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BackStory

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BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Each week we take a topic that people a...Show More
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267: The Faces of Racism: A History of Blackface and Minstrelsy in American Culture

36:43 | Feb 8th

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
271: Oh, Bloody Hell: BackStory’s History of Profanity in America

56:52 | Mar 8th

On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian and Nathan look at the history of profanity in America.
266: BlackStory: BackStory Celebrates Black History Month with a Compilation

53:33 | Feb 1st

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
283: In God We Trust? The History of Religious Identity in America

40:54 | Jun 21st

On this episode of BackStory, Joanne presents segments from BackStory's archive that look at religious identity in America.
276: Red in the Stars and Stripes?: A History of Socialism in America

1:01:19 | Apr 26th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian and Nathan reveal the rich history of socialism in the United States.
275: Alternative Facts, Falsehoods and Delusions: The Lies We've Told Ourselves and Each Other in American History

30:29 | Apr 19th

On this episode of BackStory, Nathan digs into the BackStory archives to bring you a selection of segments that look at alternative facts in American life.
234: You Have The Right to Remain Silent: A History of the Miranda Warning

35:17 | Mar 23rd, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
290: Enlightened America?: A History of Buddhism in the United States

1:04:19 | Aug 16th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan, explore the ways “American Buddhism" has adapted and evolved throughout the 20th century.
184: Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America

38:38 | Aug 14th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne consider the origins of illegal immigration and look at how the government’s deportation powers have grown over time.
289: Man Up: A Look at Masculinity in American History

28:11 | Aug 9th

On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian and host emeritus Peter Onuf explore the changing perceptions of American manhood.
“Armed For Freedom” from episode #183 “Taking it to the Streets”

11:51 | Aug 7th

In this segment from BackStory’s 2017 show, “Taking it to the Streets,” Brian and Ed talk to Adam Winkler of UCLA about when the Black Panthers became one of the first groups to claim gun ownership as a constitutional right.
Sponsored: Introducing Sean Carroll's Mindscape

10:04 | Aug 5th

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
252: Thar She Blows Again: The History of Whales and America (Part 2)

1:04:47 | Aug 2nd

On this episode of BackStory, Ed joins Brian, Nathan and Joanne as they continue to explore the history of America’s relationship to the largest marine mammals.
251: Thar She Blows: The History of Whales and America

44:38 | Jul 31st

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne explore the history of America’s relationship to the largest marine mammals.
288: Making the Team: Sports and Equality in American History

29:29 | Jul 26th

On this episode of BackStory, Ed revisits past segments that explore the issue of sports and equality throughout American history.
"Jose Julio Henna & the Invasion of Puerto Rico" and "What is Puerto Rico?" from episode 248 "After Hurricane Maria"

19:44 | Jul 24th

In this segment from BackStory's 2018 show, "After Hurricane Maria," Brian, Ed and Nathan take a look at the historical relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States.
287: Moon, Man, and Myths: The 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

1:05:56 | Jul 19th

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, BackStory launches into the history of America’s race to the moon.
286: Historians in the Press: Why Citation by the Media is Important, Even if it Rarely Happens

28:50 | Jul 17th

On this special episode of BackStory, Nathan and Ed talk to Professor Sarah Milov about her omission in the credits of last week's Here & Now and about the broader issues facing historians who are regularly in the media.
285: How Silicon Valley Remade America in Its Image: A History of Digital Disruption

33:41 | Jul 12th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian talks with historian Margaret O’Mara about Silicon Valley’s rise to global tech capital.
212: The Melting Pot: Americans and Assimilation

1:02:06 | Jul 5th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan wrestle with a long-running tension in our country’s history: what it means to assimilate and “become American.”
284: A History of Stonewall, the Riot That Started the LGBTQ Revolution

50:53 | Jun 28th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian and Nathan discover how the Stonewall uprising led to a wave of activism, protest and political agitation. #Stonewall50
Sponsored Promotion: Bleeped

11:45 | Jun 18th

Bleeped is a new podcast about censorship and the people who stand up to it.
282: The Many Lives of Roe v Wade: The Little Known History Behind the Famous Ruling

1:05:36 | Jun 14th

On this episode of BackStory, Nathan and Joanne dig into the history and explore the legacy of Roe V. Wade.
Sponsored Promotion: Unknown History Podcast

16:55 | Jun 11th

In this bonus content for BackStory listeners, author and historian Giles Milton of "Unknown History" podcast shares a segment from a recent episode about D-Day.
281: Mind, Body and Spirit: The History of Wellness in America

57:35 | Jun 7th

On this episode of BackStory, Ed and Brian explore the history of the wellness industry in the U.S.
280: Song of Ourselves? Walt Whitman and the American Imagination

1:06:21 | May 31st

On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Joanne explore Walt Whitman’s life and legacy in honor of the poet's 200th birthday.
279: Paying for the Past: Reparations and American History

1:14:39 | May 24th

On this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Ed and Brian explore the complicated - and often contentious - history of reparations in America.
Sponsored Promotion: Introducing The Shrink Next Door

13:01 | May 21st

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Sponsored Promotion: Family Ghosts

10:05 | May 20th

Every house is haunted. In each episode of Family Ghosts, we investigate the true story behind a mysterious figure whose legend has followed a family for generations. Grandmothers who were secretly jewel smugglers, uncles who led double lives, siblin...Show More
234: You Have The Right to Remain Silent: A History of the Miranda Warning

35:08 | May 17th

On this episode of BackStory, Nathan and Joanne look at the interrogation that led to the landmark Supreme Court case "Miranda v. Arizona."
278: The Year of the Woman: A History of Women in Congress

55:26 | May 10th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian and Joanne look at the history of women in Congress.
277: The Civil War in the 21st Century: A New Museum Marks an Old Conflict

56:19 | May 3rd

On this episode of BackStory, Ed and senior producer Melissa Gismondi get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the American Civil War Museum.
274: Death on the Assembly Line: Industrial Tragedies in American History

