BackStory

By BackStory, Panoply

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Description

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 are talking about and explore it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversation with our listeners, we make history engaging and fun.

Episode Date
The Camera Never Lies? History Through the Viewfinder
2286
In the 21st century, we often assume that a picture captures what really happened in a given moment. But on this week’s show, Joanne and Brian look at the early days of photography - when Americans had to figure out how to ‘read’ images - and learn if photos should be trusted at all.<br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 15, 2018
Death Before Dishonor: Shame and Reputation in American History
2912
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 concept lives on today.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 08, 2018
Are We There Yet? Americans On Vacation
2222
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.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 01, 2018
Reflecting on Darkness: Lynching; Americans and the Holocaust
2516
On this week’s episode, Nathan, Brian, Joanne &amp; 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 justice for his son who was lynched, and Brian visits an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 25, 2018
Upward Nobility: American-Made Royalty
2818
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 impact these marriages often have around the globe.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 18, 2018
Shock of the New: The Legacy of the 1893 World’s Fair
3535
The World’s Columbian Exposition opened 125 years ago this month. Known today as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, it put the emerging United States and its host city on shining display. So, on this episode, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan explore the fairgrounds. They’ll discuss how electric power - a new experience for many Americans - illuminated the White City. And they’ll consider how this presentation of American progress came at a cost.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 11, 2018
Crowning Glory: A History of Hair in America
3191
It’s been fifty years since “<a href="https://www.npr.org/2018/05/01/607339204/hair-at-50-going-gray-but-its-youthful-optimism-remains-bouncy-and-full-bodied">Hair” debuted on Broadway</a>. The groundbreaking play featured an integrated cast and defined the rock musical genre.<br><br>On this episode, Brian, Joanne and Nathan explore some of the many meanings Americans have attached to hair - as a marker of personal identity, a living connection to distant loved ones, and even as the root of business empire.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 04, 2018
“Dear Mr President…”: Letters to FDR, #twitterstorians, and one man's experience of slavery's legacy
1936
Joanne talks about the letters that flooded into FDR’s Whitehouse and how historians reach the public using social media. Also, Justin Reid, director of African American programs at Virginia Humanities, reflects on his family’s experience of slavery.<br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 27, 2018
Behind the Bylines: Advocacy Journalism in America
3048
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 “<a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-jorge-ramos-journalist-advocate-20150903-story.html">an advocate for people who enter the U.S.A. illegally</a>.”<br><br>In recent decades, however, more journalists have vocally advocated for underrepresented communities. Websites like the <a href="http://thegrio.com/category/politics/">theGrio.com</a> are unapologetic about finding stories the mainstream media aren’t picking up.&nbsp;<br><br>On this episode, Nathan, Joanne, and Brian look at the deep roots of advocacy in journalism. They’ll also explore the recent origins of objectivity and debate the duty of the Fourth Estate.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 20, 2018
Teen Activists: A History of Youth Politics and Protest
3978
As students organize protests around the country, Joanne, Brian &amp; Ed talk about the role young people have played in American politics. They’ll look at how the desegregation movement in Virginia was sparked in part by a 16-year-old girl, how young Americans made it okay to be independent voters and thinkers in the early centuries, a 1945 student walkout <em>against</em> integration, and the story of a young Lakota activist who travelled to Standing Rock when she was in high school.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 13, 2018
The Habit: Opioid Addiction in America
2602
As the opioid epidemic continues, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams said this week that Americans should carry and learn to use naloxone, an overdose antidote. In this episode, Nathan, Ed and Brian look at America's long history with opioids - like opium, morphine and heroin. They’ll discuss how late 19th century doctors spurred the nation’s first addiction crisis and how race and class have shaped our perception of addicts and addiction.<br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 06, 2018
The Real Martin Luther King: Reflecting on MLK 50 Years After His Death
3176
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?<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 30, 2018
You Have The Right to Remain Silent: A History of the Miranda Warning
2187
Fifty-five years ago this month, a man named Ernesto Miranda confessed to rape and kidnapping in a Phoenix police station. His trial would go all the way to the Supreme Court in one of the most well-known cases of the 20th century: "Miranda v Arizona." Nathan and Joanne look at the interrogation that led to the Supreme Court decision and ask how the Miranda warning transformed from technical bit of police procedure to pop-culture lexicon. Image credit: Ernesto Miranda, 1963. Source: Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, History and Archives Division, Phoenix, #00-0517.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 23, 2018
Wherever Green is Worn: The Irish in America
3242
On this St. Patrick’s Day special, Brian, Joanne and Nathan explore Irish American culture and identity.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 16, 2018
Turf War: A History of College Sports
3129
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 integration of the University of Alabama’s football team - the hosts discover why college sports even exist in the first place.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 09, 2018
Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History
3458
On this week’s episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends. &nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 02, 2018
Billy Graham, Black Panther and Haiti, and Thomas Edison’s Reputation
2102
The BackStory hosts look back on the rise of influential pastor Billy Graham, who died this week. Nathan probes how <em>Black Panther</em>’s mythical kingdom of Wakanda is a fully realized dream of a black-led country. And Joanne introduces a new segment, in which the hosts reevaluate American icons and their reputations. First up, Thomas Edison: gifted inventor or corporate thief?<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 23, 2018
Life After the Oval Office: Presidential Legacies
3026
In honor of President’s Day, Joanne, Brian, and Nathan explore the ‘afterlives’ of presidents: what do they do with their time once they’re out of office -- and how do we remember them once they’re gone?<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 16, 2018
Catholics in America
2971
Ed, Brian and Nathan mark the beginning of Lent with an exploration of American Catholicism—recounting the struggles, triumphs, and unique impact of Catholics on the history of the United States. From Spanish missionaries on the California coast and early converts among the Mohawk, to JFK and modern nuns living in the Blue Ridge Mountains - BackStory considers how what it means to be Catholic in America has changed over time.<br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 09, 2018
Forgotten Flu: America & the 1918 Pandemic
2776
The U.S. is in the grips of the worst flu season in nearly a decade, with hospitals full across the country. But it’s nothing compared to the flu season one hundred years ago, when a nationwide pandemic killed over half a million Americans. Brian, Nathan, and Joanne look back at the so-called “Spanish Flu,” how it affected the U.S., and why it’s often forgotten today.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 02, 2018
