photo of Joseph R. Winters
Joseph Winters

For some, the election of America's first black president marked the victory of a long-fought struggle for racial equality.

Book Cover For 'In A Different Key'
Crown Publishers

Note: This program is a rebroadcast.  

The term "autism" dates back to the 1930s when a pediatrician named Hans Asperger coined it to describe young boys he was treating who had high intelligence but limited social skills.

The new book, "In A Different Key: The Story of Autism" (Crown/2016) looks at the term and documents how scientific and popular understanding of the disorder have shifted and evolved tremendously in the past century.

photo of a spread at Grady's Barbecue in Dudley, N.C.
Rien Fertel

North Carolina is the number two producer of pigs in America, and barbeque is by most accounts the state’s food. But historian Rien Fertel argues that most barbecue writing is hyperbole. 

In his new book “The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook The Whole Hog,” (Touchstone/2016) he examines the history of the southern barbecue art, and the wide range of mythology surrounding the meat and those who tend to it.

State of Things Host Frank Stasio hosts a broadcast at the Duke Chapel on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 to commemorate the chapel's reopening.
Duke Photography

Duke University has reopened the iconic chapel at the center of its Durham campus after a $19 million renovation.

Crews have been working for a year to restore the limestone walls and ceiling that define the chapel's Gothic architecture. 

In a special broadcast at Duke Chapel, university archivist Valerie Gillispie told WUNC’s "The State of Things" the chapel has served as an institutional icon at Duke for nearly 90 years.

Leesa Jones

The story of the American Civil War is often told through famous battles and important generals. But that narrative doesn’t accurately represent North Carolina’s civil war story. In this state, the impact of the civil war was felt more on the homefront, within the homes, families and communities of ordinary people. The North Carolina Museum of History has begun an effort to pay tribute to these lesser-known Civil War stories through the North Carolina Civil War History Center, set to open in 2020.

Image of Katharine Wright sitting beside Wilbur before her first flight in 1909.
Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University

The state of North Carolina has many claims to fame, but there is likely none more popular or controversial than the slogan on the state license plate: “First In Flight.” The phrase commemorates the spectacular achievement of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright who piloted their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.


Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun's smiling self-portrait.
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun / Wikimedia Commons

A white-toothed smile is a gesture that many likely engage in dozens of times a day without thought. Historian Colin Jones traced the history of the smile and found a toothy smile is a relatively young phenomenon. 

In his recent book, "The Smile Revolution In Eighteenth Century Paris," he argues that the white-tooth smile emerged in 18th century Paris in conjunction with the cult of sensibility and the creation of modern dentistry.

The Biltmore Company

Biltmore House is bringing Downton Abbey to Asheville with a new exhibit featuring more than 40 original costumes from the show.“Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times” traces the evolution of fashion and social norms during the early 20th century and draws a number of parallels between

Laura Wagner/ The Radio Haiti Archive

Radio Haiti was the first independent Haitian radio station and the first public media platform to broadcast largely in Creole. Under the leadership of journalists Jean Dominique and Michele Montas, the station spent decades covering the social, cultural and political stories often ignored by most other Haitian media. Radio Haiti was shut down by the government a number of times and was under constant government pressure while it was on the air.

Creative Commons/ Wellcome Library, London

Writer Megan Mahew Bergman describes her newest collection of short stories as “10 years of my reading life.” Almost Famous Women (Scribner/2015) is historical fiction that explores the lives of powerful and unusual women who have remained in the margins of history. The stories range from an account of conjoined twins who were sold into show business in North Carolina, to the life and legacy of Africa’s first female horse trainer. Host Frank Stasio talks to Megan Mahew Bergman about women who took risks, broke rules, and disrupted cultural and gender norms in the early to mid 20th century.

Image of William Shakespeare.

This year marks the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare, and worldwide celebrations earlier this year indicated that his life and work continue to transcend racial, ethnic and geographic boundaries. 

Livingston Press


Durham writer Gregg Cusick's day job as a bartender allows him to write about some things he hears from the other side of the bar.

He uses just a few elements of the tales from his patrons to create historical fiction in the form of short stories.

His first book, My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible (Livingston Press/2014), is a collection of short stories that explore our emotional connections to our own stories of love, loss and humor.

Roadside meeting with Durham County farmer. North Carolina. He gives road directions by drawing the dirt with a stick. July 1939
Dorothea Lange / Library of Congress Call Number LC-USF34-020259

During the Great Depression, the federal government sent photographers around the country to meet Americans and document their lives. Those photographers took some 170,000 photographs throughout the latter half of the 1930s and into the 194os. The images they captured are among the most iconic of the era.

