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History Detectives: Bill Of Sale; Powder Horn; Star Spangled Banner; 1775 Almanac

Airs Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray joins Charlene Robbins and her sister Car...

Credit: Courtesy of Robin Hutchins

Above: HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray joins Charlene Robbins and her sister Carmelle Knudsen as they turn over a cherished document from their father’s collection to Curator Gregory Weidman and Chief of Interpretation Vince Vaise of the Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The sheet music is the result of collaboration by John Philip Sousa and four other prominent musicians trying to draft a standard version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

HISTORY DETECTIVES is devoted to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects. Traditional investigative techniques, modern technologies, and plenty of legwork are the tools the HISTORY DETECTIVES team of experts uses to give new - and sometimes shocking - insights into our national history.

Browse By Location

Discover where all the stories came from on the HISTORY DETECTIVES interactive map.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rachel Ross

Jeanie Hans found this 1829 Bill of Sale in the attic of her grandparent’s Kansas home. She asks HISTORY DETECTIVES host Eduardo Pagán to find out more about Willoby, the 17-year old woman named in this document.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rachel Ross

Joseph McGill gives HISTORY DETECTIVES host Eduardo Pagán a tour of the Hewn-Timber Cabins at Francis Marion University to give insight into what life as a slave might have been like for Willoby, the woman named in this bill of sale.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Babineau

The notes scribbled in the margins of this 1775 Almanac take us inside the lives of a family during the Revolution. How did conflicting loyalties strain their relationships?

The hosts of the program are a high-energy group of renowned experts in the world of historical investigations. Their expertise ranges from architecture, popular culture and sociology to archeology, collectibles and genealogy.

Wes Cowan is an independent appraiser and auctioneer; Elyse Luray is independent appraiser and expert in art history; Gwendolyn Wright is a professor of architecture, planning and preservation, and professor of history, Columbia University; Tukufu Zuberi is a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Eduardo Pagan is the Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History at Arizona State University.

Each hour-long episode of HISTORY DETECTIVES features three or more investigations that delve into family legends, local folklore and stories behind potentially extraordinary objects in everyday American homes, cities and small towns. Follow the twists and turns of each investigation and find out more about the historical events that shaped America.

In this episode, HISTORY DETECTIVES tells four stories of our nation’s beginning. First, Eduardo Pagán starts with a simple bill of sale for a 17-year old “negro girl” and learns how young Willoby’s life unfolds from being property to owning property.

Then Gwen Wright traces a powder horn from a muddy Minnesota field to a military captain in Massachusetts during the American Revolution.

Elyse Luray asks what role a handwritten score played in making “The Star Spangled Banner” our national anthem.

Finally, notes in a 1775 almanac show how conflicting loyalties strained family ties during the Revolution.

HISTORY DETECTIVES is on Facebook, and you can follow @histdetectives on Twitter.

History Detectives: 1775 Almanac

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Watch 1775 Almanac: Diary of the Revolution on PBS. See more from History Detectives.

Our contributor inherited a 1775 Almanac from his grandfather. Judging from notes in the margins, this document is far more than a dusty reference manual. Someone has used it as a diary. The scrawled notes give HISTORY DETECTIVES a rare, intimate insight into how conflicting loyalties may have strained personal relationships during the Revolution. Who wrote this diary? And what role did the author play in the Revolutionary War?

History Detective's Most Common Artifacts

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Watch History Detective's Most Common Artifacts on PBS. See more from History Detectives.

Of the thousands of objects submitted to HISTORY DETECTIVES each season, by far the most common are from the Pacific theater of World War II. Gwen Wright explains how many wartime souvenirs came home with American G.I.s.

History Detectives: Season 10 Preview

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Watch Season 10 Preview on PBS. See more from History Detectives.

Submit Your Mysteries To History Detectives

Do you have an object that you think may have played a starring role in American history but don't quite know how? Why not give the HISTORY DETECTIVES a crack at it!

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