BackStory show


Summary: 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 Virginia Humanities. There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to learn - that’s where BackStory comes in. Each week BackStory takes a topic that people are talking about and explores it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversations with our listeners, BackStory makes history engaging and fun.


 305: From BackStory to You: A History of Giving and Receiving | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3546

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne and Nathan explore the many different forms gift giving has taken in American history.

 304: Telling Stories About the Past: Historians on Historical Fiction | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2675

On this episode, Nathan, Joanne, Brian and Ed turn our annual Holiday Book Show into an opportunity to talk all things historical fiction. They offer their picks for movies and books about history, and unpack the many ways fiction can help us understand the past.

 225: What's Cooking? A History of Food in America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3009

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.

 303: Sunny Days: The History of Sesame Street in America and the World | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3369

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Joanne explore the history of Sesame Street and what made a show about muppets and their neighbors so revolutionary.

 Sponsored: Introducing Clearstory, from This Old House | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1596

Brought to you by This Old House, Clearstory sheds light on the surprising stories behind our homes.

 302: The End of an Era: History That Was Made - and Unmade - in the 2010s | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1779

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne talk about the memorable moments of the last 10 years and what future historians might say about the decade.

 301: The Chinese in American History: How Afong Moy, Mayling Soong and Bruce Lee Changed the Narrative About China | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3992

On this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Joanne and special guest host Erika Lee go beyond the standard narrative of US-China relations.

 195: Call To Arms: Enlistment in America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2569

In this episode of BackStory, Ed, Joanne and Brian look at the many reasons for joining the US armed services - from a sense of patriotism, to escaping poverty, to earning American citizenship.

 300: Blasts from the Past: A History of Dynamite in the United States | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2130

In this episode, Brian teams up with Lizzie Peabody, host of Sidedoor, a podcast from the Smithsonian, to detonate some explosive stories in dynamite’s history.

 Coming Up: The History of Dynamite in America | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 374

This is a preview of our upcoming episode, in which BackStory teams up with Lizzie Peabody, host of Sidedoor, a podcast from the Smithsonian, to present the explosive history of dynamite in America.

 299: Haunted Histories: A BackStory Halloween Special | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2234

On this episode, Joanne brings you a sampling of some of our spookiest segments just in time for Halloween.

 298: Rallying Behind Racism: The Women of White Supremacy | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 3329

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne dig into the little known history of white women and white supremacy.

 "The Schizophrenic Sixties" from episode "States of Mind" | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 730

In this excerpt from the 2014 episode "States of Mind," sociologist Jonathan Metzl talks with Brian about the rise of black protest in the 1960s and 70s, and how it was increasingly redefined in psychiatric terms.

 297: How Reconstruction Transformed the Constitution: A Feature Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Eric Foner | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2213

On this episode, Ed sits down with Eric Foner to talk about public perceptions of Reconstruction, the landmark amendments to the Constitution and how they have the power to change the country today.

 "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" from episode #0136 "Where There's Smoke" | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 860

In this segment from BackStory’s 2015 show, “Where There's Smoke: A History of Fire,” host emeritus Peter Onuf presents a story by reporter Chelsea Davis about how San Francisco’s thriving Chinatown emerged from the ashes of the 1906 Earthquake and the fires that followed, despite efforts to suppress it.


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