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June 21, 2019
How a textile shortage led to the invention of the bikini
Designer Louis Réard left automotive engineering to work in his mother’s lingerie business. He decided to compete with another design to create the world’s smallest swimsuit.
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4 min
June 20, 2019
The man who won World War II
Andrew Higgins wasn't in the Army. He wasn't a paratrooper. He was a wild and wily genius, a tough, crafty, businessman. And he built the built the boats that brought troops ashore at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
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4 min
June 19, 2019
Oregon was America’s first and only state to begin as 'whites-only'
Oregon’s original constitution banned black people from the state, and the law stayed in the constitution for well over 100 years.
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4 min
June 18, 2019
Publishers hated ‘A Wrinkle in Time,' and Madeleine L'Engle never forgot the rejections
'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle said she received 26 rejection letters from publishers.
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3 min
June 17, 2019
This security guard discovered the Watergate break-in, but nobody remembers him
The man who called the police on the Watergate burglars never received the credit he deserved.
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3 min
June 14, 2019
A history of extreme makeovers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
When the White House was built over 200 years ago, it lacked certain modern conveniences. A hodgepodge of improvements have been added over the years.
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3 min
June 13, 2019
The unlikely start of the Boy Scout movement
The Boy Scout movement began 110 years ago on a tiny island just off the southern coast of England.
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4 min
June 12, 2019
Eartha Kitt confronted the first lady and it nearly ruined her career
At a White House luncheon, actress Eartha Kitt would not let the president or the first lady avoid the issue of the Vietnam War. She paid a heavy price for her boldness.
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4 min
June 11, 2019
The 'temporary insanity' legal defense started with an affair
If you love gossip, drama and D.C. politics -- this story is the gift that keeps on giving.
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4 min
June 10, 2019
Eisenhower’s famous speech to U.S. troops the day before D-Day
On the day before D-Day, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech to the troops that totally masked how nervous he actually was.
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4 min
June 7, 2019
The painter who became the CIA’s master of disguise
The spy business is all about masking the truth. One CIA agent’s deceptions and sham identities were so enterprising that he earned the nickname “Master of Disguise.”
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10 min
June 6, 2019
The ax that killed Leon Trotsky
Joseph Stalin wanted his political rival dead. When bullets didn’t do the job, his intelligence service tried something even more gruesome.
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9 min
June 5, 2019
That time the CIA stole a Russian submarine
When a Russian sub sank at the height of the Cold War, the CIA got help from Howard Hughes and created a fictitious mining operation to snag the vessel at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
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9 min
June 4, 2019
The pistols that almost fell from the sky
During World War II, U.S. intelligence operatives devised a plan to airdrop one-shot handguns, nicknamed the Liberator pistol, to allies in Europe in hopes of ending the war quickly.
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5 min
June 3, 2019
The rat that helped win the Cold War
In the first of a weeklong series of episodes about spies, subterfuge and intelligence, a look at how the CIA used dead rats to send secret messages in the former Soviet Union.
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7 min
May 31, 2019
The test that changed childbirth
In the 1950s, Dr. Virginia Apgar created a quick test that nurses have since performed on millions of babies just after birth. She is considered one of the most important figures in modern medicine — a world that almost pushed her away.
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6 min
May 30, 2019
Amid rising tension between the U.S. and Cuba, Hemingway's widow went on a literary rescue mission
When author Ernest Hemingway killed himself in 1961, the political strain between the United States and Cuba was escalating. In the midst of that struggle, Hemingway's widow scrambled to recover the author's work from his beloved home in Cuba.
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8 min
May 29, 2019
Frank Lloyd Wright tried to create a perfect house for an imperfect world
In 1939, an unknown copy editor from Washington, D.C., begged famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design his family a home. The result was a modern house that stood decades ahead of its time.
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9 min
May 28, 2019
Rising from ruin: The many rebuilds of Notre Dame
The world watched Notre Dame as it burned in April. But the cathedral has endured a lot in its 856 years.
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4 min
May 24, 2019
A debate that went into extra innings: Can baseballs curve?
Beginning in the earliest days of baseball, fans, journalists and even physicists disputed whether or not pitchers could make a ball curve.
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7 min
May 23, 2019
How food found its way into the freezer
While on a research trip to the Arctic in the early 20th century, scientist Clarence Birdseye — a name you might recognize from the frozen food aisle — made an observation that would go on to change the way we eat.
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5 min
May 22, 2019
The man who helped create the first measles vaccine didn’t vaccinate his own son
In the 1950s, millions of people suffered from measles every year. David Edmonston, an 11-year-old student, became the cure.
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5 min
May 21, 2019
Clara Barton, America's most famous nurse, broke boundaries to treat Civil War victims
The nurse who founded the American Red Cross had no formal training in medicine. She tended to countless wounded soldiers.
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6 min
May 20, 2019
Why Naval Academy students climb a greased up obelisk every year
Every year, freshmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis take part in an annual tradition where they must climb a 21 foot high obelisk covered in vegetable shortening and place a hat at the very top.
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4 min
May 17, 2019
The forgotten pioneers of the first American utopia
More than a decade ago, bestselling historian David McCullough stumbled upon an important name from the past that even he’d never come across before. What he discovered was the story of pioneering American idealists.
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5 min
May 16, 2019
The game show contestant who cheated his way to fame
In the 1950s, Charles Van Doren, a quiet professor in New York City, became wrapped up in one of the biggest television quiz show scandals in history.
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6 min
May 15, 2019
The unlikely beginning of paint-by-number
Paint-by-number was a national phenomenon. And then, the paint sets disappeared from the shelves.
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5 min
May 14, 2019
The jazz queen who chose home over fame
Jazz singer Ethel Ennis’s voice wowed audiences and won praise from critics. But when she was faced with the opportunity to become a superstar, Ennis chose a different path.
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6 min
May 13, 2019
The most difficult job Robert Mueller ever had
Serving as special counsel is probably only the third hardest job Robert Mueller has held. His life in public service started when he just 23 years old, as a Marine lieutenant in the Vietnam War.
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6 min
May 10, 2019
Anna Jarvis spent years fighting to create Mother's Day, then lost everything trying to protect it
Anna Jarvis would absolutely hate what Mother's Day has become.
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3 min
May 9, 2019
John Brown's prophecy
Abolitionist John Brown made a prophecy before he was executed.
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3 min
May 8, 2019
The books presidents read
People have long been fascinated by the books presidents choose to read. But how much do reading habits actually reveal about a president?
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4 min
May 7, 2019
The original Alcoholics Anonymous book was auctioned for millions, but its author was never paid
The original manuscript was auctioned off for $2.4 million to an NFL owner, after almost a year of legal wrangling.
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4 min
May 6, 2019
The invention of sarin
Weevils, a voracious beetle found in fields and orchards, were the original target of sarin gas.
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3 min
May 3, 2019
May the Fourth be with you
Mark Hamill, the actor known for playing Luke Skywalker, shares stories from Star Wars history.
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5 min
May 2, 2019
Need a job? Ask Ulysses S. Grant.
While President Grant had an impressive resume on the battlefield, he was known to be a patsy when it came to helping job hunters. People used to walk right into the White House and ask the president to find them a job.
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3 min
May 1, 2019
Meet the Press
At the beginning of the television age, “Meet the Press” dented the dominance of newspapers and thrilled news junkies with the power of live broadcasting.
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3 min
April 30, 2019
The mother who made George Washington miserable
George and his mother had an unusual relationship for the 1700s.
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4 min
April 29, 2019
The Sullivan brothers
Five brothers fought and died together on the same ship during World War II. Their final resting place was discovered in 2018.
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3 min
April 26, 2019
Elaine Brown, the first and only woman to lead the Black Panther Party
Elaine Brown's takeover in 1974 was a pivotal moment for a woman in the black power movement. Although women had been a dynamic force for social and racial justice, they had often been overshadowed by men.