US vs Them: Sports on the World Stage
3426
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 tangled up in what’s going on off the field, from Cold War politics to Americans’ sense of ourselves at home and abroad.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 26, 2018
All that Glitters? Legacies of the California Gold Rush
3275
Gold was discovered in California 170 years ago this month. It set off a mad rush from across the United States -- and around the world. Ed, Joanne, and Nathan delve into what happened in California after gold was found and some of the lasting impacts of the Gold Rush.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 19, 2018
Presidents in the Public Eye, Slogans, and the Value of History
2278
In this week’s roundtable conversation, Ed, Joanne, and Brian focus on President Trump’s Twitter habit and look back at how presidents have interacted with the public. They discuss this year’s Golden Globes, the scene of very public activism around the #TimesUp campaign - how have slogans affected the causes we’ve championed? Finally, how do we put a price on history?<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 12, 2018
Schism: The Branch Davidians at Waco
2315
This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most infamous law enforcement confrontations in American history: a bloody stand-off between federal agents and an apocalyptic Christian group known as the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas. In this episode, Brian and Ed explore the 51 day siege, and what the Branch Davidians actually believed.<br><br>This episode is sponsored by Paramount Network’s presentation of <em>WACO</em>.<br><br>&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 05, 2018
History for the Headlines: 2017 in Review
3001
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.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 29, 2017
Untrammeled: Americans and the Wilderness
3160
With President Trump moving to drastically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Brian, Ed, and Nathan return to our episode on Americans’ fascination with wild places. They explore how early European arrivals actually created wilderness out of a landscape long shaped by human intervention, how humans impact even the most remote corners of our country, and ask how our ideas about wild places have changed over time.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 22, 2017
What’s Cooking? A History of Food in America
3220
It’s the holidays -- that time of the year when food is <em>everywhere</em>. So, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan sit down to discuss some of America’s many homegrown culinary traditions and what the food we eat says about American identity.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 15, 2017
Man of The People: A New Technology Falls Into the Wrong Hands
2689
BackStory features a guest podcast this week, from <em>Reply All</em>. The episode, <em>Man of the People, </em>first aired on January 19, 2017.&nbsp; It’s about the rise and fall of an American demagogue.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 08, 2017
Men Apologizing, Alabama Senate Race, Net Neutrality
2388
In this week’s roundtable conversation, Ed, Joanne, Nathan and Brian focus on three stories in the news: famous men apologizing (or not) for bad behavior,&nbsp; the Alabama Senate race between Roy Moore and Doug Jones, and the FCC’s plans to repeal net neutrality. <br><br>In this episode, Brian mentions Richard Nixon's "Checkers" speech. View the full speech (with transcript) via the <a href="https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/september-23-1952-checkers-speech">Miller Center</a>. And to hear the segment of Brian interviewing Tyrone Jones, a Black Santa, check out "<a href="https://soundcloud.com/backstory/being-santa">Being Santa</a>."<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 01, 2017
On the Take: Corruption in America
3120
With allegations of corruption flying on both sides of the aisle in Washington, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan return to our episode on how Americans have wrestled with political corruption.<br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 24, 2017
The Thin Light of Freedom
2913
Brian sits down with Ed to talk about a project of his that’s been twenty-five years in the making. We’re talking about Ed’s series on the American Civil War and Reconstruction. The first volume, <em>In The Presence of Mine Enemies </em>came out in 2003, and won the Bancroft Prize. <em>&nbsp;</em>It opened with John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, and ended just before the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.&nbsp; <br><br>Ed has just published the second volume in the series:<em> The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America. </em>He picks up the story in 1863, and continues through 1870 and the ratification of the 15th Amendment.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 17, 2017
Red Dawn: Americans and the Bolshevik Revolution
3444
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 century wore on, the USSR became the United States’s chief military and ideological foe. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore how that distant revolution had an immediate impact in the United States.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 10, 2017
Other People’s Battles: American Volunteer Soldiers
3326
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 independence and those who participated in the Spanish Civil War. On this episode, Ed, Brian and Joanne explore when and why Americans signed up to fight for other countries’ causes.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 03, 2017
Close Encounters: UFOs in American History
3888
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?<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 27, 2017
Boy Scouts Welcome Girls, Trump Drums Up Support for War, America as a Judeo-Christian Nation
2199
In this week’s roundtable, the hosts tackle three stories that have been in the news: the Boy Scouts’ decision to include girls, growing GOP support for war with North Korea, and America’s identity as a Judeo-Christian nation. <strong>Advisory: the footnote segment contains references to sexual assault. </strong><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 20, 2017
What’s in a Number? Thirteen in American History
3186
This Friday the 13th, Joanne, Nathan and Brian explore stories of superstition and the surprising roles the number 13 has played across American history. <a href="http://survey.panoply.fm/">survey.panoply.fm</a><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 13, 2017
It is So Ordered: 4 Landmark Decisions of the Supreme Court
2931
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 turn away same-sex couples because of his religious beliefs. So this week, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan dip into the BackStory archive to look at four rulings that shaped public life in America. <a href="http://survey.panoply.fm/">survey.panoply.fm</a><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 06, 2017
Enemies: A History of Bad Blood
2846
As tensions rise with North Korea, Brian, Ed, and Nathan return to our episode on enemies. What distinguishes friend from foe - both at home and abroad - and how has America dealt with our adversaries across time? <a href="http://survey.panoply.fm/">survey.panoply.fm</a><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 29, 2017
Longer Commutes, Equifax Data Breach, and Income Inequality
2384
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.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 22, 2017
The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation
3941
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 expected to change. Plus, we’ll discuss how much room there was for a hyphenated American identity in the past and if there is room today.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 15, 2017
A Conversation with Karl Rove
2534
Brian Balogh sits down with Republican political strategist Karl Rove to talk about his book, “The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters.” They also discuss Rove’s former boss President George W. Bush, the election of 2016, and how his study of history has guided his work as a Republican party strategist.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 08, 2017
Death Before Dishonor: Shame and Reputation in American History
2993
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 concept lives on today.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 01, 2017
