Harvey Washington Wiley’s Poison Squad

Poison Squad

A staple of weird history sites, the Poison Squad were a self-selected group of healthy young men who willingly ingested food laced with untested food additives including formaldehyde and Borax. From their brave efforts come the foundations of the US FDA.

Stuff You Missed In History Class have an episode about them, usual provisos about excessive advertising applies.

Atlas Obscura have a very informative article with some good original pictures.

Science History have a general biography of Harvey Wiley.

….and here’s a short video for anyone who doesn’t have enough patience for those.




Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound at The British Library


I was in London yesterday, and had a little time free to visit this exhibition about the history of recorded sound at the British Library. Having something so exactly match up with my interests is a very lucky co-incidence – and if anything my expectations were exceeded, though it is by no means a large exhibition.


This is from an installation about a boy who kept logs and recordings in the earliest days of radio – really looking forward to getting to the 1920s when I’ll be listening in to these.

largest smallest

This is the largest ever commercially produced record – a Pathe 20″ disc weighing over two kilogrammes – and the smallest – a recording of ‘God Save The King’ made for the record player in the Queen’s dolls’ house.


These are tiny playable stamps from Bhutan, which play folk songs, the national anthem, and a short history of Bhutan.

What I can’t share, of course, is all the audio – so you’ll just need to find your way there by May 13th. Details can of course be found on the British Library Website here.

There is quite a lot to see, watch and hear – I spent over an hour there, even though it is a very small exhibition, and left wanting more. What I really want is an entire museum of this standard – it’s such a vast and fascinating topic. Anyone want to pay for that to happen? Maybe we should set up a kickstarter.

Centuries of Sound on Resonance FM


Centuries of Sound’s debut radio show on London’s Resonance FM was this Thursday night, repeated this Friday morning. The show goes through the first four mixes, spanning the years 1860 to 1889, and features my actual real-life voice, which I’m not quite ready to actually listen to myself . The whole hour is here on Mixcloud for you to hear – and for track listings please refer to the actual mixes in the sidebar.


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