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3 min
April 25, 2019
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day was once just for daughters
Mike is joined by a special guest to talk about how Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day began.
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2 min
April 24, 2019
These guys were college jocks, and then became presidents of the United States
We dug through The Washington Post's archives and consulted the Pro Football Hall of Fame to bring you a rundown of the best presidential ballers.
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4 min
April 23, 2019
The truth is out there
Area 51's secrets may not be alien in nature, but that doesn't make it any less mysterious.
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4 min
April 22, 2019
One broadcast helped turn Americans against the Vietnam War
Walter Cronkite's calm but authoritative voice carried so much weight that in 1968 one single news report helped persuade the American public that we weren't winning the war in Vietnam.
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4 min
April 19, 2019
Egg Roll
One day a year, the White House grounds are turned over to kids for the Easter Egg Roll.
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3 min
April 18, 2019
Chillicothe, Missouri: The town that invented sliced bread
The town of Chillicothe, Missouri, discovered they have a surprising claim to history: the creation of sliced bread.
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3 min
April 17, 2019
The black power protest that shook the world
At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, one of the most iconic moments of that chaotic year unfolded on television screens around the world.
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2 min
April 16, 2019
History's most fascinating misquote
The Apollo 13 astronauts never said “Houston we have a problem.” Here’s why you think they did.
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3 min
April 12, 2019
Hate the IRS? Blame Abraham Lincoln.
In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was in a financial bind. Also, he was in a war. To raise money, he pushed for and won passage of an income tax and, a year or so later, established the Internal Revenue Bureau to collect what was owed.
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3 min
April 12, 2019
The Mouth of the South
Martha Mitchell was the wife of President Nixon's attorney general. Nixon blamed Mitchell for Watergate.
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5 min
April 11, 2019
Hair peace. Bed peace.
On March 25, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were a few days into their marriage when they invited the press to join them at their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.
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5 min
April 10, 2019
Queen Arawelo
Growing up in Somalia, a country where stories are handed down through generations, one of the first tales that children are told is about an ancient queen who fought to give women power by castrating men.
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6 min
April 9, 2019
The man who killed Bonnie and Clyde
It was April of 1934. The multi-state crime spree of Bonnie and Clyde came to an end in an ambush on a winding country road in Louisiana. The man who finally hunted them down was Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, a legendary lawman from the Wild West.
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6 min
April 5, 2019
Ketamine in the mainstream
Once a party drug, ketamine has found its way into modern medicine.
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5 min
April 5, 2019
From handsaws to parades: D.C.’s cherry blossom trees weren’t always beloved
Over one million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival each year. But the cherry blossom trees, and Japanese culture, were not always embraced in the United States.
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6 min
April 4, 2019
The day before the Chernobyl disaster
Disasters don’t just happen. Like anything in life, there’s usually a buildup. In the case of the Chernobyl disaster, the series of failures stretched back more than a decade. But what happened the day before the explosion?
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6 min
April 3, 2019
Last Seen Ads
After the Civil War, formerly enslaved people placed notices in black-owned newspapers across the country to find their loved ones.
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6 min
April 2, 2019
Earthrise
On Christmas Eve in 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts captured an image that symbolizes hope and inspired environmentalism.
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4 min
April 1, 2019
George Taliaferro, the first black player drafted to the NFL
He thought being drafted into the National Football League was so unlikely that he signed with an African American league team. Then, the NFL called.
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5 min
March 29, 2019
The first 'Queen of the Air'
Four years before Amelia Earhart ever got into a plane, Ruth Law was already making a name for herself in the skies.
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5 min
March 28, 2019
A spy in the Confederate White House
During the American Civil War, a former slave smuggled secrets from the Confederate President to help the North to victory. Her name was Mary Bowser.
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6 min
March 27, 2019
The nurse who picked up a rifle
During World War I, British nurse Flora Sandes put down her nurses bag to fight with the Serbian Army.
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4 min
March 26, 2019
The 'Night Witches'
During World War II, around 80 Russian women took to the skies and risked their lives to fight against the Germans.
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4 min
March 25, 2019
The extraordinary life of Civil War veteran Albert Cashier
On August 6, 1862, a shy young man from Belvidere, Illinois, signed up to fight for the North in the Civil War. His name was Albert Cashier.
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7 min
March 22, 2019
The first black senator and America’s brief biracial democracy
Hiram Rhodes Revels came to the Senate after the Civil War in a shining moment of triumph — a black man taking over the seat once held by Jefferson Davis. It didn’t last.
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5 min
March 21, 2019
Why isn’t lynching illegal?
It is one of the worst expressions of racism in American history. And there’s no federal law to prevent it.
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6 min
March 20, 2019
Robert Morris, the creator of the subpoena
The history of subpoenas, and the fiery congressional hearings that have captivated Americans for centuries began with a Founding Father raising his hand to say, “Investigate me!”
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6 min
March 19, 2019
Judy Garland and the long history of 'Me Too' in Hollywood
Sexual harassment has been existed in showbiz as long as there have been bright lights.
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5 min
March 18, 2019
A rich piece of scandal
In the 19th century, publications both reputable and scandalous routinely blackmailed society figures caught in compromising circumstances.
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5 min
March 15, 2019
The godfather of bracketology
Some 50 million people are projected to fill out a March Madness bracket this year. As you finish filling out yours, you might want to tip your pencil and say thanks to the late and loud Staten Island bar owner Jody Haggerty.
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4 min
March 14, 2019
To ban a 'Mockingbird'
Harper Lee's classic novel has been causing controversy for as long as its been in print. Here's a look at the history of banning "To Kill a Mockingbird."
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4 min
March 13, 2019
The history of epic North Korean insults
North Korea has long been a superpower when it comes verbal attacks.
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3 min
March 12, 2019
Special delivery!
There’s one thing that you can’t have delivered anymore that was totally normal to send by mail in the early 1900s.
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2 min
March 11, 2019
Why Thurgood Marshall asked an ex-Klan member to help him make Supreme Court history
Thurgood Marshall, the first African American member of the Supreme Court, took the constitutional oath of office from Hugo Black, a white associate justice who had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
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3 min
March 8, 2019
The glass ceiling
In 1978, Marilyn Loden gave new meaning to an image women have fought for decades.
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3 min
March 7, 2019
The woman behind Lisa Ben
Edythe Eyde, also known by her pen name Lisa Ben, was a visionary who fought to make lesbians visible in pop culture decades before most others had the guts to do the same.
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4 min
March 6, 2019
The night America burned
The deadliest wildfire in U.S. history wasn’t in California.
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3 min
March 5, 2019
Was Mary Todd Lincoln a leaker?
President Abraham Lincoln had to worry about the first lady being a leaker, and it was quite a scandal.
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4 min
March 4, 2019
The forbidden question
If the order for a nuclear attack is issued, the soldiers operating the launch machine have no choice but to fire. Or do they?
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3 min
March 1, 2019
The best birthday card ever
In 1926, the United States received a birthday card signed by 5.5 million Polish people.
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2 min
February 28, 2019
The houses built by slaves
Buildings that stand as symbols of American democracy - the White House, Mount Vernon and Monticello, to name a few - were erected with the labor of those who were not free.
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3 min
February 27, 2019
How are you, Grandmama?
A dog and a cadaver deserve credit for their contributions to the invention of the telephone.
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3 min
February 26, 2019
The crooked picture
Jesse James, the most famous outlaw in history, was eventually foiled by a picture hanging crooked on a wall.
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4 min
February 25, 2019
The Limping Lady
President Trump made history when he nominated a woman to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But while a woman leading the CIA was once unthinkable, female spies have made enormous, overlooked contributions in espionage.
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3 min
February 22, 2019
And the winner is...
Oscars night is probably the one moment around the world when people become really interested in envelopes.
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5 min
February 21, 2019
What hath God wrought?
The history of social media began in 1844, when Samuel F.B. Morse sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. It said, "What hath God wrought?"