Starry-Eyed: A History of the Heavens
3151
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.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 25, 2017
Charlottesville: Our Town, Our Country
1821
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.&nbsp; Violent clashes left one counter protester dead, and 34 injured.&nbsp; The BackStory hosts also discuss the meaning of Confederate statutes, and why they’re suddenly so polarizing. They conclude the conversation with why we’re seeing this resurgence in white nationalist activism in 2017.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 18, 2017
Revisionist Climate: Americans & the Atmosphere
2917
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.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 11, 2017
Are We There Yet?: Americans On Vacation
2242
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.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 04, 2017
Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History
3239
On this week’s episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends. &nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 28, 2017
Skin Deep: Whiteness in America
3326
This week, BackStory looks at whiteness in America by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire. These stories -- from the podcasts <em>Scene on Radio</em> and <em>What’s Ray Saying</em> along with a segment from BackStory’s archives -- explore what it means to be white in America, and how the concept of whiteness has fundamentally shaped our country.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 14, 2017
Hometown History: Local Stories From Across The Country
4379
This week, BackStory looks at local history by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire. These stories -- from Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis and San Francisco -- illuminate big themes in American history and tell us something about what makes these places so unique.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 07, 2017
Crowning Glory: A History of Hair in America
3112
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 personal identity, a living connection to distant loved ones, and even as the root of business empire.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 23, 2017
Contested Landscape: The Battle over Confederate Monuments
2940
Communities from New Orleans to Charlottesville, Virginia have been debating the presence of Confederate monuments. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian discuss when and why many of the nation’s Confederate statues were erected, and what they stood for.&nbsp; They’ll examine the many meanings of the Confederate flag and hear a Civil War re-enactor take a closer look at his Southern heritage.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 16, 2017
Prying Eyes: Privacy in America
3282
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 employees in the federal government, the newsworthiness of your private life, and find out if there was ever a golden age of privacy in America. Image credit: The Right to Privacy by Unarmed Civilian via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/unarmedcivilian/9214530332/in/photolist-f3fSQC-QCHZpQ-idqMte-idVA3F-boXuEu-d2CRcW-anf9p6-dUcCrK-pwPFcP-oA9KTi-bCMxUj-7YXLpH-pMrMsE-e8rA1S-hYGE1b-B8Af8v-5GUzTW-87ZBRR-i2Be9X-9ohbtr-RcypoT-pv8WCT-idrNuw-7DwqT6-eJSYgM-JNCi8-7VbqQt-Bsa9T-8ySRkn-nTej5V-7dEheu-4U8vYe-faiR5n-8K6oqa-mLvryi-f2qkky-75Y56f-8K9MUj-9ZWcfZ-4ymxWy-cRE7LN-cREafJ-de6HF8-cREb2L-cREbQN-de6GuS-cREaD1-5Knxi8-cRE8PJ-9Za4z6">Flickr</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</a>)&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 09, 2017
Body Politics, JFK at 100 and African American Memorials
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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 public monuments of African Americans.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 02, 2017
Call To Arms: Enlistment In America
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Memorial Day honors those who’ve died while serving in the military. In this episode of <strong><em>BackStory</em></strong>, Ed, Joanne, and Brian look at the many reasons for joining the U.S. armed services - from a sense of patriotism, to escaping poverty, to earning American citizenship. They’ll discuss the struggles of the Continental Army to find enough soldiers during the Revolutionary War and how thousands of Filipinos became American citizens by enlisting in the US Navy after World War II.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 01, 2017
National Lampoon: A History of American Satire
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The election of Donald Trump has been a boon to political satirists.&nbsp; <em>Saturday Night Live</em> is enjoying its highest ratings in 20 years, and<em>The Late Show with Stephen Colbert </em>is now the most successful late night program on TV.&nbsp; Joanne, Ed and Brian look at the long history of political satire in America - how Mark Twain became the country’s most famous satirist by mostly sticking to safe subjects, a look at the 1987 Supreme Court case that made political satire protected speech, and talk to the star and director of “Ask a Slave”, the satirical web series.<br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 19, 2017
The Habit: Opioid Addiction in America
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Opioid addiction is a national epidemic. According to the U.S Department of Health &amp; Human Services, "<a href="https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/">drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States</a>." In this episode, Nathan, Ed and Brian look at America's long history with opioids - like opium, morphine and heroin. They’ll discuss how late 19th century doctors spurred the nation’s first addiction crisis and how race and class have shaped our perception of addicts and addiction. &nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 12, 2017
American Hoarders: Saving History
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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 future generations depend on to understand past American culture.<br><br><br>On this episode, Joanne, Ed and Nathan talk about the people who took it upon themselves to collect stuff they knew someone would one day care about -- even if some thought it weird. We'll tell the story of a U.S. congressman who collected his colleagues' discarded notes and talk to his 21st-century counterpart -- someone trying to archive the daily culture of the internet.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 28, 2017
Over There: America Enters WWI
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This April marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’s entry into World War I. So on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Ed discuss how this oft-forgotten war set the stage for the American century.&nbsp;<br>We’ll explore how Woodrow Wilson led a decidedly isolationist country into war. We’ll also discuss the repressive ways Wilson and his administration cracked down on anti-war sentiment.&nbsp;<br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 14, 2017
Seeing Red: A History of U.S./Russia Relations
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In recent years, the White House’s relationship with the Kremlin has dominated the headlines in America --&nbsp; from Syria to Ukraine. According to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/07/politics/russia-us-syria-strike/">CNN</a>, Vladimir Putin denounced last night's U.S. airstrike against Syria (a response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack earlier this week) as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law." In addition, an FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians in the 2016 election has turned into a full-blown political scandal.&nbsp; It can be tempting to view these events through the familiar lens of the Cold War, but in this episode, Joanne, Ed and Brian probe the deeper history of our relationship with Russia — and discover moments of comity as well as conflict.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 07, 2017
A More Perfect Union?: The Reconstruction Era
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It’s been 150 years since Congress passed the first Reconstruction Acts, which paved the way for Confederate states to rejoin the Union after the Civil War. Ed, Nathan and Joanne explore the central questions of this period: how would the country be put back together? Who belonged in it? And what rights would they have?<br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 31, 2017
