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tv   Virtual Mayflower Project  CSPAN  April 15, 2021 8:58pm-9:34pm EDT

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1960 broadcast cuba the battle of america exploring the american story watch american history tv this weekend on c-span 3 in 1620 the mayflower traveled from plymouth england to america and the pilgrims settled the plymouth colony on the coast of massachusetts. we talked to robert stone about the virtual mayflower project which uses virtual reality to recreate the ship and the harbor from which it set sail. using avatars and 360 degree images of the virtual world professor stone describes what life might have been like for the pilgrims and crew. some of the historic features will see in the virtual rendering are the 17th century port called the barbican plymouth castle and the speedwell a ship that was set to sail with the mayflower to
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america but was deemed unseaworthy and returned to port. virtual 16:20 has been a big labor of love for me over the last six years. it's about trying to use virtual reality to bring a part of england plymouth in the southwest of the country back to life. so the people who live there and people who experience it further broad experience what it was like for the pilgrims in their sort of mamath journey across the atlantic back in 1620 what it was like for them and what days what was the last thing they saw before they got on this leaky creaky ship and made their way out into the treacherous atlantic all those all those centuries are the we're gonna jump right in and take a look at some of those 360s. where we are here at the moment is the is near new key. it's it's also it's known as the i it's called smart ski. if you move around to the right slightly, you can just about make out the mast of the mast up
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there of the speedwell. so what we decided was we would leave the speedwell looking very sorry for herself listening to port in that part of southern harbor or something cool where there was some where there was a lot of ship work and ship repairs going on. the structure you're seeing now with these with these fine these fine people having a chat. this is reminiscent of an old fish market. and in fact, there was a fish market in the barbican right up to the 1960s. so for example, they a lot of the fish will be brought some and and fillets and anything they could they could afford to be filleted. that would be done here ships would be moored and delivering all their fish into the into the the fish filleting crew. we then box it up put on to wagons or take it directly to some of the stalls that would be that would have been available outside the the buildings that
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are behind us waltz. we're looking at this some we're looking at this image. but again, you can see we've tried to make it look. in fact, you'll see the speedwell much clearer on this pink picture the remains the speedwell there so you can see that it's it's quite dirty. it's obviously an awful lot of mud, not very hygienic today. most of this will be covered. by paving slabs or concrete, but in 1620 there's very little of that and a lot of wood a lot of wooden a lot of wooden keys and docking areas would have been would have been there. now i'm just on the left would be the location of jacka jacka's bakery. jacka's bakery still exists. it's the oldest bakery in the uk. so that's another claim to thank this area and jack's bakery would have provided some of the snacks and the biscuits and and
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the food that the pilgrims would have taken on board the mayflower for their final journey as i say, it's still it's still sells a variety of breads and biscuits and pasties and pies even today. it's a very it's a very popular bakery on the barbican. many pubs will come on to one of the one of the the streets a little bit later on which is route which is historically renowned for its pubs. and a lot of accommodation so a lot of the the people who lived in this area would have been would have been. fishermen and their wives would have helped them to prepare the fish sell the fish. so a lot of in a lot of the the front pieces the fronts of these these these houses. he's dwellings would have been covered had we had time we've been covered with with with barrows and and and shells selling all kinds of things from to wall to to to obviously to fish.
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you can just as we know we're now getting closer to. the barbican engaging see the you can see the mayflower. the main floor is is in the distance. that's that the mayflower there is is more in an area. we'll see it in the second the cat water. cat water will see the location of the current cat water harbors cat water commissioners office in just a second on the left there. you can just see on the left of that image if you want if you want to if you can move your if you look to the left a little bit you can see the fish house. and just about all you'll see is later just about you you see the remains of the chain coming from the fish house. no, there is some argument, which says that that chain wasn't around in the 1620s, but we thought we'd put it in there because it's such a and historical as historically important feature. if you look around you're right, this is where the part of the southern pool which is not very
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reputable. so on the just the just the side of the archway you can see were today the harbor masters office is just the right of the steps is today's tourist office to the right of that is a place that is a place called island house. where the the pilgrims many of the pilgrims would have had their last couple of nights in england. the steps are castle steps. so those steps would originally have gone up to the castle or pastor castle. this was also known as damnation alley. would you believe there's something that that single that single route up there had something like 10 10 pubs. and each pub was a brothel. so not a very nice place, but obviously when you've got you've got sailors coming in you've got fishermen coming in and obviously if they wanted. or manner of light relief. that's what they would head. that's what they that's
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certainly what they were. they would go. and again, you see the representation of island house. just just the right to the the multi what we call jettied houses. this just behind these houses. there's the famous elizabethan harris. they're called jettied because as they go up the each floor sticks out a little bit more from the one underneath. so that's that's called a jetty house. um if you want to turn around and go into go through if you want to see the ducking stores, we've got it which i think is is say the politically incorrect but and historical fact, what as far as we're aware and historical fact. so they would have bought not just not just nagging wives. they would have brought all kinds of convicts down here. so there would have been stocks. they were some of some of the the offenders would be put in stocks. something will be put into the this ducking stool. the moment we've got sudden harbor at low tides.
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so if the the lady at the end of that looking still was to be dunked she would be dunked in mud as opposed to the water. so it's it's not that accurate. if you turn into your right and look up you'll be able to see. the location of plymouth castle plymouth castle may have been more in a state of ruin than we show here. you can see where you're looking now that tower just in the tower in the distance. that is an outer gatehouse and that outer gatos is the only piece of the castle that existed today. so again, you walk up a steve we call lambe hill and you can actually get in there you get in and see the remains of that of that gatehouse. so again, i'm sure it would be much busier than this. we when you when you're walking around this in real time in the virtual reality. these guys are moving around some of them are having an argument. and then we can go to the the
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part of the the actual entries the covered walkway down to the steps themselves. again, a lot of controversy over where the real mayflower steps exist. there is talk that they that they are still in existence underneath the ladies restroom in the admiral mcbride pub. not too sure that's accurate, but we've got them. we're they are typically placed in most of the maps that we've actually seen. at the base of the steps. we've got a little shallop. not that dissimilar to the the shut-up that the main flower took over to keep cod and the and they were able to assemble it because it was taking over in the cargo bay in four pieces, so they had to assemble the show up and then they took the sharp on to on to the land was no province town and ultimately took it to land on plymouth the famed plymouth rock.
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and then in the actual virtual reality demonstration, you can see the fish house there. you can see the chain. so again, even though it may not have been there in the 1620s. it was definitely the most important part of the fortification. so that observers from plymouth castle could look down and if they thought there was a threat the chain would come up and that would prevent them awarding french and spanish from entering harbor. on the virtual reality demonstration itself you can then you're automatically take it out to the mayflower in this robber leaky little boat, and then you are able to look around you can see the view of the last view that of plymouth that the mayflower pilgrims would have seen the system will then take you up onto the onto the ship itself and we've got various pilgrims and crew the guy sat directly in front of you with the hat on in the demo itself as you'll see from the video later on. it's not very well at all.
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he's he's not at all well, and that's bad news because of course the ship hasn't even left harbor yet. so he's not gonna fear very well going over to to the americas in the coming day in the coming weeks coming 66 days. that these these guys and these guys and girls were at sea. so again, we can look off we can look back into into plymouth the what is down on the barbican. we've we've left the casting in some state of ruin, but that's the kind of that's probably the last view that they would ever see before saving out across plymouth sound past the famous hole as it as it is today and various features on how when you look at the map there may be the beacon up there then maybe the windmill. we don't know and then past famous drake's island right out into the atlantic and and on to the americas. the guy that you're just seeing here with the rather.
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swell buffon hairstyle is our representation of edward winslow. so we decided to put with a time we had just one avatar that was representative of a known character and winslow obviously because of my present-day relationship with joint which if we ever have the opportunity to go forward again, we will go into places like the captain's cabin and and christopher jones. i'd like to do a virtual reality avatar of christopher jones the captain get them to explain their stories william brewster bradford. yeah, the lady who gave birth to oceanus the child the one child that was born during during the during the actual transit it also john howland john howland is something somebody i would like to he was actually a servant of a governor who was on boardmanship and he's got a very interesting story and that he fell overboard. during the 66 days crossing the
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atlantic but managed miraculously to grab a rope and put himself back on board. if he hadn't done that then george w bush and george bush would never have existed because they were descendants from john highland. it's absolutely incredible some of these guys and some of the the relatives and then the descendants day. they've got some if we could make these avatars tell their story. how fantastic that would be so we can so there we have going here. we're going into the the the stern of the ship. that's the that particular structure there, which is designed to really be able to pull in wires and ropes and to be able to so secure the to secure the shape and secure various pieces of cargo coming on to ship. this is the main deck and this is where you've got the the
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steerage office that's called a capstone if you go if you go further towards the what would be the tiny cramped captain's cabin on the left. you can see just see the stick on the left. that was the tiller that that was a very small relatively small stick that controlled the rudder so that control the the steerage of the ship and then you've got the captain's cabin. probably obviously the best cabin on the best cabin on the ship we have his own little bed. this is where we believe the the mayflower compact. in which bradford had a large hand in this is where they okay. well you see the pictures of more signing the compact before they set sail before they set sail on the little shut up into provincetown and plymouth. this is with a compact would have been drawn up and signed. um above above the company's cabin on the poop deck is another tiny office or i'd say it office. it's it's a little cabin which would contain weapons would contain maps.
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um, and one thing we hope to do in the future is again releasing whilst you can actually go downstairs or go below. that's the nautical term. it's very empty at the moment. it was nowhere near a spacious as this we've got i mean the the gap between the ceiling and the floor. it's about five foot. you can see the capstone coming through we need to put the windless the the forehead end of this the windlass, which would have brought the anchors in. we would obviously have to put in many more beds many more pieces of cargo spitting wheels cribs furniture animals. this is the area where most of the 102 passengers would have stayed and it's tiny. it's absolutely tiny. it looks quite spacious here. but again sadly we didn't have enough time to to finish it off. but if you look at the capstone, for example, the capstone was something i specifically
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photographed plymouth plantation to try and get the accuracy of the of the capstone from the from from that visit and you can see the to just behind the ladder the ladder there. it may have been a larger. it may have been a rope ladder. we don't know you can see the the mechanism of the tiller coming. yes it coming down from the the deck above and then the the complex wooden being that goes to the stern and then controls the rudder. so again, lots of things going on lots of armaments lots of weapons. i i can't even get my head round what it would have been like to be cramped on that on that for 66 days. very rarely. would they go on deck only those calm but was incredibly stormy and obviously it's harold and found out extraordinary dangerous. and then towards the front or should i say in north terms towards the the bow there is another area that you can you can go to.
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that cabin there which is right at the barrel of the ship was where most the sailors most of the 30 sailors would have slept. maybe they were slept in the stern as well. although that was reserved for officers. and that's where most the cooking would have been done. it was a a brickwork a brickwork almost a kill type of oven in there hanging meat again, not particularly, not particularly hygenic some of the water and beer. it's obviously they were drinking it then be drinking a lot of beer was much healthier to drink with water because the water was so badly infected. so a lot of that would be brought up from the cargo hold right at the in the debts the ship and brought into the the that particular cabin for preparation so we've already got a fraction of the things to say what we would love to do is get sponsored to that's quite another thing if you look up towards the top of that deck you can see what looks like a small cannon. now i wasn't aware of this.
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this is called a swivel gun, and i wasn't aware that they had these weapons until again plymouth plantation. they had two original weapons in a couple of the recreation of the houses that they haven't plymouth plantation and these were filled with with small tiny miniature cannonballs and the idea was that they would be used to repel borders if they were attacked whilst they would see so lots of lots of detail that we could do so much more with in terms of making this much more of a an educational historical tool and and we live in hope before we exit the 360. can you talk a little bit about what the crossing would have been like you mentioned? they would have been below deck most of the time. what other details if you did game this out? would you want to include? one of the things what are the original ambitions of the virtual mayflower project was to
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almost recreate part of the sailing virtually but to do it hand in hand with maybe some maybe schools in massachusetts maybe schools in the plymouth area because it would be great if we could then use the mayflower in plymouth to show schools in the us what it was like and the early part of the journey and then we could work with schools and institutions in massachusetts so that they could show us what it was like when the when the main flower actually arrived the crossing itself would have been horrendous. i mean, we know that there was one baby born. we know that there was one person you die. we know that john howden story being swept overboard. we know that one of the main beings actually split during the most most difficult storms and and fortunately because they had a jack screw they were able to put the the beam back and and keep it intact. i mean if that had gone the whole would have been compromised. so they're all kinds of events and just the hardships of being
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stuck in that tiny in that tiny area. i mean there were the sea sickness would have been horrendous the hygiene would have been horrendous. and again, it's it's very glamorously portrayed now when you see the pilgrims kneeling and praying next to plymouth rock, but they must have been so glad to get off that ship really they must have been glad. so the mayflower project isn't actually your first foray into recreating historic ships. how did you get started into that? well the first project as i say but roughly about six years ago was undertaken again as a labor of love for the shipwreck museum in hastings, which is on the south coast of england. so we put together our a project. to to build a 3d version of the an and the fact that we were able to fly a drone and using augmented reality see the ship. from the air on its on its final
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resting place. so we when you fly the drone you see the 3d ship looking down through the maths. onto the ship itself was was actually a world first. so as a result of this we were invited to quite a few maritime events conferences and meetings including meetings of the the mayflower 400 trail towns. these are the towns across england that were involved in in sort of being home if you'd like to many of the pilgrims before they made their way to london to southampton and to plymouth to board the ship and we were invited to consider whether or not we could do something similar for the mayflower with the the 400 anniversary. very close on the horizon and what did some of those early models look like? they were quite basic unfortunately. and and this is a great thing about virtual realities is that there are a lot of really good assets that you can you can buy or download free of charge. online and we were able to find two very basic models one of the mayflower and one of the the
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ship that accompanied the mayflower which is the speedwell the speedwell never made it she was left in plymouth because she was leaking like a sieve. and we were able to put these two ships into a virtual reality scene using the same harbor model that we used for the an and then we could put that into the virtual reality headset malone members of the public and school children and people who are involved in the trails town committee to experience what it might be like if we were even free rein and and taking the project to see it's ultimate conclusion. and where you give in free reign? we were given free everything we got absolutely zero funding for this project and all the all the early all the early presentations and demonstrations came to nothing. the money has been spent. called extensively elsewhere but being being promotion born in bread and are currently living in a town called droid which spa which is the home to a guy called edward winslow who was one of the key pilgrims who
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sailed on the mayflower it because say it became a labor love and i thought well, no, we're gonna do this. we're gonna somehow we're going to do this and sure enough we were able to do it. and so we had free reign because we were not anyone's second call and we managed to deliver it for the 16th of september of this year, which is bang on time to take part in the commemorations. and what were some of your research like very tricky very difficult. i mean there are so few documents that you can turn to there are there are maps of the area of the area that we were focusing on the the sutton pool area, which is the harbor that really was the beginning of plymouth town. ultimately, plymouth city. but the maps were not particularly specific to 1620 they were either in the 16th century. so the century before all the century after. it wasn't clear what buildings had fallen into ruin what lay
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the street was. so it was a very long series of many research studies. consulting with historical experts martin reed who's one of our team members was provided us with information that was incredibly valuable, but give very very unlike a lot of our other virtuality projects where when we never experiencing problems in terms of the amount of data that's available. we're very rarely, but these heritage these heritage projects very much rely on a certain amount of interpretation and and when you've only got so scant resources to go by then yes, you're never going to get it 100% right and there will always be controversy and criticism, but we did the best week we could with the resources we had. and talk a little bit about your trip to plymouth, massachusetts. well after we decided we were going to do the the main flower
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project it seemed sensible to me to try and find as much information. we could not just about the original mayflower, but the main flower too the main flower too was built in a village just around the corner from plymouth england called brixham back in 1957 and was given to the united states as a gift. i'm sailed across the atlantic in 1957 to commemorate the the landing of the pilgrims and the mayflower two is recently come out of mystic seaport on the on the eastern coast and after a major multi-million dollar refit and it's gone back to plymouth. now i was very lucky enough to be able to find a few pennies in my pocket to go over to boston and then travel down to massachusetts in order to travel down to plymouth set and i got absolutely fantastic reception from the crew of the mayflower 2 and the the guys and girls who run plymouth plantation. i mean they without that visit. um, we would not be able to put
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together the detail that we have so i spent time on the mayflower too with a series of 360 degree what we call spherical spherical panorama cameras. trying to get it as much information about the different decks as i could and we even have one of the cameras up in the the crows nest to get a really nice view of the ship from from above. and was taking to plymouth connotation where they have those fantastic wardrobe though the assets and antiquities they have at this place as well as plans relating to the original mayflower to build and build and and design i was able to think just i came back more photographs than you can imagine and we've been using all these photographs. we they even gave us access to a fabulous laser scan of the entire ship that was taken when when she was in mystic seaport and to be able to be able to resolve the the detail of the of
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the timbers and and the riggings it was without the kind generators don't donations of knowledge and images from plymouth plantation. we would have had a lot of problems. how do you translate some of those details and information you found in plymouth, massachusetts to virtual world? well, the photographs are excellent in that they we were able to take photographs of some of the the actors and actresses that they have on board performing the duties of the crew or the behaviors the pilgrims. so it is to take those men to use those to take our virtual humans our advertisers. we call them and put them in relatively accurate dress and clothing and to get them doing things on board the ship or walking around the harbor. that was one thing we could do so we can directly map from the photographs of the of the the people in plymouth, massachusetts onto the virtual humans. and we were able to take for
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example pictures of the the the wood the wooden beams. so again, we can use the pictures to map on to our 3d model to make it look more realistic. we were able to use some of the the 3d information we've got ways in which we can convert different forms of 3d information. so for example, the laser scan we can convert that into 3d and then put in a little bit more detail. so every piece of information gets used nothing is wasted. how are you able to come across the same type of details for the town? because that's a big part of the project as well. well the town and the the area of sutton pool in plymouth again was we very very difficult. we used a combination of of data sources, obviously the maps that i've already described gave us some degree of confidence about the the potential layout of that part of the town back in the
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1620s the the buildings were predominantly medieval now, that's quite fortunate because there are some very good assets online when you can buy medieval buildings. they're fairly basic. so but we could use the 3d structure and then we could then take some of the photographs of older buildings and some of the buildings that exist in southern harbor or sutton pool today and again map those images the brickwork the blocks the word we map those onto buildings to give them some degree of authenticity. but again a lot of interpretation and a lot of advice from historians to make sure that we didn't go over the top with something that looked completely in of place completely out of time. what was plymouth like in 1620? what type of town was it? it was smelly it was dirty. it was suffering from cholera. there is there is a feeling that some of the water that was taken on board.
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from plymouth onto mayflower and was probably color-infected and and then there's a lovely story that they may have had to call into a small fishing town in cornwall called newlin before they sailed across the atlantics. there's a big controversy. there was plymouth the final departing point, or was it newling some great rivalry in that part of the world and there was a lot of i mean, it was very unsanatory a lot of gullies taking waste away from the buildings into the into southern poor. apparently may flower sailed on sunny day, but you can get your bottom dollar that the the actual harbor itself would have been very smelly very dirty a lot of a lot of steam coming off the water so in general not very nice. um and a lot of trade a lot of trading obviously fish it was it was a huge fishing port and wine wool coal was being delivered into plymouth from different parts of england in that time
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treasure, obviously some of the some of the spoils from gallions that were that were attacked and and all the onboard treasures. so quite austling bustling little town and but dirty filthy nonetheless. would it have been familiar to the pilgrims? no, it wouldn't have been affiliate familiar to to many people. there were pilgrims from plymouth that joined the mayflower but most the pilgrims came from from lincolnshire and and to the to north and to the east of plymouth where the the puritans or saints as they were called and there was of the 102 passages 50% were what we would call pilgrims the other 50% were what were called strangers so they won't particularly strong in terms of their rejection of james the first church of england, so the puritans came
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from places like scooby manor where they the illegally set up a church of worship before they went to holland. they would have had some people from holland who would have come over joined the ship possibly in southampton possibly in rotherhive in london. so plymouth would have been their final their final calling port and many of them stay in some of the buildings like island house. they have to find accommodation whilst the they were making arrangements for what to do with the passengers who run for the speedwell? who obviously weren't going to travel and speedwell. some of them went back home. some of them went back to holland. and then the rest of them got onto the very crowded mayflower. so it would be a very unfamiliar and quite an alien place. to those people who came very much from a rural very much a country background. how long had most of them been away from england before they set sail? oh many many years many years
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once they they had to try to escape england james the first once before but were captured and brought before the king and were chastised, but then they managed to get away to life and for a few years after that where people like come people like william brewster and people like william bradford and another other guys who were very very passionate very and staunch practices practice practices or practitioners. i should say of the of the puritan faith. and so they they were allowed back into england by by james the first who then gave them his blessing to get them out of the country that he said that they could go to the new world. they could go to the americas and providing. i think he said something that providing me they they carried himself respectively. so he was he was actually glad to see the back of them. but but they were in and out of england and then down to the the ships. fortunately not being chased or executed by the king but gently
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encouraged to go somewhere else. professor bob stem. thank you so much great. great, pleasure. thank you, jen. weeknights this month. we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3 friday night milton jones recalls his experiences as a us marine during the vietnam war. he talks about his initial reluctance to serve in vietnam and his journey to meet his unit in the case on part of vietnam war oral histories conducted by the atlanta history centers, kenan research center for the veterans history project watch friday night beginning at 8pm eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span 3 american history tv on c-span 3 exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend 60
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years ago this weekend more than 1400 cia train cuban exiles launched a failed invasion to overthrow fidel castro's communist government in cuba at the bay of pigs live saturday at 9am eastern on american history tv and washington journal. we'll look back at the invasion and its consequences with former cia historian, nicholas dumovic and sunday at 4pm eastern on reel america for films on us cuba relations an edited version of the 1961. nbc report cuba bay of pigs president. john f. kennedy's 1961 speech after the failed invasion a compilation of universal newsreels from 1959 to 1961 on the cuban revolution through the pigs invasion and a 1960 broadcast cuba the battle of america exploring the american story watch american history tv this weekend on c-span 3


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