Which Writers Get Museums?

Apr 30, 2015
Creative Commons

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.


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.

Beverley Goodwin / Creative Commons

Rust is all around us. It's in our cars, our homes, our infrastructure. It's also the subject of Jonathan Waldman's first book, Rust, which introduces us to the people who fight it.

Lewis Hine (1874-1940) / Wikimedia Commons

Shade tobacco came to Connecticut in 1900 from the island of Sumatra, which was beginning to dominate the world of cigar wrappers. The leaf had a light color, delicate texture, and mild flavor that cigar lovers love.

So it seemed like a good idea to grow it somewhere besides Sumatra and the artificial shade concept developed in Florida in the 1890s. Connecticut growers tried it on one-third of an acre in Windsor in 1900, and the result was so good that farmers, in an un-Yankee-ish burst of headlong passion, planted 50 acres in 1901.

The industry grew like shade tobacco -- that is, fitfully -- and woven into its life were the stories of the latest set of immigrants willing to work in cheap and concentrated bursts. We tell you as many of their stories as we can.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

For centuries, female composers have often found themselves overshadowed by their male counterparts. Take Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Anna Magdalena Bach, and Alma Mahler, for example. Their names don't roll off the tongue quite as easily as Felix Mendelssohn, J.S. Bach, and Gustav Mahler's do. 

But why?

White House

A new HBO series raises new questions about murder suspect Robert Durst. He was found not guilty of one murder but remains on law enforcement's radar for others. The HBO series "The Jinx" is not helping his case. We speak with a New York Times reporter about the latest on evidence presented against Durst on the show.

Also, there is a new push to replace Andrew Jackson with a woman on the face of the $20 bill. The executive director of "Women on 20s" joins us to discuss the process and some of the candidates to replace Jackson.

And finally, this weekend President Barack Obama delivered a speech in Selma, AL to mark the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." We'll speak to a local professor who was there with her family.

Sh4rp_i / Creative Commons

Arthur Chu argues that Andrew Jackson is the worst president we've ever had, and his face should be removed from the $20 bill. For starters, Andrew Jackson removed about 46,000 Native Americans from their established homelands to make way for White settlement leaving a "Trail of Tears" of starvation, disease, and death.

That's just the beginning of a long line of horrors: he annexed Florida, executed militia members after the War of 1812, and dismantled the central bank to push wildcat banks. Maybe America has never been a paragon of the ideals we hold dear, and maybe America would rather forget our past than deal with it. 

Ryan King / WNPR

Some of the best professional duckpin bowlers on the east coast gather this weekend for the Eastern Duckpin Classic in Mansfield.

In the 1920s and '30s, Connecticut residents Frank Barber and George Iseman arranged bowling tournaments between Connecticut duckpin bowlers, and some of the best bowlers from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, where the sport originated.

James McCauley / Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a newspaper column about the Brian Williams debacle, except it really wasn't about that. It's about the way a relatively small story about a lie told by a news anchor seems to be the only national conversation we can have about our role in Iraq.

Who Killed the King?

Feb 24, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

One of the things you will learn this hour is how close New Haven came to being a possession of Spain. Even if you think you know the story of the New Haven Regicides, the men who fled to the New World rather than face punishment, by which I mean death, for their complicity in the execution of Charles I, we probably have some surprises for you.  

By we, I mean Lord Charles Spencer, who joins me in studio to talk about his new history, Killers of the King. Spencer writes a very brisk and compelling style of history. To put it another way, if you like "Game of Thrones," it's a pretty easy leap from there to this story.