Einstein's Brain, Morgan Affair, Brass Knuckles

Don Wildman examines a purse that contains clues to a mysterious death, a building that holds the secret to a centuries-old disappearance and more.

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Feather Fans from World's Fair
Feather Fans from World's Fair

Feather Fans from World's Fair

On display at the Chicago History Museum is a set of feather plume fans that were used for a burlesque show at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. 960 1280

  

Sally Rand

Sally Rand

Sally Rand’s career skyrocketed after she debuted her risqué fan dance at the fair. 960 1280

  

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

The International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, houses the make-up that was used to disguise the 6 American diplomats who evaded capture during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. 960 1280

  

Argo

Argo

The CIA used a fake film project -- a sci-fi movie they called Argo -- to disguise the Americans as a Canadian film crew and rescue them from Iran. 960 1280

  

LA Police Museum

LA Police Museum

The LA Police Museum houses bullet fragments found at the scene of notorious mobster Bugsy Siegel's murder. 960 1280

  

Bugsy Siegel

Bugsy Siegel

In 1941, Bugsy Siegel was shot dead in his girlfriend’s home in Beverly Hills, CA. 960 1280

  

Bullets from Bugsy Siegel's Murder

Bullets from Bugsy Siegel's Murder

Siegel’s murder remains shrouded in mystery, and we may never know who fired the bullets that killed him. 960 1280

  

Baltimore Medical Examiner's Office

Baltimore Medical Examiner's Office

At the Baltimore Medical Examiner's office is a collection of meticulous, miniature crime scene dioramas created by the “Mother of CSI,” a millionaire heiress named Frances Glessner Lee with an interest in forensics. 960 1280

  

Crime Scene Diorama

Crime Scene Diorama

These morbid displays of death played an unexpected role in the history of modern crime scene investigation. 960 1280

  

Blue Box

Blue Box

At the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, is a “Blue Box,” a contraption invented by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs that, in the days of rotary telephones, could hack the phone network to make free long-distance calls. 960 1280

  

Blue Box

Blue Box

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were so delighted by their success with the Blue Box that they decided to continue their partnership -- eventually resulting in the creation of Apple computer 960 1280

  

Joseph Jefferson Mansion and Gardens

Joseph Jefferson Mansion and Gardens

At the Joseph Jefferson Mansion and Gardens on Lake Peigneur in New Iberia, LA, is an antique urn that was one of few relics to survive a terrifying and earthshaking disaster. 960 1280

  

Whirlpool

Whirlpool

On Nov. 20, 1980, a mining accident caused a giant whirlpool to form -- sucking in 65 acres of buildings, barges, trees and terrain surrounding the lake. 960 1280

  

Photos

Don Bolles' mangled car

Don Bolles' mangled car

The Newseum in Washington, DC, showcases the mangled body of a car from the 1970s that tells the story of an intrepid journalist’s dogged pursuit of the truth in the face of grave danger. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

On June 13, 1976, Don Bolles, an investigative reporter for the Arizona Republic was set to meet with an informant who never showed. He got into his car and started the engine, detonating a bomb hidden under the driver’s seat. His murder has been tied to the mafia. 960 1280

  

Snake Oil

Snake Oil

This vial of clear liquid was said to contain a miracle cure. 960 1280

  

Skeptiseum

Skeptiseum

Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil, now on display at the Skeptiseum at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY, was sold as a miraculous cure-all. In 1917, the US government tested this “snake oil” and found it was actually just bottled mineral oil. 960 1280

  

Bank Vault Door

Bank Vault Door

On September 7, 1876, a notorious band of outlaws attempted to rob the First National Bank of Northfield in Minnesota. 960 1280

  

Northfield Historical Society

Northfield Historical Society

At the Northfield Historical Society visitors can get a look at the massive vault door that one bank worker refused to open, thereby stopping the robbery and thwarting one of the most ruthless gangs of the Wild West. 960 1280

  

Whydah Pirate Museum

Whydah Pirate Museum

At the Whydah Pirate Museum in Provincetown, MA, the coins on display are the result of one man’s discovery of a centuries-old map and his tireless efforts to uncover a pirate’s treasure long thought lost. 960 1280

  

Pirate Museum

Pirate Museum

The Whydah Galley is the first authenticated pirate shipwreck to ever be discovered. In 1717, Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy captured the slave ship and turned it in to his flagship. Only 2 months later, the ship was wrecked off the coast of Wellfleet, MA, and wasn’t discovered until 260 years later. 960 1280

  

