florida, purchased at a flea market an aluminum record with the words "Amos 'n' Andy" hand-written on its label. He is eager to learn whether this is a rare early recording of the old-time radio series. At the peak of its success, 40 million listeners - a third of America - tuned in to "Amos 'n' Andy" six nights a week, making it the longest-running and most popular radio program in broadcast history. Its creators, Correll and Gosden, were white men who made a career of impersonating blacks for comic effect. In New York City, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi uncovers a complex portrait of 1930s race relations and the emerging power of the mass media in American popular culture. Women's Suffrage Painting - Twenty years ago, a woman from League City, Texas, bought at a garage sale what appears to be a watercolor painting. Pictured is a trumpeting herald on a horse, and printed are the words "Official Program Woman Suffrage Procession Washington D.C. March 3, 1913." The contributor wants to learn if this image is the original for that program and what role it played in securing women the right to vote. The investigation sheds light on the day before Woodrow Wilson's presidential inauguration, when as many as 8,000 women descended on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, marching for suffrage. National media accounts testify to the galvanizing effect the spectacle had on the public. Remarkably, though, the event was organized in just nine weeks. In the suffragettes' rush to define their image, who was the illustrator they turned to? In Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright searches for the mystery artist whose work helped culminate the 72-year battle for women's suffrage.
Continental Currency/Short-Snorter/Liberty Bell Pin
Continental Currency - A family in Omaha, Nebraska, has found a puzzling $6 bill dated February 17, 1776; they're eager to learn the story behind it. The bill's text and designs are replete with mysteries and clues. How can it claim to be federal currency when it's dated five months before the colonies actually declared their independence? Why does it say it's backed by "Spanish milled dollars? " What do the strange images on it mean? Britain rightfully considered these monies sheer provocation and reacted by flooding the market with counterfeit bills. Is the bill real - or perhaps real fakery? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright travels to New York City to investigate an artifact that could represent America's first declaration of its independence. Short-Snorter - A man in New York City has a British 10-shilling note dated July 25, 1942, that is an autograph hunter's dream: a single slip of paper, called a "short-snorter," signed by most every luminary on the Allied side of World War II, from Patton to Churchill to Roosevelt. He wants to learn the story behind this oddity. The date on the bill is the same as a major Allied meeting held in London - where a momentous decision was made. Nazi troops were advancing across Europe. The time had come for America to join the battle and for the Allies to open a second front - but where? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi heads to Maryland, Washington, DC, and New York City to determine whether the contributor's short-snorter was witness to the fateful agreement that forged the alliance between America and Britain. Liberty Bell Pin - A woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, owns an unassuming pin that, according to family lore, is actually made of metal drawn from the Liberty Bell. It seems unfathomable that a piece of this iconic symbols could have been melted down for a mere memento. But the contributor's great-grandfather claimed that he wore the pin to an event important enough to lend credibility to his unlikely story. Even a generation after the Civil War, America was still recovering from its traumas. Dramatic measures were called for to heal the nation's economy in those dark days. Elyse Luray leads HISTORY DETECTIVES to Philadelphia and Atlanta to recall the staunch efforts for reconciliation during this tenuous time in U.S. history.
Gar Photograph/Jefferson Pledge/Dempsey Fight Bell
Gar Photograph - A Civil War enthusiast in Etters, Pennsylvania, owns a striking vintage photograph that depicts about 20 older white men in full dress uniform, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with two black men. In Reconstruction-era America, association between blacks and whites was frequently taboo. So what brought them together for this portrait? Their bond, it turns out, was the Grand Army of the Republic, a remarkable fraternal order organized for war veterans. In fact, integration was actually a GAR standard. The reason? The men's common struggle with post traumatic stress transcended race. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray heads to Cazenovia, New York, and Washington, DC, to investigate the first national social group to challenge the color barrier. Jefferson Pledge - In a forgotten corner of a Washington, DC, public library, a photo archivist has discovered what may be a momentous piece of history. It's a list of signatures from public figures of the early 1800s, including President Thomas Jefferson, offering money for a seemingly humble proposal: to build a simple pair of elementary schools. But Jefferson's ultimate goal is far loftier. With this venture, he is quietly floating his plan to launch the nation's first public school system. Eventually he would go broke through such acts of charity, but Jefferson's ideals of public education would transform the nation. Could it all have begun with a modest $200 pledge? Host Wes Cowan leads HISTORY DETECTIVES to Charlottesville, Virginia, and Washington, DC, to find out. Dempsey Fight Bell - July 4, 1919, marks the day America found its true calling in a national obsession. Icon Jack Dempsey became the world's first boxing superstar and he did it with the clang of a bell. Now, a contributor in Reno, Nevada, wants to know: Is the bell he's toasted many a night on the wall of his favorite bar the one that was ringside at Dempsey's legendary world heavyweight championship match? The question goes beyond a single fight. Dempsey's bout ushered in the Roaring Twenties, America's fascination with celebrity and the golden age of championship sports. Host Tukufu Zuberi leads HISTORY DETECTIVES to weigh in on the case in Reno and New York City, sorting truth from myth to determine which clues ring true.
