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Tributaries Podcast

Nanuq (Dr. Misner and the Polar Bear)

One of the most iconic artifacts in the collection of the Museum of Science and History is a taxidermied polar bear donated by Dr. Howard Misner in 1975.  In this episode, we take a closer look into the biology and ecology of polar bears and talk to Dr. Misner himself about the epic hunt for the bear.  This story helps us learn about the history of hunting, how it has changed, and how threats to polar bears have changed over the past century.  This episode is hosted by Jestein Gibson and Luke Ramsey, produced by Luke Ramsey, edited by Nur Abdalla and Steve Masler, and features music from Sully Allen and Spence Bailey.


The Squirrels of Court Square: Invaders of the Mid-South pt. I

While squirrels are ubiquitous and even a pest in cities today, that wasn't always the case.  In many cities, like Memphis, squirrels were actually introduced in urban areas on purpose, often along the push to beautify cities with features such as parks near the end of the 1800s.  Court Square is a park that plays an important role in Memphis's history, as it was included in the original planning of the city and has been through many changes, from the creation of the fountain at its center to the introduction of animals like squirrels and monkeys.  In this episode, we talk to former Shelby County historian Jimmy Ogle about the story of Court Square, as well as the story of the animals that have been (successfully and unsuccessfully) introduced to Memphis's urban center.  


Citizens to Preserve Overton Park

This March marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling on the fate of Overton Park, which the Tennessee Department of Transportation planned to pave for a section of I-40.  We talk to Charlie Newman, one of the lawyers who represented the Citizens to Preserve Overton Park in the landmark court case about the case and the decades-long battle that followed.  Music by Boon, Drop Ceiling, and Sully Allen.


The Incognitum

Mastodons, like the one on display at the Museum of Science and History, roamed our region for thousands of years. The story of their extinction and discovery takes us on an adventure from Thomas Jefferson to the last great ice age.

Written by Louella Weaver, edited by Caroline Carrico, produced by Katie Quinlan and Luke Ramsey, with music from Sully Allen, Lance Conrad, and Drop Ceiling.


Backyard Dinosaurs Part 2

Investigating the connection between birds and dinosaurs by taking a closer look at some of the adaptations that make a bird a bird, as well as meeting some of the strange transitional creatures that lived along the way. This is a continuation of a conversation with Daniel Ksepka, an avian paleontologist at the Bruce Museum.  Pictured is a Microraptor, as illustrated by Durbed.  Music thanks to Boon, Drop Ceiling, and Sully Allen.


Backyard Dinosaurs Part 1

In preparation for the museum's new Dinosaurs in Motion exhibit, we wanted to learn a little more about the dinosaurs from the Mesozoic Era and those alive today: birds.  We talk to paleontologist Daniel Ksepka and ten-year-old Afah Takwi about the connection between the T-Rex, the Hummingbird, and all the strange creatures in between. 

Pictured here is the dinosaur Yi Qi, as illustrated by Emily Willoughby.  Music by Drop Ceiling, Boon, and Sully Allen.


The Penguins of Eras Past

Every holiday season, penguins abound, both in the Museum of Science and History's Enchanted Forest exhibit and in holiday decorations worldwide.  So this year, we wanted to learn a little bit more about these unique birds and how they became the creatures we know today.  We talk to Daniel Ksepka, a paleontologist who studies the evolution of birds, about today's penguins as well as their ancient relatives, such as the giant Anthropornis shown in our episode image.  Special thanks to Discoll for this image, as well as Boon, Sully Allen, and Purple Planet for the music in this episode.


Ghosts of Memphis Past

Happy Halloween from the Museum of Science and History!  To celebrate the spooky season, Tributaries host Katie Quinlan tells us some of the haunting stories from Memphis's past, from Ernestine and Hazels's to Elmwood, Yellow Fever to Treasure Hunters. 


John James Audubon

In the early decades of the 1800s, American naturalist John James Audubon traveled extensively throughout the Mississippi Valley. In 1820, Audubon traveled by flatboat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. He made a brief visit to Memphis in December 1820, an occasion remembered with a historical marker and a park named in his honor. 


