20th Century

Zoot Suit Riots

The word “riot” here is really a misnomer. This conflict wasn’t so much about property damage as it was about attacking people. It also wasn’t really about the zoot suits – although they had come to symbolize A LOT in Los Angeles when this happened. 

Battle of Amiens

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, near the end of World War I. Amiens was the start of what came to be known as the 100 Days Offensive, which was the Allies’ final push to win the war. 




Annie Edson Taylor, Niagara Daredevil

Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor’s whole barrel trip was part of a much bigger story of daredevils at this natural wonder, which is tied to its industrialization and commercialization.







Great Train Wreck of 1918

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of one of the worst train wrecks in United States history. More than 100 people died. And even though it’s usually noted as the worst train wreck in American history, it was kind of a run-of-the-mill accident for the time. 

Six Impossible Episodes: Evacuating Children

All six of today’s topics are mass evacuations of children and youth because of a war or other unrest, and include Kindertransport, Operation Pedro Pan, and Operation Babylift. 

The Tunguska Event

On June 30, 1908 at approximately 7:15am, the sky over Siberia lit up with what was described by witnesses as a massive fireball, or the sky engulfed in fire. For the last century, scientists have been trying to figure out exactly what happened. 

Julian Eltinge, Greatest of All Impersonators of Women

Eltinge was one of the highest-paid and most famous actors of the early 20th century, and acted alongside Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino. What made him famous was his skill at female impersonation.

The Colorful Life of Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda is one of those historical figures who remains hugely iconic – we STILL see her image, or some derivative of it, on a regular basis. She was luminous on camera and an excellent singer, with a personality much larger than her small stature.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett connects to a lot of episodes in our archive. She fought against lynching for decades, at a time when it wasn’t common at all for a woman, especially a woman of color, to become such a prominent journalist and a speaker.

Winsor McCay, Part 2

Even as his career in comics was at its zenith, Winsor McCay continued to explore other business ventures for his art. He added vaudeville performances to his busy schedule, and then became an animation pioneer.