This is the story of Shackleton and the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1916 as presented at this year’s 2021 Intelligent Speech Conference. The theme this year was escape and in the last expedition of the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration, Shackleton and his crew pulled off the greatest escape of all time, against all odds, at the brink of human endurance as they spent nearly two years lost, adrift on the pack ice of the Weddell sea, setting foot onto some of the last uncharted places in the world. This is the cliff notes version of the expedition. For a much more detailed history check out last year’s five-part series. 

She has one of the most recognizable smiles in the world, but why is the Mona Lisa so famous? She is undoubtedly a masterpiece, but didn’t become a worldwide sensation until 1911 when Vincenzo Peruggia stole her from the Louvre museum in Paris. It has been dubbed by some as the greatest art theft of the 20th century. Find out how he pulled it off and how the Mona Lisa, known as La Joconde in France and La Gioconda in Italy, made her way back to France to become the world’s most visited painting. 

Decades before the movie phenomenon of Jaws, our fear of sharks was ignited by a series of real shark attacks that all occurred within a 12-day period in the summer of 1916. Before these attacks along the New Jersey shore, many believed sharks were not capable of killing or attacking humans. This week we sift through the lore to find the real history surrounding the five attacks-and four deaths-that kindled our fascination with these animals. We also discuss how the shark mania that spread out from the 1916 attacks and the sensational film Jaws, has given sharks a reputation as blood thirsty killers, and how that mentality is shifting the more we learn about these incredible animals. Let’s jump into the water with some of history’s most famous sharks.

The turn of the 20th century was an incredible time for aviation and in 1892, eleven years before the Wright Brothers’ famous flight, a pilot was born. Bessie Coleman, known as Queen Bess, was the first African American and the first Indigenous American to receive an international pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, two years before Amelia Earhart. Bared from American flight schools because of her sex and unable to find a pilot to give her lessons in the US due to her race, she left for flight school in France. Upon her return, she had an exciting career barnstorming, or stunt flying, wowing audiences with tailspins, parachute jumps, and walking along the wing of her plane while it was in flight. Her tragic death in 1926 came too soon, but her legacy still lives on. Come hear the inspirational life story of the unstoppable Queen Bess.

In Part 2 of the Historical Oddities series, we uncover two strange pieces of history. In the 1970’s when the crew of the Six Million Dollar Man was shooting an episode inside a funhouse in Long Beach, California, they accidentally stumbled upon something unexpected…the dead, mummified body of the outlaw Elmer McCurdy. Elmer had been shot dead by a Sherriff’s posse the better part of a century before, so what was his corpse doing hanging from the rafters of a funhouse? Today we examine his incredible true story.

Next, we go across the pond and back again to find out how just what the London Bridge is doing in the Arizona desert. Built after the London Bridge of nursery rhyme fame was demolished and before the bridge that now stands over the Thames, this 19th century granite London Bridge was headed for the junkyard until the city of London auctioned it off to an eccentric American millionaire. Tune in to hear how this iconic English landmark became the world's most expensive souvenir. 

History is weird sometimes. In this first episode of a two-part series, we discuss historical oddities, and highlight some of the most curious events and people history has to offer. Today we begin with Frank Hayes, an unstoppable jockey, and Sweet Kiss, a bay mare no one was betting on. She and her jockey would make history with one race—but not because of their victory. Then we skip across the pond to find the unsinkable Violet Jessop, a woman who survived three of the 20th century’s most harrowing shipwrecks. South Africa is our last stop where we find Jack the Baboon who was better at his job working for the Cape Town Port Elizabeth Railway service than most of us are today. Plug in and get weird!

Bundle up, grab some nog, and get ready for a 117-year-old ghost story. We don’t tend to think of ghost stories when we think of the glitz and glamour of the holidays, but the tradition of gathering around the fire to tell dark tales and call upon the lore of ages long since passed goes back generations. Today, we discuss this tradition and hear M.R. James’s tale “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” first published in 1904.

It’s a stone with many names--the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone, Lia Fáil-- and there are numerous legends and myths about its origins. For centuries it was used in the coronations of Scottish kings, that is, until it was taken to England by Edward 1st in 1296. From then on it was used in the coronations of English and subsequent British monarchs, symbolizing their rule over Scotland and its incorporation into the United Kingdom. For 700 years after it was taken by the English king, it remained in Westminster Abby under the Coronation Chair, until Christmas day, 1950, when four students from the University of Glasgow--Kay Matheson, Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, and Alan Stuart--decided it was time for Scotland to take it back. This is the true story of one of the most famous and unlikely heists in history. The most remarkable part of this incredible true story isn't that these four students planned on breaking into Westminster Abby to steal back a symbol of Scottish nationalism…it's that they were going to get away with it.

