History Detectives Special Investigations

For ten seasons our viewers asked us to solve the puzzles behind their historic objects and artifacts. Did a silicon chip bring art to the moon? Do we have the guitar Bob Dylan used to start a rock and roll revolution? Can we return a Vietnam War diary to its author’s family? The investigations have taught us so many things about our nation and ourselves. 

This season we take on a new challenge.  Our detectives tackle some of our nation’s most baffling historical mysteries. Each new episode devotes the entire hour to investigating one single unsolved case from America's past:

  • What caused the sinking of the SS Sultana at the end of the American Civil War, one of the worst maritime disasters in American history with more than 1,800 lives lost?
  • Can we unravel the mystery of the Austin Servant Girl Murders of the 1880s - one of the first recorded instances of serial murder in US History?
  • Who killed Jimmy Hoffa and why? Can we finally crack one of the most famous unsolved cases of the twentieth century?
  • And can we at last explain what happened to the famous big bandleader Glenn Miller, who vanished during a flight across the English Channel during World War II?

We’re calling it HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS.  As always, the team uses cutting edge tools to crack the case.  We sift through clues and crisscross the country in search of answers.

For HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS, Detectives Wes Cowan and Tukufu Zuberi will be joined by newcomer Kaiama Glover, a professor at Barnard College, Columbia University. 

The HISTORY DETECTIVES SPECIAL INVESTIGATION web pages include a rich archive of videos, additional information on our investigations and valuable guides for your own research.

You can also revisit past investigations from previous season featuring detectives Elyse Luray, independent appraiser and art history expert; Gwendolyn Wright professor of architecture and history, Columbia University; Eduardo Pagán, the Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History at Arizona State University, Wes Cowan, independent appraiser and auctioneer, and Tukufu Zuberi, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the Center for Africana Studies.

Explore a variety of options on our web site:

Investigations - Access every single past investigation, browse by season, era, detective, or geographic location
- Watch full episodes and web exclusives, including interviews with the History Detectives, behind-the-scenes videos and tutorials on how to conduct your own investigations
Detective Techniques - Step-by-step guides to genealogy, researching buildings, evaluating documents and much more
Educators - Lesson plans and other tools to ignite student interest in history, science, and other core subjects
Facebook - Engage with our History Detectives team and fans
Twitter - Follow the detectives as they travel around the country investigating our stories

are co-produced for PBS by Oregon Public Broadcasting and Lion Television.