Detective Deadlines

By The History Detectives Team
24 November 2009
Category: Viewer Mailbag

Here’s a question constantly looming over the History Detectives Team. Viewer Richard Donnelly writes:

I would love to know the time it takes the History Detectives to come to a final result in their search. I am sure I am not the only one who wonders how long it takes to do the investigation.

The short answer is: a long time. All artifacts are heavily researched, but many also require testing and forensic analysis that can add weeks or months to an investigation. The same goes for the historical figures we investigate. Individuals who received a lot of media attention, like Tokyo Rose, are well-documented. Others, like the Sac and Fox Indian See-See-Sah-Mah, left virtually no trace of themselves. To learn anything about the unknowns we have to dig much deeper into archives, hoping that somebody, somewhere, left us a clue. Once in a while we get lucky. The team solved the Psychophone mystery in six weeks by finding an antique phonograph restorer with a collection of revealing documents. Sometimes, a case will go cold for a while before it’s revived by the discovery of new evidence. Case in point: our second investigation of season 8, a mystery about a Civil War protestor, will begin filming in two weeks. When did we start researching that story? Three years ago! But the average lifespan of an investigation, from the moment we read the emailed submission to the time it’s ready to film, runs around three months.

Looking back, which story do you think took the most time to solve? Which do you think was solved the quickest?

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