We know that a lot of our communication happens not just through words, but through facial expressions, tone, and body language too. This can cause a researcher to unintentionally influence the person or animal they are examining. There are ways of getting around this-double blind studies are one way-where neither the researcher nor the subject knows if they are in a control or experimental group. But where did our understanding of subtle cues come from? Well, they came from a particularly clever horse. Clever Hans, a horse who took the media by storm in the early 1900s. Clever Hans was wowing the world with his ability to calculate numbers, identify musical tones, and ace any test thrown his way. His trainer, retired school teacher Wilhelm Van Osten, taught this horse as he would have a human child in front of a chalkboard and a counting machine in his backyard for years. Van Osten and the world truly believed Clever Hans was capable of extraordinary things. And he was…it just wasn’t what they had all suspected. Little did they know, they were all being outsmarted by one clever horse. 

The finale of our miniseries comes to a close as we cover several real historical instances of people actually being buried along with a few who had some uncomfortable close calls. We hear about the incredible case of Mathew Wall and find out why on October 2nd for the last 450 years or so, the town of Braughing in Hertfordshire has celebrated “Old Man’s Day.” We learn about the curious cases of Nicephorous Glycas from Lesbos and Anne Green from Oxfordshire who nearly made it to their own funerals and/or dissections. We learn about Alice Blunden and why you should always check twice, maybe even three times, before you bury someone. After that we hear about the unfortunate case of Anna Hockwalt in 19th century Dayton, Ohio, before making a pit stop in France to visit Angelo Hays and find out just what a toilet was doing in a coffin in the 1970’s.

It’s Halloween season, and that means it’s time for some spooky history. And what is spookier than being buried alive? Nothing really, and that’s where this two-part miniseries is headed. Today in Part 1 we cover taphophobia-the fear of being buried alive-and examine some of the ways we’ve dealt with this fear throughout history. Safety coffins, devices built to save the prematurely buried, and the death tests we used to determine if a person was really, completely dead, are showcased. Edgar Allen Poe, Houdini, and some ill-fated escape artists even make an appearance. If you love the macabre, you don’t want to miss this one. Come get your spook on.  

In 1822 on Mackinac Island, French Canadian Fur Trader Alexis St Martin was shot in the side at a distance of less than one meter. The experiments following his miraculous survival just may be the weirdest piece of history ever seen in the Straits of Mackinac.

The bullet wound left a hole in St Martin’s side giving Dr. William Beaumont the first ever access to a living human stomach. The doctor would tie pieces of food to a silk string and dangle them down into St Martin’s stomach in order to better understand the process of digestion. But the experiments didn’t stop there. Nearly 250 experiments were performed over nearly a decade.

Dr. Beaumont’s book on the experiments first published in 1833 entitled “Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion” paved the way for our understanding of the human gastric system and earned Beaumont the title of Father of Gastric Physiology.

St Martin lived his entire life with a bullet hole his side, which became a gastric fistula, or “passageway” that never closed. He was buried in a secret location eight feet below ground with two feet of rocks on his coffin to deter grave robbers from stealing his corpse or his stomach, which was highly sought after when he died.

Come hear the true story of Dr. William Beaumont and Alexis St Martin in this extra strange episode of the History Cache Podcast.

The finale is here! We finish the Leadbelly series by uncovering the last few years of his life. We watch his meteoric rise, examine the ups and downs of his relationship with John and Alan Lomax, see him embark on his own, and hear about how he influenced not only the popular folk musicians of the 1940s, but all of popular music since.

We learn about his death, his legacy, and say goodbye to the series highlighting one of the most influential, and often overlooked, musicians of all time.

We continue our way through the life of Leadbelly in Part 4. In this episode we see Leadbelly make a plea for a pardon with his music, and watch as he tries adjusting to life outside of prison. As hard as he tries starting life anew, he finds himself once again behind bars, this time in Angola, known as the Alcatraz of the South, one of the bloodiest prisons in US history.


We finally meet John Lomax and his son Allen who would become key figures in Leadbelly’s life as they traveled the South searching for American folk music to preserve for the Library of Congress. We clear up some Leadbelly myth with primary sources, learn a bit about the earliest attempts at musical preservation through recording, and even get to hear a 130-year-old Passamaquoddy war song recorded by anthropologist Jesse Walker Fewkes.

The adventure continues.

Music and murder collide in the third installment of the series highlighting the life of one of America’s greatest musical legends: Leadbelly. Ledbetter was already a fugitive when he murdered Will Stafford on a dirt road in Texas. No longer able to run from the law, Huddie faced difficult times in the brutal early 20th century prison system where he wrote some of his most profound music. But Leadbelly wouldn’t go down without a fight (and at least two more prison breaks). In this episode, we explore the next chapter of his life, as well as learn the dark history of convict leasing and why the remains of 95 inmates, known as the “Sugarland 95,” lie buried just below the surface of a small, Texas town.

In Leadbelly Part 2 we continue the story of Huddie Ledbetter, one of the most influential musicians of all time. We cover his early adult life in Dallas, his collaboration with the great Blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson, and hear some of the music that earned him the moniker “King of the Twelve String Guitar.”