Behind the Bylines: Advocacy Journalism in America
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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 “<a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-jorge-ramos-journalist-advocate-20150903-story.html">an advocate for people who enter the U.S.A. illegally</a>.”<br><br>In recent decades, however, more journalists have vocally advocated for underrepresented communities. Websites like the <a href="http://thegrio.com/category/politics/">theGrio.com</a> are unapologetic about finding stories the mainstream media aren’t picking up.<br><br>On this episode, Nathan, Joanne, and Brian look at the deep roots of advocacy in journalism. They’ll also explore the recent origins of objectivity and debate the duty of the Fourth Estate.<br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 17, 2017
Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America
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President Donald Trump recently announced his plans to crackdown on undocumented immigration. In his first address to Congress, the president claimed: “We are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak.”<br>Coupled with his second attempt at a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries and his promise to build a border wall, the president and his team are focusing the nation’s attention on who gets in and who the government will kick out.<br>In the second episode of our two-part series on immigration, we explore how the federal government monitors and polices the undocumented. We’ll consider the origins of illegal immigration, as well as how the government’s deportation powers have grown over time.<br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 10, 2017
Taking it to the Streets: Protest in America
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The election of Donald Trump set off a seemingly continuous wave of protests across the country. This is just the latest surge of resistance. Past protests have included varied groups - from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street.&nbsp;<br>On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian look at the central role that political protests have played throughout American history.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 03, 2017
Fit to Print?: A History of Fake News
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Since the 2016 election, concerns about “fake news-” widely circulated news stories that are inaccurate, misleading, or completely made-up - have dominated the headlines. <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news-on-facebook?utm_term=.hylp9MxeVX#.mmLYN54gw6">A Buzzfeed study</a> found that in the three months before the election, false news items were shared on social media more than mainstream news.&nbsp;<br>On this episode, Nathan, Joanne and Ed will look at other times in history when Americans had to be a bit more careful about what they read.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 17, 2017
On the Outs: Restricting American Immigration
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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 believed to be a ban on Muslims. So, on this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian, and Joanne look back at sweeping immigration restrictions in the 19th and 20th centuries, and how immigrant communities navigated these changing rules.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 10, 2017
Worlds Apart: Urban/Rural Divides in America
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According to the New York Times, the 2016 election “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/upshot/this-election-highlighted-a-growing-rural-urban-split.html">highlighted a growing rural-urban split</a>.” So, on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Nathan look at what happens when urban and rural Americans collide.<br><br>They’ll tell the story of one coastal couple’s proposal to make part of the Great Plains a vast nature preserve and how it wasn’t received too kindly by the residents of those states. They’ll look at how attitudes towards small town voters shaped American politics in the 1920s. Finally, they’ll explore the urban/rural divide during the Founding Era, when city slicker Alexander Hamilton challenged Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a country composed of humble yeoman farmers.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 04, 2017
PREVIEW - Worlds Apart
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According to the New York Times, the 2016 election “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/upshot/this-election-highlighted-a-growing-rural-urban-split.html">highlighted a growing rural-urban split</a>.” 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 couple’s proposal to make part of the Great Plains a vast nature preserve and how it wasn’t received too kindly by the residents of those states. They’ll look at how attitudes towards small town voters shaped American politics in the 1920s. Finally, they’ll explore the urban/rural divide during the Founding Era, when city slicker Alexander Hamilton challenged Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a country composed of humble yeoman farmers.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 31, 2017
Best of BackStory Pt. 2
3103
Best of BackStory Pt. 2 by BackStory with the American History Guys <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 26, 2017
Preview
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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! <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 20, 2017
Best Of BackStory Pt. 1
3100
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 of the 21st century’s most basic assumptions. You’ll hear portions of the very first broadcast of BackStory in 2008, Brian Balogh’s roadside conversation with a man from a jail’s work gang, Ed’s interview with a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Peter’s epic turn as a movie director for a film version of the War of 1812. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 19, 2017
Four More Years: Presidential Inaugurations [rebroadcast]
3088
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 about the social and political forces at work at the time. From George Washington’s trembling voice while taking the Oath of Office to the general apathy surround Lincoln’s second inauguration, we’ll remember why inaugurations really matter. p3v647s9 <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 09, 2017
Health Nuts: A History of Nutritional Advice [rebroadcast]
3456
Health Nuts: A History of Nutritional Advice [rebroadcast] by BackStory with the American History Guys <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 05, 2017
Judaism In America [rebroadcast]
3514
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 the U.S. population is Jewish, but the influence of American Jews far outweighs their relatively small numbers. In this episode of BackStory, the Guys (along with guest host Joanne Freeman of Yale University) explore the history of Judaism in America. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 21, 2016
Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast]
3090
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 shelves, and the cheesy Muzak. They’ll consider the role that consumption played in the revolutionary politics of the colonies, look at the curious rash of shoplifting among well-heeled women in the country’s first department stores, and reveal the connection between the Wizard of Oz and window shopping. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 15, 2016
Separation Anxiety: Church & State In America
3320
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 blurry line between church and state in America - from Congress’ attempts to block the first Mormon Senator in the early 1900’s, to the federal government’s imprisonment of religious pacifists who refused to fight in the first world war. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 08, 2016
Short Take: Native Americans, the U.S. Government, and a History of Treaties
854
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. But the celebration was brief as the opposition realized that this might be just another battle won in an ongoing war that has spanned centuries. In this Short Take, Brian talks to Robert T. Anderson, a Professor of Law and Director of the Native American Law Center at the University of Washington, about the history of colonization and treaties between the government and indigenous people. (Image credit: Protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.) <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 06, 2016
New & Improved: Advertising in America [rebroadcast]
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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 tackles the tangled history of American advertising - from the nation’s first billboards to catchy radio and TV jingles. When did the industry come into being and how did advertising executives sell Americans on the idea of lunar exploration? We’ll answer these questions and more. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 01, 2016
Short Take: A History Of Rigged Elections
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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 with Wisconsin being the first to begin a recount, and Hillary Clinton's campaign is willing to go along with a recount despite that Clinton allies are, according to Politico, "irritated with Jill Stein." Even with all of the talk of tampering, the actual chances of voter fraud are very slim now. The past, however, is a different story. In this BackStory short take, the Guys take a look at the history of rigged elections. (Image credit: Voting Machine Bumpersticker by GalacticWanderlust via Flickr) <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 30, 2016
American As Pumpkin Pie: A History Of Thanksgiving [rebroadcast]
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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 Anne Blue Wills reveals the surprising, 19th century origins of our national holiday. We’ll also hear from legendary NFL quarterback Roger Staubach about what it was like to spend every turkey day on the football field. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 23, 2016
A Whole New World: A History of Utopias
3100
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 fall of Pullman’s model company town, the Guys look at why the idea of “utopianism” has such strong appeal to Americans. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 17, 2016
American Exodus: A History of Emigration [rebroadcast]
3078
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 – emigration? In this episode of BackStory, we ask who’s chosen to leave the U.S. and what parts of their American identities they took with them - from the free blacks who sailed to Liberia in search of true freedom to the Depression-era refugees who moved to the Soviet Union. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 11, 2016
Short Take: The 2016 Election
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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 how can we draw lessons from the past? In this BackStory short take, Brian and Ed look to add perspective to this historic event. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons) <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 09, 2016
Pulling the Curtain: Voting in America [rebroadcast]
3120
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 late 19th century, until you consider all the people who weren’t eligible to vote back then. In this episode of BackStory, the History Guys look at voting trends - from the changing mechanisms of voting to how the electoral college system maintained racial hierarchies in the South. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 03, 2016
Short Take: FBI and U.S. Elections
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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 investigation into Clinton's private server and email activity during her time as Secretary of State. It also set off a firestorm of protests from both sides of the aisle. Just what is the role of the FBI when investigating politicians and did Comey cross a line with a move that many are interpreting as interfering with a presidential election within two weeks of Americans voting? In this BackStory short take, the Guys talk to Yale historian Beverly Gage about the history of the FBI's involvement in U.S. elections.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 02, 2016
Bridge For Sale: Deception In America [rebroadcast]
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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 as “the truth compelling machine.” We’ll also try to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 20, 2016
A History of Manufacturing in 5 Objects
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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 objects that transformed American life. From 18th century colonists struggling to produce that most coveted of tems -- porcelain -- to the invention of nylon stockings and the TV picture tube in the 20th century, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the surprising history behind five inventions and innovations. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 13, 2016
Fighting Words: A History of Debate in America
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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 the popularity of amateur debate clubs among young men in the late 18th century, to the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, and Gerald Ford’s infamous gaffe in the 1976 presidential debate, Ed, Brian, and Peter unpack the central role of debating in American democracy. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 06, 2016
Keeping Tabs: Data & Surveillance in America [rebroadcast]
3158
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 Snowden is a traitor or a hero, BackStory takes a look at the changing ways we’ve collected information on each other – and when it crosses from a matter of national security into something more sinister. (Photo credit: Uncle Sam wants your privacy. Source: Jeff Schuler via Flickr (https://secure.flickr.com/photos/jeffschuler/2585181312/in/set-72157604249628154)) <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 29, 2016
Banned: A History of Censorship [rebroadcast]
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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, and culture. We look at efforts to prevent the discussion of controversial subjects from slavery to sex, Hollywood’s production code and how the line between free speech and censorship has changed over time. LANGUAGE ADVISORY: PROFANITY IS USED IN “THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH” AND “UP TO CODE." ALL INSTANCES ARE BLEEPED. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 21, 2016
Believer-In-Chief: Faith & The Presidency
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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 spiritual beliefs. We’ll look at how many early leaders, like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, didn’t belong to a particular church, and how Democratic presidential candidate Al Smith’s Roman Catholicism was a flashpoint in the 1928 election. We’ll also hear how evangelical preacher Billy Graham became the spiritual advisor to a dozen Presidents. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 14, 2016
Body Politics: Disability in America [rebroadcast]
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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 disability in America. From the “ugly laws” that barred the disabled from public spaces to the grassroots activism that set the stage for the passage of the ADA, the Guys consider how people with disabilities shaped America and how attitudes towards disability have changed. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 08, 2016
Nose to the Grindstone: A History of American Work Ethic
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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 the Puritan work ethic, and how race and class are often more important than hard work in determining achievement. We also ask why a strong work ethic has long been a key part of what it means to be American. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 01, 2016
Untrammeled: Americans and the Wilderness [rebroadcast]
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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 first European settlers encountered a landscape long shaped by human intervention, and later, how the city of San Francisco found a way to control the remote Hetch Hetchy valley, hundreds of miles away. They also consider how our ideas about wilderness have changed over time. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 25, 2016
