HUB History - Our Favorite Stories from Boston History

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The weekly show where two Boston history buffs tell their favorite stories from Boston history.

HUB History

    • Oct 10, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 45m AVG DURATION
    • 256 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from HUB History - Our Favorite Stories from Boston History

    Around the World on the Columbia (episode 233)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 10, 2021 62:17

    Come with me on a voyage around the world with the officers and crew of the ship Columbia. Formally named the Columbia Rediviva and accompanied by the sloop Lady Washington, the ship was owned by a group of prominent Bostonians and charged with opening up trade between Boston and China. Almost by accident, the Columbia became the first American ship to visit the west coast of North America, the first American ship to land in the Hawaiian islands, and the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. Over the course of five years and two expeditions, the crew completed two circumnavigations, brought the first native Hawaiian to visit Boston, and “discovered” the Columbia river (which would have been news to the dozens of villages and thousands of inhabitants on the river). The mighty river of the west had previously been thought to be a myth, and navigating up this river established US land claims in what would eventually become seven states. The Oregon Country was contested between Russia, Spain, and Britain, but the Columbia's expedition opened it to Boston merchants, and pretty soon all American traders on the west coast were known as the Boston men. Full show notes: Support us:

    BONUS: Marathon Women

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 10, 2021 36:23

    For Boston Marathon weekend, we're dropping a few of our favorite past episodes into the feed as bonuses. The Boston Marathon was first run in April of 1897, after Bostonians were inspired by the revival of the marathon for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens. It is the oldest continuously running marathon, arguably the most prestigious, and the second longest continuously running footrace in North America, having debuted five months after the Buffalo Turkey Trot. Women were not allowed to officially enter the Boston Marathon until 1972. In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, who had registered as “K. V. Switzer”, became the first woman to run and finish with a race number – despite the race director's best efforts. Show notes:

    BONUS: Marathon Man, with Bill Rodgers

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2021 87:02

    For Boston Marathon weekend, we're dropping a few of our favorite past episodes into the feed as bonuses. First up is our interview with a marathon legend. Bill “Boston Billy” Rodgers is a four-time winner of the Boston marathon, so we were excited to talk to him about marathon history, the runners he looks up to, and his own historic runs. Show notes:

    A Disappearance in Donegal (episode 232)

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 26, 2021 53:22

    Arthur Kingsley Porter was a celebrity professor, who worked in the shadow of the Harvard secret court that purged the campus of gay students and faculty. He grew up in wealth and privilege, expecting to follow his brother into the family law firm, before experiencing an epiphany that drove him to become one of the world's foremost experts on medieval European art and architecture. After a midlife revelation led to an unconventional lifestyle, his family sought refuge at their Irish castle and their offshore cottage, until Porter disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the summer of 1933. Full show notes: Support us:

    POWs in the Boston Harbor Islands (episode 231)

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2021 80:18

    Since the earliest days of the Bay Colony, prisoners of war have been held on the islands of Boston Harbor. This week, we're sharing two classic stories of the Harbor Islands POWs from past episodes. One of them is about the Confederate prisoners who arrived at Fort Warren on Georges Island in the fall of 1861, fresh from the field of battle in North Carolina. They'd be joined by Maryland politicians who supported secession, the supposed diplomats Mason and Slidell, and eventually even Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens, who didn't seem to much appreciate Boston hospitality. 81 years later and a mile away on Peddocks Island, a group of unruly Italian prisoners were confined at Fort Andrews after starting what may have been the only soccer riot in Boston history at a South Boston prison camp. Full show notes: Support us:

    Boston's Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them, with Joe Bagley (episode 230)

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2021 70:19

    Joe Bagley is the archaeologist for the city of Boston, and his new book Boston's Oldest Buildings and Where to Find Them catalogs 50 of the oldest houses, stores, churches, and even lighthouses that still stand here in the Hub. In this episode, he tells us how it's still possible to rediscover an unknown house from the 1700s in the North End in 2020, and how a house from the 1790s, the 41st oldest building in Boston, could be demolished in the few short months since the book was published. Along the way, we'll talk about how he researched the book, the rules he had to write for himself about what “counts” as a historic building, and how similar his life is to Indiana Jones. We'll also explore how historic buildings can reveal the otherwise untold stories of enslaved Bostonians, women, and even some of the earliest Japanese citizens to visit the United States. Plus, I'm joined by special guest host Nikki this time around! Full show notes: Support us:

    He Takes Faces at the Lowest Rates (episode 229)

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 15, 2021 42:10

    In 1773, an ad appeared in the Boston Gazette for a Black artist who was described as possessing an “extraordinary genius” for painting portraits. From this brief mention, we will explore the life of a gifted visual artist who was enslaved in Boston, his friendship with Phillis Wheatley, the enslaved poet, and the mental gymnastics that were required on the part of white enslavers to justify owning people like property. Through the life of a second gifted painter, we'll find out how the coming of the American Revolution changed life for some enslaved African Americans in Boston. And through the unanswered questions about the lives of both these men, we'll examine the limits of what historical sources can tell us about any given enslaved individual. Full show notes: Support us:

    The Prison Ship Uprising (episode 228)

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 1, 2021 53:34

    On August 10, 1780, British prisoners of war being held on a ship on Boston Harbor conspired to disarm their guards and escape.  In the end, they were all caught, but an American guard was killed.  This case gives us a fascinating insight into what life was like for POWs in the American Revolution, but there's very little record of it in historical sources.  If the prosecutor in the murder case hadn't signed the Declaration of Independence four years earlier, his papers may not have been considered worth saving, and we might have no record of this interesting case at all.  Amazingly, the defense basically argued that all's fair in love and war, and that since the redcoats had been taken prisoner by force, they had a right to seek freedom by force.  Even more amazingly, it worked! Full show notes: Support us:

    Three Battles for Boston Light (episode 227)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 18, 2021 62:36

    Boston Light, America's first and oldest light station, still welcomes visitors and locals alike if they approach the city by sea, but that wasn't always the case. During the first year of the Revolutionary War, there were three attempts to destroy Boston Light during the siege of Boston. First, the newly formed Continental Army burned the strategically important lighthouse twice in July 1775, 246 years ago this week, using the 18th century equivalent of a stealth fighter: the humble whaleboat. Then, as the British finally evacuated Boston in the spring of 1776, the last ships to leave the harbor blew up the lighthouse that June. Full show notes: Support us:

    Blazing Skies: Boston's Nike Missiles (episodes 226)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 4, 2021 63:36

    For almost 20 years, Nike missile batteries formed a suburban ring around Boston that ushered the city into the 1950s and the atomic age. The Ajax missile and its successor, the Hercules, were intended to defend Boston and its many military assets from Soviet bombers flying over the North Pole to rain nuclear destruction on the Hub. The ring of bases stretched from the South Shore to the North Shore and far inland, always ready to fire in 15 minutes or less. The Nike program was an open secret, with base gates sometimes thrown open for the public and reporters alike. But there were more closely guarded secrets, as well. Like the fact that the Ajax missile wasn't really equipped to engage modern jet bombers. Or the fact that a successful interception by the later Hercules would result in a nuclear detonation in our own backyards, with tens of thousands of Americans killed or injured. Full show notes: Support us:

    Bonus: Prescott Townsend, From the First World War to the First Pride Parade

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 30, 2021 64:30

    For Pride Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every Wednesday this month. Enjoy! Prescott Townsend was one of the most interesting figures in Boston's LGBTQ history. He was the ultimate Boston Brahmin, coming of age at Harvard in the shadow of Teddy Roosevelt and enlisting in the Navy during World War I. He served time in prison after getting caught in a Beacon Hill tryst back when homosexuality was a crime in Boston, and spent decades as an activist, helping to found the gay liberation movement, and marched at the head of the nation's first pride parade on the first anniversary of Stonewall. We're also going to meet ME Linger and discuss their research into Prescott Townsend as part of an effort to improve how the National Park Service interprets the LGBTQ history of Boston. Full show notes:

    Bonus: John Adams and Marriage Equality

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 23, 2021 38:43

    For Pride Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every Wednesday this month. Enjoy! The November 18, 2003 decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health guaranteed marriage rights to same-sex couples in Massachusetts. The decision was the first by a U.S. state's highest court to find that same-sex couples had the right to marry, and it was grounded in the language of equal justice that John Adams wrote into our state constitution. Despite numerous attempts to delay the ruling, and to reverse it, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples on May 17, 2004. Full show notes:

    The Middlesex Canal: Boston's First Big Dig (episode 225)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 20, 2021 64:13

