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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

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

Fit to Print?: A History of Fake News

8/31/2018
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As we approach the midterm elections, concerns about fake news - widely circulated news stories that are inaccurate, misleading, or completely made-up – continue to dominate the headlines. The topics, targets, and sources of this content continues to expand, while labelling stories as “fake news” has become a commonplace tactic to blur the lines between fiction and reality. On this episode, Nathan, Joanne and Ed will look at other times in history when Americans had to be a bit more careful...

Duration:00:33:59

Hot Enough For You? The History of Climate Change

8/24/2018
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According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2018 is on pace to be the fourth hottest year on record. So, on this week’s episode, Nathan, Brian and Joanne talk about how Americans understood climate and weather in centuries past. They also explore how the invention of air conditioning changed America forever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:32:36

In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud: A History of the Atomic Age

8/17/2018
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In 1942, American scientists created the first sustained, controlled nuclear reaction, under the bleachers of a football field. Needless to say, it was the beginning of a new era. On this week’s show, Brian, Joanne and Ed talk atomic power, and the indelible mark it left on American culture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:55:39

A More Perfect Union? The Reconstruction Era

8/10/2018
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Lately, Americans feel the country is more divided (at least politically) than ever and often wonder how to go about repairing our divisions. Those same questions were asked when the nation started to come back together after the very real split of the Civil War. When Congress passed the first Reconstruction Acts, paving the way for Confederate states to rejoin the Union after the war, many also asked who belonged in the country and what rights they would have. So, in this episode, Ed,...

Duration:00:44:12

The Battle for Charlottesville's Soul: One Year Later, A Community Looks Back

8/3/2018
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On August 11 & 12, 2017, a “Unite the Right” rally brought chaos, violence and death to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. To mark the anniversary, BackStory broadcasts an episode of “A12,” a new podcast series presented by historian, writer and podcaster Nicole Hemmer. “A12” looks at the legacy of August 12th in Charlottesville and beyond. In it Hemmer, who witnessed the rally and attack, brings together city leaders, activists, scholars, and witnesses to make sense of all the...

Duration:00:47:00

Elementary Mr. President: Sherlock Holmes, the Supreme Court and Dr. Spock

7/27/2018
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Ed, Joanne and Brian explore the history of filling vacant seats on the Supreme Court, discover the secret connections between 221B Baker Street and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and find out why the publication date of a successful child rearing manual is a Day that Changed America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:39:06

The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation

7/20/2018
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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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:01:01:26

Shore Thing: A History of the Beach

7/13/2018
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Summer’s here and BackStory has gone to the beach. Ed, Joanne, and Brian dip their toes into four tales from America’s shoreline. We’ll talk about race, health, and daringly provocative woolen swimsuits. And the hosts will add their own experiences of the beach as a weird, magical place. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:49:47

What’s in a Number? Thirteen in American History

7/6/2018
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The 13th of any month is more likely to occur on a Friday than any other day of the week and it's happened as many as three times in a single calendar year. So, why is it considered bad luck? In this episode, Joanne, Nathan and Brian explore stories of superstition and the surprising roles the number 13 has played across American history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:50:02

Saving American History

6/29/2018
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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, your old record collection, 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. On this episode, Joanne, Ed and Nathan talk about the people who decided to take it upon themselves to collect stuff they knew people would care about someday -- even if others...

Duration:00:39:37

Summer Reading List: 14 History Books You’ll Want to Read

6/22/2018
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What should you be reading this summer? BackStory’s hosts and special guests share their recommendations of the history page turners you should pack for the beach. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:54:39

The Camera Never Lies? History Through the Viewfinder

6/15/2018
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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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:36:55

Death Before Dishonor: Shame and Reputation in American History

6/8/2018
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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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Duration:00:45:52