Podcast Show Notes — Episode 5 (April 14, 2014)

Henry Brown found a unique way to escape slavery: He mailed himself to Pennsylvania. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll accompany Brown on his perilous 1849 journey from Richmond to Philadelphia, follow a 5-year-old Idaho girl who was mailed to her grandparents in 1914, and delve deeper into a mysterious lion sighting in Illinois in 1917.

We’ll also decode a 200-year-old message enciphered by Benjamin Franklin, examine an engraved ball reputed to have fallen out of the Georgia sky in 1887, and present the next Futility Closet Challenge.

The story about Dr. Seyers’ alien ball appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1887 — here’s a reprint from the American Stationer.

Our posts on Henry Box Brown and May Pierstorff appeared on Feb. 2, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2008.

Here’s Samuel Rowse’s 1850 lithograph The Resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia, depicting Brown’s climactic emergence from his box on March 24, 1849:


And our post about Benjamin Franklin’s cipher appeared originally on July 23, 2008. Satoshi Tomokiyo’s description of the solution is here.

Thanks again to Doug Ross for the music in this episode. You can subscribe to the Futility Closet podcast now on iTunes; the direct feed is here:


Next week we plan to recount the story of the U.S. Camel Corps, an attempt to use camels as pack animals in the American West in the 1850s. If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

2 Responses to “Podcast Show Notes — Episode 5 (April 14, 2014)”

  1. MJ Knoester says:

    The Hazard of Dukes – A period drama in which peers face perilous situations.

    Who, Doctor? – A true crime show which matches DNA from crime scenes to suspects.

    Walking the Dead – This situation comedy is centered around a morose gravedigger and his teenage apprentice.

    A Half and Two Men – A British pub landlady is torn between her lover and her ex husband.

  2. MJ Knoester says:

    I can’t resist. Here are some more:

    RE – Sitcom set in the basement Sunday School classroom of a Unitarian Universalist church.

    Love the Boat – Yachting show, featuring design segments, tips on boat maintenance and even building your own sloop.

    Trek Star – Two competitors face a series of survival challenges.

    S*H*A*M – A loveable rogue swindles his way through life.

    The Life of Facts – Science magazine.

    Couple the Odd – Dating quiz in which the audience has the final say.

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