1:11:47 | Apr 12th

On this episode of BackStory, Brian and Nathan consider the history of industrial disasters and how they’ve changed the nature of American capitalism.
273: All the Presidents’ Vetoes: A Brief History of Saying No to Legislation

40:17 | Apr 5th

On this episode of BackStory, Joanne and Brian look at presidential vetoes through two periods in American history.
236: Teen Activists: A History of Youth Politics and Protest

1:06:07 | Mar 29th

On this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Brian and Ed talk about the role young people have played in American politics.
272: Burnt Corks & Cakewalks: The Toxic Legacy of Blackface in American History

1:07:36 | Mar 22nd

On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian explore the history of blackface and look to explain its long life in American culture.
243: Shore Thing: A History of the Beach

52:05 | Mar 15th

On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Joanne, and Brian dip their toes into four tales from America’s shoreline.
270: Shattering the Glass Ceiling in America: BackStory Celebrates Women's History Month

39:53 | Mar 1st

On this episode of BackStory, Brian showcases our favorite segments that highlight female achievement in American history.
269: Man vs. the Machine: Technophobia and American Society

42:18 | Feb 22nd

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
268: Love Off Limits: A History of the Relationships Once Considered Taboo in America

51:09 | Feb 15th

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
265: Nixon Beyond Watergate: A History of the Presidency Before the Scandal

1:05:39 | Jan 25th

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
264: When You Just Want to be Alone: The History of Solitude in America

55:11 | Jan 18th

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
263: The BackStory Prize: Our Choice for the Best Public History Project in America

36:53 | Jan 11th

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
262: Finding Americana: Butter Sculptures, Tiny Towns and Other Irresistible Gems

55:16 | Jan 4th

What could be more American than . . . butter carving? Maybe miniature roadside towns or perhaps a dead whale on a train. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian and Nathan explore the best of Americana, finding the unique and the kitschy in American...Show More
225: What’s Cooking? A History of Food in America

51:57 | Dec 28th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
261: Playing the Past: Video Games and American History

58:06 | Dec 21st, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
260: The BackStory Holiday Book Show: 19 History Books for the Holiday Season

1:03:09 | Dec 14th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
259: Out of the Closet: The LGBTQ Community in American History

1:21:07 | Dec 7th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
230: Forgotten Flu: America & the 1918 Pandemic

45:10 | Nov 30th, 2018

The CDC recommended flu shots for all this year after more than 80,000 Americans succumbed to influenza in 2017 - a four-decade high. But 100 years ago, a strain of H1N1 that was first found in soldiers in the spring of 1918 rapidly spread across the...Show More
257: Stuffed: Taxidermy in the History of America

1:10:55 | Nov 23rd, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
256: Divided States of America? The History of An Often Disjointed Union

58:45 | Nov 16th, 2018

Google the phrase “divided America” and you’ll find numerous, stories, opinion pieces and even psychological theories on why we’re so disconnected. From race and class to gender and politics, it seems that Americans can’t see eye-to-eye - to the poin...Show More
255: Lincoln the Lawyer: Abraham Lincoln’s Early Life and Career

56:13 | Nov 9th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
184: Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America

39:07 | Nov 2nd, 2018

Thousands of Central American migrants, dubbed the “migrant caravan,” have traveled north on foot towards the U.S. border since mid-October. Originating in Honduras, the group includes men, women and children attempting to escape high poverty, violen...Show More
254: The War to End All Wars: Remembering WWI

50:29 | Oct 26th, 2018

On November 11, 1918, Germany formally surrendered to the Allied Powers, about 19 months after the United States entered the conflict. On this episode, Brian and Nathan reflect on how, 100 years later, “the war to end all wars” is still with American...Show More
253: To be a Citizen? The History of Becoming American

56:00 | Oct 19th, 2018

Around three quarters of a million people applied to be American Citizens in 2017. But what does citizenship actually mean? The way Americans have defined citizenship has changed over time and many have found their citizenship challenged, undermined,...Show More
252: Thar She Blows Again: The History of Whales and America (Part 2)

1:04:52 | Oct 12th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
251: Thar She Blows: The History of Whales and America

44:44 | Oct 5th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
250: Land of the Free? The History of Incarceration in the U.S.

40:29 | Sep 28th, 2018

(Contains archival audio in segments 1 and 3 (see backstoryradio.org for details).) The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. This month prisoners across the U.S. took part in a National Prison strike protes...Show More
218: Close Encounters: UFOs in American History

1:03:10 | Sep 21st, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
249: Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The History of America’s Wealthy Elite

48:04 | Sep 14th, 2018

It’s been ten years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers shook the world’s economy. Today Ed, Nathan and Brian explore the iconic figure of the American Millionaire, telling the story of one of the first African American Millionaires, delving into t...Show More
248: After Hurricane Maria: The History of Puerto Rico and the United States

54:35 | Sep 7th, 2018

In August of 2018, officials in Puerto Rico reported that over 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. One year after the disaster, Brian, Ed and Nathan take a look at the historical relationship between Puerto Rico and the United Stat...Show More
181: Fit to Print?: A History of Fake News

35:29 | Aug 31st, 2018

As we approach the midterm elections, concerns about fake news - widely circulated news stories that are inaccurate, misleading, or completely made-up – continue to dominate the headlines. The topics, targets, and sources of this content continues to...Show More
247: Hot Enough For You? The History of Climate Change

32:59 | Aug 24th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
246: In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud: A History of the Atomic Age

56:54 | Aug 17th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
187: A More Perfect Union? The Reconstruction Era

44:54 | Aug 10th, 2018

Lately, Americans feel the country is more divided (at least politically) than ever and often wonder how to go about repairing our divisions. Those same questions were asked when the nation started to come back together after the very real split of t...Show More
245: The Battle for Charlottesville's Soul: One Year Later, A Community Looks Back

47:00 | Aug 3rd, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
244: Elementary Mr. President: Sherlock Holmes, the Supreme Court and Dr. Spock

