During the Civil War, thousands of Confederate soldiers, diplomats, and politicians were imprisoned behind the walls of Fort Warren on Georges Island. Today, the fort is home to the only Confederate monument in Massachusetts, but not for much longer.
Early Boston aeronauts used balloons to perform scientific experiments, cross the English channel, take the first aerial photographs, and provide public entertainment. Whether by hot air or hydrogen, these pioneers made their way into the air, and into the history books.
The Skin Book was written by highwayman George Walton and dedicated to the only man to best him in combat. While he was a prisoner at Charlestown Penitentiary, Walton wrote a memoir. According to his wishes, after his death, the book was bound in Walton’s own skin and given to the man who defeated him. Today, this example of anthropodermic bibliopegy is a prized possession of the Boston Athenaeum.
Since 1651, Boston has had a legal responsibility to mark and measure its boundaries every few years. Despite advances in technology, the practice of “perambulating the bounds” means that someone has to go out and walk the town lines. This law is one of the oldest still on the books, but when was the last time Boston perambulated its bounds? Listen now!
When young Albert Tirrell killed his lover Maria Bickford on Beacon Hill, it sparked a scandal that rocked Victorian Boston in the 1840s. It was a tale of seduction, murder, and the unlikeliest of defenses. In the end, he would be found not guilty, in the first successful use of sleepwalking as a defense against murder.
We apologize for Nikki’s head cold, some rough cuts that resulted from editing out her sniffles, and the couple of sniffles that made it into the final cut.
Your humble hosts are traveling this week, trying to see the first total eclipse of our lifetimes. While we’re gone, listen to the story of the 1806 eclipse, the first total eclipse seen in Boston after European colonization.
Despite our liberal reputation today, for years Boston was a bastion of official censorship. Authors and playwrights whose works were considered obscene had to create a watered-down “Boston version.” The Watch and Ward Society decided what art, theater, and literature was permissible, and what would be Banned in Boston!
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!
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!
In March 1870, forty-two women marched into their polling place in Hyde Park and illegally cast ballots in the local election. They were led by local residents and radical activists Sarah and Angelina Grimké. The Grimké sisters were born into a slave owning family in South Carolina, but then spent their lives fighting for abolition, suffrage, and equal rights. Listen to their remarkable story!