Degrees of Freedom: Higher Education in America...09/26/14
Fall has arrived, and all across the country, college students are returning to campus - and so is BackStory. Last year, President Obama proposed sweeping changes to the way government helps to finance students’ higher education, and an unprecedented...
Serve & Protect? A History of the Police
For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer — is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used...
Untrammeled: Americans and the Wilderness
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, BackStory heads into the wilderness, exploring Americans’ fascination with, and fear of, wild places – and the ways in which humans have impacted even the most remote corners of the country. From...
The War Of 1812: Which One Was That? [rebroadcast]
200 years ago, the United States was engulfed in a war that had seen Washington, D.C. attacked and burned, and the nation's independence seriously threatened. Today, few people remember who we were even fighting in that conflict - the War of 1812 -...
Fair Wages: A History Of Getting Paid [rebroadcast]
In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and then signed an executive order putting it into effect for federal contract workers. With legislation on the table in...
The Great War: The Long Shadow of WWI
World War I was sometimes called "the war to end all wars." But 100 years after the fighting began, it's become a war that's often forgotten in American history, or viewed as a prelude to WWII. In this episode, we explore some of the ways the conflict...
Starry-Eyed: A History of the Heavens [rebroadcast]
Americans have had an ongoing fascination with the skies above us, so in this episode, we’re taking on space. How have people made sense of meteors, eclipses, and the stars? What has made us want to travel among them, to go to the moon, to Mars, or...
On the Take: Corruption in America
It’s a worry as old as the Republic: Do politicians look out for the public good, or their own private interests? But what exactly Americans consider the corruption of public office has changed over time. This week, BackStory shines a light on fears...
Tapped Out: Thirsting for Fresh Water
The Western U.S. is in the grip of a punishing drought. Reservoir levels are dropping, and farmers are struggling to ensure water access for their crops and livestock. In this episode, we’re looking at how Americans have managed access to water...
American Apparel: A History of Fashion
Summer might mean taking off the layers, but what Americans wear reflects so much more than the weather. In this episode, we explore what our self-presentation can say about our society and culture, and what fashions reflect about moments and...
Four More Years: Presidential Inaugurations
As the rest of Washington looks forward to the next four years, BackStory is looking back at the last 224 years of presidential transitions. On today’s show, the History Guys focus in on several of the most high-stakes presidential inaugurations, and...
All Hopped Up: Drugs in America
In December, recreational marijuana use became legal in Washington and Colorado. But back in the early 20th century, both states were among the first to ban the drug.If that seems like a radical change, well – it’s hardly the first time a drug has...
Thenceforward and Forever Free [Rebroadcast]
We look at the narratives surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation and try to unpack its legacy. How can we best understand emancipation - as a moral imperative, a military necessity, a political strategy, or all of the above?
Best of Times: BackStory Year in Review
In May of 2012, we re-launched BackStory as a weekly program. In this special year-end episode, we listen back to some of our favorite moments from the show since then. Do you have a favorite BackStory segment that wasnt included in this show? Let us...
Naughty & Nice: A History of The Holiday Season [rebroadcast]
The History Guys trace the evolution of Christmas in America from a public festival of rowdy excess to a child-centered celebration of church and family.
Apocalypse Now & Then: A History of End-Times
12/21/12 marks the end of the "Mayan Long Count" calendar, and has triggered a round of prophesies about the end of the world. And so we figured we'd take the opportunity to look back on all the good times we've had... worrying about end-times.
You’ve Got Mail: A History of the Post Office [rebroadcast]
For many Americans, the post office has become largely a conduit for bills and junk mail. But for more than 200 years, it played a central role in American life. In this episode, we explore the rise—and fall—of the USPS.
Cheers and Jeers: Alcohol in America [rebroadcast]
The American History Guys explore the twists and turns of our country's relationship with alcohol. From the founding era through the temperance movement, Prohibition, and beyond, they look at when and why drinking has ebbed and flowed.
Three Squares: Mealtime in America
The History Guys recover from their Thanksgiving feasts with a look back at 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?
Coming Home: A History of War Veterans [rebroadcast]
How have war veterans been treated in the aftermath of America's past wars? How much depends on the politics of the war? Are vets only as popular as the wars they’ve fought in?
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