Tea Crate from Boston Tea Party

Tea Crate from Boston Tea Party

At the Boston Tea Party Museum in Boston, MA, visitors can get a rare glimpse at one of only 2 surviving tea crates from the infamous event. 960 1280

  

National Air Force Museum

National Air Force Museum

At the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH, visitors can marvel at an F-94 Starfire jet, the same model aircraft involved in a shocking encounter over the nation’s capital. 960 1280

  

National Air Force Museum

National Air Force Museum

In July 1952, a series of UFO sightings over Washington, DC, alarmed both the US Air Force and the CIA. 960 1280

  

Warren Anatomical Museum

Warren Anatomical Museum

Artifacts on display at Harvard University’s Warren Anatomical Museum in Cambridge, MA. 960 1280

  

Tamping Iron

Tamping Iron

In 1832, railroad worker Phineas Gage was laying dynamite when a freak explosion sent this tamping iron straight through his head. Gage miraculously survives, and the metal rod is now on display at the Warren Anatomical Museum. 960 1280

  

Skull of Phineas Gage

Skull of Phineas Gage

The punctured skull of Phineas Gage sits on display at the Warren Anatomical museum. After Gage died (only 12 years after his accident), a doctor exhumed his skull so that it could aid in the study of the human brain. 960 1280

  

Warren Anatomical Museum

Warren Anatomical Museum

More artifacts on display at the Warren Anatomical Museum. 960 1280

  

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Located in La Jolla, CA, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the oldest and largest centers for marine science research in the world. 960 1280

  

Squids preserved in jars at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The institute also houses the secret to the real-life inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s famous thriller The Birds. In August of 1961, seabirds in a small California town started crashing into people’s homes and cars – the Scripps Institution has discovered why! 960 1280

  

In the archives of the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka is an antique kitchen knife that was used in one of the first-known serial killing sprees in America. 960 1280

Kansas Museum of History  

Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. It’s rumored that those who come in contact with the famous stone are doomed to suffer mystery, misfortune and even death. 960 1280

  

North Carolina State Archives

North Carolina State Archives

Contributor Sara Koonts poses in the vault of the North Carolina State Archives. The vault of the Raleigh, NC, facility houses letters from many of our nation’s most celebrated leaders. 960 1280

  

Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights

A North Carolina official re-enactor helps demonstrate what happened to the state’s original copy of the Bill of Rights. 960 1280

  

North Carolina State Archives

North Carolina State Archives

Preserved under glass at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh is a priceless national treasure: one of just 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights. But for almost 140 years, this irreplaceable piece of history was missing. 960 1280

  

National Firearms Museum

National Firearms Museum

The collection of the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA, includes a World War II-era pistol that was found during the hunt for a secret network of spies operating on American soil. What evil plot was discovered along with this gun? 960 1280

  

Albert DeSalvo Captured

Albert DeSalvo Captured

In the early 1960s, a series of gruesome murders plagued the Boston area. Eventually, a man by the name of Albert DeSalvo confessed that he was the “Boston Strangler,” but many still maintain his innocence. 960 1280

Ollie Noonan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images  

Museum of Crime and Punishment

Museum of Crime and Punishment

The Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, DC, contains a simple switchblade that belonged to Albert DeSalvo, believed to be one of Boston’s most notorious killers. Fifty years later, the case remains largely unsolved. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

At the Newseum in Washington, DC, is a worn leather bag that once belonged to a pioneering journalist. 960 1280

  

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly's hard-hitting investigation was as groundbreaking as it was risky, almost making her a casualty of the very dark and sinister practices she was trying to uncover. 960 1280

  

New York Historical Society

New York Historical Society

On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the New York Historical Society displays a painting that played a role in a shocking political scandal. Is this portrait evidence of the strange private habits of a powerful colonial-era leader? 960 1280

  

Museum of Whiskey

Museum of Whiskey

The Kentucky city of Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World and is home to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey. 960 1280

  

Hatchet at the Museum of Whiskey

Hatchet at the Museum of Whiskey

But one of the museum’s most intriguing objects isn’t a bottle of alcohol, but a hatchet. This weapon was wielded by a crusading activist whose fight for temperance paved the way for Prohibition. 960 1280

  

Oneida Community Mansion House

Oneida Community Mansion House

The Oneida Community Mansion House in Oneida, NY, contains a set of silverware that represents the disturbing secrets of the people who once lived in this sprawling building. Built on dreams of utopia, this house was the site of a shocking series of events that brought down a charismatic leader. 960 1280

  

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