Summary: More than 154 million treasures fill the Smithsonian’s vaults. But where the public’s view ends, Sidedoor begins. With the help of biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers and astrophysicists, host Lizzie Peabody sneaks listeners through the Smithsonian’s side door, telling stories that can’t be heard anywhere else. Check out si.edu/sidedoor and follow @SidedoorPod for more info.
Baseball fan or not, you know this song…or at least, you think you do. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is one of the top three most recognizable songs in the country, next to the “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday.” But long-forgotten lyrics reveal a feminist message buried amid the peanuts and cracker jack.
When Mimi Knoop entered her first skateboarding competition at 24 years old, she never anticipated leaving her mark on the sport forever. But in the early 2000s, she formed an alliance with pioneering skateboarder Cara-Beth Burnside to make a simple request: that the X Games – and the rest of the skateboarding industry – treat female skateboarders the same way they treat their male peers.
When Lena Richard cooked her first chicken on television, she beat Julia Child to the screen by over a decade. At a time when most African American women cooks worked behind swinging kitchen doors, Richard claimed her place as a culinary authority, broadcasting in the living rooms of New Orleans’s elite white families. She was an entrepreneur, educator, author, and an icon – and her legacy lives on in her recipes. Today: her improbable rise to prominence, and her famous gumbo.
In 2017, a photograph of Harriet Tubman surfaced that had been lost to history for more than a century. In a feature of the National Portrait Gallery’s Portraits podcast, we hear the story behind this picture, and how its discovery changes the way we see Tubman – not just an icon of freedom and human dignity, but a courageous young woman.
To look at them, you might think, “Monarch butterflies aren’t going anywhere fast.” But each year, these beauties complete one of the most remarkable migrations in the animal kingdom, soaring more than a mile high to gather on a few mountaintops in Mexico they’ve never seen before, yet somehow they all know where to find. We unlock the secrets lives of monarchs, and learn how to support them on their journey.
A perplexing tattoo. Ancient erotica. Killer bees on the loose. This episode is full of short stories we’ve been eager to tell, but couldn’t… until now. It’s Sidedoor’s second-ever “Best of the Rest!” Learn more about the Freer & Sackler’s collection of shunga, the National Museum of American History’s Great Historic Clock of America on si.edu.
Three billion birds have gone missing since 1970. And conservation biologist Pete Marra considers it his life’s work to make sure more don’t slip away without a fight. In this episode, we go bird-spotting with Pete, and learn what each of us can do to bring birds back.
Virginia Hall dreamed of being America’s first female ambassador. Instead, she became a spy. Joining the ranks of the U.S.’s first civilian spy network, she operated alone in occupied France, where she built French Resistance networks, delivered critical intelligence, and sold cheese to the enemy. All on one leg.
Alexander von Humboldt might not be a name you know, but you can bet you know his ideas. Back when the United States were a wee collection of colonies huddled on the eastern seaboard, colonists found the wilderness surrounding them *scary. *It took a zealous Prussian explorer with a thing for barometers to show the colonists what they couldn’t see: a global ecosystem, and their own place in nature. In this episode, we learn how Humboldt - through science and art - inspired a key part of America’s national identity.
In the Venn diagram of life, it’s hard to imagine what spacecraft and women’s underwear might have in common. And that’s probably what NASA engineers thought back in 1962 when they asked a handful of companies to design a spacesuit that would keep a man alive and mobile on the moon. Nobody counted on the International Latex Corporation, whose commercial brand, Playtex, was known for its bras and girdles. But lingerie, and the expert seamstresses who sewed it, played a critical role in those first well-supported steps on the moon.
Get ready for season five! Our new season begins on Wednesday, March 4th. Journey with Lizzie through our many side doors for a behind-the scenes view of the Smithsonian.
Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III is no administrative assistant. He’s the head of the largest museum, education, and research complex in the world. He’s also the first historian to lead the Smithsonian. In our season finale, we talk with Secretary Bunch about two stories of people overcoming tremendous obstacles to make a change and explore what the past can teach us about today…and tomorrow.
Nearly 100 years ago, Charles Ponzi stumbled across a loophole in the international postal system and turned it into one of the most infamous scams of all time. This time on Sidedoor, we follow Ponzi from his early days until his epic downfall, and hear from a postal investigator trained to catch swindlers like Ponzi who continue to use the U.S. mail for nefarious purposes.
Deep within the National Museum of American History’s vaults is a battered Atari case containing what’s known as “the worst video game of all time.” The game is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and it was so bad that not even the might of Steven Spielberg could save it. It was so loathsome that all remaining copies were buried deep in the desert. And it was so horrible that it’s blamed for the collapse of the American home video game industry in the early 1980s. This time on Sidedoor, we tell the story of just what went SO wrong with E.T. Episode originally aired June 26, 2019.
Edmonia Lewis was the first American woman of color to achieve international fame as a sculptor. Her 3,000-pound masterwork, “The Death of Cleopatra,” commemorated another powerful woman who broke with convention… and then the sculpture disappeared. On this episode of Sidedoor, we find them both.