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4 min
February 20, 2019
The ice queen
Sonja Henie won three Olympic gold medals and 10 world championships, and turned her star power into as career as one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars. Meet figure skating's first megastar.
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4 min
February 19, 2019
The electric rivalry
To understand the gruesome history of the death penalty, it is essential to comprehend how badly Thomas Edison wanted to zap George Westinghouse.
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3 min
February 18, 2019
All the Presidents' Ghosts
Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the many accounts that have spilled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over two centuries give ghosts an undeniable place in the country’s history.
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3 min
February 15, 2019
The spy plane
Historians and national security analysts have been re-examining one particular forgotten moment in the history of U.S. and North Korea conflict.
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4 min
February 14, 2019
Before the Lovings, another interracial couple fought to marry
The Kinneys married in Washington, D.C., in 1874. Then, they were arrested back home in Virginia for violating the state’s laws. They fought the ruling in higher and higher courts but never won the right to stay married in their home state.
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3 min
February 13, 2019
Dr. Spock
Dr. Spock - not the guy from Star Trek - was at one time America's most beloved pediatrician. A whole generation of children was raised on his medical advice. But not even his popularity could save him from being indicted by the federal government.
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4 min
February 12, 2019
The first female Marine
During World War I, the Marines Corps needed help on the home front while men were fighting overseas. Opha May Johnson was the first woman in line.
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3 min
February 11, 2019
Philadelphia's plumbing revolution: wood pipes
In 1812, Philadelphia was outfitted with the latest in plumbing technology - a network of wooden pipes to carry water throughout the city.
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3 min
February 8, 2019
Jim Crow and the rise of blackface
Back in the 1830s, Jim Crow wasn't yet a symbol of inequality. He was a fictional character in minstrel shows who, to entertain his audiences, performed in blackface.
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5 min
February 7, 2019
The Wicked Bible
A full year after the King James Bible was printed in 1631, people discovered an error.
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4 min
February 6, 2019
How the State of the Union went from speech to spectacle
The president's State of the Union started as a simple report on the condition on the nation; overtime, the address became a moment to rally Congress and the public.
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6 min
February 5, 2019
Winifred Stanley, a forgotten equal pay pioneer
The woman who first introduced equal pay legislation in Congress had to fight to be taken seriously — and often failed.
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3 min
February 4, 2019
The Soviet officer who stopped World War III
In 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, trusted his gut and averted a global nuclear catastrophe.
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4 min
February 1, 2019
How 'Broadway Joe' redefined the NFL
A few days before his team took the field as huge underdogs in Super Bowl III, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath made what was seen as an insane prediction at the time: "The Jets will win Sunday," he said. "I guarantee it."
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6 min
January 31, 2019
The godmother of the open office
If you work in an office without offices, with just about everyone working in a large spare space full of stylish desks, straight lines and papers stored in a credenza, then you have met Florence Knoll Bassett.
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5 min
January 30, 2019
The Confederate spy who evaded capture
After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, John Surratt traveled across three continents, wore disguises and used fake names for nearly two years to escape authorities.
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7 min
January 29, 2019
The rise of supermarkets
If you’re like most Americans, you probably visit a grocery store once or twice a week. But you probably don’t know that one single grocery item is responsible for the rise of supermarkets as we know them.
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3 min
January 28, 2019
How the Doomsday Clock came to be
Over the past seven decades, the Doomsday Clock has served as a metaphorical measure of humankind’s proximity to global catastrophe. Every year, scientists and nuclear experts set the clock's time after grappling over the state of geopolitical affairs.
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4 min
January 25, 2019
Pinball’s sordid past
Pinball was once so vilified that it was banned in cities across the United States.
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5 min
January 24, 2019
The man inside the minds of a million consumers
In the 1950s, Lester Wunderman became the king of direct mail advertising — the ancestor of today’s online targeted ads.
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5 min
January 23, 2019
A history of hats in the House
In the early days of the House, some congresspeople thought hats had no place atop the heads of representatives debating the great issues of the day. Hats, they argued, weren’t dignified.
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5 min
January 22, 2019
The last person to set foot on the moon
When Eugene Cernan walked on the moon, he didn’t know he’d be the last astronaut to make the journey.
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4 min
January 21, 2019
How Martin Luther King Jr. got his name
The name on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth certificate was not Martin. Nor did the document include the middle name Luther.
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6 min
January 18, 2019
Tenure for life
When Alexander Hamilton argued in favor of lifetime tenures for Supreme Court justices, he probably didn’t foresee them living past their prime.
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6 min
January 17, 2019
The hatchet wielding leader of the anti-alcohol movement
More than a century ago, Carry Amelia Nation — hatchet in hand — chopped the country toward temperance.
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6 min
January 16, 2019
A bridge of ice at Niagara Falls
Once upon a time, people walked between the U.S. and Canada over a frozen Niagara Falls. But one day, that all changed forever.
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5 min
January 15, 2019
The only person Hitler loved
Adolf Hitler's mother may be the only person he genuinely cared for.
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4 min
January 14, 2019
A history of the U.S.-Mexico border
For decades, the boundary between Mexico and the United States was little more than an imaginary line in the sand.
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6 min
January 11, 2019
A presidential emergency that didn't end well
When a steel industry strike threatened military production during the Korean War, and Congress couldn’t come to an agreement, President Truman had a solution — declare a national emergency.
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6 min
January 10, 2019
How Lego took over the toy world
Lego started as a company that made wooden toys, and grew into an empire of plastic building blocks.
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6 min
January 9, 2019
The summer men rebelled against their shirts
It doesn't seem like a big deal today, but 1930s America lived in fear of the male nipple.
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5 min
January 8, 2019
The researcher whose rats predicted the Internet
John Calhoun’s rodent experiments revolutionized the way we think about social behavior and the impact of growing populations.
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6 min
January 7, 2019
One of the greatest astronomers of her generation
Nancy Grace Roman was one of NASA’s first female astronomers and was a key figure in the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.
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5 min
January 4, 2019
How one World War II veteran lived to be a centenarian
At 112-years-old, Richard Overton was the oldest living World War II veteran.
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5 min
January 3, 2019
A wooden mallet with a colorful history of being shattered
Throughout American history, speakers of the House have pounded their gavels so hard in search of order that they wind up smashing the gavel itself into smithereens.
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5 min
January 2, 2019
The rabble rouser who inspired Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Dorothy Kenyon was an early leader in the legal fight for women's rights.
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6 min
January 1, 2019
Mourning Bobby Kennedy
We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, we look back on the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
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6 min
December 31, 2018
The story of the real Charlotte of ‘Charlotte's Web’
We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, an episode co-hosted by Madeline Daly, who won our Retropod trivia contest at the 2018 National Book Festival.
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6 min
December 28, 2018
The day Martin Luther King Jr. died
We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, our episode marking the date Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, 50 years ago this April.
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7 min
December 27, 2018
Doughnuts, the most patriotic of the junk foods
We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, doughnuts. They aren’t just delicious. They also helped America win a war.
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4 min
December 26, 2018
Ida B. Wells, the woman who never gave up
We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, Ida B. Wells, who was an investigative journalist, an anti-lynching activist, a suffragette and a teacher.
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6 min
December 25, 2018
Big Bird and the genius inside
We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, the story of Caroll Spinney and his iconic character Big Bird.
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6 min
December 24, 2018
The military’s famous Santa Tracker began with a wrong number
In the 1950s, a child trying to call Santa Claus accidentally called NORAD and changed Christmas Eve forever.
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6 min
December 21, 2018
The Christmas Truce
During the first Christmas of World War I, a miracle took place all along the Europe’s Western Front.
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5 min
December 20, 2018
A piece of punctuation that failed to leave its mark
A new punctuation mark called the interrobang found its way onto some typewriters in the 1960s, but it never caught on.
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5 min
December 19, 2018
President Grant fired his own special prosecutor
In 1875, Ulysses S. Grant hired a special prosecutor to investigate the Whiskey Ring scandal. Furious with his findings, Grant had him fired.