    In the last decade of the 18th century, a group of investors called the Proprietors of the Middlesex Canal turned a crazy idea into reality. After some initial stumbles, they were able to successfully build a navigational canal from Boston Harbor to the Merrimack River in Lowell. In an era before highways and airports, it became the first practical freight link between the markets and wharves of Boston and the vast interior of New England in Central Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Against all odds, it was a success, and an unparalleled feat of engineering. However, its perceived success was short lived, with the coming of the railroad spelling doom for the canal business and commercial failure for the Proprietors. Full show notes: Support us:

    Bonus: Boston Marriages in Literature and Life

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 16, 2021 33:51

    For Pride Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every Wednesday this month. Enjoy! A new form of relationship known as "Boston Marriages" arose between 19th century women, which had all the emotional trappings of romantic love, but was long considered to be merely an intense form of friendship. More recently, however, critics have wondered whether Victorian assumptions about the inherent chasteness of womankind allowed couples who would consider themselves lesbians today to hide in plain sight. Full show notes:

    Bonus: The Girl in Pantaloons

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 9, 2021 30:46

    For Pride Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every Wednesday this month. Enjoy! Emma Snodgrass defied the gender roles of the 1850s, getting arrested multiple times in Boston for appearing in public unchaperoned and dressed as a man. Was she a troublemaker looking for thrills? Was she trying to pass as a man in order to find work and independence in a society with few opportunities for women? Or was she a trans person in an era that didn't yet have words to describe that concept? Unfortunately, the historic record leaves us with just as many questions as answers. Full show notes:

    The Liberty Riot (episode 224)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 6, 2021 63:05

    On June 10, 1768 a riot swept through Boston that forced Royal officials to flee for their lives, saw a boat bodily carried onto the Common and burned, and in the end helped bring on the Boston Massacre less than two years later. John Hancock, later a prominent patriot and owner of America's most famous signature, was at the center of the controversy. Known then as a leading merchant and possibly the richest man in the British colonies, Hancock would find himself on trial as a smuggler before a court that was originally set up to deal with pirates and defended by none other than future President John Adams. Full show notes: Support the show:

    Bonus: The Hub of the Gay Universe with Russ Lopez

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 2, 2021 91:04

    For Pride Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every Wednesday this month. Enjoy! In this episode, Dr. Russ Lopez discusses his recent book, The Hub of the Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown, and Beyond. Russ and I talked about Puritan attitudes toward sin and sodomy, the late 19th century golden age for LGBTQ Boston, the tragic toll of the AIDS crisis, and the long fight for marriage equality. Full show notes:

    The Mysterious Murder (Maybe) of Starr Faithful (episode 223)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 23, 2021 45:35

    When Starr Faithfull’s body washed up on a Long Island beach 90 years ago, the case became a national obsession. At the center of the story was a beautiful young flapper, with a diary full of covert sexual conquests, a sordid history with a prominent politician, and a drug and booze fueled nightlife in the speakeasies of two major cities. Was her death a suicide, driven by her dark past? A tragic accident after one too many? Or was it something darker, a murder for hire on behalf of a former Boston mayor… or his underworld adversaries? Full show notes: Support us:

    Julia Child, from the OSS to PBS (episode 222)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 9, 2021 43:21

    At the outbreak of World War II, president Roosevelt decided to create a single centralized agency to organize the nation’s many competing intelligence services. Not the CIA, which would come a few years later, but the Office of Strategic Services. Before the CIA, the OSS was America’s chief spy service. And before Julia Child was a famous chef on PBS, young Julia McWilliams was recruited by the OSS, where she traveled the world and fell in love with Paul Child and exotic food. Listen to this week’s episode to learn about Julia Child at war: how she was recruited and trained, where she served in the Asian theater of war, and why that experience helped lead her to a Cambridge house with its now famous kitchen. Full show notes: Support us:

    Boy Wonder Arrested as Ringleader when Reds Riot in Roxbury (episode 221)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 25, 2021 55:37

    On May Day in 1919, Roxbury socialists marched in support of a textile workers' strike in Lawrence.  The afternoon turned violent, with police firing shots to disperse the crowd.  In the aftermath, two officers were killed and a mob formed that hunted down and viciously beat many of the marchers.  As the smoke cleared, it became evident that one of the leaders of the march was a celebrity: William James Sidis, the boy wonder. Full show notes: Support us:

