In the mid-1800s, Mary Ann Cotton is believed to have poisoned as many as 21 people with arsenic, many of them her own children. She left a trail of bodies behind her everywhere she went, but it was her cavalier remarks that finally drew suspicion.
Calamity Jane is one of those historical figures whose reputation has in many ways eclipsed the real story. But she was, without a doubt, a unique character who in many ways lived outside the social norms of her time.
The Royal Palaces of Abomey are a series of earthen palaces in what is now Benin. The complex is culturally and historically important to West Africa, but the source of much of the wealth that built those palaces was the Atlantic slave trade. Read the show notes here.
Diogenes of Sinope was the father of the Cynicism school of philosophy. He was also an incredibly eccentric figure who spoke out against pretense, and he used humor to convey his ideals. Read the show notes here.
In 1888, Cecil Rhodes and John Smith Moffat duped the king of the Ndebele people into a treaty which led to the expansion of British territory in Africa. From then until the late 1900s, Rhodesia was governed by a white minority. Read the show notes here.
Peanut butter got its name in the 18th century, but it's been around in some form for hundreds and hundreds of years. The more modern history of the spread features changes to the recipe and even a little litigation with the FDA.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, 150,000 child migrants were sent from Britain to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Rhodesia. Many of these children ended up in far worse conditions than they left behind. Read the show notes here.
Dr. Virginia Apgar broke new ground in the fields of obstetrics and anesthesiology in the middle of the 20th century. When babies are born today, one of the tools doctors use to measure whether they’re thriving on their own is the Apgar score.
The deceptively simple harmonica has roots as far back as ancient China, though it really came into its own in Europe in the 1800s.
In 1851, Olive Oatman's family was attacked while traveling near the Gila River in Arizona. Olive was taken by her attackers, and lived for five years with Native Americans before being ransomed by the U.S. government.