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6 min
December 18, 2018
The first presidential press conference
Before 1913, the presidential press conference didn’t exist. But a president who liked reporters changed that.
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5 min
December 17, 2018
The astronomer who took gay rights to the Supreme Court
After being fired from his job for being gay, Frank Kameny took his battle for equality to the nation’s highest court.
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5 min
December 14, 2018
The policeman who arrested a president
After receiving complaints about carriages driving too fast, Washington D.C. policeman William H. West arrested a presidential speed demon.
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6 min
December 13, 2018
One of the ugliest speaker fights in congressional history
In 1859, the House went to war over Rep. John Sherman’s bid for leadership.
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4 min
December 12, 2018
The evangelist and convicted cat burglar who galvanized gay rights
In Houston, Ray Hill was a colossal character. He even adopted "citizen provocateur" as a formal title.
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5 min
December 11, 2018
In 1939, the 'American Hitler' took the stage at Madison Square Garden
Fritz Kuhn was the leader of the pro-Nazi group known as the German American Bund. He was a hero to his audience, and a scourge on the world to most others.
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5 min
December 10, 2018
The cranberry crisis that changed how we see our food
Weeks before Thanksgiving, 1959, cranberries were declared unsafe to eat. The race was on to save America’s favorite holiday side dish.
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6 min
December 7, 2018
The 'Toy King' who never aspired to the throne.
Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus had no idea how big the toy industry would become.
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6 min
December 6, 2018
America’s first black Catholic priest
Augustus Tolton’s miraculous life took him from slavery to the brink of sainthood.
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6 min
December 5, 2018
John Adams was eulogized before his son even knew he died
News traveled so slowly in 1826 that the former president was buried days before his son, sitting president John Quincy Adams, got word of his death.
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5 min
December 4, 2018
George H.W. Bush was a president and a prankster
Bush, who died last week, is being fondly remembered for his cool demeanor and a boundless sense of humor.
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6 min
December 1, 2018
The unlikely friendship between George H.W. Bush and Dana Carvey
George H.W. Bush had a lot of humility. So much that he developed a friendship with the comedian who impersonated him on SNL, Dana Carvey.
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5 min
November 30, 2018
William Howard Taft’s housekeeper kept track of his weight
White House maid Elizabeth Jaffray not only cleaned up after presidents, she had an amazing insight into their appetites.
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4 min
November 29, 2018
The National Christmas Tree
One of the grandest events the president presides over every year is the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
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4 min
November 28, 2018
The trials and tribulations of being a cat
Cats have endured some really mean stuff throughout history. Dogs should be thankful.
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2 min
November 27, 2018
Then they came for me
Martin Niemoller's simple and haunting words are often quoted in moments of intolerance. The story behind them is much more complicated.
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4 min
November 26, 2018
A brief history of presidents visiting troops in combat
Presidents throughout history have visited battlefields to better grasp conditions, reverse public doubt and signal that the country took war efforts seriously.
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5 min
November 21, 2018
Benjamin Franklin’s complicated relationship with turkeys
Benjamin Franklin, the most colorful of America's Founding Fathers, had a misunderstood, electrical and ultimately homicidal relationship with turkeys.
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5 min
November 20, 2018
The Green Book
In the 1930s, traveling the nation's highways while black was fraught with peril. One postal worker, Victor Green, wrote a guidebook for African Americans after he faced discrimination on a road trip.
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5 min
November 19, 2018
The origins of the Unknown Soldier
The story of how the anonymous soldier came to rest inside the famous tomb is almost as unknown as his identity.
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6 min
November 16, 2018
Mark Twain's complicated relationship with the typewriter
Mark Twain first laid eyes on a “newfangled typing machine,” as he called it, sometime in the early 1870s.
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5 min
November 15, 2018
Food stamps were born out of a surplus of food
The idea of food stamps was born out of a complicated paradox.
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6 min
November 14, 2018
William Rehnquist's proposal to Sandra Day O'Connor
Rehnquist proposed. O'Connor said no.
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5 min
November 13, 2018
The first lady who couldn’t get her memoir published
Julia Grant didn't a have particularly good experience in the world of publishing. In fact, her memoir wasn’t even published in her lifetime.
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5 min
November 12, 2018
Joachim Ronneberg, the saboteur who crippled Nazi atomic bomb project
Ronneberg started speaking about his experience in history in recent years.
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5 min
November 9, 2018
America and warfare were never the same after World War I
Along with staggering death tolls, the "Great War" generated memorable literature, geopolitical upheaval, hope, disillusion, the Russian Revolution and the seeds of World War II.
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4 min
November 8, 2018
Wong Kim Ark's Supreme Court fight for birthright citizenship
In 1895, the United States tried to deny an American citizen entry to the country even though he was born on U.S. soil.
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6 min
November 7, 2018
How the Greeks once used a lottery system to select government officials
Some believed that a lottery was more democratic than a vote.
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5 min
November 6, 2018
The makings of an electoral heist
Gerrymandering became a real electoral cudgel with a project called REDMAP.
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6 min
November 5, 2018
Rahm Emanuel, Howard Dean and the midterm elections of 2006
Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had two different approaches to taking back the House of Representatives. Their feud wasn't pretty.
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5 min
November 2, 2018
Fall back, spring forward
Why, oh, why is daylight savings a thing? It's because for roughly two decades after World War II, no one had any clue what time it was.
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3 min
November 1, 2018
Mary Ann Van Hoof and the Marian apparitions
Van Hoof said she also has seen George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc.
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6 min
October 31, 2018
Close encounters with the Capitol’s Demon Cat
From the mid-1800s to well into the 20th century, the Capitol’s Demon Cat was the top dog of Washington ghost stories.
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4 min
October 30, 2018
How Pittsburgh's Mister Rogers talked to children about tragedy
Mister Rogers’s approach to dealing with grief began with an American tragedy.
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6 min
October 29, 2018
New York's mad bomber
In 1956, New York City’s bomb squad used criminal profiling to catch a terrorist known as “The Mad Bomber.”
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7 min
October 26, 2018
The sword pulled from history
An 8-year-old found an ancient sword in a Swedish lake. Does that make her the queen?
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4 min
October 25, 2018
A love supreme: Ruth Bader and Martin Ginsburg
She was short. He was tall. Her family wasn't well off. His was. She was a worrier. He had not a care in the world. If you looked up mismatch in the dictionary, Ruth Bader and Martin D. Ginsburg fit the definition perfectly.
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6 min
October 24, 2018
The unstoppable Fannie Lou Hamer
Civil rights crusader Fannie Lou Hamer rivaled Martin Luther King Jr. in her command of audiences.
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5 min
October 23, 2018
The Sultan of Swat wasn’t always known as a slugger
Before becoming a legendary big hitter, Babe Ruth was one of baseball’s best from the mound.
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4 min
October 22, 2018
Big Bird and the genius inside
Caroll Spinney and his iconic character were inseparable for almost 50 years.
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6 min
October 19, 2018
Woodrow Wilson's secret letters to another woman
Family and friends had known about the president’s intimate relationship with Mary Peck for years, but whispers about their involvement were growing.
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5 min
October 18, 2018
The metamorphosis of Jackie O
As Jacqueline Kennedy transitioned from wife-in-chief to widow-in-mourning, there was tension between whom she had been and whom she was allowed to become.
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6 min
October 17, 2018
The body of Emmett Till
Emmett Till’s mother opened his casket and sparked the civil rights movement.
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4 min
October 16, 2018
The photographer and the busboy
Photographer Boris Yaro shot the photo of Bobby Kennedy lying fatally wounded in the arms of Juan Romero, a busboy. The photo would haunt both of them.
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5 min
October 15, 2018
The Romanovs, Russia's 'odious' autocratic family
If you think your family is overrun with controlling lunatics, please meet the Romanovs.
