20th Century

The Rise of the Traffic Light

There are multiple contenders when it comes to the question of who invented the traffic light. This episode looks at a few of the moments in traffic light history that got us to where we are today, as well as what made them a necessity in the first place. 

A Brief History of Thalidomide, Part 2

We’re finishing out our two-parter on thalidomide. This episode covers the response, including criminal trials, changes to drug laws, and debates about the legality of abortion, and how this has continued to evolve for thalidomide survivors until today.
 

A Brief History of Thalidomide, Part 1

Thalidomide has been described as the biggest man made medical disaster of all time. This first part covers what thalidomide is, the animal testing that lead its manufacturer to market it as safe, and its release into the market.

The Port Chicago Disaster

This was the worst stateside disaster in the United States during World War II. Apart from being a horrific tragedy, the disaster itself and its aftermath were threaded through with racism and injustice. 

Sylvia of Hollywood – Beauty Consultant to the Stars

In the 1920s and 1930s, Sylvia was famous for shaping up starlets, cementing the idea that Hollywood’s beauties were aspirational figures for the average woman. Many of Sylvia's ideas about fitness were totally sensible, but she could also be quite harsh
 

Marie Laurencin: Avante-garde Painter of Paris

Laurencin is a difficult painter to study. In addition to her work not quite falling in line with the artists who were her contemporaries, her personal papers are difficult to access, are censored, and have strict limitations put on their use. 




The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919

The 1919 strike is the largest in Canada’s history, and shut Winnipeg down. While the strike started out as a simple labor dispute, there were many factors involved in how it played out, and a conspiracy theory that it was a communist uprising.

The General Slocum Disaster

The P.S. General Slocum burned in the East River in New York on June 15, 1904. It had been chartered for a group outing that suddenly became a deadly maritime disaster.

The Advent of Radioiodine Therapy

Humans have recognized thyroid disease for thousands of years. But in the 1930s. Saul Hertz had an insight after hearing a physicist's lecture that changed the treatment of hyperthyroidism forever. 

Red Summer, 1919

In the summer of 1919, a wave of racist violence played out in the U.S. In many ways, the violence of Red Summer was a response to (but NOT caused by) two earlier events: the Great Migration and the return of black soldiers who had fought in World War I.