skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

History Detectives: Iwo Jima Map, Copperhead Cane, Theremin

Airs Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Linda Dinkel says her father found this map on the body of a Japanese soldier during the battle of Iwo Jima. Linda asks "History Detectives" to find out what role this map played in that pivotal World War II battle.

Host Wes Cowan comes to Iowa to investigate whether this copperhead cane belonged to Henry Dean Clay, a passionate orator who railed against President Lincoln and the Civil War.
Enlarge this image

Above: Host Wes Cowan comes to Iowa to investigate whether this copperhead cane belonged to Henry Dean Clay, a passionate orator who railed against President Lincoln and the Civil War.

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.

Is this one of the few theremins made by the inventor himself? One of the first electronic instruments, the theremin makes eerie, ethereal music, the kind that creates uncertainty and suspense in movie sound tracks.
Enlarge this image

Above: Is this one of the few theremins made by the inventor himself? One of the first electronic instruments, the theremin makes eerie, ethereal music, the kind that creates uncertainty and suspense in movie sound tracks.

First, detective Eduardo Pagán investigates the history of a hand-drawn map taken from the body of a Japanese soldier during the World War II battle of Iwo Jima in the segment “Iwo Jima Map.”

Then, in “Copperhead Cane,” Wes Cowan follows the story of a cane topped with a coiled snake with ties to the anti-Abraham Lincoln group the “Peace Democrats.”

Finally, in the segment “Theremin,” Elyse Luray traces the origins of the Theremin — one of the first electronic musical instruments — and finds out if a New Mexico man owns one of the fewer than a dozen Theremins in the U.S. built by Leon Theremin himself.

Think you have a case for "History Detectives?" Send us your mystery.