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Backstory

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BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Each week we take a topic that people 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.

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.
More Information

Location:

Charlottesville, VA

Networks:

Panoply

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.

Language:

English

Contact:

145 Ednam Dr. Charlottesville, VA 22903 434-924-3296


Episodes

When You Just Want to be Alone: The History of Solitude in America

1/18/2019
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We all have times when we want to be alone, but what is the history of solitude in America? How are experiments on dolphins connected with consciousness raising and isolation tanks? And what does Thoreau’s solitary experiment at Walden Pond have to teach us all in the digital age? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:53:41

The BackStory Prize: Our Choice for the Best Public History Project in America

1/11/2019
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BackStory is ten years old, and to celebrate our birthday we’ve created an important new prize - the BackStory Prize for Public History. Join Ed, Brian, Joanne, Nathan and special guest judges Margot Lee Shetterly (author of Hidden Figures) and actor Chris Jackson (who played George Washington in “Hamilton” on Broadway) as they discuss the exhibitions, books, websites and museums competing to become the winner of the first ever BackStory Prize. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...

Duration:00:35:23

Finding Americana: Butter Sculptures, Tiny Towns and Other Irresistible Gems

1/4/2019
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What could be more American than . . . butter carving? Maybe miniature roadside towns or perhaps a dead whale on a train. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian and Nathan explore the best of Americana, finding the unique and the kitschy in American culture. (This show features two segments from previous episodes.) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:53:46

What’s Cooking? A History of Food in America

12/28/2018
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It’s the holidays -- that time of the year when food is everywhere. 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. In this episode we talked to Pati Jinich of "Pati's Mexican Kitchen." Find her recipe for Chilorio Burritas (and more) on her website. We also talked about Maida Heatter's "Best Damn Lemon Cake." Learn more about Heatter and find her lemon cake recipe (as well as a few...

Duration:00:53:07

Playing the Past: Video Games and American History

12/21/2018
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The Department of Defense developed the very first video game and the Oregon Trail taught a generation to live as a pioneer. Red Dead Redemption 2 might be a major commercial success, but how historically accurate is it of the Old West? On this episode, Brian, Nathan and Ed explore the relationship between history and video games in America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:56:36

The BackStory Holiday Book Show: 19 History Books for the Holiday Season

12/14/2018
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What history books should you gift - or get- this holiday season? BackStory’s hosts and special guests share their recommendations of the history page turners you should pack for the holidays. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:01:01:39

Out of the Closet: The LGBTQ Community in American History

12/7/2018
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Brian, Nathan and Joanne explore the history of the LGBTQ community in the US, from tales of gender fluidity in the Old West to early gay liberation, and from the political career of Harvey Milk to the barrier breaking career of one SFPD cop. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:01:19:37

Forgotten Flu: America & the 1918 Pandemic

11/30/2018
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The CDC recommended flu shots for all this year after more than 80,000 Americans succumbed to influenza in 2017 - a four-decade high. But 100 years ago, a strain of H1N1 that was first found in soldiers in the spring of 1918 rapidly spread across the United States killing about 675,000 by 1919 and making it “the most severe pandemic in recent history,” according to the CDC. Brian, Nathan, and Joanne look back at the so-called “Spanish Flu,” how it affected the U.S., and why it’s often...

Duration:00:43:40

Stuffed: Taxidermy in the History of America

11/23/2018
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This Thanksgiving week BackStory is all about stuffing and being stuffed. We’ll find out about the father of American natural history dioramas, talk to a man with a condor in his freezer, discover how a mischievous raven connects Edgar Allan Poe to Charles Dickens and unravel the extraordinary story of the man who proposed stuffing the Founding Fathers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:01:09:25

Divided States of America? The History of An Often Disjointed Union

11/16/2018
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Google the phrase “divided America” and you’ll find numerous, stories, opinion pieces and even psychological theories on why we’re so disconnected. From race and class to gender and politics, it seems that Americans can’t see eye-to-eye - to the point that a recent NBC News headline stated, “Americans are divided over everything except division.” On this episode, Ed, Nathan and Joanne look at other times in history when Americans were split. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...