There's a new way to browse the images by state and even by county. The site is called Photogrammer and it was created by a team at Yale University.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum faces ongoing financial struggles, and the Greensboro mayor wants the city to take it over.
Jeff Tiberii


The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro was built to commemorate a transformative moment in civil rights history when four NC A&T freshmen staged a sit-in at the city's whites-only lunch counter. 


The Levine Museum of the New South recently unveiled a historic exhibit that spotlights the LGBTQ community of Charlotte. 

A picture of the 13th Amendment document.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

North Carolina's copy of the 13th Amendment is now on tour.  The document that marked the formal end of slavery in the US will be on display at the courthouse in Historic Edenton. 

Officials say the series of stops at historic sites across the state is part of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.  The timing is also linked to Juneteenth. African Americans observe June 19th as when the last of the enslaved learned they were free in the summer of 1865. 

Sarah Koontz is a state archivist.  She said the document has to be handled with care.

Alloy book cover shows woman in toga


Inspiration for poetry can strike anywhere, even at the Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro. A visit there sparked one of the poems in "Alloy" (2014, WordTech Communications), the latest book from Larry Johnson. 

Prisoners at Ebensee Concentration Camp in 1945
Creative Commons

With each passing year, we lose more survivors of World War II. And not just the soldiers who fought, but the targeted civilians who survived the Holocaust. In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we share a few of their stories.

We begin by talking with speakers from the Chapel Hill-Durham Holocaust Speakers Bureau. It works to preserve the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. Host Frank Stasio talks with three people from the Bureau: Sharon Halperin, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors; Peter Stein, a survivor from Czechoslovakia; and Renee Fink, a survivor from Holland.

A picture of High Point Market.
High Point Market Authority

The state Department of Cultural Resources has installed a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker at High Point Market.

Gov. Pat McCrory is scheduled to attend the unveiling ceremony there today.

The original market building was constructed in 1921 with 249,000 square feet of show space. Now the market offers 11.5 million square feet, and contributes more than $5 billion dollars to the state economy every year.

™ & © 2013 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All Rights Reserved


For many, Dr. Seuss is an icon of clever rhymes and fantastical children's book characters. But few people know he also created elaborate paintings and sculptures. Or that he had a room filled from floor to ceiling with hats. Curator Bill Dreyer describes one use Seuss had for the hats:

If a party was lagging a little bit, he would go into the hat closet, bring out hats, put them on people's heads and ask them to spend the rest of the evening in the persona they might expect the person wearing that hat would have.

 The touring "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss" exhibit includes paintings, sculptures and hats from Seuss' personal collection. The collection is on display at The Art Shop in Greensboro through April 19th. Dreyer believes Dr. Seuss is just beginning to receive the recognition he deserves as a fine artist:

Here we are, 23 years after Ted Geisel passed away and he's now really being considered a significant 20th century American artist because people are viewing his art as separate from... his most important legacy, children's literature.

State of North Carolina

Late last week it was announced that several NC buildings had been added to the National Register of Historic Places. We've highlighted eight of those buildings here.

It's no surprise that the  gorgeous Flat Top Estate was added to the list. But some of the other additions may surprise you. They give a nod to beach-style architecture, to our textile history, and to integration.

Not The End, But The Beginning Book Cover

Brian McDonald taught at Jordan High School for 13 years before he became interested in the history of the school. And when he looked, he found a school that grew up along with the Civil Rights Movement. His new book; “Not the End, but the Beginning: The Impact of Race and Class on the History of Jordan High School” (NCCU/2011), explores the history of the high school. 

The Neuse is Scuttled - March 1865
Stephen McCall / CSS Neuse State Historic Site

This week, an archaeological team is expected to set out to see if they can find remains of the CSS Neuse, a battleship that met a watery grave near Kinston, NC, during the Civil War. Now, many of you history buffs might know why parts of an ironclad ship is lying inland, at the bottom of the Neuse River, but we did not. The story is at times dramatic, frustrating and incredibly sad.

NC's first female judge, Mamie Dowd Walker
Milo Pyne

Judge Mamie Dowd Walker was a widow with two children when she was appointed the first female judge in North Carolina in 1934.  It was a first for North Carolina not only because Judge Walker was female, but also because she had no legal training.  But her grandson Milo Pyne says his grandmother "needed the money." 

Cedars in the Pines is a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History.
www.ncdcr.gov / North Carolina Museum of History


 Food, music and dancing are just a few of the contributions of Lebanese Americans to North Carolina’s culture. "Cedars in the Pines,” a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History, showcases the influence of Lebanese immigrants on the state.