People entering North Adams will soon see new signs that highlight the past, present and future of Massachusetts’ smallest city.

For the pious Puritans of early America, witchcraft was a crime of the highest order.

Back then, the term "witch hunt" was not just an expression: In 1692, 19 women and men were hanged and one pressed to death with stones after being found guilty of witchcraft.

In her book The Witches, author Stacy Schiff follows the buildup of fear and outrageous tales of consorting with the devil. The witch trials were set in motion by two young Salem girls in the grip of strange and disturbing symptoms.

A resolution repudiating Connecticut's claim that another aviator beat the Wright brothers as first in flight has cleared a committee in the Ohio Senate.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most important voices in America today. He made the case for reparations last summer when he argued that it's time for America to confront the impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and other discriminatory policies that have consistently denied African Americans opportunities afforded other Americans. He says until we admit to the debts accrued from years of racism, we can never be whole.

Chion Wolf / WNPR


A judge in 17th century Connecticut ruled on the thorniest of problems. Some of these included ruling on a piglet’s paternity, who was to blame for faulty shoes, and whether illicit sex had occurred on a boat sailing to Stamford. 

alphaville / Flickr

Justin Lifflander wanted nothing more than to become a spy for the CIA. Growing up during the Cold War, he practiced spying on friends, family, and schoolmates in preparation for what he thought would be a career full of high-tech gadgetry and secret rendezvous. When Lifflander was finally assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1987, he thought his dream was coming true.

What followed was something Lifflander could never have predicted. He was a mechanic at the embassy, then an inspector of Soviet missile sights, and then a suspected American agent followed at every turn by the KGB. Lifflander found himself living in a world which very much resembled his childhood dream -- but he was never a spy.

“I can look out my window next to my desk and see where my grandfather was born on Ferry Street and where my mother was born on Garden Court Street,” says the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. “My father was born on Meridian Street in East Boston.”

Those words are from a Kennedy oral history, recorded in 2005 by scholars from the University of Virginia.

Robert Benson Photography

A new play premieres this weekend as part of a gala event celebrating the hundredth anniversary of a synagogue in Chester, Connecticut called Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

The play is called “100 Years in 36 Minutes.” Its co-writer, Lary Bloom, came to the WNPR studios earlier this week to talk about it.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Raouf Mama is a beloved storyteller by children and adults familiar with his books Why Goats Smell Bad and Why Monkeys Live in TreesHis love of storytelling stems from a long and honorable oral tradition that goes back to the ancient empire of Mali, when people preserved the lessons of life in memory instead of on the written page.

Raouf says we each have a story of belonging and identity. He uses his stories to entertain, comfort, and most of all as a tool to enlighten students.

It was 60 years ago this week that an all-white jury acquitted two white men in the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy visiting Mississippi from Chicago.

The case shocked the nation — drawing attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans in the Deep South, and the failure of the justice system. The men later confessed to killing Till for whistling at a white woman.

William Warby / flickr creative commons

A man named Billy Williams became a legend during World War II, but not only for his heroic actions; Williams, stationed in Burma, became an elephant "whisperer." The book Elephant Company describes the man's exceptional ability to understand the elephants around him, and the stunning ability of the elephants to understand and communicate with him, in return.

Frankieleon / Creative Commons

There was a time when hard work brought most Americans a decent wage, a secure life, and opportunities to aim for a better life. George Packer says that's no longer the case for too many Americans.

Institutions that once anchored middle-class Americans are either collapsing or morphing into faceless institutions that benefit the wealthy, Packer says. Health and educational outcomes are significantly lower for the poor, who are also incarcerated at higher rates. 

Tensions Build Amid Resignations At Kennedy Library

Sep 21, 2015

Meandering past photos of the young Kennedy clan, Jacqueline’s signature dresses, campaign posters and a replica of the oval office Kennedy used is required fare for children growing up around Boston and thousands of tourists every year.

Ted Danforth

A judge in 17th century Connecticut ruled on the thorniest of problems. Some of these included ruling on a piglet’s paternity, who was to blame for faulty shoes, and whether illicit sex had occurred on a boat sailing to Stamford. 

While most of the rulings wouldn’t stand up in today’s court, our earliest settlers struggled to decide a fair price to pay under a harsh system. Connecticut Superior Court Judge Jon Blue shares some of the liveliest tales from our past, vividly described by court reporters not bound by modern day legalese.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Creative Commons

Online guidebook Atlas Obscura considers itself a "friendly tour-guide to the world's most wondrous places" -- a number of which can be found right here in Connecticut. 

Ed Lescoe/Hartford Times / Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library

As deputy mayor of Hartford, Nicholas Carbone was a blend of old and new -- a bare-knuckles, lapel-grabbing pol wrapped around a dreamy urban visionary.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

There are over 120 train stations in the Metro-North system and Emily Moser, a photographer, blogger, and Connecticut native, has documented them all.

Scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of an unusual human-like creature that lived long ago. Exactly how long ago is still a mystery — and that's not the only mystery surrounding this newfound species.

The bones have a strange mix of primitive and modern features, and were found in an even stranger place — an almost inaccessible chamber deep inside a South African cave called Rising Star.

National Archives

Scientists are attempting to use submersibles to explore a sunken German U-boat seven miles off the Rhode Island coast.

They're streaming the attempts online as they work to learn more about how shipwrecks affect the environment. 

Seattle Municipal Archives / Flickr Creative Commons

A 1965 Senate subcommittee predicted that Americans would work 14-hour weeks by the year 2000. Needless to say, their prediction was a little off. Fifty years later, the five-day, 40-hour work week remains the standard here in the U.S. 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Creative Commons

In her latest book, author and scholar Marcia Bartusiak shows how the black hole helped bring Einstein's general theory of relativity back into the spotlight.

Creative Commons

Hunter S. Thompson was one of those writers whose lives start to matter more than their art. From almost the beginning, life and art were intentionally interwoven. Thompson's outsized appetites for drugs and food and stimulation were set into his hyperbolic prose. The story of the wrier was the story of the story. He was hardly the first to do it, but he did it in a fashion that made both the lifestyle and prose of Norman Mailer seem comparatively restrained. 

A cantor chanted a Hebrew prayer of mourning, as the afternoon sun beat down on some one hundred people gathered for the dedication of the state’s Holocaust memorial. Local politicians and prominent members of the state’s Jewish community offered remarks on the project. Many highlighted the memorial’s significance in the light of more recent violence and genocide worldwide.

The newly unveiled memorial sits at the edge of Downtown Providence, near statuary dedicated to the two World Wars.

America and Iran have not had an easy relationship since 1979, when 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days by students supporting the Iranian Revolution. The resulting rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini further weakened the relationship.