39:41 | Jul 27th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
212: The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation

1:02:56 | Jul 20th, 2018

This week, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan wrestle with a long-running tension in our country’s history: what it means to assimilate and “become American.” We’ll explore the 19th-century notions of who could become an American and the ways they were expect...Show More
Shore Thing: A History of the Beach

52:27 | Jul 13th, 2018

Summer’s here and BackStory has gone to the beach. Ed, Joanne, and Brian dip their toes into four tales from America’s shoreline. We’ll talk about race, health, and daringly provocative woolen swimsuits. And the hosts will add their own experiences o...Show More
216: What’s in a Number? Thirteen in American History

51:32 | Jul 6th, 2018

The 13th of any month is more likely to occur on a Friday than any other day of the week and it's happened as many as three times in a single calendar year. So, why is it considered bad luck?  In this episode, Joanne, Nathan and Brian explore stories...Show More
191: Saving American History

41:07 | Jun 29th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
242: Summer Reading List: 14 History Books You’ll Want to Read

55:09 | Jun 22nd, 2018

What should you be reading this summer? BackStory’s hosts and special guests share their recommendations of the history page turners you should pack for the beach.
241: The Camera Never Lies? History Through the Viewfinder

36:56 | Jun 15th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
210: Death Before Dishonor: Shame and Reputation in American History

47:22 | Jun 8th, 2018

This week, Ed, Nathan and Joanne discuss the importance of honor throughout American history. We’ll explore how 19th-century honor culture demanded that a man’s good name be saved by any means necessary — even murder. And we’ll consider how the conce...Show More
205: Are We There Yet? Americans On Vacation

35:52 | Jun 1st, 2018

As Americans hit the road and take to the skies for summer vacation, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan explore the ways Americans have spent their time off.
240: Reflecting on Darkness: Lynching; Americans and the Holocaust

40:46 | May 25th, 2018

On this week’s episode, Nathan, Brian, Joanne & Ed talk about how Americans remember and reckon with systematic violence, and how we keep this difficult history alive and in the public eye. Historian Kidada Williams reads letters from a man seeking j...Show More
239: Upward Nobility: American-Made Royalty

45:48 | May 18th, 2018

The marriage of England’s Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle is making headlines around the world. U.S. women marrying into aristocracy has a surprisingly long history. This week, Ed, Brian, and Joanne look at the outsized political impac...Show More
238: Shock of the New: The Legacy of the 1893 World’s Fair

57:45 | May 11th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
199: Crowning Glory: A History of Hair in America

52:01 | May 4th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
237: “Dear Mr President…”: Letters to FDR, #twitterstorians, and one man's experience of slavery's legacy

31:06 | Apr 27th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
185: Behind the Bylines: Advocacy Journalism in America

49:38 | Apr 20th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
236: Teen Activists: A History of Youth Politics and Protest

1:05:08 | Apr 13th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
193: The Habit: Opioid Addiction in America

42:12 | Apr 6th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
235: The Real Martin Luther King: Reflecting on MLK 50 Years After His Death

51:46 | Mar 30th, 2018

Civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago. Today he is celebrated as an American hero and championed in children’s books and inspirational posters. But have Americans lost sight of the real MLK?
233: Wherever Green is Worn: The Irish in America

52:52 | Mar 16th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
52: Turf War: A History of College Sports

50:59 | Mar 9th, 2018

On this episode, Brian, Peter, and Ed unpack the origins of college sports and the ways universities originally justified athletics on campus. From the first collegiate PHYS ED program at Amherst College to the little-known story about the integratio...Show More
204: Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History

56:28 | Mar 2nd, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
232: Billy Graham, Black Panther and Haiti, and Thomas Edison’s Reputation

34:07 | Feb 23rd, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
231: Life After the Oval Office: Presidential Legacies

49:16 | Feb 16th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
138: Catholics in America

48:21 | Feb 9th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
230: Forgotten Flu: America & the 1918 Pandemic

45:06 | Feb 2nd, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
99: US vs Them: Sports on the World Stage

55:56 | Jan 26th, 2018

This year’s Winter Olympics have already seen their share of drama -- and political jockeying -- and the games haven’t even begun. So, BackStory is digging into the history of the power of international sports. We’ll discuss how sports have been tang...Show More
229: All that Glitters? Legacies of the California Gold Rush

53:25 | Jan 19th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
228: Presidents in the Public Eye, Slogans, and the Value of History

37:03 | Jan 12th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
227: Schism: The Branch Davidians at Waco

38:25 | Jan 5th, 2018

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
226: History for the Headlines: 2017 in Review

48:21 | Dec 29th, 2017

On this episode, Brian, Ed, Joanne, and Nathan look back at the stories we produced in 2017. Topics include fake news, the opioid crisis, and the August 12th white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
133: Untrammeled: Americans and the Wilderness

51:00 | Dec 22nd, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
225: What’s Cooking? A History of Food in America

52:00 | Dec 15th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
224: Man of The People: A New Technology Falls Into the Wrong Hands

44:09 | Dec 8th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
223: Men Apologizing, Alabama Senate Race, Net Neutrality

38:08 | Dec 1st, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
222: On the Take: Corruption in America

50:20 | Nov 24th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
221: The Thin Light of Freedom

46:53 | Nov 17th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
220: Red Dawn: Americans and the Bolshevik Revolution

55:44 | Nov 10th, 2017

One hundred years ago, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik Party seized power in a revolution that would change the world. They would establish the world’s first Marxist state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a few years later. As the 20th cent...Show More
219: Other People’s Battles: American Volunteer Soldiers

53:46 | Nov 3rd, 2017

An estimated 200 American volunteer soldiers have joined the fight against the Islamic State. They’re part of a much longer tradition of freelance fighters, like early 19th century American privateers who fought in Latin America’s wars of independenc...Show More
Close Encounters: UFOs in American History

