Dr. Joseph Warren was the greatest Patriot leader you’ve never heard of. His many accomplishments led the royal governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, to remark that “The death of Joseph Warren is akin to the death of five hundred Patriots.” He was so in demand that his body was moved three times after his death at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Everyone knows the story of the Boston Strangler. Fewer people know the tale of The Giggler, Boston’s lesser known serial killer. The victims fit no pattern, they were a young boy and girl, a grown man, and an old lady. The Giggler would simply feel what he described as an irresistible urge to kill.
Your humble hosts weren’t able to sit down together and record a full episode this week. However, we wouldn’t want you to have to go a whole week without hearing from us. So here’s a brief look at what happened this week in Boston history.
Boston, today a city rich with world-class hospitals and medical schools, has a long history of medical innovation. This week, we take a look at the characters who laid the foundation for these advancements – Resurrection Men. What founding father was a member of a secret grave robbing club? What were the steps to pulling off the perfect heist? Tune in this week to find out!
Wonder Woman debuted in a December 1941 issue of All Star Comics, just as the attack on Pearl Harbor was drawing the US into World War II. In the comics, Wonder Woman’s origin story said that she was born to a race of Amazon women from Paradise Island, then disguised herself as the Boston career woman Diana Prince. In real life, Wonder Woman was inspired by early feminist fights for suffrage and access to contraception, and she was the brainchild of one very unique family who called Cambridge home. Wonder Woman drew as much inspiration from pinup girls in Esquire Magazine as she did from the suffragists who chained themselves to the gates of Harvard Yard and the founders of Planned Parenthood. And she was directly inspired by the women in her creator’s life. Her trademark exclamation “Suffering Sappho,” was taken from one of these women, and her looks and bulletproof “bracelets of submission” were taken from the other.
This week, we take an in depth look at the 1919 Boston Police Strike and ensuing riots. In the post-WW1 inflation of the summer of 1919, Boston police officers were earning wages set in 1857. Around the country, workers were striking, while the upper classes feared a Bolshevik-influenced revolution. When 72% of the police force walked off the job, lawlessness ruled in Boston for several days. Governor Calvin Coolidge sent in the state militia, and emerged a hero, paving his way to the White House. Listen to the story!
Despite what a lot of people think, the victims of the Salem witch trials were hanged, not burned at the stake. However, in the history of Massachusetts, two women were executed by burning them at the stake, one in 1681 and another in 1755. If witchcraft was a crime against both the state and God, what crime could be worse in Puritan Boston? A note about the content this week. We frankly describe acts of brutal violence, and we at times use the racial language of our 17th and 18th century sources. If you usually listen with children, you might want to listen to this episode alone first and decide if it’s appropriate for them.
This week, we’re going to talk about Isaiah Thomas. Not the NBA star, but the colonial printer and founder of the Massachusetts Spy, whose office became known by the British as the Sedition Foundry. He snuck his presses out of Boston on the eve of war, helped Paul Revere spread the news of the British march, and shared first-hand accounts of the battles at Concord and Lexington. Later, he would spread his business empire across multiple states, and become a historian, founding the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Listen to his story!
This week we celebrate Patriots’ Day, and the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride. It’s easy to forget that Paul Revere’s story didn’t end on April 18, 1775. This week, we bring you a less glorious story about Paul Revere, one that’s not shrouded in myth. In 1779, Revere was among the leaders of a military expedition in Maine that ended with the greatest US Naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor, and eventually led to his court martial on charges of cowardice and insubordination.
Well, listen children, and you shall hear,
A different story of Paul Revere.
In Maine, the troops fled before a British drive,
Until hardly a man was left alive.
They court martialed Paul in ‘82, I fear.
In 1849, Boston was rocked by the crime of the (19th) century when Professor John Webster murdered Dr. George Parkman in his lab at Harvard Medical School. The world was riveted by the investigation and trial that ensued, while the Boston Brahmins were shaken to the core by the scandal in their ranks. The courtroom drama lived up to our modern-day CSI standards, offering one of the earliest uses of forensic evidence and a legal standard still in use today. Listen to the show!