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.

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.

Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society

In 1841, a 14-year old Japanese boy named Manjiro and four others set out on a fishing trip. After getting caught in a fierce storm, their boat lost its mast, stranding the boys on a remote island where they survived – barely – for six months.

Chatham Historical Society

In May, 1915, a German U-boat sank the ocean liner Lusitania, killing almost 1,200 people and causing great alarm throughout the U-S shipping industry, where vessels were suddenly vulnerable up and down the Atlantic seaboard. The government responded by setting up a series of air stations along the east coast to defend against the growing threat. One of these facilities was built on a flat, 20-acre site in North Chatham.

New Bedford Whaling Museum

The 19th century was a time of numerous rebellions in Ireland, most of them unsuccessful. Many Irish rebels were taken prisoner and sent by their British captors to the notoriously squalid Fremantle Prison in Australia – a fate regarded as essentially a death sentence.

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