Insider Blog

News and updates from the Detectives and the production team.

Archives from 2009

Remembering Avery Clayton December 8, 2009 The History Detectives Team Avery Clayton - retired art teacher, steward of African American heritage, and friend of History Detectives, died suddenly on Thanksgiving 2009 at his home in Culver City, California. He was perhaps best known for preserving his mother’s collection of hundreds of thousands of artifacts spanning the black experience from slavery to the Civil Rights era. Comments (0)

CWF Card: Case Closed November 30, 2009 The History Detectives Team Our first web investigation reminded us that what you don’t find can sometimes be more revealing than what you do.   The owner of this card wanted to know what the Colored World’s fair was, and if it was ever held. Comments (0)

Detective Deadlines November 24, 2009 The History Detectives Team 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. Comments (0)

Colored World's Fair card October 20, 2009 The History Detectives Team   This mystery came to us from Kathleen M. of Ypsilanti, Mississippi. Comments (0)

Bloody Destructive Terminology October 19, 2009 The History Detectives Team Can the mass deaths of Native Americans at the hands of Europeans be considered genocide? Was John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry an act of terrorism? The language used to qualify historical conflicts invariably shapes our perceptions of them. A couple of lines from our Civil War pontoon bridge story caught the ear of University of Mississippi History Professor John F. Comments (0)

What Makes a Good History Detective Story? September 24, 2009 The History Detectives Team History Detectives producers are hunting for great ideas. Do you have an intriguing item locked away in your closet? Executive Producer, Chris Bryson, offers these tips that will make your submission rise to the top of the stack. Comments (0)

Where is Appomattox, VA? September 8, 2009 The History Detectives Team A number of viewers have contacted us with a correction to the Civil War Bridge story. Stephanie Wilson writes: "In the end of the segment on Sherman's pontoon bridge in Columbia, SC there is mention to Appomattox, VA where Lee surrendered. Comments (0)

Finding Family September 3, 2009 The History Detectives Team Are you interested in investigating your roots? Genealogical research allows you to find out the history of your family. If you want to research your family, your first step should be to decide what you’re looking for, compile a list of what you want to know. Comments (0)

Fighting Forebears August 27, 2009 The History Detectives Team In this weeks episode, History Detective Eduardo Pagan, investigated a portrait painted in a German POW camp during World War Two and the American soldier who painted it. You can use the following tips to investigate combatants in many US conflicts. Comments (0)

The Dangers of Filmmaking - Lubin Studio Photo Albums August 25, 2009 The History Detectives Team To say the films were destroyed by a fire at Betzwood, (by the route 422 Betzwood Bridge) was a bit of an understatement. One of the reasons for the move from Philadelphia to Montgomery county was to create a safer site for the flammable cellulose film. Comments (0)

Another Piece of Amelia's Airplane August 25, 2009 The History Detectives Team I thoroughly enjoyed your story on Amelia Earhart's plane. I thought you should know that the International Women's Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio has part of the landing gear from the plane as well. Comments (0)

What's with the huge turntable? August 25, 2009 The History Detectives Team During high school in the sixties, I spent a lot of time with my best friend listening to records in her father's music room. He was a retired navy officer. Comments (0)

An old master, or just a paint by number? August 24, 2009 The History Detectives Team In this week’s episode, History Detective Elyse Luray investigated some mural studies that may be connected to President Roosevelt’s New Deal arts program. Elyse’s search required her to find out more about the artist and led to some interesting connections to the celebrated Mexican mural painter Diego Rivera. Comments (0)

Where were the History Detectives when I needed them? August 20, 2009 The History Detectives Team I just want to tell you that "History Detectives" is an absolutely amazing show! Where were you when I was younger? In '77 my dad was remodeling (our) house and found a letter dated 1861-62, a young soldier writing to his sweetheart. All that I remember about it is him speaking of a Lieutenant Getty and friends of his having "the fever". Comments (0)

Proud of New Orleans August 20, 2009 The History Detectives Team I was very interested in the (Creole Poems) story. During the beginning of the show I mentioned to my husband that I thought the manuscript was a school notebook. Comments (0)

Protect Valuable Documents August 20, 2009 PBS Web Tech Several times you have made suggestions about how to care for old documents. The Millard Fillmore Pardon story would have benefited from a comment about not exposing old documents to direct light and to mount them in UV glass, which is protective. Comments (0)

Where Credit is Due August 20, 2009 The History Detectives Team When listing minority aviators, you should not forget Eugene Bullard who was the first Afro-American fighter pilot. He flew for the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI. Comments (0)

See The Signs August 17, 2009 The History Detectives Team This week History Detectives investigated some old letters and their connection to Liberia, Africa. The investigation called on Tukufu Zuberi to examine the letters to determine if a contributor’s ancestor had made it to Liberia from late 19th century America. Comments (0)

Take a Closer Look August 10, 2009 The History Detectives Team Appraising an object is the first stop on the investigation trail, which is why there are two professional appraisers on the History Detectives team: Wes and Elyse. An appraisal is a formal estimation of the provenance, veracity, significance, and in some cases, value of something. Comments (0)

Skeletons in the Closet August 3, 2009 The History Detectives Team Researching a person often leads to surprising and exciting revelations. You can use the same techniques and sources of information that we use on History Detectives to carry out your investigation. Comments (0)

Not just a Storybook July 28, 2009 The History Detectives Team Friends, your story about the house with what appeared to be a railroad car in the basement brought back a warm memory from childhood. One of my favorite books was The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer. Comments (0)