    Puritans in Paradise (episode 220)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 11, 2021 55:24

    In the 1820s, waves of Christian missionaries were dispatched from Boston, believing they might never return. They didn’t know much about the land they were going to settle in or the people they were trying to convert, but what little they had heard was frightening. The missionaries came from a church that was directly descended from the harsh Christianity of the Puritans, and they were on their way to a land where the people worshipped a pantheon of many gods. From a society where both men and women were basically always covered from neck to ankles, they were going to a land where the people wore tattoos and very little else. They had heard rumors of graven idols and human sacrifice, and believed they were on their way to do battle with the devil himself. Many of them believed that they were being sent into the gates of hell, but they were on their way to heaven on earth itself… the Kingdom of Hawaii. Full show notes: Support us:

    Expo 76: Future Vision or Fever Dream? (episode 219)

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 28, 2021 52:37

    During the Kennedy administration, a group of Boston businessmen led by a millionaire dairy farmer hatched an audacious plan. They proposed building an experimental city of the future on made land, piers, and floating platforms connecting Columbia Point in Dorchester with Thompson Island in Boston Harbor. This new city would be the site of a World’s Fair timed to celebrate America’s Bicentennial, and the site would then be reused to solve all of Boston’s problems with housing, race relations, environmental damage, and economic decline. Spoiler alert: We don’t have a futuristic city connecting Columbia Point with the Harbor Islands. But the story of how a plan ripped straight out of science fiction almost came to be built in Boston reveals a lot about an optimistic city torn apart by the busing crisis.

    Disaster at Bussey Bridge (episode 218)

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 14, 2021 47:26

    March 14 is the anniversary of one of the worst railroad accidents that ever happened in Massachusetts. On March 14, 1887, a train filled with suburban commuters was on its way from Dedham to Park Square station in Boston, stopping in West Roxbury and Roslindale along the way. Moments before it would have passed through Forest Hills, disaster struck. By the time the engineer turned around, he saw a cloud of dust and a pile of twisted rubble where nine passenger cars should have been. In a split second, a normal morning commute was transformed into a nightmare of death and dismemberment for hundreds of passengers. Full show notes: Support us:

    Richard T Greener and the White Problem (episode 217)

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 28, 2021 55:41

    Professor Richard T Greener grew up in Boston in the shadow of the abolition movement, graduated from Harvard, and became one of the foremost Black intellectuals of his era. However, soon after publishing his most influential work, when it seemed like he would take up the mantle of Frederick Douglass, he instead sank into obscurity. He was nearly forgotten for over a century, until his legacy was rediscovered in 2009 in a discarded steamer trunk in a dusty attic on the South Side of Chicago. Full show notes: Support us:

    BONUS: David Walker's Radical Appeal

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 26, 2021 60:38

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! David Walker was one of America’s first radical abolitionists, a free African American man who moved to Boston in 1824 to escape the danger and humiliations of life in the slave states. He became a prominent member of Black society in Boston before writing and distributing An Appeal to the Colored People of the World. This radical work called for the immediate abolition of slavery, and even advocated violence against whites to bring about emancipation. At the time, few white leaders were talking openly about ending slavery, and those who were favored gradual emancipation. Frederick Douglass would later say that the book “startled the land like a trump of coming judgement,” and it shook the slaveowning society of the white South to the core. Show notes:

    BONUS: Tent City

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 24, 2021 36:01

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! 50 years ago this week, residents of one Boston neighborhood carried out an act of civil disobedience, bringing attention to the city’s need for affordable housing. A group of mostly African American residents occupied an empty lot where rowhouses once stood. It was Boston’s 1968 Tent City protest, and it helped change how the city approaches development and urban planning. Show notes:

    BONUS: Fifteen Blocks of Rage

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 22, 2021 43:47

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! For decades, a 1967 riot that rocked Roxbury’s Grove Hall neighborhood was generally referred to in the mainstream media as a "race riot" or as "the welfare riot," while a handful of articles and books by Black authors called it "the police riot."  A group of mostly African American women who led a group called Mothers for Adequate Welfare were staging a sit-in protest at a welfare office on Blue Hill Avenue. When tensions escalated, the police stormed in and used force to remove the group.  Onlookers were outraged by the violence and attempted to stop the police. The resulting riot spanned three nights in Roxbury, with arson, looting, and shots fired both by and at the police, and the scars it left behind took decades to heal. Show notes:

    BONUS: Black Radical

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 21, 2021 103:00

    From his Harvard graduation in 1895 to his death in 1934, William Monroe Trotter was one of the most influential and uncompromising advocates for the rights of Black Americans. He was a leader who had the vision to co-found groups like the Niagara Movement and the NAACP, but he also had an ego that prevented him from working effectively within the movements he started. He was a critic of Booker T Washington, and an early ally of Marcus Garvey. Monroe Trotter was the publisher of the influential Black newspaper the Boston Guardian, and he is the subject of a new biography by Tufts Professor Kerri Greenidge called Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter. For show notes, check out

    BONUS: Birth of a Nation

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 19, 2021 55:38

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! “The Birth of a Nation” was one of the most controversial movies ever made, and when it premiered on February 8, 1915 it almost instantly became the greatest blockbuster of the silent movie era. It featured innovative new filmmaking techniques, a revolutionary score, and it was anchored by thrilling action scenes shot on a never-before-seen scale, with thousands of actors and extras, hundreds of horses, and battlefield effects like real cannons. “Birth of a Nation” was apologetically racist, promoting white supremacy and glorifying the Ku Klux Klan as the noble, heroic saviors of white America from the villainous clutches of evil black men bent on rape and destruction. Upon the film’s 50th anniversary in 1965, NAACP president Roy Wilkins proclaimed that all the progress that African Americans had made over the past half century couldn’t outweigh the damage done by “Birth of a Nation.” When the film debuted in Boston in April of 1915, audience reaction was split along racial lines, with white Bostonians flocking to see the movie in record numbers, while black Bostonians organized protests and boycotts, with leaders like William Monroe Trotter attempting to have it banned in Boston. Show notes:

    BONUS: Politics and Partisanship

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 17, 2021 88:53

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! Historian Millington Bergeson-Lockwood, author of Race Over Party: Black Politics and Partisanship in Late Nineteenth-Century Boston, joins us this week to talk about the evolution of partisanship and political loyalty among Boston’s African American community, from just after the Civil War until the turn of the 20th century. It was a period that at first promised political and economic advancement for African Americans, but ended with the rise of lynching and codified Jim Crow laws. It was also a period that began with near universal support for Lincoln’s Republican party among African Americans, with Frederick Douglass commenting “the Republican party is the ship and all else is the sea.” However, after decades of setbacks and roadblocks on the path of progress, many began to question their support of the GOP, and some tried to forge a new, non-partisan path to Black advancement. Dr. Bergeson-Lockwood will tell us how the movement developed and whether it ultimately achieved its goals. Show notes:

    BONUS: Mary Mildred Williams

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 15, 2021 61:45

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! We’re joined this week by Dr. Jessie Morgan-Owens, who called from New Orleans to discuss her book Girl in Black and White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams and the Abolition Movement. Mary was born into slavery in Virginia, the child of an enslaved mother and father. Through the remarkable efforts of her father, the entire family was emancipated when Mary was 7 years old. Shortly thereafter, Mary caught the eye of Senator Charles Sumner. Her complexion was light enough for her to pass as white, making her a powerful political symbol for the abolitionist cause. The books details her life and deep ties to the Boston area. Full show notes:

    Demanding Satisfaction: Dueling in Boston (episode 216)

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 14, 2021 46:38

    A little more than three years ago, cohost emerita Nikki and I were on our way to see the Hamilton musical for the first time. In our excitement, we decided to record an episode about an 1806 political duel in Boston that had a lot of parallels with the Hamilton-Burr duel. We dug into the history of dueling in Boston, how dueling laws evolved in response to the duels that were fought here, and why a young Boston Democratic-Republican and a young Boston Federalist decided they had to fight each other to the death in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, we also peppered samples from the Hamilton soundtrack throughout the episode in our excitement, stomping all over Lin Manuel’s intellectual property. The unlicensed music even got the episode pulled from at least one podcast app. This week, I went back to our original recording and re-edited it to clean it up and remove all the Hamiltunes. So get ready to meet Charles Sumner’s dad and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s dad, sail on the USS Constitution, and Alexander Hamilton himself will even put in a brief appearance. Plus, we’ll learn why fighting a duel in Massachusetts could get you buried at a crossroads with a stake driven through your heart. Full show notes: Support us:

    BONUS: Fugitive Slave Act

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 12, 2021 60:24

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! Here are three classic episodes honoring black and white abolitionists in 19th Century Boston. Recorded in February 2017, in the wake of President Trump’s attempt to implement a “Muslim Ban,” these episodes focus on Boston’s resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act, which was seen as an unjust law. They're from very early in our podcasting career, so please forgive how rough they are around the edges. Show notes:

    BONUS: Separate but Equal

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 10, 2021 37:57

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled on Roberts v Boston 170 years ago this month. When five year old Sarah Roberts was turned away from the schoolhouse door in Boston simply because of the color of her skin, her father sued the city in an attempt to force the public schools to desegregate, in compliance with a state law that had been intended to do just that years before. Unfortunately, the suit was unsuccessful. Not only did the Boston schools remain segregated, but the court’s decision provided the legal framework of “separate but equal,” which would be used to justify segregated schools across the country for a century to come. Full show notes:

    BONUS: Dr. Rebecca Crumpler's 190th Birthday

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 8, 2021 70:14

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! Dr. Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in the US in 1864, and she spent most of her adult life in Charlestown, Beacon Hill, and the Readville section of Hyde Park. She devoted her career to pediatrics and obstetrics, published the first medical text by an African American author, and made a point of caring for the marginalized, even moving to Virginia to tend to formerly enslaved people at the end of the Civil War. The nation’s first Black female physician lay in an unmarked grave for 125 years, but there have been important developments in the story of Dr. Crumpler while we’ve been in quarantine this year. Double Bonus: February 8, 2021 is Dr. Crumpler's 190th birthday, and the mayor has proclaimed it to be Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler Day in the City of Boston. Huzzah! Full show notes:

    BONUS: Unequal Justice in Boston

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 7, 2021 67:03

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! This week we’re revisiting two classic episodes to highlight injustice in how the death penalty has been applied in our city’s history. First, we’re going to visit early Boston, in a time when execution by hanging was a shockingly common sentence for everything from murder and piracy to witchcraft and Quakerdom. During this period, hanging was the usual, and execution by fire was decidedly unusual. This punishment was reserved only for members of one race and one sex, and in Boston’s history, only two enslaved African American women were burned at the stake. After that, we’ll fast forward to the mid-19th century, when it seemed like the death penalty would soon be abolished. After 13 years without an execution in Boston, a black sailor was convicted of first degree murder. Despite the fact that white men convicted in similar circumstances were sentenced to life in prison, he was condemned to death. And despite tens of thousands of signatures on petitions for clemency, he was hanged at Leverett Street Jail in May of 1849. Full show notes:

    BONUS: The Roots of Slavery in Boston

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 5, 2021 41:47

    For Black History Month, we're dropping some of our favorite past episodes back into the podcast feed every few days this month. Enjoy! The Boston slave trade began when a ship arrived in the harbor in the summer of 1638 carrying a cargo of enslaved Africans, but there was already a history of slave ownership in the new colony. After this early experience, Massachusetts would continue to be a slave owning colony for almost 150 years. In this week’s episode, we discuss the origins of African slavery in Massachusetts and compare the experience of enslaved Africans to other forms of unfree labor in Boston, such as enslaved Native Americans, Scottish prisoners of war, and indentured servants. Warning: This week’s episode uses some of the racialized language of our 17th and 18th century sources, and it describes an act of sexual violence. Show notes:

    Literal Nazis (episode 215)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 31, 2021 55:54

    They stockpiled guns and ammunition. They built homemade bombs. They had a hit list of a dozen members of Congress who were targeted for assassination. They believed themselves to be patriots, with soldiers and police officers among their ranks. They rallied under the motto of America First, but they planned to overthrow our Constitutional government and install a fascist dictatorship. Believe it or not, I’m not talking about the insurrection on January 6, 2021, but instead a plot that the FBI uncovered in January 1940. The subsequent investigation threw a spotlight on a group called the Christian Front that made its headquarters at Boston’s Copley Plaza hotel, promoting violent attacks on Jewish Bostonians while accepting covert funding and support from a Nazi spymaster who flew the swastika proudly from his home on Beacon Hill. Full show notes: Support us:

    All the Bells and Whistles (episode 214)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 17, 2021 42:07

    The first commercially viable telephone network was created by a Boston inventor and entrepreneur. Not Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with inventing the telephone, but Edwin Thomas Holmes. Starting in the 1850s, his father Edwin Holmes created the first burglar alarm company here in Boston, then Edwin Thomas Holmes adapted the alarm company’s network of telegraph wires in the 1870s to work with the telephone switchboard he invented. Working with Alexander Graham Bell, the Holmes company turned his invention into a business and helped him build the Bell Telephone Company. Full show notes: Support us:

    The Lighthouse Tragedy (episode 213)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 3, 2021 52:36

    In November 1718, a tragedy on Boston Harbor cut short the lives of six people, including the first keeper of Boston Light and four members of his household. To find out what happened that morning, we’re going to look at what Boston Harbor was like before the construction of Boston Light, why Boston Harbor needed a lighthouse, how it got built, and who was chosen as the first keeper. We’ll also look at the founding father who was moved to poetry by the tragedy, as well as the centuries long search for Ben Franklin’s lost verses and a 20th century hoax that got repeated as truth. Then we’ll close out the show with a quick look at the present and future of Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. Full show notes: Support us:

    The Original War on Christmas (episode 212)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 20, 2020 58:37

    The Puritan dissenters who founded the town of Boston are remembered as a deeply religious society, so you might think that Christmas in Puritan Boston would be a big deal. You’d be wrong though. Celebrating Christmas was against the law for decades, and it was against cultural norms for a century or more. What were the Puritans’ theological misgivings about Christmas? What were the practices of misrule, mummery, and wassailing with which Christmas was celebrated in the 17th century? And why did the Puritans literally erase Christmas from their calendars? Full show notes: Support us:

    The Ice King of Boston (episode 211)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2020 50:41

    Ice seems like such a simple thing today, when I can just go to my freezer and grab a few cubes to cool down my drink. But before artificial refrigeration, New Englanders would cut and store ice during the long winter to keep their food fresh and their drinks cold during the summer. That was all well and good for people who lived near an ice pond anyway, but what about people in the faraway tropics who might want to get their hands on some ice? Until the early 1800s, the idea of shipping ice to the tropics was seen as a crazy pipe dream, but then along came Frederic Tudor, the Boston entrepreneur who built a fortune and a global reputation as the Ice King! Full show notes: Support us:

    Lost Wonderland, with Stephen Wilk (episode 210)

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2020 74:44

    The show this week is all about Wonderland, the early 20th century amusement park at Revere Beach. Dr. Stephen Wilk has deeply researched the investors and entrepreneurs who bought 27 acres of land along Revere Beach Boulevard and opened the park; the inventors behind rides like Shoot the Chutes, Hell’s Gate, and Love’s Journey; and the people who ran attractions like a firefighting demonstration, a wild west show, and a model Japanese village. His new book Lost Wonderland: The brief and brilliant life of Boston’s million dollar amusement park reveals all of that, as well as changes in the broader economy that doomed Wonderland nearly from the beginning. After opening in 1906, the park went through periods of success and bankruptcy in a meteoric run that lasted just four short years, while leaving a major cultural impression on the Boston area, and Revere in particular. Full show notes: Support us:

    A Shooting at the State House (episode 209)

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2020 44:03

    From our viewpoint in modern Massachusetts, with stringent gun licensing and background check laws, it’s hard to imagine how a young man with an extensive criminal record who had been involuntarily committed to multiple mental health institutions could walk into a store and walk back out with a shiny new handgun.  And from a post-9/11 point of view, with security at the forefront of every public space, it’s hard to imagine how an uninvited visitor could walk right into the governor’s State House office and open fire.  But on December 5, 1907, that's exactly what happened, when a disturbed man with a gun and a grudge decided to pay a visit to our seat of government. Full show notes: Support us:

    Ghost Stories (episode 208)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2020 65:53

    In honor of Halloween, I’m going to be sharing eight of my favorite Boston ghost stories this week. From haunted houses and inexplicable premonitions recorded by Cotton and Increase Mather in the years leading up to the Salem Witch hysteria, to Nathaniel Hawthorne encountering his friend in the reading room at the Athenaeum for weeks after the friend’s death, to the apparition that only seems to appear in Boston’s most venerable gay bar when only one person is there to see it, we’ll cover nearly four hundred years of paranormal claims. And if you’re wondering why parts of the recording aren’t up to our usual standards, it’s because I was recording this after midnight, and I fell asleep in the middle of recording multiple times. Full show notes: Support us:

    Fourth Anniversary Bonus Episode

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2020 9:17

    This week marks the fourth anniversary of HUB History.  Listen to this brief bonus track to learn how the show has changed in the past four years, what our most popular episodes have been, and where the show is going in the future.  Be sure to listen to the end for an important announcement about some changes to the show's format and schedule.