Atocha Spanish Silver/Lucy Parsons Book/Ernie Pyle's Typewriter
Atocha Spanish Silver - In 1985, one of the greatest treasure discoveries was made off the Florida Keys when the wreck of the Spanish ship Atocha was found. On board were some 40 tons of silver and gold, which in 1622 had been heading from the New World to the Spanish treasury as the means to fund the Thirty Years' War. A man from Cedartown, Georgia, was a diver on that legendary find and received two silver bars as compensation for his efforts. He's long been mystified by a strange mark that appears on one of the bars - but the mark is mysteriously absent from the other bar. In Key West, Florida, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi translates 300-year-old documents from the archives of the Spanish treasury in Seville to crack a unique code of communication among ship captains of that era. Lucy Parsons Book - Amid the stacks at the Wesleyan University Library, a student has found a book emblazoned with the name and address of the legendary anarchist Lucy Parsons. The bi-racial black and Native-American activist fought in the late 1800s for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised in the face of an increasingly oppressive industrial economic system. Did this once-feared radical own the manifesto? If so, it would pose a mystery: After Parsons died, police supposedly raided her house and confiscated all of her subversive literature. So how did this book elude them? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray heads to Chicago, Illinois, and Middletown, Connecticut, to explore a major labor movement uprising and Parsons' abiding acts of defiance. Ernie Pyle's Typewriter - A man in Portland, Oregon, thinks he may have a typewriter that belonged to the famous WWII journalist Ernie Pyle, America's most beloved battlefront correspondent. The contributor's grandfather told him he received the vintage "Corona 3" from Major George Pratt, who served in the Pacific and said that the typewriter belonged to Pyle. A trail-blazing reporter, Ernie Pyle was celebrated for telling the stories of ordinary soldiers serving in Europe. But when he followed the siren song of the Pacific, he was killed by a Japanese sniper bullet on the island of Okinawa on April 18, 1945. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan travels to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bloomington, Indiana, and Portland to investigate.
Great Mexican War Posters/Nora Holt Autograph Book/Muhlenberg Robe
Great Mexican War Posters - While cleaning out the basement of an old home he'd recently purchased, a man from San Francisco, California, discovered a stash of strange and colorful posters announcing the "Great Mexican War." They appear to be early 20th-century advertising for news film of the Mexican Revolution. The posters indicate that a man named Charles Pryor made the films. If the posters prove to be authentic, does it mean that this mystery cinematographer was an eyewitness to the Mexican Revolution? In Washington, DC, and El Paso, Texas, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan examines a turning point in filmmaking history - when producers aimed to satisfy the American audience's appetite for films of overseas events, at times walking a fine line between real-life and on-screen dramatic events. Nora Holt Autograph Book - The mother of a man in Los Angeles, California, was an avid collector of African-American memorabilia. Upon his mother's passing, the contributor inherited a garage full of the material she had assembled, most of which is uncatalogued and has attracted a great deal of attention from scholars. Amid the collection is a curious small green leather autograph book that belonged to a woman named Nora Holt. Holt was a luminary of the Harlem Renaissance and associated with author Theodore Dreiser and photographer Carl Van Vechten, among others. Mysteriously, these artists' names appear in the book alongside the signatures of Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, neither of whom was involved in the Harlem Renaissance. The autographs take host Gwen Wright to Harlem and Westchester, New York, and to Westport, Connecticut, as HISTORY DETECTIVES follows the path of a liberated woman who participated in one of the most significant artistic flowerings of the 20th century. Muhlenberg Robe - George Washington's cherry tree, Betsy Ross' flag, Paul Revere's ride ... now Muhlenberg's Robe may be added to the list of debatable Revolutionary War legends. The story goes that in January 1776, Lutheran Reverend Peter Muhlenberg turned his pulpit into a recruiting station for revolutionary fighters. During a fiery sermon, he tore his robe from his shoulders to reveal a uniform and at once rallied 300 able-bodied congregants to the patriotic cause. A woman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wants to know: Is the robe that's on display at the nearby Lutheran Theological Seminary the cloak that bore witness to this event? In Philadelphia and Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray delves into rare, period accounts from Muhlenberg's family, friends and contemporaries to find the truth behind the story of the reverend's famous robe.