Purple Martins

Purple Martins are a beautiful, native bird that nests in massive colonies, but only in human-made homes.  They're an effective way to control  insect populations and have been a favorite species of birdwatchers since precolonial times.  To learn more about their behavior and how to be a good purple martin landlord, we talked to Mary Schmidt, a naturalist at Lichterman Nature Center who studies these birds. Music and Sound production by Sully Allen, Boon, and Luke Ramsey.


Great Horned Serpent - Mythical Creature of the Underworld

In this episode, we examine the creativity of the people of the Mississippian culture during the pre-contact period. Learn more about indigenous pottery on the latest episode of Tributaries, the museum’s podcast.


Roads, Rails, and Runways (Transit in Memphis pt. II)

In this episode, we continue to examine how transit shaped the city of Memphis. In the early 1900s, steam powered transportation was replaced by cars, trolleys, buses, and planes.  Join hosts Jes Gibson and Harry Clark as they delve into how these modes of transit shaped the city, with help from former county historian Jimmy Ogle.  Produced by Katie Quinlan and featuring music by Sully Allen, Boon, Luke Ramsey, and Purple Planet.


Flatboats to Steamboats... a City on The Move (Transit in Memphis pt. I)

From flatboats to steamboats, trains to trolleys, and carriages to cars, Memphis has always been a town defined by its modes of transportation. You can hear more about the history of Memphians’ transit options on the latest episode of Tributaries.


Why is Memphis called the "Bluff City"?

Memphis has long been known as the Bluff City, inspiring the title of a TV show, a Grizzlies’ team slogan and many local business names. What are the bluffs, when did they form, and why have they mattered to the people who have lived here? Listen to the newest episode of Tributaries, the museum’s podcast, to learn the answers. 


The Story Behind the Pink Palace Name

This episode, we unpack the story of Etowah Marble, the stone from which the Pink Palace Mansion is built.  We speak with Dr. Julie Johnson of the University of Memphis to understand how marble is formed, and take a look at how this stone is tied up in the history of America, from the Trail of Tears to the creation of modern grocery stores.  Music by Sully Allen, Boon, Drop Ceiling, and Caroline Ford.  Produced by Luke Ramsey and Katie Quinlan. Listen to the story of this stone and how it eventually made its way to Memphis in the latest episode of Tributaries.

Hosted by Pink Palace Museum curator Jes Gibson and educator Luke Ramsey - with special guest, Dr. Julie Johnson of the University of Memphis 

Fact checking by Louella Weaver and Jes Gibson

Produced by Luke Ramsey and Katie Quinlan

Featuring music from Sully Allen, Boon, Drop Ceiling, and Caroline Ford


Yellow Fever Part 2: Aedes Aegypti - May 15, 2020

In the fall of 1878, Memphis faced one of the worst catastophes in American History.  In the surrounding area, Yellow Fever claimed around 20,000 lives, and in Memphis alone, the outbreak of 1878 killed more people than the San Francisco Earthquake, Chicago Fire, and Johnstown Flood combined.  Since no one at the time knew how Yellow Fever was spread, attempts to curb the deaths were failing, and people were terrified.
In this episode, we talk to Taylor Hopkins about how Memphis attempted to keep the fever at bay, and John Sohigian about the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.  We investigate its life cycle, how it spreads diseases across the globe, and how scientists discovered it was the disease vector responsibe for Yellow Fever and a host of other diseases that claim around one and a half million lives a year.

Hosted by Pink Palace Museum curator Jes Gibson and educator Luke Ramsey

Fact checking by Louella Weaver and Cathi Johnson

Produced by Luke Ramsey and Katie Quinlan

Featuring music from Boon, Drop Ceiling, Luke Ramsey, and Sully Allen


Yellow Fever Part I: 1878 - April 29, 2020

Join us to step back in time to 1878, to revisit what it was like to be in Memphis during one of the worst disease outbreaks in American History.  Learn how Yellow Fever left its mark on the city, and how that still shapes our lives today. This episode features interviews with Kim Bearden of Elmwood Cemetery and Taylor Hopkins of the Mallory-Neely House.

Hosted by Pink Palace Museum curator Jes Gibson and educator Luke Ramsey

Historical quotes read by Tony Hardy

Music and sound production by Luke Ramsey and Boon

Special thanks to : Harry Clark, Cathi Johnson, Dawn Manning, and Louella Weaver



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