The History Show-1857

Background Notes

These audio clips about the Dred Scott decision come from a radio presentation entitled The History Show-1857. The History Show is a radio variety show that brings to life one year in American history through the humor, music and recreation of significant events. Not only does it contain great variety of tone, from comic to tragic, but it also contains a variety of material from the mundane to the important. By combining these diverse elements, The History Show presents a comprehensive picture of what life was like in the year 1857.

Two pilot presentations of The History Show were produced in the autumn of 1995 and then distributed to 150 radio stations around the United States in 1996. Each presentation was recorded live in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, and digitally recorded for later broadcast. The History Show was produced by Damora Productions and presented by the American Antiquarian Society in association with WICN 90.5 FM Public Radio. It was funded by the Lila Wallace - Reader's Digest Fund and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. This is one of two pilots for a proposed series that conveys the history of America through the events and popular culture of individual years.

The script for The History Show - 1857 was carefully researched and eighty percent of the words in this presentation, come from the year 1857. They were preserved in letters, newspapers, magazines, speeches and journals found in the rich collections of the American Antiquarian Society. Although some of these words were condensed to fit into the format prescribed by radio, a conscious effort was made to make as few changes to them as possible. These words are not modernized. They are not made politically correct. In some cases they are extremely racist, sexist, and otherwise unpleasant. Some of the quotes are long-winded. The sound bite was not yet invented.

In the full one-hour program, actors and musicians dramatize our history before a live audience in a way that helps listeners reexamine a time when you could buy a quart of milk for seven cents and a person for $1300 - a time when the nation was being polarized and propelled into Civil War.

The Cast and Crew of 1857

  • Writer/Director/Producer: James David Moran
  • Associate Producer: Eric Dalbec
  • Actors: Peter Haydu, Kate Lohman, Michael Nurse, Carol Ann Parker
  • Sound Effects Artist: Michael Hurley
  • Musical Directors: Peter Bloom and Kevin M'Dermott
  • Sound Engineer: Joseph Chilorio

To purchase full programs of The History Show please go to

The History Show is copyrighted © 1995 by the American Antiquarian Society and James David Moran.