There’s an oft forgotten clause written into Harvard’s 1650 charter promising to educate the Native American youth of Massachusetts. This week’s episode looks at the early, mostly unsuccessful efforts to create an Indian College on the Harvard campus, the abandonment of that plan after King Philip’s War soured the English settlers on their earlier plans for Christianizing local Native American tribes, and how modern scholarship is helping to rediscover this legacy and rededicate Harvard to embracing Native Americans.
What did TV character Fox Mulder have in common with John Winthrop, the Puritan founder of Boston? They both recorded strange lights in the sky and other unexplained phenomena in extensive detail. This week, we’re going to explore the close encounters Winthrop described in 1639 and 1644. There were unexplained lights darting around the sky in formation at impossible speeds, ghostly sounds, and witnesses who claimed to have lost time. It’s a scene straight out of the X-Files, except these are considered the first recorded UFO sightings in North America.
Everyone knows the Charles River and the Neponset River, but have you ever heard of the Mother Brook? It is Americas first industrial canal, built by Puritan settlers in the earliest days of Massachusetts Bay Colony, and vital to the development of Dorchester, Hyde Park, and Dedham. Plus, by connecting the rivers on either side, it turns the landmass occupied by Newton, Brookline, and most of Boston into an island!
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!
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!
Early one April morning, Boston rose up in revolt, overthrowing the widely hated royal governor. A provincial militia surrounded the city, while the Royal Navy backed British authorities. But this wasn’t Lexington or Concord. This was the 1689 revolt against Governor Edmund Andros, 86 years to the day before Paul Revere’s ride. Listen to this week’s episode to learn more!
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! This week, we’re doing a mini-sode (miniature episode, get it?) on this week’s historical anniversaries, with a quick discussion of Boston’s first Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
When smallpox threatened Boston in 1721, Cotton Mather was a leading advocate of inoculation. How did this influential Puritan, best known for his role in the Salem witch trials, become an advocate for scientific medicine? Listen to this week’s episode to find out!
How did early Boston “celebrate” on November 5th each year? By drinking, brawling, and burning effigies of the Pope, of course. Listen to this week’s episode to find out more!