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5 min
October 12, 2018
The gory origins of the Waterloo teeth
More than 50,000 soldiers died during the Battle of Waterloo, but their teeth lived on.
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4 min
October 11, 2018
How the teddy bear was born
In the fall of 1902, a year into his presidency, President Teddy Roosevelt set off to Mississippi for a bear-hunting vacation. It ended differently than planned.
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4 min
October 10, 2018
The first black female White House reporter held the powerful accountable on civil rights
It was rare to be a woman or African American covering the White House in the 1940s. Alice Dunnigan was both.
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5 min
October 9, 2018
The teenage girl who caught a Nazi monster
In the fall of 1957, as the world was moving on from World War II and the extermination of 6 million Jews, Sylvia Hermann knocked on the door of a modest home in Buenos Aires.
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6 min
October 8, 2018
The complicated history of swimsuits and Miss America
The debate was always about more than swimsuits.
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5 min
October 5, 2018
The assassin who wore braids and killed Nazis
Freddie Oversteegen was 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance, though with her long, dark hair in braids she looked at least two years younger.
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5 min
October 4, 2018
The surprising history of the 25th Amendment
The 25th Amendment passed after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
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6 min
October 3, 2018
In the 1850s, navigating Ice Alley was deadly for ships
Despite warnings of icebergs, the John Rutledge set sail from Liverpool, England, to New York.
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5 min
October 2, 2018
America’s forgotten Iranian hostage
Nine months before the Iran hostage crisis, Kenneth Kraus was held hostage in Iran for eight days.
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4 min
October 1, 2018
The heroine of Lime Rock Lighthouse
Ida Lewis saved as many as 25 people during her service at the lighthouse. But her deeds have largely been forgotten.
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3 min
September 28, 2018
How accusations against Supreme Court nominees were once handled
In 1890, Henry Brown sailed through the confirmation process after being accused of shooting and killing someone in self defense.
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4 min
September 27, 2018
The man and the coconut that saved JFK
William Liebenow rescued John F. Kennedy from an island filled with coconuts.
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4 min
September 26, 2018
Rosie the Riveter isn’t who you think she is
An American in the 1940s would not recognize the woman from the “We Can Do It!” poster as Rosie the Riveter.
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4 min
September 25, 2018
The presidential pardon the country never forgot
When Gerald Ford took over the presidency after Richard Nixon’s resignation, he soon made a controversial choice: He pardoned Nixon.
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5 min
September 24, 2018
How Anita Hill’s testimony led to the "Year of the Woman"
No women served on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. The ugly Anita Hill hearings changed that.
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5 min
September 21, 2018
The thin-skinned president who made it illegal to criticize his office
The Alien and Sedition Acts passed under President John Adams led to the arrests of more than two dozen people.
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5 min
September 20, 2018
The photographer who helped end child labor in America
Lewis Hine posed as a Bible salesman or machinery photographer to expose the hardships of child labor.
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5 min
September 19, 2018
Only half of George Washington’s Supreme Court justices showed up on time
All of George Washington’s Supreme Court nominees were confirmed in only two days, but half of them didn't show up on time.
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5 min
September 18, 2018
Winnie and Nelson Mandela’s marriage survived prison but not freedom
Their 38-year marriage endured his incarceration and hers.
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4 min
September 17, 2018
The day the nation's capital welcomed the KKK
In 1925, 30,000 Klansmen descended on Washington, D.C. The city cheered their arrival.
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5 min
September 14, 2018
The search for the anonymous author of a 1996 political novel
Before an unnamed senior official in the Trump administration published the opinion piece, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration" in the New York Times, another mysterious anonymous author lit up Washington.
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5 min
September 13, 2018
The surprise hurricane that devastated the Florida Keys
In 1935, the Florida Keys ignored the threat of a looming hurricane. When the Category 5 storm made landfall, it left a wake of death and destruction.
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4 min
September 12, 2018
How a solar eclipse made Albert Einstein famous
It may be hard to believe, but one single event rocketed Einstein to fame.
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4 min
September 11, 2018
The rookie pilot who was ready to give her life on Sept. 11
Heather Penney was among the first female combat pilots in the country. On Sept. 11, 2001, she got a mission: Bring down the fourth hijacked plane hurtling towards Washington.
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5 min
September 10, 2018
Abraham Lincoln says he owes everything to his ‘angel mother’ and ‘mama’
President Abraham Lincoln had two loving and supportive mothers in his lifetime. The second helped him cope with the tragic loss of the first.
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5 min
September 7, 2018
The story of the real Charlotte of ‘Charlotte's Web’
This episode is co-hosted by Madeline Daly, who won Retropod trivia last Saturday at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
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5 min
September 6, 2018
Roe v. Wade’s forgotten loser
Dallas prosecutor Henry Wade never intended to become a central figure in Supreme Court history.
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4 min
September 5, 2018
The French aviators who almost beat Charles Lindbergh
In 1927, the world watched as two French aviators attempted the world’s first transatlantic flight.
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4 min
September 4, 2018
The campus massacre before Kent State
The first mass police shooting on a U.S. college campus happened two years before the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University.
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5 min
September 3, 2018
The time the United States illegally deported 1 million Mexican Americans
In 1931, President Herbert Hoover started a program that would result in the illegal deportation of 1.8 million people to Mexico by the end of the 1930s. Of those people, 60 percent were U.S. citizens.
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5 min
August 31, 2018
The Quaker abolitionist who was disowned for condemning slave owners
Benjamin Lay wrote one of the first treatises against slavery in Colonial America, a time when many prosperous Pennsylvania Quakers were slave owners. But for speaking out, the Quakers disowned him.
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6 min
August 30, 2018
Ida B. Wells, the woman who never gave up
Ida B. Wells was an investigative journalist, an anti-lynching activist, a suffragette and a teacher.
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6 min
August 29, 2018
How a Supreme Court clerk changed the decision on Clay v. United States
Muhammad Ali was so close to going to jail for evading the draft. He has a Supreme Court clerk to thank for his freedom.
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6 min
August 28, 2018
Colonel Blood, the scoundrel who tried to steal Great Britain's crown jewels
Thomas Blood had somewhat of a shady past. According to Ireland’s History magazine, he had a reputation for espionage and conducting terrorist campaigns — though many of his plans were foiled just in time.
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3 min
August 27, 2018
Being a maverick almost stopped John McCain from becoming a public servant
At the Naval Academy, McCain was in a group called the “Bad Bunch” as he rebelled against his father’s expectations.
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4 min
August 24, 2018
Paul Jennings, the former slave who disputed a legend from history
According to James Madison’s Virginia mansion Montpelier, Paul Jennings’ account reveals, “how the racial and gender hierarchies of the time complicate the way we understand roles in historic events.”
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4 min
August 23, 2018
What Operation Pied Piper taught us about family separations
Millions of British children were evacuated from London and other cities to escape the horrors of war. But the family separations seemed to impart long-term trauma that was in many cases as severe as if they had stayed behind and faced the bombs.
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5 min
August 22, 2018
Reagan's most historic speech took a few years to make an impact
When President Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” it was not seen as a historic moment. It took the actual fall of the wall to resurrect the speech and drill the quote into our consciousness.
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3 min
August 21, 2018
A president’s lions and the emoluments clause
The greatest emoluments-clause dilemma of the 1800s involved two lions.
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5 min
August 20, 2018
How Harry S. Truman went from being a racist to desegregating the military
When Harry Truman became president in 1945, Southern members of Congress were delighted. They thought he’d be sympathetic to segregationists. He proved them wrong.
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5 min
August 17, 2018
The long-lost 'Laws of Baseball'
On display in Washington, D.C. are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and another document that details a fundamental institution in American life: baseball.
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4 min
August 16, 2018
The congressman who shot a waiter
A hungry congressman didn’t get the breakfast he ordered. So he shot the waiter.
