history

A 110-pound silver ingot thought to be from the treasure of Capt. William Kidd — the notorious 17th century Scottish pirate who was ultimately hanged for his misdeeds — has been brought up from the shallows off Madagascar's eastern coast.

The discovery was made by the American underwater explorer Barry Clifford near the island of Sainte Marie, which itself lies just off Madagascar.

A soon-to-be released documentary film called "Uncommon Ground" will be screened this weekend in Connecticut. It explores the struggle over the future of the last remaining abandoned Palestinian village on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Courtesy Norman Rockwell Museum Digital Collection

It would have been difficult for 19-year-old Mary Doyle Keefe to realize the incredible influence she would have on women when she sat to have her portrait painted by Norman Rockwell in the early 1940s.

Bain News Service / Creative Commons

Some Connecticut students may soon be taught the history of labor and free markets. A bill passed through the state senate on Monday that would require the education department to make relevant curriculum materials available to local school districts.

The 1950s was a hinge decade for noteworthy and nation-changing civil rights events across the United States, including Brown v. Board of Education in Kansas, the bus boycott in Alabama and the National Guard-protected integration of Central High School in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, there was also a revolution brewing in bookstores and public libraries.

By design or by happenstance, a handful of children's picture books were focal points of the American movement toward integration in the '50s.

Back in 1890, Thomas Edison gave us some of the world's first talking dolls. Today, the glassy-eyed cherubs that are still around stand about 2 feet tall; they have wooden limbs and a metal body; and they sound supercreepy. (If you're looking for a soundtrack to your nightmares, listen to the audio story above.) Edison built and sold about 500 of them back in 1890. Now, new technology has made hearing them possible for the first time in decades.

Orville Wright / Library of Congress

For decades, David McCullough has chronicled some of the biggest chapters of U.S. history. In his latest book, McCullough focuses on two brothers who not only had a massive impact on the United States, but on the world. The Wright Brothers follows Orville and Wilbur’s path to immortality and their lasting legacy.

Among those who dispute the Wright brothers' claim to fame are supporters of Connecticut resident Gustave Whitehead who they say was the first to fly in 1901. In fact, Connecticut lawmakers went so far as to officially declare that Whitehead was the first to fly, ticking off North Carolina and Ohio in the process.

Swayambhunath — also known as the Monkey Temple, for its holy, furry dwellers that swing from the rosewood trees — is one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus as well as Buddhists. It was also one of the worst damaged by last month's earthquake.

Which Writers Get Museums?

Apr 30, 2015
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Mark Twain has many literary sites; yet Henry James has none. You can visit Edith Wharton's house but not Shirley Jackson's. You can walk where Wallace Stevens walked but you can't buy a ticket to go through his front door. And can you believe there's no single museum devoted to all American writers-- yet?

New England is about to get two great new writers’ museums: The Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield, Massachusetts and-- if we're lucky-- the Maurice Sendak Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Today we look at who gets a writer's house and why-- and what sort of experience we’re looking for when we make pilgrimages to the desks of our literary heroes.

Mike Licht / Creative Commons

University of Kentucky Biology professor James Krupa is frustrated with the resistance of his non-biology students to accept the theory of evolution as established fact, despite what he calls an "avalanche of evidence" supporting its validity.

Krupa says that evolution is the foundation of our science, and just as we accept germ theory, cell theory, quantum theory, and even game theory, we must understand the significance of evolution even if it challenges long-held religious beliefs.

Courtesy of Joshua Engelhardt

The remnants of an old depression-era work camp deep in the woods of Madison, Connecticut are being unearthed and preserved by several local groups.

Public Domain

Pope Francis recently called the 1915 deaths of more than a million Armenians a genocide. The Turkish government hasn't responded kindly. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, we speak with local experts and artists about what happened and the lasting political tension that still exists today. 

Also, did you know that one of two plaster casts of Pope John Paul II’s hand is in Chicopee, Massachusetts? It’s part of a collection of thousands of pieces of Polish culture and history. WNPR’s Catie Talarski gets a tour of the Polish Center of Discovery and Learning with founder Stas Radosz.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

European leaders attended a ceremony marking the centenary of the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I, as German lawmakers risked triggering a diplomatic row with Turkey by voting to acknowledge the historical event as "genocide" –- a charge Ankara has strongly denied.