1:04:48 | Oct 27th, 2017

On this week’s episode, Nathan, Brian and Ed discuss things in the sky we can’t explain - unidentified flying objects. What the heck are they? And what do they say about American history?
217: Boy Scouts Welcome Girls, Trump Drums Up Support for War, America as a Judeo-Christian Nation

34:59 | Oct 20th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
What’s in a Number? Thirteen in American History

53:06 | Oct 13th, 2017

This Friday the 13th, Joanne, Nathan and Brian explore stories of superstition and the surprising roles the number 13 has played across American history. survey.panoply.fm
215: It is So Ordered: 4 Landmark Decisions of the Supreme Court

47:11 | Oct 6th, 2017

This month, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments for cases that may have a profound impact on the lives of everyday Americans -- ranging from cell phone privacy and the rights of workers during labor disputes, to whether a baker has the right to tu...Show More
214: Enemies: A History of Bad Blood

45:46 | Sep 29th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
213: Longer Commutes, Equifax Data Breach, and Income Inequality

38:04 | Sep 22nd, 2017

In this week’s roundtable discussion, Brian, Joanne and Ed discuss the history behind 3 stories in the news: our lengthening work commutes, the massive data breach at Equifax, and the Census Bureau’s latest numbers on income inequality in America. 
212: The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation

1:04:01 | Sep 15th, 2017

This week, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan wrestle with a long-running tension in our country’s history: what it means to assimilate and “become American.” We’ll explore the 19th-century notions of who could become an American and the ways they were expect...Show More
211: A Conversation with Karl Rove

40:34 | Sep 8th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Death Before Dishonor: Shame and Reputation in American History

46:38 | Sep 1st, 2017

This week, Ed, Nathan and Joanne discuss the importance of honor throughout American history. We’ll explore how 19th-century honor culture demanded that a man’s good name be saved by any means necessary — even murder. And we’ll consider how the conce...Show More
Starry-Eyed: A History of the Heavens

50:51 | Aug 25th, 2017

Why do we want to travel to the moon, to Mars, or beyond? We’re saluting this week’s total solar eclipse by looking at how Americans in the past have made sense of meteors, eclipses, and the stars. 
Guns v. Speech: When Protesters Are Armed

16:48 | Aug 23rd, 2017

When hundreds of armed white supremacists descended on Charlottesville on August 12th, violence broke out across the city. In this Short Take, Brian sits down with University of Virginia Law School Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick to discuss the constitutio...Show More
Charlottesville: Our Town, Our Country

29:41 | Aug 18th, 2017

Brian, Ed, Joanne, and Nathan share their personal reactions to last week’s violence in Charlottesville, when white supremacists and Neo-Nazis showed up in town, some of them heavily armed.  Violent clashes left one counter protester dead, and 34 inj...Show More
Revisionist Climate: Americans & the Atmosphere

46:57 | Aug 11th, 2017

On this week’s episode, Nathan, Brian and Ed, talk about how Americans have interacted, dealt with, and tried to actively change the North American climate. 
Are We There Yet?: Americans On Vacation

34:07 | Aug 4th, 2017

As Americans hit the road and take to the skies for summer vacation, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan explore the ways Americans have spent their time off.
Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History

55:34 | Jul 28th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Campus Protests, First Female “Doctor Who” & Voter Suppression

32:51 | Jul 21st, 2017

In this History Grab Bag, Nathan, Ed, Brian and Joanne discuss the history behind stories in the news. They look at the changing nature of student protests on campuses and the reaction to the first time a woman is cast to play “Doctor Who,” the title...Show More
Skin Deep: Whiteness in America

53:46 | Jul 14th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Hometown History: Local Stories From Across The Country

1:11:19 | Jul 7th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
iPhone Turns 10, The Health Care Mess & Political Violence

50:55 | Jun 30th, 2017

In this History Grab Bag, Nathan, Ed, Brian and Joanne discuss the history behind stories in the news. They’ll look at the introduction of the iPhone 10 years ago, and the dimming prospects for the Senate Republicans’ health care plan. They also welc...Show More
Crowning Glory: A History of Hair in America

48:37 | Jun 23rd, 2017

From Katy Perry’s new pixie to cut to Lebron James going bald - hair (or the lack of) is in the headlines a lot recently. On this episode, Brian, Joanne and Nathan explore some of the many meanings Americans have attached to hair - as a marker of per...Show More
Contested Landscape: The Battle over Confederate Monuments

46:50 | Jun 16th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Prying Eyes: Privacy in America

55:02 | Jun 9th, 2017

Is privacy a guaranteed American right? Or is it just continually under threat? On this episode, Joanne, Ed and Nathan explore the places where the private and the public collide. We’ll look at voting in the 19th century, surveillance of gay employee...Show More
Body Politics, JFK at 100 and African American Memorials

36:23 | Jun 2nd, 2017

In this episode of BackStory, Brian’s off, but Joanne, Ed, and Nathan are holding it down and talking about the history behind items in this week’s news. They’ll discuss the art of the Presidential Handshake, John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday and publ...Show More
Call To Arms: Enlistment In America

43:57 | Jun 1st, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
National Lampoon: A History of American Satire

35:36 | May 19th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
The Habit: Opioid Addiction in America

43:19 | May 12th, 2017

Opioid addiction is a national epidemic. According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, "drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States." In this episode, Nathan, Ed and Brian look at America's long histo...Show More
History Grab Bag 5.5

32:06 | May 5th, 2017

In this History Grab Bag, Joanne, Ed, Brian and Nathan discuss the history behind items in this week’s news. They’ll discuss why the Civil War and its monuments remain so divisive, consider the varied paths of ex-Presidents, and talk about this week’...Show More
American Hoarders: Saving History

39:58 | Apr 28th, 2017

How is the history of a nation remembered? Well -- it all depends on what you keep. We're talking about recipes, old record collections, wedding dresses, newspapers, family letters or even your own personal diary. These are the types of documents fut...Show More
History Grab Bag 4.21

31:07 | Apr 21st, 2017

In this History Grab Bag, Joanne, Ed, Brian and Nathan discuss the history behind items in the news. They’ll look at the deep history of sanctuary cities and rule of law, and look at America’s history of boycotts all the way back to the Boston Tea Pa...Show More
Over There: America Enters WWI

46:30 | Apr 14th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Seeing Red: A History of U.S./Russia Relations

42:17 | Apr 7th, 2017

In recent years, the White House’s relationship with the Kremlin has dominated the headlines in America --  from Syria to Ukraine. According to CNN, Vladimir Putin denounced last night's U.S. airstrike against Syria (a response to a Syrian chemical w...Show More
A More Perfect Union?: The Reconstruction Era

46:10 | Mar 31st, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
History Grab Bag 3.24

40:23 | Mar 24th, 2017

In BackStory’s second history grab bag, Joanne, Ed, Brian, and Nathan discuss the history behind items in this week’s news. They’ll look at Boston Public School’s decision to ditch the traditional world map for a new one that reflects the true propor...Show More
Behind the Bylines: Advocacy Journalism in America

48:41 | Mar 17th, 2017

In 2015, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly challenged Univision journalist Jorge Ramos on his role as a voice for Latinos in America. In an interview with the reporter on the O’Reilly Factor, he called Ramos “an advocate for people who enter the U.S.A. ill...Show More
Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America

40:22 | Mar 10th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
Taking it to the Streets: Protest in America

42:39 | Mar 3rd, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
History Grab Bag 2.24

37:12 | Feb 24th, 2017

In BackStory’s first history grab bag, Joanne, Brian and Nathan discuss the history behind items in this week’s news. They’ll look at how institutions like government agencies and the press have pushed back against presidents in the past and explore ...Show More
On the Outs: Restricting American Immigration

31:55 | Feb 10th, 2017

On Thursday, a federal appeals panel unanimously rejected President Trump’s move to reinstate the ban on travel from seven largely Muslim nations into the United States. The restriction, put into effect by executive order on Jan. 27, is commonly beli...Show More
Worlds Apart: Urban/Rural Divides in America

51:47 | Feb 4th, 2017

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to l...Show More
PREVIEW - Worlds Apart

04:04 | Jan 31st, 2017

According to the New York Times, the 2016 election “highlighted a growing rural-urban split.” So, on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Nathan look at what happens when urban and rural Americans collide. They’ll tell the story of one coastal co...Show More
Best of BackStory Pt. 2

53:18 | Jan 26th, 2017

Best of BackStory Pt. 2 by BackStory with the American History Guys
Preview

03:05 | Jan 20th, 2017

BackStory is going through some big changes. Take a listen to this preview and learn about everything that's going into the new BackStory - premiering on Feb. 3!
Best Of BackStory Pt. 1

53:15 | Jan 19th, 2017

We’ll spend our last regularly scheduled broadcasts reviewing some of BackStory’s most memorable moments. We’ll revisit BackStory interviews with history makers, the Guys’ expeditions to see history being made, and the unexpected stories behind some ...Show More
Four More Years: Presidential Inaugurations [rebroadcast]

53:03 | Jan 9th, 2017

As Washington prepares for the next four years, BackStory looks back at some of the more dramatic presidential transitions from the past. On this show, the Guys explore several high-stakes presidential inaugurations and learn what each one tells us a...Show More
Health Nuts: A History of Nutritional Advice [rebroadcast]

59:11 | Jan 5th, 2017

Health Nuts: A History of Nutritional Advice [rebroadcast] by BackStory with the American History Guys
Judaism In America [rebroadcast]

1:00:09 | Dec 21st, 2016

On Dec. 24th, Jewish communities across the country begin celebrating Hanukkah. The annual holiday celebrates the victory of the Jews over the Greeks, and marks the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC. Roughly 2% of th...Show More
Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast]

53:05 | Dec 15th, 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? The holiday season is notorious for bringing out the beast in shoppers. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys plunge into the history of shopping in America—the glitz and glamour, the overflowing s...Show More
Separation Anxiety: Church & State In America

56:55 | Dec 8th, 2016

From the persecution of Quakers in colonial Massachusetts, to 21st century battles over nativity scenes in public squares, the wall separating church and state is hardly set in stone. On this episode of BackStory, the History Guys explore the often b...Show More
Short Take: Native Americans, the U.S. Government, and a History of Treaties

15:49 | Dec 6th, 2016

On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers refused to issue a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The water protectors, which includes members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other tribes (as well as climate activists), celebrated the decision. B...Show More
New & Improved: Advertising in America [rebroadcast]

1:00:34 | Dec 1st, 2016

Nieman-Marcus’ 2016 Christmas Book, which was first published nearly a century ago as a 16-page leaflet, is 300 pages long. According to Advertising Age, catalogs remain an effective way to reach consumers all year round. This episode of BackStory ...Show More
Short Take: A History Of Rigged Elections

18:08 | Nov 30th, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump said the election was rigged because millions of non-citizens voted (although there is no evidence to support the claim), 2016 Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein has requested audits in multiple swing states wi...Show More
American As Pumpkin Pie: A History Of Thanksgiving [rebroadcast]

53:03 | Nov 23rd, 2016

If a Pilgrim were to attend a contemporary Thanksgiving celebration, he or she would probably be stunned by our “traditional” foods. In this episode of BackStory, The Guys discuss Puritan foods with historian James McWilliams, and religion scholar An...Show More
A Whole New World: A History of Utopias

53:15 | Nov 17th, 2016

In his recent book “Utopia for Realists,” Rutger Bregman advocates a 15-hour workweek, universal basic income, and open borders. Sounds like paradise to us! From the Oneida Community’s dream of open, or “complex marriage” to the rise and spectacular...Show More
American Exodus: A History of Emigration [rebroadcast]

52:53 | Nov 11th, 2016

With Donald Trump vowing to keep undocumented Mexicans out of the U.S. with a wall and Hillary Clinton promising the same immigrants a path to citizenship, immigration was a big issue in the 2016 presidential election. But what about the flip side –...Show More
Short Take: The 2016 Election

14:37 | Nov 9th, 2016

Early this morning, Donald J. Trump was declared president-elect and will become the 45th President of the United States. The victory came as a surprise to many and it feels like a rupture in American history. Just what should we make of this and ...Show More
Pulling the Curtain: Voting in America [rebroadcast]

53:35 | Nov 3rd, 2016

If the record TV viewership of the Clinton-Trump presidential debates is any guide, voter turnout for the November election could reach levels not seen since the Gilded Age. It’s easy to be nostalgic for the consistently high voter turnout in the la...Show More
Short Take: FBI and U.S. Elections

17:29 | Nov 2nd, 2016

Last Friday, FBI Director James Comey informed Congress of a potential link between a device owned by disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The disclosure effectively reopened the investiga...Show More
Bridge For Sale: Deception In America [rebroadcast]

53:01 | Oct 20th, 2016

America has a long and colorful history of confidence men and counterfeiters. On this episode of BackStory, we go back to the time when fake money and fly-by-night banks dominated the economy, and uncover the origins of the lie detector test, known ...Show More
A History of Manufacturing in 5 Objects

58:49 | Oct 13th, 2016

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have talked about loss of manufacturing jobs, and the importance of having things “Made In America.” In this episode of BackStory, we take a look at the history of American manufacturing by exploring several obje...Show More
Fighting Words: A History of Debate in America

1:00:40 | Oct 6th, 2016

With the presidential debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dominating the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, we’re taking a look at the history of political debate in America. Do Americans like to argue with –or past – each other? From th...Show More
Keeping Tabs: Data & Surveillance in America [rebroadcast]

54:13 | Sep 29th, 2016

Calls to pardon Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who blew the whistle on the NSA’s secret internet and phone surveillance programs, have increased with the recent release of the “Snowden” movie. As the country once again debates whether Snow...Show More
Banned: A History of Censorship [rebroadcast]

59:22 | Sep 21st, 2016

Americans have sought to censor all kinds of expression: political speech, music, radio, TV, film, even books. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian mark the annual Banned Books Week with an uncut account of censorship in American politics, media, an...Show More
Believer-In-Chief: Faith & The Presidency

58:35 | Sep 14th, 2016

American presidential candidates are expected to proclaim their religious faith and the 2016 election is no exception. In this episode of BackStory, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the complicated relationship between American presidents and their spiri...Show More
Body Politics: Disability in America [rebroadcast]

39:10 | Sep 8th, 2016

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act made everything from parking lots to bathrooms accessible. But before this legislation, disabled people found their own ways to navigate society. On this episode of BackStory, we explore the history of dis...Show More
Nose to the Grindstone: A History of American Work Ethic

59:39 | Sep 1st, 2016

The Labor Day holiday offers some of us a much-needed break from work, but most Americans don’t get much vacation time. In this episode, the Guys look at American attitudes towards the value, meaning, and importance of work. We examine the meaning of...Show More
Untrammeled: Americans and the Wilderness [rebroadcast]

53:08 | Aug 25th, 2016

BackStory is quitting the city and heading into the wild. In this episode, Brian, Ed, and Peter revisit America’s fascination with wild places and learn how humans have impacted even the most remote corners of our country. The Guys explore how the fi...Show More
Serve & Protect? A History of the Police [rebroadcast]

53:01 | Aug 17th, 2016

For many Americans, police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier this summer were strikingly reminiscent of similar instances across the nation in recent years. The prominence of both the shooting--and the retaliation--has sparked a new round ...Show More
Wish You Were Here: A History of American Tourism

59:27 | Aug 11th, 2016

As summer winds down, millions of Americans are packing their bags and hitting the road. In this episode of BackStory, Peter, Ed and Brian explore the history of American tourism.  We’ll hear how asylums and prisons were popular tourist destinations ...Show More
Another Man’s Treasure: A History Of Trash [rebroadcast]

53:17 | Aug 4th, 2016

Let’s just call this episode trashy. The Guys pick through America’s history of garbage - from the filth-eating pigs that once ran free in New York City and kept the city clean, to the soda industry’s promotion of  recycling to boost their bottom lin...Show More
You've Come A Long Way?: A History Of Women In Politics

1:01:41 | Jul 28th, 2016

Hillary Clinton moved a giant step closer to becoming the first woman elected President of the United States when she accepted the Democratic nomination at the party’s convention in Philadelphia. Clinton stands on the shoulders of generations of wome...Show More
Conventional Wisdom: A History of American Political Conventions [rebroadcast]

53:07 | Jul 22nd, 2016

The 2016 presidential race switches into high gear this month with the back-to-back Republican and Democratic party conventions.  Before they became heavily scripted affairs for TV, conventions were where some of the most critical policy questions we...Show More
The GOP: A History Of The Republican Party

1:04:50 | Jul 14th, 2016

Donald Trump has clinched the Republican party presidential nomination, and some political pundits wonder if his nomination represents a watershed for the GOP. On this episode of BackStory, we unpack the origins, evolution, and reinvention of the Gr...Show More
Rare History Well Done: Meat In America [rebroadcast]

59:55 | Jul 8th, 2016

Eating meat is a time-honored tradition in America. Whether it's a 4th of July BBQ, a TV dinner of Salisbury steak or a plate of Hawaiian musubi, meat has always had a big place on the national platter. But over the years, changing technologies and t...Show More
Independence Daze: A History of July 4th [rebroadcast]

54:13 | Jul 4th, 2016

In the early days of our nation, July Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid day-off. So how did the Fourth become the holiest day on our secular calendar? This episode offers some answers. With ...Show More
The Pursuit: A History Of Happiness [rebroadcast]

53:28 | Jun 30th, 2016

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - it’s a phrase we’ve all heard. But do we really know what Thomas Jefferson meant by that? For that matter, did Jefferson place a period or comma after happiness? In this episode, Peter, Ed and Brian begin ...Show More
Above The Fray?: Ideology & The Court