Serve & Protect? A History of the Police [rebroadcast]
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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 of questioning about the role of local police in their communities. On this episode, we’ll explore how the first municipal police departments were assembled to quell riots in the 1840s, not fight crime. And we’ll consider what happens when the police don’t protect those they serve. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 17, 2016
Wish You Were Here: A History of American Tourism
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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 in the 19th century, and how the tiny community of Gettysburg, PA became a tourist town just days after the bloody battle. We’ll also look back on a western mountain resort that catered exclusively to black Americans during the era of segregated travel, and we’ll explore the links between tourism and the development of a national identity. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 11, 2016
Another Man’s Treasure: A History Of Trash [rebroadcast]
3102
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 line - we’ll learn why Americans produce so much garbage and the different ways we’ve disposed of it. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Aug 04, 2016
You've Come A Long Way?: A History Of Women In Politics
3606
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 women who fought for the right to vote. On this episode of BackStory, we look at the different ways women have influenced American politics, including: • The bread riots by Confederate soldiers' wives. • The 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C. • Shirley Chisholm's historic 1972 presidential campaign. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 28, 2016
Conventional Wisdom: A History of American Political Conventions [rebroadcast]
3092
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 were resolved, and where political careers were made or ruined. On this episode, we venture into the back rooms, chaotic halls, and streets where these political clashes unfolded. The History Guys bring us the voices of anti-corruption crusaders in the 1820s, women’s rights activists at Seneca Falls, and civil rights workers in 1964 - all of whom turned to conventions to push for change. Through it all, we’ll ask how well American political conventions have lived up to their promise of representing constituents back home. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 22, 2016
The GOP: A History Of The Republican Party
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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 Grand Old Party. From its birth in 1854 by anti-slavery activists in the North, to the party of small government and low taxes, we look at how theRepublican party has reinvented itself at various points in its history. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 14, 2016
Rare History Well Done: Meat In America [rebroadcast]
3500
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 tastes have altered which meats Americans consume. As millions of folks fire up their grills this summer, the Guys will look back on America's long love affair with all things meat. How did we get from smokehouses and stockyards to cellophane-wrapped meat in supermarkets? Why do we love hot dogs so much? And in the era of modern appliances, why do we still insist on grilling steak, wings and burgers on on open flame? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 08, 2016
Independence Daze: A History of July 4th [rebroadcast]
3158
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 perspective from guests and taking questions from listeners, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the origins of July Fourth. They highlight the holiday’s radical roots, look at how the Declaration’s meaning has changed over time, and consider how the descendants of slaves embraced the Declaration’s message of liberty and equality.<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jul 04, 2016
The Pursuit: A History Of Happiness [rebroadcast]
3113
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 by exploring Jefferson’s intent with his choice of punctuation. Along the way, they will consider how Americans have defined success, prosperity and contentment. They’ll also look at the many ways we’ve pursued happiness, and learn if history squares with our lofty goals. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 30, 2016
Above The Fray?: Ideology & The Court
3088
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. Madison, which elevated the court to a co-equal branch of government, to FDR’s infamous court packing plan, and the failed nomination of conservative judge Robert Bork in the 1987 - the Guys look at how political pressures have shaped the country’s highest court. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 24, 2016
Committed: Marriage In America [rebroadcast]
3074
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 defined and redefined marriage. We explore the surprising 20th century origins of marriage counseling, as well as a panic over child brides that swept the nation in the late 1930s. The Guys take a look at how the experience of marriage changed for enslaved people after Emancipation. And we visit a modern-day wedding in Elkton, MD — the former get-hitched-quick capital of America. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 17, 2016
Hamilton: A History
3093
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 his face on the front of the $10 bill. Peter, Ed and Brian take apart the Hamilton phenomenon by considering who Alexander Hamilton was, his legacy (and how it was remade) and why a white migrant from the British West Indies appeals to so many Americans in 2016. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 10, 2016
Politically Incorrect: Speech In American Politics
3098
***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 saying what many Americans think but are afraid to say, while opponents charge him with inciting bigotry and hatred. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys look at how American society and culture has shaped what topics could-- or couldn't-- be talked about, and how Americans have both celebrated and tried to restrict "politically incorrect" speech. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jun 03, 2016
The Beasts Within Domesticated Animals In America [rebroadcast]
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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 animals and pets, but the history of human-animal interaction hasn’t always been pretty. In this episode, the Guys will look at the contributions of pigs to the colonization of America, our complicated feelings about animal performers and explore what pets have meant to us throughout history. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 27, 2016
All Hopped Up: Drugs In America [rebroadcast]
3135
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 painkillers are becoming a national epidemic. We have a checkered past where drug usage is concerned. Brian, Ed and Peter start this episode by looking at the 19th century, when opium and cocaine were legal. Along the way, we’ll explore the influence of the medical establishment, as well as the role of drugs in popular culture. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 20, 2016
Watch The Throne: America & Royalty
3471
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 BackStory, the History Guys will consider what happened when Napoleon’s little brother married an American teenager, whether Americans had more or less freedom after independence from Great Britain, and why Americans sometimes try to emulate royal families. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 13, 2016
All In: A History of Gambling in America
3145
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 the birth of Las Vegas. We’ll hear how lotteries help raise money for the Virginia colony, and when horse racing was America’s most popular spectator sport. We’ll also learn how gambling, once outlawed in much of the U.S., has also been a major source of revenue for cash-strapped communities. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
May 06, 2016
On The Money: A History Of American Currency [rebroadcast]
3078
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 Guys and their guests discuss the profusion of currencies in the past, and consider how Americans decided which ones to trust. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 29, 2016
Judaism in America
3527
