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The show that brings you fascinating stories from Boston history.

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The show that brings you fascinating stories from Boston history.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-06-24 11:52
last episode published
2019-06-23 22:00
publication frequency
7.04 days
HUB History owner   author  
Number of Episodes
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Society & Culture Places & Travel History



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Hooker Day in Boston (episode 138)

Hooker Day was a one-time holiday celebrated in Boston in 1903. While it might sound like this is going to be an X-rated podcast, we’re not talking about that kind of hooker. Civil War General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker was briefly the commander of...

ED Leavitt, Fresh Water, and Steam Power (episode 137)

For centuries before the Quabbin reservoir opened, Boston struggled to provide enough clean, fresh water for its growing population. One of the solutions to this problem was a new reservoir built at Chestnut Hill in the 1880s. The pumping station at t...

Boston Marriages in Literature and Life (episode 136)

A new form of relationship arose between 19th century women, which had all the emotional trappings of romantic love, but was long considered to be merely an intense form of friendship. More recently, however, critics have wondered whether Victorian as...

The Underground Railroad on Boston Harbor (episode 135)

In the 19th century, a network of abolitionists and sympathizers in Boston helped enslaved African Americans find their way to freedom in the Northern states or Canada. It’s a topic we’ve talked about before, but this time there’s a twist. We’re going...

Love is Love: John Adams and Marriage Equality (episode 134)

15 years ago, the landmark case Goodridge v. Department of Public Health granted marriage rights to same-sex couples in Massachusetts. The November 18, 2003, decision was the first by a U.S. state’s highest court to find that same-sex couples had the ...

A Genuine, Bonafide, Non-Electrified Monorail! (episode 133)

You may think taking the T is painful today, but back in the days of horsedrawn streetcars, public transportation was slow, inefficient, and frequently snarled in downtown traffic. In the 1880s, proposals for elevated railways and subways competed for...

Taking Louisbourg, the Gibraltar of North America (episode 132)

This week’s show is about the namesake of the famous Louisbourg Square on Beacon Hill, an astonishing 1745 military victory won by a Massachusetts volunteer army made up of farmers, seamen, and merchants. After war broke out with France the year befor...

Love Behind Enemy Lines (episode 131)

We’re trying something new this week by bringing in a guest for our upcoming historical event segment. Clara Silverstein from Historic Newton tells us about their “Crossing Borders” series. Sticking with the theme, our show this week recounts a roman...

Harnessing the Power of Boston's Tides (episode 130)

This week, we interview Earl Taylor, president of the Dorchester Historical Society and one of the founders of the Tide Mill Institute. He tells us how early Bostonians harnessed the power of the tides in Boston Harbor to grind their grain, manufactur...

The Miracle of Ether (episode 129)

Among the many medical breakthroughs that are attributed to Boston, surgical anesthesia is among the most impactful. It’s hard to overstate the importance in medical history of ether for the treatment of pain, particularly for those undergoing surgica...

Lincoln and Booth and Boston (episode 128)

This episode is being released on April 14, 2019, which means that Abraham Lincoln was shot 154 years ago today. That’s why we’re talking about the links between the Lincoln assassination and the city of Boston. President Lincoln, his assassin John W...

Marathon Women (episode 127)

The Boston Marathon was first run in April of 1897, after Bostonians were inspired by the revival of the marathon for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. It is the oldest continuously running marathon, arguably the most prestigious, and the second long...

The Museum Heist (episode 126)

It’s probably a familiar tale… Late at night, after the museum is closed, a man talks the guard into unlocking the door. Once inside, he pulls out a gun, and within seconds, the guard is tied up and blindfolded, while a gang roams through the museum, ...

The Little Glass Treasure House (episode 125)

Artist and author Julia Glatfelter joins us this week to discuss her upcoming children’s book The Little Glass Treasure House. The Children’s Art Centre was incorporated in 1914 under the direction of FitzRoy Carrington, curator of prints at the Museum...

BPL Bonus Episode: Grand Peace Jubilee Join us at the Boston Public Library to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Grand National Peace Jubilee held in Copley Square in 1869. The Peace Jubilee was a week-long musical celebration...

Weird Neighborhood History (episode 124)

Instead of writing and recording a new episode, your humble hosts are going to History Camp this weekend. We’ll leave you with two stories about Boston’s weird neighborhood history from our back catalog. We’ll be sharing a story from Jamaica Plain ab...

