U.S. History

Benjamin Lay, the Quaker Comet

Benjamin Lay was a Quaker and a radical abolitionist who lived in the period between when the Religious Society of Friends began and when it started formally banning slave ownership among its members.

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. 

William Maclure and New Harmony’s Boatload of Knowledge

When Robert Owen founded his utopian community, he wanted to have the best minds he could find running the educational system. He recruited William Maclure, who in turn brought many great minds with him. Their boat was nicknamed the Boatload of Knowledge.

SYMHC Live: The New Harmony Utopias

We did a live show for the Indiana Historical Society about the town of New Harmony, Indiana in the window from 1815-1827. In that period, two different communal societies occupied the town, one right after the other. But one was far more successful.

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. 

Fearless, Feisty and Unflagging: The Women of Gettysburg

Military history rarely focuses on the women who lived through conflict and worked on recovery efforts. This episode covers women who assisted troops, buried the dead, nursed the wounded, and managed to survive the fighting in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. 





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
 

Packard v. Packard, Pt. 2

After being forcibly admitted to a mental hospital by her husband, Elizabeth Packard began advocating for herself as well as the improvement of treatment in such facilities. After her release, she lobbied for reform to the asylum system.

Packard v. Packard, Pt. 1

Elizabeth Packard’s marriage started out well, but soon, her questioning nature exploration of new ideas about religion led her husband to decide she was mentally ill. He had her forcibly committed to the Illinois State Asylum and Hospital for the Insane.

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.