The Last Archive is a show about the history of truth, and the historical context for our current fake news, post-truth moment. It’s a show about how we know what we know, and why it seems, these days, as if we don’t know anything at all anymore. The show is driven by host Jill Lepore’s work as a historian, uncovering the secrets of the past the way a detective might.
When James Frye, a young black man, is charged with murder under unusual circumstances in 1922, he trusts his fate to a strange new machine: the lie detector. Why did the lie detector’s inventor, William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor and lawyer, think a machine could tell if a human being is lying better than a jury? And what does it all have to do with Wonder Woman?
On a spring day in 1919, a woman’s body was found bound, gagged, and strangled in a garden in Barre, Vermont. Who was she? Who killed her? In this episode, we try to solve a cold case - reopening a century-old murder investigation - as a way to uncover the history of evidence itself. What is a clue? What is a fact? What is a mystery? We put the pieces of the puzzle together: photographs, newspaper articles, a private eye’s notebook, the trial record and, last but not least, a trip to the scene of the crime.