Be A House Detective July 24, 2009 The History Detectives Team Are you curious about the history of a building? Maybe you want to know the story lying within the walls of your home? Your inquiry into the history of a building will pass through two stages, the first is investigation. Track down any clues, or quirks, related to the physical structure, construction or architecture, which can help you focus your investigation. Comments (0)

Know the Rogue's Gallery July 16, 2009 The History Detectives Team At History Detectives we are often asked to examine photographs to determine their age, origin, subject, content or authenticity. Historical photos can provide a wonderful glimpse into the past, but in order to draw the right conclusion you need to pay attention to the smallest details. Comments (0)

Watching History Detectives Inspires Career Choices July 14, 2009 The History Detectives Team Comments from Morgan Laubach and Susan Johson: My name is Morgan Laubach and I am an anthropology and history major and the University of Pittsburgh. Watching your show has not only engaged my brain, sparked my curiosity, and, to be honest, made me giddy with the "history-nerd factor", as my family calls it, but it has also shown me the variety of careers available to someone in the history field. Comments (0)

Hey! I knew that guy, but I didn't know THAT! July 13, 2009 The History Detectives Team In our story on the Manhattan Project Patent History Detectives mentioned inventor Harold Greene. That name rang a bell with viewer Melvyn Halbert: The other inventor, Harold B. Comments (0)

Watches in History July 11, 2009 The History Detectives Team I was most interested to learn for the first time today about the federal standardization of railroad watches in 1893 because I own just such a watch, made by the Elgin Watch company in 1893, which has the newly mandated 17 jewels and is made of 14 carrot gold. It is a family heirloom first purchased by my great uncle, Dr. Comments (0)

Locating an expert July 10, 2009 The History Detectives Team Experts are a crucial source of information for a History Detectives investigation, and we regularly consult specialists in a variety of fields. Our experts include academics, researchers, historians and authors from all over America. Comments (0)

Cemetery Alarm Story Settles Lingering Questions July 10, 2009 The History Detectives Team Phyllis Behnke had always been puzzled by her great great uncle's obituary. It reads as follows: Wooster Daily Republican 15 Oct 1894 p. Comments (0)

Map to the Famous Train Crash Site July 9, 2009 The History Detectives Team Viewer Andrew Evridge takes us to the train wreck that changed history: Thanks for producing an interesting and informative series. My comment is on the brief segment that ran immediately after the story on the watch fob. Comments (0)

Pancho Villa Watch Fob - More to the Story July 9, 2009 The History Detectives Team Comment from viewer Barclay Livker While you are correct in noting that the Punitive Expedition, the military campaign following Pancho Villa's March 1916 incursion into Columbus, NM, featured the first use of airplanes and motor vehicles in a US military operation, it was also the Army's LAST significant mounted cavalry operation. I would also like to point out that it was the first incursion of foreign troops on US soil since the War of 1812 and the last since that time. Comments (0)

Junius Brutus Booth "What is in a name?" July 9, 2009 The History Detectives Team Comment from viewer Pattie Williams: After I watched your story on the letter from John Wilkes Booth's father to Andrew Jackson, I Googled "Junius Brutus Booth" and found out he was named for Marcus Junius Brutus who was one of the assassins of Julius Caesar! I just found it ironic that this man had by his name an assassination in his past then his son was to assassinate the President of the U.S. Comments (0)

War Dogs Track The Scent of Culture? July 8, 2009 The History Detectives Team Comment from viewer Mike Flynn: During conversations (with my father) about the war in Europe it once came up that he could "smell" the Germans. I found that odd so I asked him how. Comments (0)

Ballistics: Aiming to Find Out July 7, 2009 The History Detectives Team You can use the same techniques carried out by ballistics experts to find out the story behind weapons and bullets. In this week’s story, the St Valentines Day Massacre, History Detectives investigates whether a shotgun was used in an infamous gangland massacre. Comments (0)

Searching for the Patently Obvious June 29, 2009 The History Detectives Team Digging up a patent can shed light on objects you are investigating, and often make for very interesting reading. If you have an object that has been widely manufactured and you are curious as to when it was invented and released, patents are a great way to establish provenance. Comments (0)

Digging Deep: How to find what you're looking for June 22, 2009 The History Detectives Team When starting a historical investigation you need to begin with the basics - good, solid research. While many find this a daunting and laborious task, the research process can be as fascinating as solving a murder mystery. Comments (0)

Meet Our Newest Detective: Eduardo Pagan June 15, 2009 The History Detectives Team Eduardo teaches history at Arizona State University, where he got his undergraduate degree. Eduardo has quite the scholarly background. Comments (0)

Get involved with History Detectives! June 12, 2009 The History Detectives Team This season we’re opening up History Detectives to you, our audience, with our brand new DIY Investigations section. Each week we’ll reveal the techniques and tricks of the investigation trade so you too can become a History Detective and decode mysteries in your city, town and in your home. Comments (0)

Ernie Pyle's Typewriter February 3, 2009 The History Detectives Team Since we first aired our story on Ernie Pyle's typewriter, many of you have written us to comment on the comparison of the type. All great observations. Comments (0)

Sitting in Bill Picket's Saddle January 23, 2009 PBS Web Tech As a former working cowboy and history buff, I really enjoyed the story on Bill Picket's saddle. Often stories about Bill Picket will have some political spin on them. Comments (0)

Viewer Plays History Detective January 8, 2009 The History Detectives Team My husband and I went to Sea Island, GA to attend a wedding this past summer. While we knew that my husband's grandfather moved to Brunswick back in 1948, we had no other information about him or Edith, his 2nd wife. Comments (0)