Episode 18: Dr. Rebecca Crumpler’s Trailblazing Career

This week, we’re going to talk about a woman who studied medicine at a time when very few women could access higher education at all, and an African-American who became a physician at a time when half of this country believed that she could be owned by another American.  Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler would study in Boston and become America’s first black female doctor.  Listen to this week’s show for her story!

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Episode 17: Vikings on the Charles River (mini-sode)

Your hosts Nikki and Jake are away this week, but through the magic of podcasting, we’re still able to bring you this mini-sode.  Since we’re exploring Iceland, land of the Vikings, it only makes sense to bring you the story of a 19th Century Boston millionaire who was convinced that Vikings had once settled along the Charles River.  Listen to this week’s episode to find out why!

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Episode 16 blooper: Canada isn’t slavery

Most of the time, the bloopers we post are just Jake tripping over his words.  This time, he had simply written a paragraph that means the exact opposite of what it was supposed to mean.  For an enslaved person, escaping to Canada was not the same as being returned to slavery in the South.  The worst part is, Nikki didn’t catch the error until at least the third read through of this paragraph.

(warning: bad words)

Listen to Episode 16 for the real story.

Episode 16: Our Temple of Justice is a Slave Pen! (Black History Month Special, part 3)

This week, we’re going to wrap up our series on the Fugitive Slave Act, and the efforts of black and white abolitionists in Boston to resist what they saw as an unjust law.  In last week’s show, we discussed how Lewis Hayden and the Vigilance Committee rescued the fugitive Shadrach Minkins from being returned to slavery.  This week, we’re going to learn how that act of resistance led to a federal crackdown in Boston, look at two unsuccessful rescues that followed, and see how the unrest galvanized the apathetic population of Boston into a hotbed of radical abolitionism.  Listen to this week’s episode for the exciting conclusion!

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Episode 15: Resist! Shadrach Minkins and the Fugitive Slave Act (Black History Month Special, part 2)

With our new President doing his best to enforce unjust executive orders, we thought this would be a good moment to revisit an era in which Boston resisted an unjust law.  After Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, abolitionists in Boston felt that the values of Southern slave power were being forced upon a free city.  In 1851, Shadrach Minkins was the first fugitive to be arrested in Boston, but before he could be returned to slavery, a multiracial mob stormed the courtroom and forcibly delivered him to the Underground Railroad.  Listen to this week’s episode for the story!
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Episode 14 blooper: Slavery isn’t funny!

Episode 14 deals with slavery and the underground railroad, certainly not humorous topics. But, as always, host Jake’s mush-mouth can make even the most somber topic ridiculous.  The line seems so simple…

The Haydens regularly took in fugitive slaves.  It’s thought that 25% of the escaped slaves who traveled through Boston passed through the Phillips Street home.

Good thing we’re learning to use our podcast editing software!

Episode 14: Go in Peace, Or Go in Pieces! (Black History Month Special, part 1)

Lewis Hayden was born into slavery in Kentucky.  When he was ten years old, his owner traded him to a traveling salesman for a pair of horses.  But Hayden and his family eventually escaped to freedom, and they settled in Boston.  Their Beacon Hill home was a refuge for enslaved people seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad, and he would go as far as threatening to blow the house up instead of cooperating with slave catchers, saying “Go in peace, or go in pieces!”  After Lewis Hayden’s death, his wife Harriet endowed a scholarship for African American students at Harvard Medical School, the only endowment contribution to a university made by a formerly enslaved person.  For more on these remarkable people, listen to this week’s show!

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Episode 13: Katherine Nanny Naylor, Boston’s Original Nasty Woman

Boston in the 1600s was a theocracy, where the Puritan church ruled, and women were seen in many ways as the property of their husbands or fathers.  Against that backdrop, a woman named Katherine Nanny Naylor stands out.  She was able to win a divorce against her abusive and unfaithful husband, then spent the next 30 years as an entrepreneur.  She provided herself and her family with a prosperous lifestyle, while living her life independently.  Listen to this week’s episode, and celebrate Boston’s original nasty woman!

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Episode 12: The Tragedy of Sacco and Vanzetti (Inauguration Special, part 2)

On August 22, 1927, Bartolomeo Sacco and Nicola Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair at Boston’s Charlestown State Prison. They were foreigners, accused of murder and ties to a shadowy terrorist group.  Yet there were worldwide protests, and their funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Boston, with as many as 200,000 Bostonians in attendance.  On the fiftieth anniversary of their deaths, Governor Dukakis officially cleared their names and declared a day of remembrance for them.  How did these men go from hated foreign enemies to victims of a politicized justice system?  Find out in this week’s episode!

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Episode 11: The Ursuline Convent Riots (Inauguration Special, part 1)

On a hot summer’s night in 1834, rumors swirled around a Catholic girls’ school in Charlestown.  Catholicism was a frightening, unfamiliar religion, and Catholic immigrants were viewed with great suspicion.  People said that the nuns were being held in slavery, or that Protestant children were being tortured and forcibly converted.  A crowd gathered, and violence flared.  When the sun rose the next morning, the Ursuline Convent lay in smoking ruins.  Thirteen men were tried, but none served time.  What deep seated biases led Yankee Boston down this dark road?  Listen to this week’s episode to find out!

Continue reading Episode 11: The Ursuline Convent Riots (Inauguration Special, part 1)