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 relatively small demographic size. In this episode of BackStory, the Guys explore the history of Judaism in America, from George Washington’s famous letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, to efforts to establish a Jewish city of refuge, near Buffalo, New York in the l820’s, and the importance of delis in Jewish American culture. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 22, 2016
Stuck: A History of Political Gridlock [rebroadcast]
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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 of checks and balances devolved into open warfare between political factions. They’ll discuss how the Missouri Compromise failed to resolve the political battle over the expansion of slavery. They’ll also look at the war within the Democratic party over Prohibition in the l920’s, and how Southern Democrats used the filibuster to block civil rights bills in the l950’s and 60’s. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 15, 2016
Pass/Fail: An American History of Testing
3107
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 delve into the history of testing in America, from duels and religious tests in colonial New England to the development of the civil service exam in the wake of President James Garfield’s assassination in 1881 by a disgruntled job seeker. They’ll also look at the role of eugenics in the development of standardized tests for students, and corporate America’s fondness for the Myers-Briggs personality test.&nbsp;<br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 08, 2016
TURF WAR [2016]: A HISTORY OF COLLEGE SPORTS [rebroadcast]
3085
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 originally justified athletics on campus. From the first collegiate PHYS ED program at Amherst College to the little-known story about the integration of the University of Alabama’s football team, Peter, Ed and Brian discover why college sports even exist in the first place. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Apr 01, 2016
Little Caesars: Local Power in America
3488
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 power brokers; from big city political bosses and small town sheriffs to some of the social reformers who’ve shaped their communities from the ground up. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 28, 2016
Small Island, Big Shadow Cuba and the U.S. [rebroadcast]
3090
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 in U.S.-Cuba relations that reflect Cuba’s outsized influence throughout American history. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 18, 2016
Well-Regulated Militias: A History Of Armed Protest
3196
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 hardly the first time in our history that American citizens have staged armed protests. In this episode of BackStory, the Guys will consider different groups who have taken up arms - from Revolutionary War veterans protesting taxes, to the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and violent labor protests in the 20th century. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 11, 2016
The Middling Sort: Visions of the Middle Class [rebroadcast]
3100
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 this group. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Mar 04, 2016
Hard Times: A History Of Unemployment
3090
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 episode of BackStory, the Guys will look at the invention of the official unemployment rate, discuss the struggle among Baltimore’s working classes in the early 19th century to find and keep work, and uncover the hidden history of unemployment in the U.S. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 26, 2016
Contagion: Responding to Infectious Disease [rebroadcast]
3084
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 explore the rampant spread of diseases in the wake of the Civil War and the first World War. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 19, 2016
Real To Reel 2016: History At The Movies
3295
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. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 12, 2016
New & Improved: Advertising In America [rebroadcast]
3540
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 of BackStory tackles the tangled history of American advertising, from the nation’s first billboards to catchy jingles. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 05, 2016
PROMO - New & Improved: Advertising In America [rebroadcast]
30
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 of BackStory tackles the tangled history of American advertising, from the nation’s first billboards to catchy jingles. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Feb 02, 2016
Court Of Public Opinion: Trial Watching In America
3110
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 young clerk accused of murdering a New York City prostitute in 1836, and why we’re still talking about Sacco and Vanzetti nearly a century after they were sentenced to death. From public hanging in Puritan Massachusetts, to the murder trial of Black Panther leader Huey Newton in the late 1960’s, the Guys will reveal the deep-seated issues beneath American trial-watching. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 29, 2016
City Upon A Hill: A History Of American Exceptionalism [rebroadcast]
3173
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.” President Obama is hardly the first leader to talk about American exceptionalism. But just how “exceptional” is America? And why does it matter? In this episode of BackStory, we’ll go behind the rhetoric to unpack the history and meaning of the term and assess the changing meanings of “American exceptionalism” over time. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 22, 2016
Color Lines: Racial Passing In America
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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 look at stories of African-Americans who passed as white to escape slavery or Jim Crow and find out how the “one-drop rule” enabled one blonde-haired, blue-eyed American to live a double life without ever arousing suspicion. We'll also explore the story of an African-American musician who pioneered a genre of exotic music with a bejeweled turban and an invented biography, and examine the hidden costs of crossing over. CORRECTION: This show includes a story about Sylvester Long, a man of mixed descent who styled himself as a pure-blooded Native American named Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance. We refer to him as a movie star who published a famous autobiography. In fact, Long Lance published his autobiography first—the popularity of the book catapulted him into movie stardom. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 15, 2016
The Future Then: Visions of America Yet to Come [rebroadcast]
3081
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 episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Peter kick off the new year by asking what past visions of the future tell us about the times that conjured them. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Jan 08, 2016
Cheers and Jeers: Alcohol in America [rebroadcast]
3096
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. The Guys will consider how and why the consumption and production of alcohol have ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries. We’ll learn how rum became the drink of choice among revolutionary troops, explore why Native Americans were rejecting alcohol two centuries before the rest of the country, and follow the long march toward Prohibition. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 31, 2015
History for the Headlines: 2015 in Review
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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 year’s major news stories. What does the 19th century populist movement tell us about the 2016 presidential campaign? And how does the 1897 battle over America’s first long-distance oil pipeline connect to the Keystone XL debate? In this episode, we’ll take a second look at 2015—and turn up a few surprises along the way. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 25, 2015
Islam and the United States [rebroadcast]
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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 Middle East. What does it mean to be Muslim in America? And how has the practice of Islam in the U.S. changed over time? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 18, 2015
American Prophets: Religions Born in the U.S.
