When a new episode of Drunk History is finished, there is still work to be done. After a few deep breaths to reorientate yourself after all the cackling, the next stop is Google to fact-check each story. Factual accuracy isn’t the goal of Drunk History but the foundation is there for you to build on with your sleuthing and learning.
The wonderful thing about Drunk History is that it highlights stories you may have never heard about. Season 4’s Siblings has 3 tales that stick to the theme but also have the allure of not getting the spotlight in the history books. How true are the stories? Don’t worry. We’ve done the hard work for you…
Did the Wright Brothers really have a secret sister?
Yep! But Katherine Wright’s contribution to their world changing project has been mostly left out of their story. Aside from contributing to the development of the Wright Brothers’ aeroplane, she would go on to manage the duo as they traveled the world basking in the glory of their invention. She would also often fly as a passenger in the plane for demonstrations - still a huge risk when they had only just invented a flying machine. Katherine even went on to play a role in the suffragette movement. So remember, when talking about this important moment in history: it’s the Wright siblings.
Did three sisters turn guns on their tormentor in 1915?
Sadly, a lot of information about the Kopp sisters – 3 siblings who took up arms against their harasser in 1915 New Jersey - is scarce but an author, Amy Stewart, used them as inspiration for her novel, A Girl Waits with a Gun. Stewart was able to uncover more info about the Kopp sisters while researching the book and bring awareness to their story, including this cracking quote from Constance about her life:
“Some women prefer to stay at home and take care of the house. Let them. There are plenty who like that kind of work enough to do it. Others want something to do that will take them out among people and affairs. A woman should have the right to do any sort of work she wants to, provided she can do it.”
Did the world’s first mediums admit they were frauds?
The Fox sisters fooled people into thinking they could talk with the dead by clicking their toes. The movement of spiritualism in the 19th century was started by a foot! The siblings made a fortune working as mediums in New York until one of them, Maggie, felt too guilty and hosted an event where she revealed all their tricks.
So what happened after? The spiritualism community was divided and many refused to believe the Fox sisters to be frauds. Exactly one year after the event, Maggie recanted her confession insisting that the spirits she spoke with told her to do it. Maggie flipped, again, and attended spiritualism meetings where she gave away more secrets. But people still wanted to believe it was all true.
The Fox Sisters never reconciled in the years after Maggie went public with their ruse and they all passed away over a three-year period. Following their passing spiritualists formed the National Spiritualist Association, which today is known as the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. Sadly, there isn’t a foot on their logo.
"Siblings" airs Sunday, 5 February at 10:10pm on SBS Viceland. Double episodes of Drunk History air every Sunday at 9:40pm. After they air, episodes are available on SBS On Demand.
Missed the last episode? Watch it right here: