HISTORY This Week

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The Hanging of Jekyll and Hyde

Season 3

October 1, 1788. William Brodie mounts the gallows outside Edinburgh’s jail. Just a few years before, as a respected member of the town council, he’d helped redesign those gallows. Now he stands upon them as a convicted criminal sentenced to be hanged, in front of 40,000 spectators. Brodie appears surprisingly and resolutely calm. But maybe somewhere deep inside is another William Brodie, panicked and full of regret. Who really was this respectable cabinetmaker by day and thief by night? And how did he inspire his fellow Scotsman, Robert Louis Stevenson, to write the famous story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?


Special thanks to our guests, professors Stephen Brown and Owen Dudley Edwards. Brown’s lecture on the 250th anniversary of the Encyclopedia Britannica is available on the National Library of Scotland's website. Edwards’ latest book is called Our Nations and Nationalisms.


Correction: Professor Brown referred to Judge Braxton in Brodie's trial. The judge's name was Lord Braxfield.

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11/28/2022

A Meteorite Hits Ann Hodges

Season 4
November 30, 1954. At about 12:45 in the afternoon, a space rock comes plummeting through the roof of a house in Sylacauga, Alabama. It bounces off a standup radio, ricochets around the living room, and collides with the thigh of Mrs. Ann Hodges, who’s been napping on the couch. Newspapers declare: “experts agreed unanimously that Mrs. Hodges was the first person known to have been struck by a meteorite.” What happened to this space rock after it crashed to Earth and thrust itself into volatile human affairs? And what happened to the human beings whose lives were upended by this rarest of rare events?Thanks to our guests: Dr. Julia Cartwright, planetary scientist at the University of Alabama; Billy Field, professor at the University of Alabama and screenwriter; and Julie Love Templeton, attorney in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.Dr. Cartwright is involved in a number of art/science collaborations to engage and educate the public about meteorites and planetary science. You can find out more on her website, JACartwright.people.ua.edu. Keep an eye out for Billy Field’s latest project, TheStoryAcorn.com, which launches in January 2023. The website will feature history from the Civil Rights movement, told by those who lived it. The website teaches students to gather stories from their own communities and share them with the world. Thanks also to Mary Beth Prondzinski, former collections manager at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, and to the Alabama Museum of Natural History.