Nc-4: First Across The Atlantic/Howard Hughes Crash/Professor Lowe's Hot Air Balloon
NC-4: First Across The Atlantic - Almost 10 years before Charles Lindbergh's famous solo flight across the Atlantic, the NC-4 was the first aircraft to make the transatlantic journey in May 1919. Now, a woman in Saratoga, California, has a small square of canvas-like fabric that she believes comes from the NC-4, one of four U.S. Navy "flying boats" that had originally been commissioned to alert American destroyers to the locations of German U-boat submarines that were wreaking havoc on merchant ships along the U.S. coast during World War I. Due to early mechanical problems, the NC-4 was considered by many aviation insiders to be the least likely candidate to complete the trek across the Atlantic. In Pensacola, Florida, and Hammondsport, New York, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray investigates the little-known story of the NC-4 and its historic voyage. Howard Hughes Crash - On July 7, 1946, Howard Hughes undertook the first flight of his XF-11 - designed to be the highest, fastest spy plane of its time. But the propeller failed, leaving Hughes without power. He crashed in Beverly Hills, California, destroying two homes and scarring himself for life. A man in Laramie, Wyoming, owns a 1940s altimeter he received from his father, who claimed it came from the fiery crash. He'd been a Hughes employee for more than 34 years and was there the day of the accident. Based on this altimeter's near-perfect condition, experts are skeptical of its connection to the crash, but footage from Martin Scorsese's The Aviator and a visit to Hughes' Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation Museum could challenge this assertion. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi heads to Los Angeles, California, and McMinnville, Oregon, to determine if the altimeter can be traced back to Hughes, an aviation pioneer and America's first billionaire. Professor Lowe's Hot Air Balloon - A collector from Midland, Michigan, may have purchased a fragment of American aviation history. At first glance, it's a simple piece of frayed material in a frame. But on the back of the frame are the words, "A piece of Prof. Lowe's Aeronautical balloon 'Enterprise'... after it was destroyed upon landing ... in 1862." Could this be an artifact from the dawn of American military airpower? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan reveals more about the ambitious and fascinating professor who launched the country's first aeronautic division by inflating his hot air balloon, the Enterprise, on the lawn of President Lincoln's White House.
Red Cloud Letter/'32 Ford Roadster/Cast Iron Eagle
Red Cloud Letter - A Nebraska man obtained a curious letter from his grandfather, who spent time on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation during the early part of the 20th century. The letter is from the sculptor of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, to a Lakota leader named James Red Cloud. It makes several ambiguous references to treaties between the U.S. government and the Lakota and, moreover, to Borglum's desire to help the tribe. The contributor asks: How was a leader of the Lakota people connected with the creator of a monument that was regarded by many as a desecration of sacred land? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright journeys to South Dakota's Black Hills for the answer. '32 Ford Roadster - A man in Benicia, California, owns a 1932 Ford roadster that, upon purchase, had an engine too powerful for normal driving. The contributor suspects his car was used for dry-lake racing, a sport that had its heyday in Southern California in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1932, although America was in the midst of the Depression, Henry Ford forged ahead, designing a new model '32 car with the first powerful V8 engine affordable to the masses. Was the contributor's car among the popular hot rods raced out at the dry lakes? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi high-tails it to California to examine one era's car-racing culture and to investigate one of the most iconic hot rods of all time. Cast Iron Eagle - One of the main attractions at a family-run zoo in Sussex, New Jersey, is a majestic, 12-foot-high cast iron eagle perched on an orb in the center of the park. The contributor's grandfather founded the park in 1927; family lore is that the eagle had once been perched atop an old post office in New York. However, a visitor recently told the contributor that the eagle resembles the giant cast iron eagles that graced the old Grand Central Station in Manhattan. The eagle dates to the post-Civil War period, when decorative style involved cast iron prefabrication. But was Grand Central Station - built for railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt - its original home? To find out, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan heads to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York City, home of the arts and crafts movement at the turn of the 19th century.