Treasure of the Caribbean: the Legend of Governor’s Gold (episode 123)

Sir William Phips was the first royal governor of Massachusetts under the charter of William and Mary. As governor, he would implement the notorious Court of Oyer and Terminer that led to the executions of 20 innocent people during the Salem witch hys...

The Ursuline Convent Riot, revisited (episode 122)

This week we’re discussing the riots and destruction of Charlestown’s Ursuline convent, which we first covered back in January 2017. This episode touches on themes of xenophobia, anti-immigrant prejudice, and religious intolerance - lessons we can all ...

"The Birth of a Nation" in Boston (episode 121)

“The Birth of a Nation” was one of the most controversial movies ever made, and when it premiered on February 8, 1915 it almost instantly became the greatest blockbuster of the silent movie era. It featured innovative new filmmaking techniques, a revo...

Lewis Latimer, Master Inventor (episode 120)

African American inventor and draftsman Lewis Latimer’s parents self-emancipated to give their children the opportunities afforded to those born into freedom. A Chelsea native, Latimer’s career took him from the Navy, to a patent law firm, to the prest...

Apocalypse on Boston Bay (episode 119)

In the years immediately before English Puritans settled on the Shawmut Peninsula, a series of epidemics nearly wiped out the indigenous population of New England. The worst of these plagues was centered on Boston Harbor, and swept from Narragansett B...

Worst Case Scenarios (episode 118)

This week’s show revisits three classic episodes about disasters in Boston history. We’ll start with episode 21, which spotlighted the 1897 subway explosion on Tremont Street. Episode 39 discusses the tragedy at the Cocoanut Grove, followed by episode ...

David Walker's Radical Appeal (episode 117)

David Walker was one of America’s first radical abolitionists, a free African American man who moved to Boston in 1824 to escape the danger and humiliations of life in the slave states. He became a prominent member of Black society in Boston before wri...

Horace Mann, Education Innovator (episode 116)

Boston has always been a city that valued education, and few people did as much to improve our educational system as Horace Mann. He started from modest means, living out the one-liner in Good Will Hunting about getting a $150,000 education for $1.50 ...

Crossing the River Charles (episode 115)

What do you know about the earliest crossings over the Charles River in Boston? When it was founded, the town of Boston occupied the tip of the narrow Shawmut Peninsula, with the harbor on one side and the Charles RIver on the other. Residents relied...

Smallpox Remastered (episode 114)

Although Cotton Mather is best known for his role in the Salem Witch Trials, he also pioneered smallpox inoculation in North America. This week, you’ll hear about Boston’s history with smallpox, including multiple epidemics, the controversy surroundin...

Boston Standard Time (episode 113)

With New Year’s Eve comes the ball drop in Times Square at the stroke of midnight. But in the late 1800s, Boston dropped a ball every day to mark the stroke of noon, because telling the time was serious business. The time ball, along with telegraphic ...

Abolitionism on Trial (episode 112)

Boston abolitionists rallied in response to the Fugitive Slave Act, ushering in an era of more active resistance that we chronicled in episodes 15-17. This week, we’re spotlighting the role that Theodore Parker, a radically liberal Unitarian minister, ...

When Boston Invented Playgrounds (episode 111)

In the late 19th century, a new revolution in play was born in Boston.  In an era when urban children had few spaces to play except in the alleys and courtyards around their tenements, and child labor meant that many kids had no opportunities to play a...

Trailblazers (episode 110)

This week we’re digging into our archives to bring you discussions of three Bostonian ladies who forged new paths for women. Katherine Nanny Naylor was granted the first divorce in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, allowing her to ditch an abusive husband ...

Bohemian Boston’s Gay Grampa (episode 109)

Prescott Townsend was a classic Boston Brahmin. He was born into Boston’s elite in 1894, graduated from Harvard, and served in World War I. All signs pointed to a very conventional path through life, but Townsend’s trajectory would take him far from...

Mary Dyer, the Quaker Martyr (episode 108)

Mary Dyer was an early Puritan settler of Boston. Born in England, Mary moved to Boston in 1635 and was soon drawn to the Quaker religion, in part because of the opportunities it afforded women to learn and lead. New laws forbade her from professing ...

Harvard’s Thanksgiving Day Riot (episode 107)

When it comes to Boston history, it seems like there’s a riot for every possible season. It’s Thanksgiving season now, so this week we’re going to discuss a riot that took place at Harvard University… not during the tumultuous anti-war protests of the...