Catie Talarski / WNPR

The town of Chicopee, Massachusetts first reported Polish settlers in 1880. It was the beginning of an influx of immigrants to the Connecticut River Valley to work as farmers and factory workers. 

Stanislaw, or Stas, Radosz is working to keep that history alive at the Polish Center for Discovery and Learning.

Mike Massimino is one of the last people to ever see the Hubble Space Telescope in person.

From inside his orbiting space shuttle, the telescope first appeared on the horizon as a star, says Massimino, who was an astronaut on the final mission to service the space telescope in 2009.

The Science of Snake Oil

Apr 22, 2015
Dave Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

We like to think of health care as an exact science: established guidelines, uniform practices, rigorously tested treatments vetted through extensive lab trials. Unfortunately this was neither the case  in the early days of medicine, nor is it the case today. It's shame that nearly 2500 years after the writing of Hippocrates' famous oath we'd still be wrestling with the ethics of best practice.

"The exhibition of profound grief was such as I have never seen equalled. Several overcome by their emotion, sat down upon the very ground and wept."

That was how Thomas Nelson, a U.S. minister to Chile, described the reaction of ordinary citizens in Spain to the news of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865.

Courtesy of Tom Gray

The remains of a sailor killed at Pearl Harbor are coming home to New England.

Currier & Ives / Public Domain

To mark the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, we look back the event and how it changed America with two local historians who are experts on the 16th President of the United States. As part of this look back, we hear from actors who will commemorate the anniversary with a staged reading to recreate the final days of the Civil War, the assassination, and the search for and death of John Wilkes Booth.

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If you've ever wondered how a group of French musicians might play the music of The Ramones, you are in luck. Direct from Toulouse, France: Los Jamones, a Ramones tribute band, performs this Saturday night, April 18, at Cafe Nine in New Haven with Elm City punk rockers The Hulls.

J E Theriot / Creative Commons

Known to many as the “first lady of the black press,” Ethel Payne fearlessly documented the struggle for civil rights in twentieth-century America. This hour, we take a look at a new biography, which celebrates the life and legacy of the pioneering journalist. 

Naotake Murayama / Creative Commons

Mark Rothko is undoubtedly one of America’s most important and influential painters. With his vast rectangular forms and ethereal color fields, Rothko’s art has inspired feelings of meditation and transcendence in ways that few other artists have been able to reproduce. 

Ginger Grant

The town of Bristol is in the midst of marketing their new logo and brand: Bristol - All Heart. A group of artists, calling themselves the Bristol Art Squad, are doing their part to showcase the new brand by transforming five vacant storefronts throughout the city into temporary art installations. 

vxla / Creative Commons

The United States has a long and complex relationship with Puerto Rico that changes dramatically depending on who is telling the tale. 

Joseph / Creative Commons

After more than two hours of debate on Tuesday, the Holyoke, Massachusetts City Council voted against a plan to create a Polish historic district in town. 

It’s a debate that’s been going on for four years -- involving passionate community members, the local Catholic Diocese, and city government. The proposal would have created a historic district that includes 21 residential and commercial properties centered around a 114-year-old church. 

Hyland House

Definitively dating an old house can be tricky. Today, we have things like photographs and land records, but how would you figure out a house's age without that kind of stuff? 

RM Bradley Co.

It's not often that an entire village goes up for sale by bid, so last fall's auction of Johnsonville drew a lot of attention. The 62-acre parcel of land in East Haddam, complete with eight buildings, a covered bridge, and a waterfall, went for a high bid of $1.9 million.

But that deal has now fallen through. 

Alexander Gardner / Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University

Yale University's Beinecke Library announced the purchase of more than 57,000 photographic prints this week, primarily of President Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and American life in the 1860s.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired the collection, which also includes books, pamphlets, maps, and theater broadsides for a total of over 73,000 items from the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.

Robert Dewar / Creative Commons

Neanderthals have long been recognized as humans’ closest relatives. They were highly intelligent, skilled hunters, with a rugged build, and a knack for toolmaking.

Bob Jagendorf / Flickr Creative Commons

Everyone’s heard of Coney Island -the Wonder Wheel, the side shows, the miles of sandy beach.

Yet, most of us have never seen it except through the eyes of others, including artists and filmmakers who used it as a prism through which to shape their view.

And, what they saw was a place with both lovers and con men, natural beauty and bawdy amusement, social inclusion and class boundaries.

Coney Island is not an easy place for them to define, so they portrayed what they saw - but also what they wanted it to be.

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