Lincoln Letter/Quaker Map/U.S.S. Indianapolis
Lincoln Letter - A Tampa man made a potentially extraordinary discovery in a stack of old photos he purchased for eight dollars. Buried in the images was a letter with what appears to be the signature of Abraham Lincoln. It's dated 1858 and contains a short and cryptic note to someone named Henry Clay Whitney. The contributor is skeptical, as he's seen references on the Internet to several forgeries of this document, but Host Elyse Luray thinks it's worth a closer look. HISTORY DETECTIVES heads to the Land of Lincoln - Illinois - to investigate the future president's political calculations, and correspondence, at a pivotal time in his career. Quaker Map - A hand-drawn map that a woman from New Jersey picked up at an estate sale is entitled "Meetings of Friends," and describes in crude strokes the state of Ohio in the early 19th century. She wants to know if this could be a map of the fabled Underground Railroad. Experts verify that the map dates to circa 1815 and plots the locations of key Quaker houses of worship in that day. Delving deeper into the history of the faith, HISTORY DETECTIVES makes some extraordinary discoveries about how Quakers roused anti-slavery sentiment. In New York City, Pennsylvania and Ohio, host Gwen Wright tracks cartographic clues to investigate the important role Quakers played in the Underground Railroad and launching the abolitionist movement. U.S.S. Indianapolis - A Cleveland, Ohio, man owns some intriguing artifacts that he believes may date back to a kamikaze attack on the U.S.S. Indianapolis in March 1945. The contributor's uncle served on this cruiser, and while home shared a story with his family about an attack on his boat. He returned to the ship and was killed when the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo during the final weeks of World War II. Years later, the family uncovered fragments of aluminum, military patches and a Japanese placard that the uncle had placed inside a cedar chest during his time on leave. Could these items be from the kamikaze attack on the U.S.S. Indianapolis? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan ventures to Texas and Washington, DC, to examine the virulence and desperation of the Japanese suicide attacks that led up to one of the greatest sea disasters in U.S. naval history.
Bill Pickett Saddle/Mckinley Casket Flag/Hitler Films
Bill Pickett Saddle - A Staten Island woman owns a well-worn saddle with the name "Bill Pickett" burned into it. She believes it was once owned by legendary cowboy Bill Pickett, an African-American Wild West Show and film star. Pickett invented bulldogging, the rodeo event now known as steer wrestling. His back story is perhaps most intriguing: Born to slave parents, Pickett rose to entertain kings and dignitaries on an international tour of his Wild West show; he counted among his friends Will Rogers and Tom Mix. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi heads to Oklahoma to visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, meets a real-life steer wrestler and talks with a 101 Ranch historian about the legacy of the legendary "Bulldogger." McKinley Casket Flag - A Battle Ground, Washington, man has a flag that he claims once draped the casket of President William McKinley. The 25th president was assassinated in 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. The contributor says the flag was given to his great-grandfather, Charles Kennedy, who served as McKinley's bodyguard. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan travels to Cincinnati and Canton, Ohio, to investigate McKinley's legacy through the eyes of his supporters and his detractors. Hitler Films - A contributor in Staten Island, New York, has several film cans, unseen since World War II, that he believes may contain German home movies of Nazi officials, possibly even Hitler. He received them from his wife's uncle, a GI in Germany, who found the cans in the bombed ruins of the Old Opera House in the northern Bavarian town of Bayreuth. The first glimpse of one of these fragile reels reveals footage of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Himmler arriving at the Richard Wagner opera festival, staged annually in Bayreuth. In New York City, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright examines this film's depiction of the Nazis' manipulation of art and culture to bolster the party's following.
Uss Thresher/Pete Gray Cartoon/Manhattan Project Letter
USS Thresher - A contributor in Chicopee, Massachusetts, has a stack of technical drawings and engineering documents he found in his late great-uncle's basement some years ago. A few of the documents bear the numbers and letters SSN-593, an appellation that belonged to the nuclear submarine USS Thresher, an attack class vessel that had been the pride of the U.S. Navy during the Cold War. On April 10, 1963, the Thresher was undergoing deep-sea trials when, along with its nuclear reactor, the vessel and all hands sank 220 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright travels to New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts to explore one of the most traumatic events in U.S. Naval history and to determine just how the contributor's great-uncle could've come into possession of documents linked to one of the most secret weapons in the U.S. Cold War arsenal. Pete Gray Cartoon - A comic book collector in Brooklyn, New York, owns several storyboards from a cartoon comic strip dating to the immediate post-World War II period. The strip relates the story of Pete Gray, the first one-armed major league baseball player, who later became an icon for disabled WWII veterans. The contributor is curious to learn the identity of the mystery cartoonist. Because many artists from the golden age of cartoons - the late 1930s through the 50s - often moonlighted in advertising or more "respectable" trades, their identities were often undisclosed. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray heads to Baltimore's Camden Yards and to comics hot spots in New York City to examine how cartoon artists helped reframe popular culture in the mid-20th century. Manhattan Project Letter - A contributor in New York City has a scrapbook of typed and handwritten documents connected with the top-secret Manhattan Project, which developed the United States' first nuclear bombs during World War II. The most intriguing item is a letter dated just after the war. It's a plea for reduced secrecy regarding nuclear affairs in the scientific community once hostilities ended. Did the scientists' letter help persuade President Harry S. Truman to change policy in the post-war era? Host Wes Cowan leads HISTORY DETECTIVES to New York City to track down the authors of the documents and to explore the delicate balance between science, military power and democracy.
WWII Diary - A man in Lexington, North Carolina, has a poignant diary written by a World War II pilot. He inherited the diary 20 years ago from his father, who said it once belonged to a close friend whom he fought alongside in WWII, until the war took his friend's life in 1944. Keeping the last thoughts of this fallen solider is now too great a burden for the contributor. Can HISTORY DETECTIVES return it to a living relative? The stakes are raised as the diary pages reveal the story of a young American pilot stationed in England, racing against time and all odds to return home before the birth of his first child. Host Wes Cowan heads to Florida on a quest to reunite the diary with the pilot's surviving family. 1856 Mormon Tale - The tattered pages of an anonymously authored 1856 book titled Female Life Among the Mormons claim to be the personal memoirs of a New York woman who married a Mormon elder at a time when polygamy was openly practiced but characterized by some abolitionists as the "enslavement of white women." In it, the author says she traveled with her husband as the Mormons were chased out of New York and Illinois, eventually settling in the Utah Territory. Throughout her journey, the author claims to have witnessed a shocking, immoral culture of violence, polygamy, sexual depravity and brainwashing. The contributor from Stanfordville, New York, wants to know who wrote the book and if, in fact, it is a true account Mormon life. The search to find the author takes HISTORY DETECTIVES into a mystery that has haunted bibliographers for nearly 150 years. Host Tukufu Zuberi sorts fact from fiction in this fascinating tale. Annie Oakley Coin - A contributor from Bath, Maine, has an 1853 French Napoleon coin with a bent, split edge and a great bit of family lore: that the coin was shot by Annie Oakley and that Oakley herself gave the coin to two of the contributor's great-granduncles. It doesn't look like any of the souvenir coins the Wild West Show icon typically handed out to her many fans. Can HISTORY DETECTIVES prove that the sharp-shooting star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show shot the coin for the two brothers - and turn family lore into bona fide bragging rights? To find out, host Elyse Luray travels to Cody, Wyoming, to conduct ballistics tests, scour the Buffalo Bill Historical Center archives and even re-create one of Oakley's sure shots. In HD where available.