53:03 | Jun 24th, 2016

As of June 2016, the Republican controlled Senate is still refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Supreme Court nominees, and the sitting justices have often been at the center of political storms. From Marbury v. Mad...Show More
Committed: Marriage In America [rebroadcast]

52:49 | Jun 17th, 2016

The month of June gets its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. This could be part of the reason why June continues to be the most popular month to get married. In this hour of BackStory, we look at how generations of Americans have def...Show More
Hamilton: A History

53:08 | Jun 10th, 2016

Alexander Hamilton is living large these days! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical about the Founding Father won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and scored a record-breaking 16 Tony award nominations. In addition, Hamilton’s surge in popularity helped keep...Show More
Politically Incorrect: Speech In American Politics

53:13 | Jun 3rd, 2016

***CONTENT ADVISORY: THIS EPISODE CONTAINS STRONG, UNBLEEPED LANGUAGE*** Donald Trump has clinched the Republican presidential nomination for the 2016 election. On issues including immigration, race, and terrorism, supporters applaud Trump for say...Show More
The Beasts Within Domesticated Animals In America [rebroadcast]

53:14 | May 27th, 2016

This past March, Sea World announced it will stop breeding orca whales in captivity, and is phasing out its killer whale shows. Meanwhile, the elephants of Ringling Bros. held their last performance earlier this month. Americans have always loved an...Show More
All Hopped Up: Drugs In America [rebroadcast]

53:50 | May 20th, 2016

To date, four states have legalized recreational marijuana, 23 states allow it for medical purposes and at least another five are expected to pass marijuana-related legislation this year. Meanwhile, heroin addiction and abuse of prescription painkill...Show More
Watch The Throne: America & Royalty

59:26 | May 13th, 2016

Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday this June and royal watchers around the globe will join the festivities. Despite the Founding Fathers rejecting the British monarchy, Americans have always been fascinated by royalty. For this episode of B...Show More
All In: A History of Gambling in America

54:00 | May 6th, 2016

This May, thousands of Americans will bet on the Kentucky Derby, the most heavily-wagered horse race in the U.S. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys explore the history of gambling in America, from 18th century horse racing to cards, lotteries and...Show More
On The Money: A History Of American Currency [rebroadcast]

52:53 | Apr 29th, 2016

This month, the U.S. Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. In this episode, we evaluate America’s relationship with money, exploring the transformations of currency over the centuries. The G...Show More
Judaism in America

1:00:22 | Apr 22nd, 2016

This month, Jewish communities across the country celebrate Passover, a holiday that marks the end of the Israelites’ enslavement by the Egyptians. Only about 2% of the U.S. population is Jewish, but the influence of American Jews far outweighs their...Show More
Stuck: A History of Political Gridlock [rebroadcast]

53:11 | Apr 15th, 2016

While Senate Republicans refuse to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, the History Guys review the history of gridlock in American politics. In this episode, Peter, Ed and Brian will look at other moments when our system...Show More
Pass/Fail: An American History of Testing

53:22 | Apr 8th, 2016

This spring, millions of American high school students are taking the newly redesigned SAT, which was first administered in 1926. It’s just one of many types of tests Americans have devised to measure and sort ourselves. In this episode, the Guys del...Show More
TURF WAR [2016]: A HISTORY OF COLLEGE SPORTS [rebroadcast]

53:00 | Apr 1st, 2016

With less than 2% of ESPN March Madness brackets still perfect, the madness may be more like sadness for many college basketball fans right now. In this episode, the American History Guys unpack the origins of college sports and the ways universities...Show More
Little Caesars: Local Power in America

59:43 | Mar 28th, 2016

As the presidential candidates continue their contentious path to the White House, it’s easy to overlook what’s happening at the local level. For this episode of BackStory, the Guys take a break from the race for the White House and examine local pow...Show More
Small Island, Big Shadow Cuba and the U.S. [rebroadcast]

53:05 | Mar 18th, 2016

No sitting U.S. president has visited Cuba in nearly 90 years, but this month President Obama will do just that. This historic visit could signal a new chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations. In this episode, Peter, Ed and Brian consider dramatic moments i...Show More
Well-Regulated Militias: A History Of Armed Protest

54:51 | Mar 11th, 2016

Earlier this year, tensions between federal officials and anti-government militia occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon came to a somewhat violent end. Federal agents shot one of the protesters, while the rest surrendered to the FBI. It’s ha...Show More
The Middling Sort: Visions of the Middle Class [rebroadcast]

53:15 | Mar 4th, 2016

On this BackStory, we’ll take a look at what it means to be “middle-class” in America. Who belongs to the middle class? Who doesn’t? The Guys explore the rise and fall of the middle class and why so many Americans consider themselves members of th...Show More
Hard Times: A History Of Unemployment

53:05 | Feb 26th, 2016

President Barack Obama claims that the country’s low unemployment rate shows that we’ve rebounded from the Great Recession. But presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders say the “real” unemployment rate is much higher. During this episo...Show More
Contagion: Responding to Infectious Disease [rebroadcast]

52:59 | Feb 19th, 2016

As the Zika virus spreads across the Americas, it’s worth looking at how the U.S. has responded to past epidemics. In this episode of BackStory, the Guys consider the impact of smallpox on New York City’s 19th century immigrant communities, and explo...Show More
Real To Reel 2016: History At The Movies

56:30 | Feb 12th, 2016

The 2016 Academy Awards are just around the corner, and Peter, Brian, and Ed are taking a trip to the movies, considering likely Oscar contenders from Trumbo to The Hateful Eight to find out how history made its mark on the silver screen this year.
New & Improved: Advertising In America [rebroadcast]

1:00:35 | Feb 5th, 2016

More than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers duke it out at Super Bowl 50. And in between the plays, we’ll be bombarded by dozens of commercials, all competing for our attention. The next episode ...Show More
PROMO - New & Improved: Advertising In America [rebroadcast]

