Hidden History

Hidden History, produced by WCAI Morning Edition co-host Brian Morris, focuses on lesser-known historic events, places and people from around Cape Cod, the Islands and the South Coast.

You can hear Hidden History during every other Monday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Have a great idea for a Hidden History story? Send Brian Morris an email.

Brian Morris/WCAI

Spiritualism has been part of the history of Onset village for well over 100 years. The spiritualist movement first took hold there in the late 19th century, enjoyed a heyday in the early 1900’s, and continues to survive today.

It began with groups of people coming together to communicate with the afterlife. The first group of spiritualists began holding camp meetings on the shores of Onset Bay.

Brewster Historical Society

Hellen Keller spent time in Brewster during several summers as a child. She was born in Alabama, and became deaf and blind at 19 months old. Keller’s connection to Brewster was through a local woman named Sophia Crocker-Hopkins, who ran a boarding house for summer visitors. 

Todd Kennelly

The Cape Cod Coliseum is a former entertainment venue in South Yarmouth that once hosted ice hockey games, professional wrestling matches, as well as some of most legendary acts in rock music.

The Coliseum opened in 1972. It was initially built as an arena for youth and amateur ice hockey matches, and was home to the Cape Cod Cubs of the Eastern Hockey League.

Nantucket Historical Association

In the 1830s, silk was all the rage in fashion. And Nantucket decided to get in on the action.

“There was a lot of speculation along the eastern seaboard about establishing silk in the United States,” said Nantucket resident and historian Barbara White.

So, two Nantucket entrepreneurs planted 4,000 mulberry trees in the Polpis area of the island.

“The trees got established, and in 1832, they opened a silk factory,” said White.

It was thought that the mulberry trees and the silk that they fed would thrive on Nantucket.

Brian Morris/WCAI

Each year, a Cape Cod ham radio club commemorates the role that wireless communication played in rescuing survivors from the Titanic in 1912.

The Club calls itself the Titanic/Marconi Association of Cape Cod. Their call sign is WIMGY, the last 3 letters of which were the same call sign of the Titanic.

Rick Pendleton hails from Braintree, but he comes to the Cape every year to participate in the event.

Brian Morris/WCAI

May 29th marks the 100th birthday of John F. Kennedy, the nation’s 35th President. Ann Mulligan of Brighton has a family connection to the late president. Her mother spent 49 years as the personal assistant to Cardinal Richard Cushing, who was Archbishop of Boston from 1944 to 1970. Cardinal Cushing was a close friend of the Kennedy family, officiating at JFK’s marriage to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1953, and at his funeral Mass 10 years later following the President’s assassination in Dallas.

Woods Hole Historical Museum

Though barely a trace remains today, the Pacific Guano Company operated for 26 years on what is now Penzance Point in Woods Hole, transforming what was a sleepy farming village into a thriving community.

Huffington Post

“America the Beautiful” has endured for more than a century as one of our country’s best-loved patriotic songs. It began as a poem written by Katharine Lee Bates, who was born in Falmouth and spent much of her life as a teacher at Wellesley College.

Chester Harding

During the golden age of whaling in the 19th century, more that 170,000 people signed on for whaling voyages aboard hundreds of vessels. What’s not as well-known is that more than 60 whaling captains were black.

Martha’s Vineyard resident Skip Finley is writing a book that explores the history of black whaling captains.

Brian Morris/WCAI

The unadorned structure on Provincetown’s Main Street is set back from the galleries, cafes and shops along the popular thoroughfare. For the past century, this nondescript grey-shingled building has been home to the Beachcombers Club – an informal gathering spot for many of the country’s most famous creative types.

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