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4 min
August 15, 2018
The time Truman met with Stalin and it went well
Back in 1941, a get-together that should have been fraught with uneasiness didn't turn out that way, which is surprising given the participants: President Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin.
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4 min
August 14, 2018
Meet Paul Manafort’s century-old forefather, who also liked fancy suits
Samuel Cutler Ward, also known as the “King of the Lobby,” is credited with shaping the craft of lobbying. And like lobbyist and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, he also had some seriously expensive tastes.
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4 min
August 13, 2018
An aviation flop was a stamp collector’s dream and the U.S. Postal Service’s nightmare
A stamp collector’s discovery of the “Inverted Jenny” stamp created a headache for the U.S. Postal Service.
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4 min
August 10, 2018
How Mister Rogers talked to children and families about tragedy
Mister Rogers’s approach to dealing with tragedy began with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
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6 min
August 9, 2018
The storied past of Alderson federal women’s prison
The Alderson Federal Prison Camp has a history filled with powerful women who both pushed for the walls to be built there and served time within them.
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4 min
August 8, 2018
Rebels, turn out your dead!
During the American Revolution, more patriots died as prisoners of war in or around New York City than died in combat.
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4 min
August 7, 2018
The Saturday Night Massacre
The one night that changed President Nixon’s fate has stuck with us as a reminder of the limits of presidential power.
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4 min
August 6, 2018
The dark history of the pill
A group of poor women in Puerto Rico were the first test subjects for the birth control pill. Were they guinea pigs or pioneers?
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4 min
August 3, 2018
Meet Yvonne Burke, the first congresswoman to give birth in office
Sixty years after Congress welcomed its first woman, it welcomed its first baby.
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3 min
August 2, 2018
The unlikely start of the Boy Scout movement
The Boy Scout movement began 110 years ago on a tiny island just off the southern coast of England.
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4 min
August 1, 2018
How the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds began
The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding the Rothschild family date all the way back to The Battle of Waterloo.
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4 min
July 31, 2018
The first campus shooting
A professor at The University of Virginia was fatally shot by a student in 1840.
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4 min
July 30, 2018
How God became part of the pledge
For over 50 years, the phrase “under God” was not a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. One sermon changed that.
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4 min
July 27, 2018
How a textile shortage led to the invention of the bikini
This episode addresses the history of the bikini in, naturally, two parts.
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4 min
July 26, 2018
The complicated story of Linda Brown and the fight for desegregated schools
Linda Brown and her father Oliver Brown are heroes of the civil rights movement. The backstory of the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education is more complicated than what you learned in school.
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3 min
July 25, 2018
The time a senator won an Emmy for grilling witnesses at a hearing
In 1951, a televised Senate hearing caught America’s attention.
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4 min
July 24, 2018
The rainless flood that destroyed a city
It did not rain, at least not in Ellicott City, Md. That’s what made the 1868 flood so bizarre and unexpected.
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4 min
July 23, 2018
How a renovation made the Supreme Court a friendlier place
One simple change to how the Supreme Court bench was designed made a world of difference to how the justices communicated.
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4 min
July 20, 2018
The Mountaintop
On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were protesting for their civil rights. It was there that King delivered his last speech.
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4 min
July 19, 2018
The most romantic day
From all over the country, couples rushed to Las Vegas to get married. The demand for quickie weddings was at a fever pitch. But it wasn't Cupid's arrow causing the frenzy. It was the Vietnam War.
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3 min
July 18, 2018
The night America burned
The deadliest wildfire in U.S. history wasn’t in California.
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4 min
July 17, 2018
All the presidents' ghosts
Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the many accounts that have spilled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over two centuries give ghosts an undeniable place in the country’s history.
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3 min
July 16, 2018
Don't mess with Harriet Tubman
She was just 5 feet tall. There was once a $40,000 bounty on her head. She suffered seizures throughout her life. She never gave up. She never gave in.
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4 min
July 13, 2018
The epic bender that launched America
Washington and his fellow partiers racked up a bill of $15,000 in today’s currency celebrating the completion of the Constitution.
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3 min
July 12, 2018
A Supreme Court justice morally opposed abortion, but voted to legalize it
The justice who helped persuade a majority of the Supreme Court to legalize abortion found the practice unthinkable — personally, but not constitutionally.
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5 min
July 11, 2018
Eartha Kitt confronted the first lady and it nearly ruined her career
At a White House luncheon, actress Eartha Kitt would not let the president or the first lady avoid the issue of the Vietnam War. She paid a heavy price for her boldness.
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4 min
July 10, 2018
Oregon, America’s first and only state to begin as "whites-only"
Oregon’s original constitution banned black people from the state, and the law stayed in the constitution for well over 100 years.
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4 min
July 9, 2018
How Eleanor Roosevelt invented the modern idea of a first lady
Eleanor Roosevelt held news conferences just for female reporters. The men were not impressed.
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4 min
July 6, 2018
The time America invaded Britain
Spoiler: It did not go well.
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4 min
July 5, 2018
The teen who tied a Virginia election
In 1971, Stephen Burns was 18 years old and a newly minted voter. He was so jazzed to be a part of the Democratic process.
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3 min
July 4, 2018
Thomas Jefferson's last letter
Somehow, in the depths of his personal misery towards the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson had found his powerful way with words again.
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3 min
July 3, 2018
The U.S. government recruited black men to watch them die
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment is a horrific piece of American history.
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4 min
July 2, 2018
The deaf men who helped NASA send humans to space
In a largely forgotten experiment, a group of students from Gallaudet University spent years helping NASA understand the mechanisms of motion sickness, and how to prevent it.
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3 min
June 29, 2018
That time we thought an asteroid might kill us all
In 1998, the world briefly panicked over an asteroid that seemed headed for a close call with Earth. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
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3 min
June 28, 2018
The femme fatale
For the past 100 years, Mata Hari has been revered as the quintessential glamorous spy. But the real Mata Hari was much more complicated.
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4 min
June 27, 2018
The first congresswoman’s vote
In April 1917, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, faced an agonizing choice. Should she, or should she not, vote for the United States to enter World War I?
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5 min
June 26, 2018
How Hollywood’s first major blockbuster revived the KKK
"The Birth of a Nation" depicted life after the Civil War in a way that glorified Klansmen. The film and its cultural impact led one man to conclude that the time was right to bring back the Klu Klux Klan.
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4 min
June 25, 2018
The first pride parade
The very first pride parade was held in 1964 and was a bit … calmer … than what we think of today.
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3 min
June 22, 2018
The oldest surviving banjo recording
Charles Asbury’s newly digitized songs serve as a time capsule to the music of the 19th century.
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5 min
June 21, 2018
The worst presidents
Besides President Trump, whom do scholars scorn the most?
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5 min
June 20, 2018
Doughnuts, the most patriotic of the junk foods
Doughnuts aren’t just delicious. They also helped America win a war.
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3 min
June 19, 2018
The first shark attacks
For most of American history, no one was scared of sharks. One week - and one shark - changed that.
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4 min
June 18, 2018
Between Lincoln and Washington, only one was a great poet
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two great presidents, had a lot in common: Both lost a parent as a child, both had a serious demeanor, and both dabbled with writing poetry. But only one was any good at poetry.
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4 min
June 15, 2018
This security guard discovered the Watergate break-in, but nobody remembers him
The man who called the police on the Watergate burglars never received the credit he deserved.
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3 min
June 14, 2018
Thomas Jefferson’s iftar dinner and the long history of Ramadan at the White House
In December 1805, a handful of prominent politicians receive invitations to join President Thomas Jefferson for a White House dinner. The occasion was the arrival of a Tunisian envoy to the U.S., Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, who was observing Ramadan.
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3 min
June 13, 2018
The biscuit tin
It’s World War II, and you’re King George VI of England. You fear a Nazi invasion of England could come at any moment. How do you protect the crown jewels? Not even Queen Elizabeth II knew how her dad did it - until recently.