Miss Mac, from Wellesley to the WAVES (episode 106)

In honor of Veterans Day, we’re talking about the women who served in World War II in a Navy outfit called the WAVES. Specifically, their commanding officer, Mildred McAfee (later Mildred McAfee Horton). When the war started, she was president of Wel...

The Girl in Pantaloons (episode 105)

Emma Snodgrass defied the gender roles of the 1850s, getting arrested multiple times in Boston for appearing in public unchaperoned and dressed as a man. Was she a troublemaker looking for thrills? Was she trying to pass as a man in order to find wor...

The Iron Lung (episode 104)

In 1928, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital demonstrated a groundbreaking medical advancement – the iron lung. Prior to the arrival of the polio vaccination in 1955, the deadly disease was the most feared illness in America. With this invention ...

Founding Martyr (episode 103)

In this week’s show, we are talking about all things Joseph Warren. Author Christopher di Spigna joins us to discuss his book Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero, a new biography of our favorite...

Jubilee Days (episode 102)

In 1869, an eccentric entrepreneur and musical visionary built one of the largest buildings in 19th Century Boston. It was a concert hall with twice the capacity of the modern TD garden, and it was built to house the largest musical spectacular the wo...

Riot Classics (episode 101)

For this week’s show, we’re revisiting three highlights from Boston’s long and storied history of rioting. We’ll include stories from past episodes covering the 1919 Boston police strike, 1747 impressment riots, and the 1837 Broad Street riot. Listen ...

The Occupation of Boston (episode 100)

250 years ago this week, British troops landed in Boston.  Author J.L. Bell joins us to discuss the British government's decision to send troops in an attempt to keep peace after Boston's years of upheaval.  Instead of bringing peace, the tense occupat...

Boston's Wild West (episode 99)

Brighton is one of our westernmost neighborhoods, and it’s often associated with Boston’s large and sometimes unruly student population, but in the mid 19th century, Brighton was home to all the elements of a western movie. There were cattle drives, s...

Margaret Sanger, Uncensored (episode 98)

his week, we’re discussing Margaret Sanger’s thwarted attempt to present a lecture on birth control to the good citizens of Boston in April of 1929. The 1920s were a fairly liberating time for women – women were voting, drinking alcohol socially, cutt...

Hunting the King Killers (episode 97)

This week, we tell a story from very early in Boston’s history, a story partly shrouded in legend.  The cast of characters includes everyone from Increase Mather to Nathaniel Hawthorne, encompassing two kings, two continents, two colonies, and Royal go...

September 1918, with Skip Desjardin (episode 96)

This week, author Skip Desjardin tells us about his new book September 1918: War, Plague, and the World Series. He introduces us to a pivotal month, when world history was being made in Boston and Bostonians were making history around the world. The ...

Pandemic 1918! (episode 95)

On August 27,  1918 Boston became acquainted with the epidemic that has gone down in history as the “Spanish flu.”  A more accurate name for this disease outbreak might be the “Boston flu,” because our city is where this influenza variant mutated and f...

Amelia Earhart in Boston (episode 94)

You probably know about Amelia Earhart’s famous career as a groundbreaking aviator, and you almost certainly know about her famous disappearance over the Pacific. But you may not know about Amelia Earhart’s first career as a social worker in one of Bo...

Folk Magic and Mysteries at the Fairbanks House (episode 93)

In this episode, we're joined by the curator of one of the oldest houses in North America.  He'll tell us about evidence that's been uncovered that generations of residents may have believed in an ancient form of countermagic.  The inhabitants of Dedha...

Bullets on the Boardwalk (episode 92)

On August 8, 1920, an epic brawl broke out on Revere Beach when police attempted to arrest a group of four disorderly sailors. In the chaos that followed, 400 sailors attempted to storm the police station to free their comrades, even stealing rifles fr...

Boston’s Pickwick Disaster and the Dance of Death (episode 91)

On the evening of July 3, 1925, Boston’s Pickwick nightclub collapsed while couples packed the dance floor. Dozens were trapped in the rubble, while firefighters, police, and laborers worked desperately to free them. In the end, 44 people were killed...

Love that Dirty Water (episode 90)

For many people, summertime in Boston means canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, and even swimming in the rivers that run through and around our city. To celebrate the season this week we’re coming three classic episodes about industry, adven...