Duration:00:57:06

Lincoln the Lawyer: Abraham Lincoln’s Early Life and Career

11/9/2018
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Abraham Lincoln wasn’t the first lawyer to occupy the Oval Office (and he wouldn’t be the last). Lincoln came to national prominence after a long career settling disputes between farmers and representing litigious railway companies. So what did this enterprising lawyer pick up along the way and how did his legal career influence the President he became? Ed and guest host Lindsay Graham of the American History Tellers podcast explore the career of Lincoln the Lawyer. Learn more about your ad...

Duration:00:54:43

Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America

11/2/2018
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Thousands of Central American migrants, dubbed the “migrant caravan,” have traveled north on foot towards the U.S. border since mid-October. Originating in Honduras, the group includes men, women and children attempting to escape high poverty, violence and corruption. In response, President Trump deployed 5,200 active duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico this week and indicates that number could reach 15,000. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne consider the origins...

Duration:00:37:37

The War to End All Wars: Remembering WWI

10/26/2018
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On November 11, 1918, Germany formally surrendered to the Allied Powers, about 19 months after the United States entered the conflict. On this episode, Brian and Nathan reflect on how, 100 years later, “the war to end all wars” is still with Americans. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:49:23

To be a Citizen? The History of Becoming American

10/19/2018
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Around three quarters of a million people applied to be American Citizens in 2017. But what does citizenship actually mean? The way Americans have defined citizenship has changed over time and many have found their citizenship challenged, undermined, resisted and even revoked. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne discover the path to citizenship has never been easy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:54:00

Thar She Blows Again: The History of Whales and America (Part 2)

10/12/2018
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BackStory shoots up from the depths and spouts another great episode exploring the extraordinary tale of whales and whaling in America. Brian, Nathan, Joanne and Ed uncover the story of Cabin Boys who were women in disguise, find out why a decomposing whale was turned away from a Midwestern Town, and learn all about the Black whaler and entrepreneur who became one of the wealthiest men in America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:01:04:18

Thar She Blows: The History of Whales and America

10/5/2018
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Whale deaths are defying yearly averages on the East Coast according to the New England Aquarium, once again increasing concerns about our conservation responsibilities and the continued recovery of the species after nearly two centuries of whaling. Americans romanticized whaling through books like “Moby Dick,” even though whale hunting nearly led to the extinction of the sperm whale. On this episode, Brian, Nathan and Joanne explore how Native American whalers faced stereotypes within the...

Duration:00:44:06

Land of the Free? The History of Incarceration in the U.S.

9/28/2018
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(Contains archival audio in segments 1 and 3 (see backstoryradio.org for details).) The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. This month prisoners across the U.S. took part in a National Prison strike protesting how they are used as cheap labor, and calling for an end to “prison slavery.” In this episode, Brian, Nathan and Joanne reflect on the history of prison labor and learn more about the challenges facing those behind bars. Learn more about...

Duration:00:40:29

Close Encounters: UFOs in American History

9/21/2018
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The national Sunspot Solar Observatory was mysteriously shut down on Sept. 6. Located near Almagordo, New Mexico, local law enforcement reported that the FBI was behind the closure that lasted approximately one week. However, the FBI would neither confirm nor deny the reports. The shutdown sparked numerous rumors across the internet with many believing that alien activity was involved. So, on this week’s episode, Nathan, Brian and Ed discuss things in the sky we can’t explain - unidentified...

Duration:01:02:49

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The History of America’s Wealthy Elite

9/14/2018
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It’s been ten years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers shook the world’s economy. Today Ed, Nathan and Brian explore the iconic figure of the American Millionaire, telling the story of one of the first African American Millionaires, delving into the ambiguities around Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy, and finding out that there is more to the board game Monopoly than just rolling the dice and passing “Go.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:47:12

After Hurricane Maria: The History of Puerto Rico and the United States

9/7/2018
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In August of 2018, officials in Puerto Rico reported that over 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. One year after the disaster, Brian, Ed and Nathan take a look at the historical relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. Are Puerto Ricans really Americans in the eyes of the federal government? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:53:43