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History Detectives: Drone Propeller; Clara Barton Letter; Teddy Roosevelt War Club

Airs Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Thomas “TJ” Tichy and his wife Lisa ask Tukufu Zuberi to solve the mystery be...

Credit: Courtesy of Robert Booth

Above: Thomas “TJ” Tichy and his wife Lisa ask Tukufu Zuberi to solve the mystery behind this stick. Some faint painting on the stick mentions Teddy Roosevelt. Did someone present this odd stick to President Roosevelt? Who and why?

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

Your Investigation

If you need more help with your own investigations, visit Detective Techniques, with guides on how to research a WWII military record, rock and mineral identification, and more information on art and photo evaluation. You can also find a step-by-step guide to genealogy, researching buildings, document evaluation and much more.

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.

"Drone Propeller" - Working beside a rural airstrip, an Illinois man dug up an intriguing find: an eight-foot long wooden airplane propeller. A little research online made him believe that his propeller might be from a TDR-1 plane, a pioneering U.S. drone plane from World War II.

Various websites say the TDR-1 were the first drones used in combat, the prototype of the unmanned assault planes used today in Afghanistan and Iraq. "History Detectives" investigates whether this propeller is an important piece of American military history or simply fell off a local prop plane.

"Clara Barton Letter" - Tucked into the pages of an antique book, our contributor from Osceola, Indiana found what he thinks may be a letter written by Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. Dated July 1866, the letter reports the death of a man named Israel Brown.

Along with the letter, our contributor found an envelope addressed to J. Blair Welch, Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania. Did Clara Barton actually write this letter? If so, why was she writing about these men? "History Detectives" consults a Clara Barton biographer, a civil war prison historian, and a Pennsylvania genealogist.

"Teddy Roosevelt War Club" - More than 30 years ago, while tearing the aluminum roofing from a farm house, a Chicago man discovered an oddly carved piece of wood in the dark recesses of the attic.

It is about three and a half feet long, two inches around with a faint inscription weathered by time. The wording that remains reads: Bull Moose War Club – From the Green Mountains near the City of Rutland, VT, and to the Great Chief Teddy Roosevelt, Aug. 29, ’12. "History Detectives" heads to New England to find out who, if anyone, gave this club to Teddy Roosevelt.

"History Dectectives" is on Facebook, and you can follow @histdetectives on Twitter.

History Detectives: Season Nine Preview

Watch the full episode. See more History Detectives.

Our five intrepid detectives are back with new investigations and fascinating stories in season nine of the "History Detectives."

Submit Your Mystery To History Detectives

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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