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.
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.
[FULL EPISODE] In this episode, the History Guys look at past predictions of the end of the world. From a failed 1840s prophecy that lead people to jump from trees, to the doomsday devices of the 1960s - we've got all the historical knowledge you'll need to survive the end of time. For more on the history of apocalyptic thinking in America, visit our website: backstoryradio.org/apocalypse-now-then-a-history-of-end-times-2/ Listen to individual episode segments here: soundcloud.com/backstory/sets/apocalypse-now-and-then-a
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.
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.
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.
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?
[FULL EPISODE] The US has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. How did this come to be? Was America’s “gun culture” present from the very beginning? On this episode, the History Guys look at who has had access to guns in the U.S., and what those guns have meant to the people who have owned them. They also consider the importance of guns at the time the Second Amendment was drafted, and explore the central role government has played in the dissemination of firearms to citizens. And they pay a visit to a 21st century version of the armories of the past: a gun show. Visit our site for more in-depth resources about today's topic and background on the people we interviewed: backstoryradio.org/straight-shot-guns-in-america-2/ Listen to individual episode segments here: soundcloud.com/backstory/sets/straight-shot-guns-in-america
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?
On this special Election Day episode of BackStory, the History Guys put current voting trends in historical perspective, and explore the changing face of voting in America.
With Halloween in the air, the History Guys set out to explore Americans’ relationship with ghosts, spirits, and witches throughout our nation’s history.
[FULL EPISODE] 50 years ago this October, a US military jet photographed partially-built Soviet bases in western Cuba. To mark the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, we’re turning our attention to Cuba — that tiny island with an outsized influence in US history. Visit our site for more in-depth resources about today's topic, including a full show transcript and background on the people we interviewed: backstoryradio.org/small-island-big-shadow-cuba-and-the-us/ Listen to individual episode segments here: soundcloud.com/backstory/sets/small-island-big-shadow-cuba
On this episode, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis with a look back on the outsized influence that this small nation has had on three centuries of American history.
On this episode of BackStory, we ask what drives Americans to reenact their past. Is it purely educational? Or is there something deeper, more personal, at stake?
The History Guys explore why the national debt has continued to be so controversial in a country that was founded on borrowing.
[FULL EPISODE] Republicans and Democrats are gearing up to nominate their presidential candidates. We can be almost certain that there won't be many surprises. American political conventions haven't always been so predictable. Before they became scripted for TV, conventions were where some of the most critical policy questions were resolved, and where political careers were made or ruined. This week, we venture into the back rooms, chaotic halls, and streets where these dramas unfolded. We consider the radical roots of the convention ritual itself, and explore the ways that ritual was mainstreamed. Over the course of the hour, the History Guys hear the voices of anti-corruption crusaders in the 1820s, women’s rights activists at Seneca Falls, and civil rights workers in 1964, all of whom turned to conventions as venues for change. Through it all, we ask how well American political conventions have lived up to their promise of representing constituents back home. Visit our site for more in-depth resources about today's topic, including a full show transcript and background on the people we interviewed: backstoryradio.org/conventional-wisdom-a-history-of-american-political-conventions-2/ Listen to individual episode segments here: soundcloud.com/backstory/sets/conventional-wisdom-a-history