Red Hand Flag - During her last active duty posting with the Army at Ft. Jackson, a Desert Storm veteran from South Carolina learned about a local, all-but-forgotten African-American infantry regiment in WWI. Years later, she purchased a worn red-white-red striped flag with a red felted hand sewn in the center and small U.S. flags sewn in the corner. The contributor would like to know if her flag was carried into battle by one of the few African-American infantry regiments that fought in WWI under the command of the French. These unsung heroes of the Great War exhibited extraordinary heroism in battle and were highly decorated by the French. If this particular flag has French origins, though, why is it red-white-red-striped and not blue-white-red like the tricolor French flag? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray heads to Columbia, South Carolina, to link this mysterious flag to the legacy of the Red Hand Division and its wartime triumphs. Seth Eastman Painting - A Decatur, Illinois, man purchased a painting that depicts a scene of traditional Native-American life. The contributor, a longtime student of the history of the American West, says the image appealed to him because it was strangely familiar, almost iconic in its imagery. The painting bears the initials "S.E." and the seller's Web page reads "Seth Eastman, American Painting, Oil on Canvas." Could this painting be an authentic work of artist and military officer Seth Eastman - and an accurate depiction of Native-American life in the mid-1800s? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi travels to historic Fort Snelling in Minnesota to examine how Eastman carried out government policies of Native-American removal while capturing on canvas what he believed was a doomed way of life. Isleton Tong - The president of the historical society in Isleton, California, has inherited a two-story wooden building with tin sides that she believes once housed a Chinese Tong. In the late 1800s, Chinese immigrants risked everything to start a new life in America. But Americans who feared losing jobs to the new, cheap labor turned the land of opportunity hostile. Chinatowns burned, ethnic slurs flew and Congress prohibited Chinese laborers from entering or working in the country. For outcast Chinese, Tongs were places of protection and solidarity during this time of chaos, where they could worship, study and settle legal disputes peacefully. In the newspapers, the Tongs were secretive centers of gangland warfare, opium deals and gambling. Was there a Tong operating inside Isleton's once-booming Chinatown? If so, what happened there? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright heads to the Sacramento Delta and to San Francisco to unravel the mystery of the Chinese Tong.
Japanese Balloon Bomb - The granddaughter of a World War II veteran from Austin, Texas, has a wartime memento with a note claiming it's a piece of Japanese balloon that floated across the Pacific Ocean in 1945. The alleged balloon scrap could be evidence of a unique weapon in modern warfare: the Japanese balloon bomb. More than 9,000 of these incendiary weapons were launched from Japan during the war via the jet stream with the intention of causing mass disruption and forest fires in the American West. The existence and purpose of the balloon bombs were kept secret from the American public for security reasons, until a tragic accident forced a change in policy. The balloon bombs caused the only fatalities on the U.S. mainland due to enemy action during World War II. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi travels to Austin, Texas and to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, to learn whether this souvenir is a missing piece of a secret weapon. Society Circus Program - In her school's drama closet, a young girl from Oregon finds a curious, yellowed circus program that reads "Official Program of Cobina Wright's Society Circus for the benefit of the Boy Scout Foundation, Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, President, Season 1933." Who was Cobina Wright and what do the Boy Scouts, FDR and Cobina's Circus - with its lengthy "who's-who" celebrity list - have in common? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright explores New York City's 1930s high society and illuminates a connection between FDR and the Boy Scouts that inspired one of the most popular and effective pieces of the president's New Deal program. Camp David Letter - Maryland's Camp David has served as a presidential retreat for more than 60 years and is possibly best known for the Camp David Accords, the famous Egyptian-Israeli peace agreements signed there in 1978. A self-styled dumpster diver in San Francisco has recovered a windfall of memorabilia that reveals a story of Camp David's beginnings. The salvaged items appear to have once belonged to a three-generation Navy family headed by John H. Kevers. Among photos, dog tags and epaulets, one letter in particular caught the contributor's attention: It's from Ronald Reagan to Kevers' widow, stating "... Captain John H. Kevers gave many years of service to Presidents, starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt ... Because of Captain Kevers, we have the enjoyable facility of Camp David ..." In Los Angeles and San Francisco, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan searches presidential archives and Navy history to pinpoint Kevers' connection to the secret mountaintop hideaway that was FDR's "Shangri-La."
China Marine Jacket - A man in Santa Monica, California, received an embroidered jacket as a gift from his son. The contributor, a former Marine, is intrigued by the jacket's stitched inscriptions, which read: "4th Marines," "Shanghai," "China," "1937-1939" and "MWD." He knows the 4th Marines were transferred from Shanghai to the Philippines in November 1941 amidst growing tensions with the Japanese. The unit was attacked by the Japanese on the same day as the Pearl Harbor bombings. Some of the men who fought in the Philippines never returned, having suffered Japanese imprisonment and the Bataan Death March. But to whom did this particular jacket belong, and what was his legacy as a Marine? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright travels to Washington, DC, and Los Angeles to investigate the story of the "China Marines," a regiment that worked under extreme circumstances to keep the peace and protect American interests during the perilous ramp up to World War II. Airstream Caravan - A couple in Southern California owns a classic Airstream trailer that may lay claim to an illustrious past. The trailer's fading numbers and logo indicate that it is an early member of the elite Wally Byam Caravan Club International. In the mid-20th century, members of this adventure club followed legendary leader and Airstream founder Wally Byam all over the world: Central America, Europe, Africa and the Yucatan Peninsula. Did this particular Airstream make the journey on the historic "Cape Town to Cairo Caravan" of 1959? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi heads to Denver and Southern California to explore one man's wanderlust at the birth of American leisure travel and, ultimately, to a spectacular 221-day, 14,307-mile trek from the tip of Southern Africa to the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Lincoln Forgery - A woman in Portland, Oregon, owns a bound volume of 19th-century sheet music. The book contains several "Abraham Lincoln" signatures on random pages. At the end of one of the compositions, a handwritten notarized inscription claims the music is a gift from President Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, to Lincoln's former coachman, William P. Brown, in 1866. Could the sheet music really be from Lincoln's personal library? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan travels to Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, to explore the years after Lincoln's death and to illuminate the origins of these curious documents.