3092
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 religious dissenters. It was also fertile ground for many new religious faiths. In this hour of BackStory, the History Guys will consider religions that originated or transformed in America, from Christian Science to Scientology. They’ll find out how the threat of colonization briefly united 18th-century Native Americans under a single deity, and how the Nation of Islam found converts among African-Americans in the civil rights era. What makes a religion “American”? Why do so many new faiths sprout from American soil? And what role will 21st century America play in the history of religious innovation? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 11, 2015
Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast]
3090
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 colonies, look at the curious rash of shoplifting among well-heeled women in the country’s first department stores, and reveal the connection between the Wizard of Oz and window shopping. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Dec 04, 2015
Three Squares: Mealtime in America [rebroadcast]
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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 finding the perfect nutritional balance—it has profound social implications, too. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys recover from their Thanksgiving feasts by looking back over the history of mealtime in America. From Victorian table manners to the school lunch program, how have our ideas about what, when, and how we eat our meals evolved? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 24, 2015
Contested Landscape: Confederate Symbols in America
3479
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 remove the flag from the State House building, and many other states followed suit. But while some Americans applaud the decision as a victory against racism and hatred, others argue that the flag’s removal dishonors the memory of those who died defending the South. On this episode of BackStory, we’re looking at how memories of the Confederacy have shaped the nation’s landscape, from the rebel flag to the silver screen. The Guys will hear what symbols of the Confederacy mean to African Americans, explore Hollywood’s love affair with Confederate heroes, and find out why one Civil War re-enactor changed his mind about his heritage. How have generations of Americans revered and renounced the Confederacy since its defeat 150 years ago? Correction: In an earlier version of this episode we stated that Richmond's Monument Avenue is the only street on the National Register of Historic Places. There are several streets on the list. We regret the error. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 20, 2015
Body Politics: Disability in America
3425
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 American society. This week on BackStory, we’re exploring the history of disability in America, from the “ugly laws” that barred the disabled from public spaces to the grassroots activism that set the stage for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Guys will consider how the inventor of the telephone tried to stamp out American sign language, and how enslaved people found ways to exploit white fears of physical disability. How have people with disabilities shaped 21st century America? And how have American attitudes towards disability changed? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 13, 2015
Coming Home: A History of War Veterans [rebroadcast]
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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 kinds of challenges did veterans face in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries? How did Americans understand the psychological effects of war before PTSD was a diagnosis? What was expected of soldiers’ wives and mothers from one war to the next? Are veterans only as popular as the wars they’ve fought in? On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will tackle these and other questions. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Nov 05, 2015
People's Choice: A History of Populism
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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 tradition as old as the country itself. In this episode, the Guys trace populism’s influence on American politics—from mob justice in Revolutionary Boston to the original presidential outsider, Andrew Jackson. BackStory will explore how farmers built a mass movement around monetary reform in the late 19th century and how the Trumps of their day capitalized on a tradition of riling up the masses. How have populist movements inspired, and sometimes alarmed, the electorate? And how does populism affect our politics today? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 23, 2015
Green Acres: A History of Farmers in America [rebroadcast]
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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 foundation for a virtuous republic. Just two percent of Americans live on farms today, but farmers still occupy a special place in the national identity. In this episode, BackStory considers why the ideal of the self-sufficient, independent American farmer is still so powerful (even as the reality has largely disappeared) and who has invoked that ideal over time. From railroad companies to anti-imperialists, the image of the “yeoman farmer” has served many different ends and anchored one of the most successful government lobbies in history. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 16, 2015
They Might Be Giants: China and the U.S.
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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 illicit and lucrative trade in opium. Later, Chinese immigrants helped to build the American West. But the relationship between the two countries has often been fraught, with each side fearing that the other is seeking the upper hand. In this episode, Brian, Ed and Peter explore the long and often turbulent history between the two countries, now the top economies in the world. How does our past history with China color our present relationship? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 09, 2015
Little Feet: Children Starting Over in America [rebroadcast]
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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 such treacherous journeys. This week, BackStory revisits our episode on the many paths of child migrants in our own country. Some were thought of as innocents to be saved, whether from the Nazi bombing of London or from overcrowded urban orphanages. Others were hailed as pint-sized heroes of the Cold War, or scorned as child savages in need of civilizing — a justification once used to tear Indian children away from their families. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Oct 02, 2015
Banned: A History of Censorship
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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 sought to censor all kinds of things: music, radio, TV, and film have also run up against assumed limits on what is acceptable to say or portray. In this episode, Peter, Ed, and Brian offer an uncut account of censorship in American politics, media, and culture—from rules designed to prevent the discussion of controversial subjects ranging from slavery to sex via the mail, to Hollywood's production code and censorship today. Recalling materials and individuals that have been suppressed or once incurred a censor’s wrath, we explore how the line between free speech and censorship has changed over time. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 25, 2015
Catholics In America
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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 impact of Catholics on the history of the United States. From Spanish missionaries on the California coast and early converts among the Mohawk, to JFK and modern nuns living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, BackStory considers how what it means to be Catholic in America has changed over time. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 18, 2015
Fear Tactics: A History of Domestic Terrorism [rebroadcast]
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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 are the origins of domestic terrorism in the United States? And what kinds of people and movements have been labeled as “terrorist?” Brian, Ed, Peter and their guests explore the relationship between terror and the state and ask when, if ever, terrorism is justified. <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 11, 2015
Rare History Well Done: Meat in America
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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 technologies, tastes, and policies have altered not only which meats Americans consume but also how they consume them. As millions of Americans fire up their grills this Labor Day, the Guys will look back on America’s love affair with all things meat. How did we get from smokehouses to supermarkets? Why do we love hot dogs so much? And in the era of modern appliances, why do we still insist on grilling steak, wings and burgers on an open flame? <br><br>Learn more about your ad choices. Visit <a href="https://megaphone.fm/adchoices">megaphone.fm/adchoices</a>
Sep 04, 2015