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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
2019-09-18 03:46
last episode published
2019-09-15 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

Women’s Groups Remaking Boston (episode 150)

This week’s show dusts off two classic stories about times in Boston history when women’s volunteer organizations had a big impact on Boston. First, we’ll talk about the Massachusetts Emergency and Hygiene Association, whose members introduced the con...

Boston’s Rock n Roll Riots (episode 149)

Boston has never needed much of an excuse to riot. Over almost four centuries, we’ve had political riots, racist and xenophobic riots, and plenty riots that seem to be about nothing at all. Of all the things Bostonians could choose to riot over, a ro...

Mayor Curley’s Plan to Ban the Klan (episode 148)

In the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan expanded into New England and tried to make Boston a capital of their invisible empire. However, their deep hatred for Catholics and Jews, as well as their promotion of “100% Americanism,” made the KKK a hard sell ...

The Dread Pirate Rachel (episode 147)

History records that Rachel Wall was the last woman to be hanged in Massachusetts, and legend remembers her as the only woman pirate from Boston.  Her highly publicized trial took place as America implemented its new constitutional government. The stat...

No other answer but from the mouth of his cannon (episode 146)

Boston and Quebec City share a deeply intertwined history that goes back to the earliest days of English settlement in North America. Puritan Boston could hardly stand the idea that their closest European neighbor was a Catholic colony, and they made ...

Boston’s Dark Days and Eclipses (episode 145)

The brilliant sunsets and dramatic weather reports inspired by smoke drifting into our area from Canadian wildfires last month got me thinking about two past HUB History shows. There have been at least three smoke events in Boston history that caused ...

Aeroplane Fever (episode 144)

Sky Jockeys, Knights of the Air, and Man-Birds were just a few of the terms that newspapers around the country used to describe the early aviators who converged on Boston in September 1910. The first Harvard-Boston Aero Meet was the largest and most e...

The Secret Tunnels of Boston’s North End (episode 143)

If you’ve ever taken a walking tour of Boston’s North End, or if you’ve talked to the old timers in the neighborhood, you’ve probably heard stories about the network of so-called secret pirate tunnels or smugglers’ tunnels that connects the wharves to ...

The Cessna Strafer (episode 142)

This week, our show brings you the story of what might be the only example of someone “going postal” in the air. We’re discussing a bizarre 1989 incident involving a North Shore man, a veteran and postal worker. Alfred J Hunter III had always wanted...

Annexation and Perambulation (episode 141)

This week’s show revisits two classic HUB History episodes that are all about the boundaries of the city of Boston. First, we’ll go back to a show that originally aired last January to learn why independent towns like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Charlest...

Fifteen Blocks of Rage (episode 140)

For decades, a 1967 riot that rocked Roxbury’s Grove Hall neighborhood was generally referred to in the mainstream media as a "race riot" or as "the welfare riot," while a handful of articles and books by Black authors called it "the police riot."  A g...

Founding the Boston Symphony Orchestra (episode 139)

Boston has long been known as the Hub of the Universe, but it’s also a hub of world class arts institutions. One of those institutions is the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This week, we’re looking at the founding of the BSO and the construction of its ic...

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...