Hindenburg Artifact - A Hoboken, New Jersey, man has a palm-sized, army-green metal box that looks like an instrument panel. Beneath a shattered plastic covering is a sliding, numbered scale; knobs on each end move a lever across the scale. German writing indicates the country of origin. Might this instrument have been recovered from the crash site of the Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey? Family lore says that a distant relative was among the many bystanders plucking souvenirs from the wreckage of the terrifying disaster. Chemicals from the fire or balloon envelope gas would have evaporated 10 minutes after the explosion, but the broken plastic can be tested for age and heat distress with forensic analysis of the instrument. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray travels to Atlanta and the New Jersey landing site of the ill-fated zeppelin to determine if the instrument panel is in fact from the horrifying crash. Bonus Army Stamp - A collector in Hawaii has a postage-sized stamp with an illustration of a World War I "doughboy" solider and the words "PAY THE BONUS." The contributor, whose grandfather was a World War I soldier, thinks the stamp is linked to the "Bonus Army" veterans. A bill was passed in 1924 promising WWI veterans a payment 21 years later - dubbed a "bonus" - in 1945. When the Great Depression hit, veterans organized to demand early payment of the bonus. They organized a protest march on Washington in 1932, demanding pay for their combat, and approximately 20,000 veterans camped out near the Capitol following the march. Weeks went by until Herbert Hoover ordered General Douglas McArthur to force the vets out. Two veterans were shot and killed; thousands were tear-gassed. What role did this political stamp play in the veterans' movement? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan heads to Hyde Park, New York, and Washington, DC, to reveal the stamp's connection to the veterans' struggle. Dempsey Fight Bell - July 4, 1919, marks the day America found its true calling in a national obsession. Icon Jack Dempsey became the world's first boxing superstar, and he did it with the clang of a bell. Now, a contributor in Reno, Nevada, wants to know: Is the bell he's toasted many a night on the wall of his favorite bar the one that was ringside at Dempsey's legendary world heavyweight championship match? The question goes beyond a single fight. Dempsey's bout ushered in the Roaring 20s, America's fascination with celebrity and the golden age of championship sports. Tukufu Zuberi leads the HISTORY DETECTIVES to weigh in on the case in Reno, Nevada, and New York City, sorting truth from myth to determine which clues ring true.
GAR Photograph - A Civil War enthusiast in Etters, Pennsylvania, owns a striking vintage photograph that depicts about 20 older white men in full dress uniform, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with two black men. In Reconstruction-era America, association between blacks and whites was frequently taboo. What brought them together for this portrait? Their bond, it turns out, was the Grand Army of the Republic, a remarkable fraternal order organized for war veterans. In fact, integration was actually a GAR standard. The reason? The men's common struggle with post traumatic stress transcended race. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray heads to Cazenovia, New York, and Washington, DC, to investigate the first national social group to challenge the color barrier. Bill Pickett Saddle - A Staten Island woman owns a well-worn saddle with the name "Bill Pickett" burned into it. She believes it was once owned by legendary cowboy Bill Pickett, an African-American Wild West Show and film star. Pickett invented bulldogging, the rodeo event now known as steer wrestling. His back story is perhaps most intriguing: Born to slave parents, Pickett rose to entertain kings and dignitaries on an international tour of his Wild West show; he counted among his friends Will Rogers and Tom Mix. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi heads to Oklahoma to visit the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, meets a real-life steer wrestler and talks with a 101 Ranch historian about the legacy of the legendary "Bulldogger." Hitler Films - A contributor in Staten Island, New York, has several film cans, unseen since World War II, that he believes may contain German home movies of Nazi officials, possibly even Hitler. He received them from his wife's uncle, a GI in Germany, who found the cans in the bombed ruins of the Old Opera House in the northern Bavarian town of Bayreuth. The first glimpse of one of these fragile reels reveals footage of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Himmler arriving at the Richard Wagner opera festival, staged annually in Bayreuth. In New York City, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwen Wright examines this film's depiction of the Nazis' manipulation of art and culture to bolster the party's following.
