history

Rosa Parks is well-known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Ala., in December 1955. But Parks' civil rights protest did have a precedent: Fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, a student from a black high school in Montgomery, had refused to move from her bus seat nine months earlier. However, Colvin is not nearly as well-known, and certainly not as celebrated, as Parks.

Seattle's city hall was a mishmash of additions, including a basement where some prisoners were sent and brutally treated, fed a minimal diet of bread and water.
Seattle.gov

Little surprises Knute Berger, writer and local historian, when it comes to Seattle history.

So when he discovered that Seattle had used chain gangs – ball and chain style – into the 1900s, he thought, “Chain gangs? That’s a Southern thing.”

New ownership is giving new hope to a decrepit, unseaworthy fishing boat with a notable literary pedigree.

Seattle gets more clouds than blue sky, so do we really buy that many sunglasses?
Flickr Photo/Phil Buckley

Do Seattleites buy more sunglasses than residents of other cities?

Was there really a dead horse in Ballard’s water supply in the early 1900s?

And did prostitutes start the Seattle School District?

Listener Kristie Fisher of Belltown asked about Seattle’s urban myths as part of our Local Wonder project. So we asked our Facebook friends to share their favorites and chose a few for KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel to investigate.

KUOW Photo/Keva Andersen

KUOW acquisitions producer Keva Andersen spotted some familiar pieces of scrap metal near the parking lot of Salty's on Alki. 

Could it be? Is this pile of detritus a souvenir from the Kalakala, the infamous former Washington state ferry that recently took its final voyage to the junk yard? If so, why is it there?

Update: West Seattle Herald has the answer! 

Nearly 4,000 blacks were lynched in the American South between the end of the Civil War and World War II, according to a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative.

The report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, says that the number of victims in the 12 Southern states was more than 20 percent higher than previously reported.

Lynchings were part of a system of racial terror designed to subjugate a people, says the Alabama-based nonprofit's executive director, Bryan Stevenson.

The organization United4Iran displayed this billboard in Washington, D.C., in 2012 to protest the treatment of Baha'is in Iran.
Flickr Photo/United4Iran (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks with Mitra Zarakani, an employment specialist at Jewish Family Service's Eastside location, about her immigration to the U.S. and attending a secret university in Iran.

Courtesy Jason Yeatman

Two years ago Jason Yeatman, a researcher at the University of Washington, stumbled into a secret corridor of the mind.

The Kalakala on the day she was to be scrapped. The unlucky vessel had shone on Puget Sound waters as a ferry between 1933 to 1967.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

It was before dawn on Thursday, and the cold air off the Blair Waterway in Tacoma was damp and penetrating.

Karl Anderson, a mustachioed man in his 70s, stood on his company’s graving dock, waiting for the Kalakala.

American soldiers in presence of gas, 42nd division. Essey, France. September 20, 1918.
Flickr Photo/Otis Historical Archives (CC-BY-NC-ND)

To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, University of Washington professor Robin McCabe planned a series she calls “Music from the War to End All Wars.”

The debut event includes professor Robert Stacey’s talk ,“A Gathering Storm? Artistic Crisis and the Coming of the First World War.” 

Matt Smith in "My Last Year With The Nuns"
John Jeffcoat

Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is hipster central these days: the place to go for the latest in music clubs, trendy restaurants and street style.

That wasn't always the case.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer photo/Museum Of History & Industry

Did you know that fur is still a big industry in Seattle?

One of the main ways this region became settled and explored was by fur trappers in the early 19th century. And fur farms are still scattered throughout Washington.

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

A piece of the original Antikythera Mechanism. Divers found the first pieces off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera in 1901.
Wikimedia Commons

Jeannie Yandel talks with University of Puget Sound professor James Evans about the Antikythera Mechanism, which is believed to be the world's first computer. Evans and a colleague recently found the mechanism may be as old as 205 BC, which is 50-100 years older than originally thought.

It all started with milkmaids.

Edward Jenner, an 18th-century English country doctor, noticed that they seemed to be immune to smallpox.

And that was a time when smallpox was a truly terrifying disease. Each year, it killed hundreds of thousands of Europeans. It made people terribly sick. Its oozing blisters scarred many of its victims for life. And there was no cure.

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