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3 min
June 12, 2018
Before Loving, another interracial couple fought to marry
The Kinneys married in Washington, D.C. in 1874. Then, they were arrested back home in Virginia for violating the state’s laws. They fought the ruling in higher and higher courts, but never won the right to stay married in their home state.
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3 min
June 11, 2018
The Jedwabne massacre
The controversy around the murders of a Polish village's Jewish residents has centered on raw questions of complicity versus compulsion.
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3 min
June 8, 2018
Tennis's first goddess
Suzanne Lenglen was physically ferocious. Always fashionable. A disrupter of convention.
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3 min
June 7, 2018
The White House makeover
When the White House was built over 200 years ago, it lacked certain modern conveniences. They got added in a hodgepodge of improvements over the years.
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3 min
June 6, 2018
The Order of the Day
On the day before D-Day, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech to the troops that totally masked how nervous he actually was.
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4 min
June 5, 2018
The “temporary insanity” legal defense started with an affair
If you love gossip, and drama, and D.C. politics - this story is the gift that keeps on giving.
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4 min
June 4, 2018
History’s most fascinating misquote
The Apollo 13 astronauts never said “Houston we have a problem.” Here’s why you think they did.
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3 min
June 1, 2018
Mourning Bobby Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy's death, which came just weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., shocked the nation, especially those who looked to him to continue the national discussion over racial inequality.
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5 min
May 31, 2018
The black power protest that shook the world
At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, one of the most iconic moments of that chaotic year unfolded on television screens around the world.
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2 min
May 30, 2018
LBJ's political bombshell
By 1968, things were going badly for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Morale around the Vietnam War was sinking, and in Washington, political sharks were circling.
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5 min
May 29, 2018
One broadcast helped turn Americans against the Vietnam War
Walter Cronkite's reputation, his calm but authoritative voice, carried so much weight that in 1968 one single report helped persuade the American public that we weren’t winning the war in Vietnam.
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4 min
May 28, 2018
The performance that saved Johnny Cash's career
In a year of extraordinary, chaotic moments this was a hopeful one - a beat-up country music star recording an album live at a troubled maximum security prison in California.
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4 min
May 25, 2018
Publishers hated ‘A Wrinkle in Time,' and Madeleine L'Engle never forgot the rejections
'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle said she received 26 rejection letters from publishers.
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4 min
May 24, 2018
When Ronald Reagan visited a family targeted by the KKK
In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan wasn’t exactly known for his racial sensitivity. But when he read about a family whose house was targeted by the KKK, he and the First Lady flew out to comfort them.
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3 min
May 23, 2018
The Nazi stone
A mysterious stone memorial was found in 2006 in Washington, D.C. But who placed a memorial to Nazi spies on government property? And why?
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4 min
May 22, 2018
Elaine Brown, the first and only woman to lead the Black Panther Party
Elaine Brown's takeover in 1974 was a pivotal moment for a woman in the black power movement. Although women had been a dynamic force for social and racial justice, they had often been overshadowed by men.
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3 min
May 21, 2018
The man who filmed JFK's assassination
For many, memories of that devastating day quickly revert to that silent, flickering sequence captured by Abraham Zapruder. It is as chilling as it is familiar: the approaching convertible, the waves of a crowd about to lose its innocence.
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3 min
May 18, 2018
Princess Diana's final hours
When Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle are married this weekend, there will be one other royal on the world’s minds - Harry’s mother, the beloved Princess Diana.
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4 min
May 17, 2018
The enigmatic Prince Philip - separating fact from fiction
The British royal wedding puts all eyes on the Windsor family - this time, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But perhaps no royal is as controversial as Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip.
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4 min
May 16, 2018
Wallis Simpson, the last American divorcee who married a British royal
Another British royal wedding is coming up, so over the next few days, we'll explore a few moments from the history of royal marriages in Great Britain. Today, we meet Wallis Simpson, the last American divorcee to marry a British royal.
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3 min
May 15, 2018
The truth is out there
Area 51's secrets may not be alien in nature, but that doesn't make them any less mysterious.
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4 min
May 14, 2018
John Brown's prophecy
Abolitionist John Brown wrote made a prophecy before he was executed.
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3 min
May 11, 2018
She spent years fighting to create Mother's Day, then lost everything trying to protect it
Anna Jarvis would absolutely hate what Mother's Day has become.
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3 min
May 10, 2018
The Sullivan brothers
Five brothers fought and died together on the same ship during World War II. Their final resting place was discovered earlier this year.
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3 min
May 9, 2018
Lee Harvey Oswald's final hours before killing Kennedy
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy devastated the nation. But the day before the shooting was just a normal day. It was particularly calm and uneventful for the gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.
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3 min
May 8, 2018
To ban a "Mockingbird"
Harper Lee's classic novel has been causing controversy for as long as its been in print. Here's a look at the history of banning "To Kill a Mockingbird."
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4 min
May 7, 2018
The original Alcoholics Anonymous book was auctioned for millions, but its author was never paid
The original manuscript was auctioned off for $2.4 million this weekend to an NFL owner, after almost a year of legal wrangling.
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4 min
May 4, 2018
May the Fourth be with you
Mark Hamill himself shares stories from Star Wars history. You can hear the full interview with Hamill on the Cape Up podcast with Jonathan Capehart.
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5 min
May 3, 2018
The battle between Old Waddy and the press
Believe it or not, the relationship between politicians and the press has been worse. A lot worse.
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3 min
May 2, 2018
Were the Duke of Windsor and Adolf Hitler friends?
Was the duke a Nazi sympathizer? Did he plot to dethrone his brother, King George VI? Did he really suggest more German bombing of Britain might end World War II?
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3 min
May 1, 2018
Need a job? Ask Ulysses S. Grant
Grant had an impressive resume on the battlefield, he was known to be a patsy when it came to helping job hunters. People used to walk right into the White House and ask the president to find them a job
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3 min
April 30, 2018
How the Doomsday Clock came to be
The Doomsday Clock was created not by a scientist, but by an artist.
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3 min
April 27, 2018
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day was once just for daughters
Mike is joined by a special guest to talk about how Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day began.
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2 min
April 26, 2018
These guys were college jocks - and then became Presidents of the United States
We dug through The Washington Post's archives and consulted the Pro Football Hall of Fame to bring you a rundown of the best presidential ballers.
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4 min
April 25, 2018
The only person Hitler loved
Adolf Hitler's mother may be the only person he genuinely cared for.
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4 min
April 24, 2018
Philadelphia's plumbing revolution: wood pipes
In 1812, Philadelphia was outfitted with the latest in plumbing technology - a network of wooden pipes to carry water throughout the city.
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3 min
April 23, 2018
Chillicothe, Missouri, the town that invented sliced bread
The town of Chillicothe, Missouri, recently discovered they have a surprising claim to history: the creation of sliced bread.
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3 min
April 20, 2018
Barbara Bush’s remarkable commencement address
In 1990, students protested the choice of the first lady as their commencement speaker, calling it anti-feminist. Her speech silenced the critics.
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4 min
April 19, 2018
The day anti-Vietnam War protesters tried to levitate the Pentagon
In October 1967, antiwar protesters announced that they would march en masse to the front steps of the Pentagon. and levitate it. And then they would try to levitate it.
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3 min
April 18, 2018
The history of epic North Korean insults
North Korea has long been a superpower when it comes verbal attacks.
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2 min
April 17, 2018
Hate the IRS? Blame Abraham Lincoln.
In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was in a financial bind. Also, he was in a war. To raise money, he pushed for and won passage of an income tax and, a year or so later, established the Internal Revenue Bureau to collect what was owed.
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3 min
April 16, 2018
The mother who made George Washington miserable
George and his mother had an unusual relationship for the 1700s, more like what you might see in a sitcom from the 1970s. She was indispensable to him, but intolerable.