Black Tom Shell - A woman in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, has an explosive artifact in her possession: a large, intact artillery shell, along with a note in her mother's handwriting that reads "Black Tom Explosion of 1914." The contributor's mother's record-keeping is off: It was not 1914, but July 30, 1916, when a German spy ring carried out a well-planned set of synchronized explosions on Black Tom Island in New York's harbor, using the United States' own cache of munitions produced to aid Britain and France in World War I. Two million pounds of exploding ammunition rocked the country as far away as Philadelphia and blew the windows out of nearly every high rise in lower Manhattan, injuring hundreds. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwendolyn Wright travels to Maryland and New Jersey to determine whether this shell was involved in one of the earliest foreign terrorist attacks on American soil. USS Olympia Glass - The door of a farmhouse in eastern Nebraska has an etched glass window with a depiction of a ship cruising through open waters, smoke pouring from its stacks. The home's owner believes the ship is the USS Olympia, the cruiser commanded by Commodore George Dewey when he defeated Admiral Montojo's Spanish aquadron at Manila Bay in 1898, beginning the Spanish-American War. The farm's been in the family for more than half a century, and a 1977 letter from the USS Olympia Association states that etched glass windows may have adorned Admiral Dewey's own stateroom. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan travels to Fremont, Nebraska, and Philadelphia to find our whether the unique window can serve as a portal into a turning point in American foreign policy. Front Street Blockhouse - When a young couple in Schenectady, New York, purchased their dream house in the town's historic district, they believed their home was built for a middle-class family in the late 19th century, like all other homes in their neighborhood. But four mysterious stone walls visible in the attic have led them to believe otherwise. Did this house once guard against enemy attacks during the tense years of the French and Indian Wars - nearly 300 years ago? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray travels to Upstate New York to determine whether this unassuming structure may have helped ensure the survival of the town of Schenectady, a 17th- and 18th-century vanguard Dutch outpost, as it fought France and her Indian allies for control of the lucrative fur trade.
John Adams Book - A woman in Littleton, New Hampshire, inherited her husband's aunt's belongings, which include a curious late-18th-century book titled Trials of Patriots. It contains what appears to be President John Adams' signature in three places, and includes an inscription, "Charles Adams from His Father, 1794." The book is a collection of transcripts chronicling the sedition trials of Irish and Scottish radicals. If the book is indeed from Adams to his son, it could reveal pivotal clues about the inner-workings of this presidential family. In Boston and John Adams' hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Gwendolyn Wright examines the Adams family's correspondence and conflict as they balanced home life with public service. Mankato Spoon - A woman in Portland, Oregon, has a curious spoon that once belonged to her grandmother. It's known in her family as "the spoon of atrocities." An eerie scene is etched into its sterling silver bowl: wagons, buildings and a crowd of spectators gathered before a gallows with figures hanging from them. A disturbing message is inscribed: "Hanging 38 Sioux In 1862 Mankato, Minn." What is this tragic scene and why has it been etched into what looks like a commemorative spoon? HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan travels to Mankato, New Ulm and Minneapolis, Minnesota, to explore the clash between white settlers and Sioux in the mid-19th century - and a struggle that led to the largest mass execution in American history. NC-4: First Across the Atlantic - Almost 10 years before Charles Lindbergh's famous solo flight across the Atlantic, the NC-4 was the first aircraft to make the transatlantic journey in May 1919. A woman in Saratoga, California, has a small square of canvas-like fabric that she believes comes from the NC-4, one of four U.S. Navy "flying boats" that had originally been commissioned to alert American destroyers to the locations of German U-boat submarines that were wreaking havoc on merchant ships along the U.S. coast during World War I. Due to early mechanical problems, the NC-4 was considered by many aviation insiders to be the least likely candidate to complete the trek across the Atlantic. In Pensacola, Florida, and Hammondsport, New York, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray investigates the little-known story of the NC-4 and its historic voyage.