Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Black History on "History Detectives"

In February, for Black History Month, I wrote about episodes of the PBS program History Detectives that related to black family history.  This post, about History Detectives segments discussing black history in general, I really intended to finish in time to be a companion piece for Black History Month.  Unfortunately, real life intruded (going from afternoon to graveyard to early morning shifts at one of my jobs, all during the month of February), so it's just a little (a teeny bit) late.  As with the earlier post, I've listed these in chronological order of the events being discussed.

A family living in Reliance, Maryland, wants to know if their house once belonged to the infamous Patty Cannon (c. 1760-1829), who was called the "most wicked woman in America."  Her gang, which included several family members, kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery in the South.

A family "sheet" belonging to two brothers in Michigan might actually be a historically significant abolitionist flag.

Two stamp collectors bought a box of old letters and found two addressed to William Blackford in Washington, D.C.  One is from Blackford's brother, John, who wants to command a black U.S. Army unit during the Civil War.

A man has found a songbook in his late mother's belongings.  Dated 1867, it may be the first published collection of black spirituals.

Most vaudeville performers in the early 20th century were white, but not only was one ventriloquist black, his dummy was also.  John W. Cooper was important for his pioneering performances but also for how his legacy was carried on.

A U.S. Army vet wants to learn if the flag she owns is connected to a little-known black unit that fought under the French during World War I.

A woman found two Black Star Line stock certificates signed by Marcus Garvey among items her great-grandfather left after his death.  She recognized Garvey's name but wants to know why her great-grandfather would have bought the certificates.

A black and white stamp purchased at a flea market says "Save the Scottsboro Boys" and "one cent."  It doesn't quite look like a real postage stamp, and the purchaser wants to know who made it.

A woman inherited paintings created by her aunt and thinks they may have been studies for murals commissioned by the WPA.  The studies show blacks working in medicine and transportation.  The woman wants to know if any of the studies actually became murals.

Nora Holt was a singer associated with the Harlem Renaissance.  A man has inherited Holt's autograph book, which includes signatures from presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

A man in Brooklyn found boxes of sheet music in a dumpster.  Among them were what appeared to be the original printing plates for Duke Ellington's famous "Take the A Train."

A baseball fan found a scorecard for a game between the Majors' All Stars and Jackie Robinson's All Stars.  The game took place before Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

A woman's father told her that a saxophone he owned was originally Charlie Parker's.  Her father said that Parker had pawned the sax, and he went to the pawn shop to buy it.

John Henry "Pop" Lloyd was a legendary shortstop in the Negro Leagues.  The History Detectives investigate why a baseball field in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was named for him in 1949, when the U.S. was still highly segregated.

A 1950's comic book titled Negro Romance was bought at an auction.  Very few comics at the time had any black characters, so an entire comic book is extremely unusual.

A man in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, saw two F. W. Woolworth signs for sale on Craigslist.  He thinks they are from the local Woolworth store that had a desegregation sit-in in 1960.

A viewer believes that a home in the Bronx was the birthplace of hip-hop in 1973.

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