He was known for his tumultuous life as well as his musical genius. We explore his first arrest, his escape from prison that made him a wanted fugitive, his new life under the alias “Walter Boyd” and the murder that would change the course of his life forever.

Join me for Part 2 as we uncover more of the legend behind the man we now know as Leadbelly.

Huddie Ledbetter was easily one of the most influential American musicians of all time, yet today he has become one of the most historically overlooked. Musical artists like Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, the White Stripes, and countless others have been covering Huddie’s songs for almost a century, however, most listeners have never heard his name. The life of Ledbetter, more widely known as Leadbelly, was fraught with complications, repressed by a world policed with Jim Crow laws, and often filled with violence.

Leadbelly was viewed by audiences as a murderer and criminal, but also as a poet gifted with an incredible musical talent. Separating and understanding the real man from the legend is a difficult task. His life was as epic as his music, and we’re going to explore all of it, starting with this first episode on the life of the legendary Leadbelly, King of the Twelve String Guitar.

This week the Compassion Series comes to a close as we explore four new stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in times of crises. First, we travel back in time to the sinking of the Titanic, and learn the rarely told story of the Titanic’s heroic engineers. Then we meet Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who smuggled over 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during WW2. After that we meet Stubby the war dog, the most decorated dog in American history, and for good reason. Lastly, we travel to New York City and meet the three twenty-somethings of Invisible Hands who have organized over 10,000 volunteers to aid those most at risk during the Covid pandemic.

This week we travel back in time 430,000 years to find some of the first examples of compassion in the fossil record. This time we fuse psychology and science with history as we discuss why compassion exists, its potential health benefits, the consequences of stress, fight or flight, and what that all has to do with human happiness. This one packs a scientific punch as we turn up the nerd level to 11.

This week in continuation of our Compassion Series we highlight the incredible story of Lieutenant John Robert Fox, one of seven African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for acts of valor in WW2. We also examine the history of America’s Buffalo Soldiers, and discuss how black soldiers have served courageously in America’s armed forces since the inception of the United States military. Fox’s heroic tale is one that has gone down in history, and the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers remain an integral and interwoven part of the US’s military history. In this episode, we travel across America’s Great Plains during the 19th century before heading all the way to Sommocolonia, a small village in the Italian countryside during the second world war, where we find one soldier who truly gave everything for survival of others.

During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch Resistance to Hitler was strong, with many Dutch citizens risking their lives to hide, transport, and secretly support those that his policies oppressed. In this episode, we continue or compassion series that showcases good people doing good things in times of crises. This week, we follow the life of Miep Gies, a woman who risked everything to hide and protect a group of her Jewish friends, including one young girl who would inspire millions throughout the world with the words she would write down while hidden away in a secret annex.

This episode is the first in a series highlighting extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in times of crises. This week we travel to Belfast during the Blitz of 1941 and meet Denise Weston Austin. She worked as one of the Belfast Zoo’s first female zookeepers, and the friendship she developed with Sheila, the zoo’s baby elephant, would become an inspirational part of Irish history. For decades, Denise’s identity remained a mystery until an old black and white photo of a woman and a baby elephant in a backyard surfaced from the zoo’s archives. Come hear the story of the woman who risked everything to save a small, plucky elephant, and why Denise has become known around the world as the Elephant Angel. 

This week the unexpected meets the obscure as we uncover several stories of wartime and daredevil history. First, we meet Sergeant Bill, the heroic Canadian goat of WW1 who saved the lives of three soldiers during battle. He suffered from trench foot, shrapnel, shell shock, and was gassed with the allied soldiers fighting at Ypres. He survived four and a half years at war, returning to Canada a hero. Next, we head to Niagara Falls and meet Lagara the cat, the first creature to survive a barrel ride over Horseshoe Falls. Along the way we visit several famous daredevils, including Annie Edson Taylor, the first person over the falls. We meet Charles Blondin the famous French funambulist who braved the high wire over the Niagara River 300 times. We visit Charles Stevens, the demon barber of Bedminster, and Bobby Leech, famous English daredevil whose death was as strange as his life. Come meet some of history’s boldest animals and a group of wonderful weirdos who dared so much that we can’t stop talking about them a century and a half later.  

In 1975 the gales of November billowed out a monster storm over the waters of Lake Superior, and the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald met it head on. By the time the sky cleared, the crew and their ship had become an inseparable part of the history and lore of the Great Lakes. In this very special episode of the History Cache, we uncover the history behind the shipwreck, try and understand what happened the night it disappeared, and hear some of the haunting audio of the search captured through Coat Guard transmissions on that fateful night. This is the story of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The finale is here! In the final episode we explore the final years of Olympias’s epic life. We cover how she cultivated her own power at court, watch her rise to even greater heights after the death of Alexander the Great, see a war waged between two incredible women of the ancient world, and find out just how this mother of an empire met her end.

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