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History Detectives: Cromwell Dixon, Bartlett Sketchbook, Duke Ellington Plates

Airs Monday, July 19, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Patricia Godwin (left) received this swatch of fabric from her grandfather. She asks HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray (right) to find out if this is the last remaining artifact of Cromwell Dixon’s brief aviation career.

America's top gumshoes are back to prove once again that an object found in an attic or backyard might be anything but ordinary.

Wesley Cowan, independent appraiser and auctioneer; Gwendolyn Wright, historian and professor of architecture, Columbia University; Elyse Luray, independent appraiser and expert in art history; Dr. Eduardo Pagán, professor of history and American studies at Arizona State University; and Tukufu Zuberi, professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, leave no stone unturned as they travel around the country to explore the stories behind local folklore, prominent figures and family legends.

Do the sketches in this book illustrate scenes along the first ever US – Mexican border survey?
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Above: Do the sketches in this book illustrate scenes along the first ever US – Mexican border survey?

In this episode, HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray pilots an airplane to relive the memory of one of America’s first, and youngest, barnstormers. Pilot “Cromwell Dixon” lost his life at 19 when his airplane crashed.

Then, details in “Bartlett’s Sketchbook” suggest the scenes illustrate the first ever US-Mexican border survey. Host Eduardo Pagán wonders whether the sketchbook made that journey, and if it belonged to Bartlett?

Finally, a dumpster find may be a jazz history treasure. Then in an encore segment, Tukufu Zuberi sets out to find whether these metal “Duke Ellington Plates” printed the first copy of the Ellington hit "Take the A Train."

Video

Submit Your Mystery To History Detectives

Above: Let HISTORY DETECTIVES solve your mystery! Please tell us about an object that you think may have played a starring role - or was just along for the ride - among the newsworthy people, places or events in American history. This could be blackouts or boycotts, inaugurations or integration, pop art or pop culture, Joe Frasier or Joe DiMaggio, the Golden Spike or the Golden Gate and more! Send us your mystery.

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