02:05 | Feb 2nd, 2016

More than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers duke it out at Super Bowl 50. And in between the plays, we’ll be bombarded by dozens of commercials, all competing for our attention. The next episode ...Show More
Court Of Public Opinion: Trial Watching In America

53:25 | Jan 29th, 2016

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will explore our fascination with courtroom drama. What makes for a compelling case and why have some landmark proceedings received little attention? We’ll consider why so many Americans followed the trial of a ...Show More
City Upon A Hill: A History Of American Exceptionalism [rebroadcast]

54:28 | Jan 22nd, 2016

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama called America “the most powerful nation on Earth,” saying, “When it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead—they call us.” Pr...Show More
Color Lines: Racial Passing In America

1:06:49 | Jan 15th, 2016

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will consider how and why Americans throughout the centuries have crossed the lines of racial identity, and find out what the history of passing has to say about race, identity, and privilege in America. We’ll l...Show More
The Future Then: Visions of America Yet to Come [rebroadcast]

52:56 | Jan 8th, 2016

For as long as anyone can remember, Americans have imagined the future—from the flying cars and 3-hour workdays of The Jetsons to World War III and nuclear holocaust. Sometimes we’ve even made those dreams come true, or at least we’ve tried. On this ...Show More
Cheers and Jeers: Alcohol in America [rebroadcast]

53:11 | Dec 31st, 2015

A new year has dawned, and we’re willing to bet that Americans across the nation are fighting off hangovers after ringing it in with a drink—or three. On this episode of BackStory, we’re raising our glasses to the long history of alcohol in America. ...Show More
History for the Headlines: 2015 in Review

53:06 | Dec 25th, 2015

Here at BackStory, we’re always on the lookout for stories from the past that help us make sense of our lives today. As 2015 comes to a close, we’re winding back the clock to find out what some of our favorite BackStory moments have to say about the ...Show More
Islam and the United States [rebroadcast]

55:54 | Dec 18th, 2015

On this episode of BackStory, we’ll take a look at the long and surprising history of America’s relationship with Islam, from the Barbary Wars of the early 19th century to the clash between American-born Muslims and more recent immigrants from the Mi...Show More
American Prophets: Religions Born in the U.S.

53:07 | Dec 11th, 2015

History textbooks often argue that the United States was founded on the principle of religious freedom, beginning with the Pilgrims who sought refuge from the Church of England. But the America of centuries past was more than a safe haven for religio...Show More
Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast]

53:05 | Dec 4th, 2015

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys jump headlong into the history of shopping in America—the glitz and glamor, the overflowing shelves, and the cheesy muzak. They’ll consider the role consumption played in the revolutionary politics of the coloni...Show More
Three Squares: Mealtime in America [rebroadcast]

53:08 | Nov 24th, 2015

Three square meals a day. Three to five servings of fruits and vegetables, two to three servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Avoid fats and sugar. Red meat in moderation. We’re used to hearing these kinds of instructions. But eating isn’t just about ...Show More
Contested Landscape: Confederate Symbols in America

59:34 | Nov 20th, 2015

In July of this year, the murder of nine African-American parishioners at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina reignited a longstanding debate about the Confederate flag. Soon after the shooting, South Carolina lawmakers voted to r...Show More
Body Politics: Disability in America

58:40 | Nov 13th, 2015

The impact of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act is visible in parking lots, bathrooms, and public buildings across the country. But for centuries before the ramps and signs were erected, disabled people had to find their own ways to navigate A...Show More
Coming Home: A History of War Veterans [rebroadcast]

55:10 | Nov 5th, 2015

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created tens of thousands of new combat veterans. But what happens to these soldiers once they return home? In honor of Veterans Day, BackStory looks at the experiences of veterans across American history. What k...Show More
People's Choice: A History of Populism

58:15 | Oct 23rd, 2015

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have packed stadiums as they make their case for the 2016 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations. Many pundits have labeled them 21st century “populists,” but invoking the “voice of the people” is a traditi...Show More
Green Acres: A History of Farmers in America [rebroadcast]

53:37 | Oct 16th, 2015

As the fall harvest comes in, BackStory takes a look at how farmers came to wield so much influence in American politics and life. In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson viewed farmers as ideal citizens,their agricultural lifestyle providing the found...Show More
They Might Be Giants: China and the U.S.

58:32 | Oct 9th, 2015

Americans have traded with China since the earliest days of the Republic. During the colonial era and for early Americans, China was a source of luxury goods like tea, porcelain, and silk. For some of their descendants, it was the destination for an ...Show More
Little Feet: Children Starting Over in America [rebroadcast]

53:37 | Oct 2nd, 2015

Tens of thousands of refugees have been arriving in Western Europe, fleeing civil war and unrest in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the migrants making these perilous border crossings are children. This is hardly the first time minors have made...Show More
Banned: A History of Censorship

56:51 | Sep 25th, 2015

September 27 marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating literature and the freedom to read, by highlighting and exploring efforts around the country to remove or restrict access to certain books. Indeed, Americans have soug...Show More
Catholics In America

54:57 | Sep 18th, 2015

On September 22, Pope Francis will begin his first American tour, making stops in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York along the way. In this episode, the BackStory Guys explore American Catholicism—recounting the struggles, triumphs, and unique im...Show More
Fear Tactics: A History of Domestic Terrorism [rebroadcast]

55:27 | Sep 11th, 2015

As Americans wrestle with the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and as we observe the 14th anniversary of terror attacks on New York and Washington, BackStory returns to our episode on domestic terrorism. What ar...Show More
Rare History Well Done: Meat in America

59:56 | Sep 4th, 2015

Eating meat is a time-honored tradition in America. Whether it’s Thanksgiving Day turkey, a TV dinner of Salisbury steak, or a plate of Hawaiian Spam musubi, meat has been a constant presence on the national platter. But over the years, changing tech...Show More