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4 min
April 13, 2018
Why Thurgood Marshall asked an ex-Klan member to help him make Supreme Court history
Thurgood Marshall, the first African American member of the Supreme Court, took the constitutional oath of office from Hugo Black, a white associate justice who had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
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3 min
April 12, 2018
A letter from home
A German woman discovered that her childhood home was stolen from a Jewish family who fled Nazi Germany. Last year, she tracked down the address of one of the children, and wrote him a letter.
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3 min
April 11, 2018
Was Mary Todd Lincoln a leaker?
President Abraham Lincoln had to worry about the first lady being a leaker, and it was quite a scandal.
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4 min
April 10, 2018
Winifred Stanley, a forgotten equal pay pioneer
The woman who first introduced equal pay legislation in Congress had to fight to be taken seriously -- and often failed.
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3 min
April 9, 2018
The invention of sarin
Weevils, a voracious beetle found in fields and orchards, were the original target of sarin gas.
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3 min
April 6, 2018
The spy plane
Over the past few months, historians and national security analysts have been re-examining one particular forgotten moment in the history of U.S. and North Korea conflict.
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4 min
April 5, 2018
The toughest job in politics
The most thankless job might be that of the White House press secretary. Just ask Ron Ziegler.
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2 min
April 4, 2018
The day Martin Luther King Jr. died
Fifty years ago today, the civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. Riots broke out across the country, but in Indianapolis, there was peace.
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7 min
April 3, 2018
The Mountaintop
On April 3, 1968, 50 years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were protesting for their civil rights. It was there that King delivered his last speech.
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4 min
April 2, 2018
The books the presidents read
Throughout history, the reading of books has been a sort of armchair way measuring someone's intelligence. Here are stories of three former presidents at opposite ends of the reading spectrum. You can decide for yourself.
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4 min
March 30, 2018
Egg Roll
One day a year, the White House grounds are truly turned over to the people - well, the kids. That day is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and it began as the solution to a problem that Victorian children created.
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3 min
March 29, 2018
The girl who struck out Babe Ruth
One of baseball's most enduring mysteries surrounds a 17-year-old girl name Jackie Mitchell.
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3 min
March 28, 2018
The first daughters
Ivanka Trump might be the only first daughter in American history to score a West Wing office, but she’s not the first presidential daughter to wield power in the White House.
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4 min
March 27, 2018
Meet the Press
At the beginning of the television age, “Meet the Press” dented the dominance of newspapers and thrilled news junkies with the you-were-there power of live broadcasting.
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3 min
March 26, 2018
The man who won World War II
Andrew Higgins wasn't in the Army. He wasn't a paratrooper. He was a wild and wily genius, a tough, crafty, businessman. And he built the built the boats that brought troops ashore at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
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4 min
March 23, 2018
The children's crusade
The movement organized by survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., is not the first time that kids have taken a stand. History shows that kids, with their innocence, honesty and moral urgency, can shame adults into discovering their conscience.
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4 min
March 22, 2018
The forbidden question
If the order for a nuclear attack is issued, the soldiers operating the launch machine have no choice but to fire. Or do they?
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3 min
March 21, 2018
The crooked picture
Jesse James, the most famous outlaw in history, was eventually foiled by a picture hanging crooked on a wall.
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4 min
March 20, 2018
Lawn wars
Lawns have always been more than just grass.
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4 min
March 19, 2018
Dr. Spock
Dr. Spock - not the guy from Star Trek - was at one time America's most beloved pediatrician. A whole generation of children was raised on his medical advice. But not even his popularity could save him from being indicted by the federal government.
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4 min
March 16, 2018
Then they came for me
Martin Niemoller's simple and haunting words are often quoted in moments of intolerance. The story behind them is much more complicated.
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4 min
March 15, 2018
The godfather of bracketology
Some 50 million people are projected to fill out a March Madness bracket this year. As you finish filling out yours, you might want to tip your pencil and say thanks to the late and loud Staten Island bar owner Jody Haggerty.
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3 min
March 14, 2018
The Limping Lady
President Trump made history Tuesday when he nominated a woman to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But while a woman leading the CIA was once unthinkable, female spies have made enormous, overlooked contributions in espionage.
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3 min
March 13, 2018
The first female marine
During World War I, the Marines Corps back home needed help while the men were fighting overseas. Opha May Johnson was the first in line.
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2 min
March 12, 2018
The trials and tribulations of being a cat
Cats have endured some really mean stuff throughout history. Dogs should be thankful.
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2 min
March 9, 2018
Fall back, spring forward
Why, oh, why is daylight savings a thing? It's because for roughly two decades after World War II, no one had any clue what time it was.
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3 min
March 8, 2018
The glass ceiling
In 1978, Marilyn Loden coined a phrase that paints very image that women have been fighting for decades.
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3 min
March 7, 2018
How are you, Grandmama?
A dog and a cadaver deserve credit for their contributions to the invention of the telephone.
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3 min
March 6, 2018
The night America burned
The deadliest wildfire in U.S. history wasn’t in California.
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3 min
March 5, 2018
And the winner is...
Oscars night is probably the one moment around the world when people become really interested in envelopes.
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4 min
March 2, 2018
Special delivery!
There’s one thing that you can’t have delivered anymore that was totally normal to send by mail in the early 1900s.
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2 min
March 1, 2018
The woman behind Lisa Ben
Edythe Eyde, also known by her pen name Lisa Ben, was a visionary who fought to make lesbians visible in pop culture decades before most others had the guts to do the same.
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3 min
February 28, 2018
The houses built by slaves
Buildings that stand as symbols of American democracy - the White House, Mount Vernon and Monticello, to name a few - were erected with the labor of those who were not free.
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3 min
February 27, 2018
How the NRA began
When the NRA was founded in 1871, its primary concern was not gun rights or the Second Amendment.
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4 min
February 26, 2018
The rise of supermarkets
If you’re like most Americans, you probably visit a grocery store once or twice a week. But you probably don’t know that one single grocery item is responsible for the rise of supermarkets as we know them.
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3 min
February 23, 2018
The Green Book
In the 1930s, traveling the nation's highways while black was fraught with peril. One postal worker, Victor Green, wrote a guidebook for African Americans after he faced discrimination on a road trip.
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4 min
February 22, 2018
The ice queen
Sonja Henie won three Olympic gold medals and 10 world championships, and turned her star power into as career as one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars. Meet figure skating's first megastar.
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4 min
February 21, 2018
Mrs. Graham
Katherine Graham's leadership in the decision to release the Pentagon Papers was the subject of the Stephen Spielberg film "The Post." But it was her leadership during the pressman's strike in 1975 that is perhaps the most gripping moment of her life.
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4 min
February 20, 2018
The electric rivalry
To understand the gruesome history of the death penalty, it is essential to comprehend how badly Thomas Edison wanted to zap George Westinghouse.
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4 min
February 19, 2018
All the president's ghosts
Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the many accounts that have spilled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over two centuries give ghosts an undeniable place in the country’s history.
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3 min
February 16, 2018
Don't mess with Harriet Tubman
She was just 5 feet tall. There was once a $40,000 bounty on her head. She suffered seizures throughout her life. She never gave up. She never gave in.
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5 min
February 15, 2018
When Olympic silver beats gold
Ski jumping involves flying more than 800 feet in the air and then landing on two feet, without dying. Where on earth did this sport come from?
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4 min
February 14, 2018
The most romantic day
From all over the country, couples rushed to Las Vegas to get married. The demand for quickie weddings was at a fever pitch. But it wasn't Cupid's arrow causing the frenzy. It was the Vietnam War.
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3 min
February 13, 2018
The best birthday card ever
In 1926, the United States received a birthday card signed by 5.5 million Polish people.
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3 min
February 12, 2018
What hath God wrought?
The history of social media began in 1844, when Samuel F.B. Morse sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. It said, "What hath God wrought?"
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4 min
February 7, 2018
Introducing 'Retropod'
Preview The Washington Post's newest daily podcast, a show about the past, rediscovered. Subscribe now to get the first episode when it launches February 12.
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3 min
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