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Polk's America

History Podcasts

Leading scholars from across the nation introduce our small Tennessee town to artisans and abolitionists, poets and politicians, scientists and suffragists. We’ll see what the past has to say to our present.

Leading scholars from across the nation introduce our small Tennessee town to artisans and abolitionists, poets and politicians, scientists and suffragists. We’ll see what the past has to say to our present.


United States


Leading scholars from across the nation introduce our small Tennessee town to artisans and abolitionists, poets and politicians, scientists and suffragists. We’ll see what the past has to say to our present.






Tiffany Momon & Victoria Hensley | Black Craftspeople Digital Archive

The BCDA, a nationally-celebrated project changing the face of decorative arts and material culture scholarship, recently expanded the archive into Tennessee. Founders Dr. Tiffany Momon and Victoria Hensley share their research and the reasons why identifying and studying black craftspeople is so important.


Sally Givens | South Union Shaker Village

The Shakers' American utopian experiment succeeded in creating an egalitarian culture contrary to societal norms in Polk's America. In 1807 the Shakers established a village in frontier KY that eventually would be home to over 300 followers. Curator and Educator Sally Givens introduces the people and material culture of the South Union Shaker Village in Auburn, KY.


Alba Campo Rosillo | G. P. A. Healy's Portraits of the President

When U.S. artist George Peter Alexander Healy (1913-1894) painted the portrait of James Polk for the first time in 1846, the sitter was the President of the United States and residing at the White House. By the time that Healy painted Polk again in 1858, the President had already died. Alba Campo Rosillo discusses the portraits' differences in terms of format and purpose, and elaborates on the economic and political issues to which the paintings subtly refer.


Katherine Hughes | David Drake and Edgefield Stoneware in Polk's America

In the early 1800s, South Carolinian businesses used enslaved labor to create a booming stoneware pottery industry in the Edgefield District. The artistry and durability of this pottery created an enduring legacy reflective of the complex social issues of Polk’s America. Katherine Hughes brings considerable research and insight into times and techniques of these enslaved craftsmen. Hughes conducted research as the Peggy N. Gerry Research Scholar at the American Wing of the Metropolitan...


Brenda Hornsby-Heindl | Creating the Kitchen Garden

Consultant Brenda Hornsby Heindl shares her research behind the creation of a c. 1820 kitchen garden at the President James K. Polk Home & Museum. The garden provides a tangible connection to the people who lived and labored on the property. Special guests include chef Paul Jensen, brewmaster Zac Fox, and curator Candice Candeto. Musical performances by The Grateful Bluegrass Band.


Zacharie Kinslow | The Complex Life of Elias Polk

Mr. Kinslow's research focuses on the life of Elias Polk, who was enslaved by the Polk family. While enslaved, Elias' labor furthered James Polk's political and professional careers. After emancipation Elias entered politics as a Southern Democrat, the party of his enslaver. Featuring Scott Warren, site Director at the President James K. Polk State Historic Site in North Carolina.


Annabeth Hayes | Currier & Ives

Lithography firm Currier & Ives profoundly impacted 19th century American popular culture through their "cheap and popular prints." Join Tennessee State Museum curator Annabeth Hayes as she explores the history of the firm and the ways in which it shaped American perspectives and prejudices. Featuring commentary from master printer and author Phil Sanders.


Katie McKinney | John James Audubon's Quadrupeds of North America

As the publication of his masterpiece The Birds of America wound down, an exhausted but restless John James Audubon embarked on his final project to catalogue the mammals of North America. The result was The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which comprised 150 folio color prints of American mammals, the first of its kind published in the United States. Katie McKinney, the Margaret Beck Pritchard Assistant Curator of Maps and Prints at Colonial Williamsburg, examines the creation of...


Candice Candeto | Robert Stewart's Natchez Furniture Shop

Born within a year of James K. Polk, Robert Stewart's life and career parallels the 11th President's in many ways. Stewart's business in antebellum Natchez, Mississippi, has much to teach us about craft, labor, business, and society in Polk's America, as well as the decorative arts of the too-often-forgotten Gulf South.


Douglas Shadle | Anthony Philip Heinrich and the American Symphonic Landscape

Musicologist and author Dr. Douglas Shadle traces the origins of American symphonic music through the experiences of Anthony Philip Heinrich, William Henry Fry, and George Frederick Bristow. These composers were contemporaries of many of Europe's classical music masters, yet they were shut out of symphonic music halls in the their own country. Join us as we explore what happened to change the trajectory of American symphonic history. Featuring Dr. William Gibbons Excerpts from sound...


John Holtzapple | The Fate of Mary Rogers

On July 28, 1841, Mary Rogers was found dead in the Hudson River at 20 years of age. Speculation swirled: Was it gang violence? A botched abortion? Was she murdered by her fiancé, who later committed suicide? Mary Rogers' murder was never solved, although its sensationalized presence in the media (even brought to literature by Edgar Allan Poe) ensured Mary's story never truly died. The President James K. Polk Home and Museum director John Holtzapple's presentation, The Fate of Mary Rogers:...


Episode 4: Barry Gidcomb | The Governorship of James K. Polk

In 1839 James Polk was elected the 9th governor of Tennessee. Polk's tireless campaigning led the Democrats to a stunning victory that thrust Polk into the national spotlight. On this episode Dr. Barry Gidcomb of Columbia State Community College discusses the governorship of James K. Polk and how Polk's national ambition affected his ability to govern on the state level.


Episode 3: Erik Schmeller | Conspiracy, Slavery, and the Great American Land Pirate

What does it mean to be a nation of conspiracy theorists? Dr. Erik Schmeller of Tennessee State University digs into the deep roots of conspiracy theory in America from the assassination attempt of Andrew Jackson to the life and legend of the Great American Land Pirate, John A. Murrell. featuring music from the Andy Owens Project


Episode 2: Mark Cheathem | Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson

Dr. Mark Cheathem is an award-winning author and the project director and co-editor of the Papers of Martin Van Buren. His most recent book, The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson, examines the presidential campaign of 1840 and the impacts this consequential election has had on modern campaign strategies and public perception. featuring musical performances by historical interpreters Mark and Debbie Lewis


Episode 1: Candice Candeto | Crafted by Conscience

In the inaugural episode of the Polk's America Podcast, James K. Polk Home and Museum curator, Candice Candeto, explains the new exhibit, Crafted by Conscience: Material and Belief in Polk's America. Also, the host takes you on a walk through the gallery highlighting some of the objects on loan from over 16 different museums and institutions. Crafted by Conscience runs until the end of September 2019.