J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Episode of History Detectives

After reading my profile above, you might ask, "What 'episode of History Detectives'?"

Why, this one.

You can download a transcript of that segment from the show's website. The investigation was apparently popular enough to have been parts of two episodes, in season 2 and 3, which are occasionally rerun. WGBH Kids, a Comcast cable-only channel in Massachusetts, has one episode scheduled for showings on 2 and 3 August.

Now the "investigation" of the two brass cannons on the show didn't really match the way evidence has accumulated over time about them. As constructed by the TV producers, the piece of evidence that clinches the case about the "Hancock" cannon is that it has a mate called the "Adams" in the Bunker Hill Monument. But those two cannons have been matched for decades; that wasn't the crucial discovery. In addition, if you look closely, you'll see that the documents the on-screen investigator reads at the Massachusetts Historical Society are actually faxes; I think they came from the Clements Library in Michigan. But all the facts are right, even if they're in an odd order, and the History Detectives investigation revealed some interesting technical details about the cannons. So enjoy!

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