    Launching the USS Constitution (episode 207)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2020 48:19

    The USS Constitution is the most famous ship in Boston history, and perhaps in the history of the US Navy. When the Navy was reborn in 1794, the Constitution was among the first fleet of frigates that made up its backbone. A decade later, the USS Constitution would earn a brilliant, nearly flawless record of naval combat against the British in the war of 1812, and today it stands as the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world and the last American ship to sink an enemy in a ship-to-ship duel. However, the Constitution’s origins were far from flawless. It was part of a procurement program that was nearly cancelled, and the famous frigate was almost scrapped before it was even completed. After it was rescued and completed, the USS Constitution took not one, not two, but three attempts to successfully launch. Full show notes: Support us:

    Joseph Chapman, from Boston to L.A. (episode 206)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2020 60:24

    Your humble host really misses travel, so this week’s episode is inspired by travel, both historic travel and my own. In the early 19th century, a Boston shipwright’s apprentice went to sea with a whaling voyage, and ended up being recruited into a crew that was assembled in the Hawaiian Islands, then captured by Spanish authorities on the California coast and accused of piracy. Escaping the gallows through hard work and Yankee ingenuity, Joseph Chapman would build a New England style mill for the San Gabriel mission, the first of its kind in Alta California. He would live through tumultuous times, witnessing the independence of Mexico, the downfall of the mission system he had become part of, and eventually the American annexation of California. Full show notes: Support us:

    Matthew Dickey: Saving History with the Boston Preservation Alliance (episode 205)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2020 43:55

    This week, Jake sits down with Matthew Dickey, the Communications and Operations Manager at the Boston Preservation Alliance to discuss the organization’s important work in saving the historic nature of Boston’s many diverse neighborhoods. They fight to preserve individual buildings of historic importance, but they also work to keep the cohesion of historic neighborhoods and raise awareness with the public through efforts like the Boston Preservation Awards. Stay tuned to the end to learn how you can attend this year’s virtual awards ceremony, where HUB History will be one of the nine honorees. Full show notes: Vote for us: Support us:

    Peace in Boston After the Civil War (episode 204)

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2020 75:42

    Since last week’s show was about Boston’s 1851 Railroad Jubilee, which was an enormous celebration at a time when the nation was in the midst of a rush toward civil war, it seemed appropriate to discuss the Grand Peace Jubilee this week. Held in Boston in 1869, when the war was still a raw wound on the American psyche, the Peace Jubilee was a musical spectacular unlike anything the world had ever seen. Composer Patrick Gilmore hoped to bind the country together and help it heal… and if he happened to get rich in the process, that would just be icing on the cake. This week’s show also revisits another peacetime memory of the Civil War in Boston. In 1903, after the pain of the Civil War had dulled, Boston gathered at what is now the “General Hooker Entrance” to the State House to dedicate a statue to the highest ranking general from Massachusetts during the war. Full show notes: Support us: Vote for us as the "fan favorite" at the Boston Preservation Awards:

    Boston’s Railroad Jubilee (episode 203)

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2020 74:25

    In September 1851, Boston threw an enormous party, a party big enough to span three days. After 15 years of development, the railroad network centered on Boston stretched out in every direction, linking the port of Boston to the American Midwest and the interior of Canada, with the Cunard line’s steamers giving access to markets in England. To celebrate the new era of railroading, the city threw a grand Railroad Jubilee and invited President Millard Fillmore, the Governor General of Canada, and dignitaries from all over the country. Besides commerce and steam locomotives, this episode will highlight a growing split within the Whigs old political party; Boston’s ever-present competition with New York City; and the seemingly unavoidable rush toward a civil war over the question of slavery. Full show notes: Vote for us as the “Fan Favorite” at this year’s Boston Preservation Awards!

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