History Detectives

Mon, 06/22/2009 - 9:00pm
Pictured: Eduardo Pagán (second from right) with re-enactors at Pancho Villa State Park. Pagán is a guest co-host for History Detectives' seventh season.

Credit: Stacey Young
A PBS audience favorite, critical success and armchair historians’ must-see, History Detectives debuts its seventh season on Monday, June 22 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011/cable 11), and will continue throughout the summer on WXXI-TV Mondays, following Antiques Roadshow.
Returning this season are the four History Detectives: Wesley Cowan, independent appraiser and auctioneer; Elyse Luray, independent appraiser and expert in art history; Gwendolyn Wright, historian and professor of architecture, Columbia University; and Tukufu Zuberi, professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Joining the team this season is new guest co-host Eduardo Pagán, professor of history at Arizona State University. For his first story, Professor Pagán investigates Francisco “Pancho” Villa’s reputed raid on the town of Columbus, New Mexico.
Season seven of History Detectives features a broad range of historical periods, multiple cultures, and fascinating personalities. Among the questions the detectives will answer this summer are:
  • Did John Wilkes Booth’s father once threaten to kill President Andrew Jackson?
  • Did Thomas Edison build a device for communicating with the dead?
  • Why were tiny babies exhibited at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair?
  • Was a gun handed down through two generations of prominent Chicago families, used by Al Capone’s gang during the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre?
  • Why did President Millard Fillmore pardon an unknown Indian convicted of murdering a St. Louis trader?
History Detectives is truly interactive television: three-quarters of the items featured on the series are culled from thousands of viewers’ submissions and chosen for their potential historical significance. Of these, close to 30 items a season are investigated by the History Detectives, who travel coast-to-coast using forensic technology and detective work to uncover an item’s origin, validity and worth. Bottom line — is it the real thing or a fake?
This summer, the History Detectives will prove once again that an object found in an attic or backyard might be anything but ordinary.