history detectives

History Detectives

WPA Mural Studies - When a Bend, Oregon, woman inherited six large paintings created by her aunt, Thelma Johnson Streat, she believed she'd been given a special window into American history. She believes they were mural studies commissioned by the WPA in the 1930s or 1940s. The color illustrations depict contributions of African Americans in the fields of medicine, transportation and industry. The contributor thinks they could have been intended for school walls. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray travels to Oregon, San Francisco and Chicago to find out whether any of these studies became murals and if any of Streat's murals still exist. George Washington Miniature - A Greenville, Ohio, man was sorting through documents stored above one of Manhattan's first taverns when he stumbled across a miniature color painting of a man in profile labeled "G. Washington." On the back of the portrait, he found the inscription, "Property of White Matlack. New York, 1790." The historic tavern and museum sits just steps away from the old City Hall building on Wall Street where George Washington took his oath of office in 1789. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Wes Cowan sets out to discover whether the artist painted this portrait of Washington from life, and to uncover its surprising connection to the little-known abolitionists and patriot White Matlack. Japanese Balloon Bomb - The granddaughter of a World War II veteran from Austin, Texas, has a wartime memento with a note claiming it's a piece of Japanese balloon that floated across the Pacific Ocean in 1945. The alleged balloon scrap could be evidence of a unique weapon in modern warfare: the Japanese balloon bomb. More than 9,000 of these incendiary weapons were launched from Japan during the war via the jet stream with the intention of causing mass disruption and forest fires in the American West. The existence and purpose of the balloon bombs were kept secret from the American public for security reasons, until a tragic accident forced a change in policy. The balloon bombs caused the only fatalities on the U.S. mainland due to enemy action during World War II. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi travels to Austin, Texas and to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, to learn whether this souvenir is a missing piece of a secret weapon.

Airdates

  • 2019-11-05T06:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

History Detectives

Hindenburg Artifact - A Hoboken, New Jersey, man has a palm-sized, army-green metal box that looks like an instrument panel. Beneath a shattered plastic covering is a sliding, numbered scale; knobs on each end move a lever across the scale. German writing indicates the country of origin. Might this instrument have been recovered from the crash site of the Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey? Family lore says that a distant relative was among the many bystanders plucking souvenirs from the wreckage of the terrifying disaster.

  • 2019-10-22T07:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

History Detectives

Mussolini Dagger - Many servicemen brought back souvenirs from World War II, but did the uncle of a Reno, Nevada, man score a dagger from Fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini? The dagger bears the symbols of Italian Fascism, and the initial "M" hangs from the belt clip. A family letter says the uncle had orders to pick up Mussolini, but when he arrived, Mussolini was already dead and hanging in the town square. The letter goes on to say that he went to Mussolini's apartment, where he grabbed the dictator's dagger.

  • 2019-10-29T07:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

History Detectives

WPA Mural Studies - When a Bend, Oregon, woman inherited six large paintings created by her aunt, Thelma Johnson Streat, she believed she'd been given a special window into American history. She believes they were mural studies commissioned by the WPA in the 1930s or 1940s. The color illustrations depict contributions of African Americans in the fields of medicine, transportation and industry. The contributor thinks they could have been intended for school walls.

  • 2019-11-05T06:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

History Detectives

Stalag 17 Portrait - A Tempe, Arizona, woman has an intriguing memento of a sobering World War II experience: a portrait of her father sketched while he was held inside the German prisoner of war camp, Stalag 17B. On the back, her father has noted: "Done in May of 1944 by Gil Rhoden, using a #2 lead pencil. We were POWs in Stalag 17 at Krems, Austria. Gil agreed to do my portrait in exchange for two onions and a small potato." What happened to the artist? Did he survive the camp?

  • 2019-11-12T06:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

History Detectives

Civil War Bridge - Clearing some newly purchased property along the Broad River in Columbia, South Carolina, the owner discovered evidence of an old bridge abutment. He searched the river for clues and thinks he may have pinpointed the location where Confederates burned the bridge to thwart General Sherman's attempt to cross into Columbia to continue his scorch-and-burn campaign. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray goes to Columbia to examine the evidence and see if this discovery will redraw the maps of the Civil War.

  • 2019-11-19T06:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD