Backstory-logo

Backstory

Panoply

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

294: The Long Shadow of the Plantation: How a Weighted Past Creates a Complicated Present

9/20/2019
More
There are hundreds of plantations in the U.S. that have been repurposed for a variety of reasons. Many are museums for tourists to visit, while others have been transformed into event spaces. But how does the complicated and nuanced history influence the ways plantations are used today? Image: Slave Cabin at Whitney Plantation. Image courtesy of Whitney Plantation. Photographer: Elsa Hahne. BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming by supporting the...

Duration:00:55:27

218: Close Encounters: UFOs in American History

9/18/2019
More
Alienstock, the event jokingly conceived by college student Matty Roberts to storm Area 51 on September 20, is officially canceled. When more than 500,000 planned to attend and another 500,00 indicated they were interested in the Facebook event back in July, the U.S. Air Force took notice and issued a strongly worded statement (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2019/07/13/half-million-people-signed-up-storm-area-what-happens-if-they-actually-show-up/) that discouraged the...

Duration:01:01:11

216: What’s in a Number?: Thirteen in American History

9/13/2019
More
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. Image: Triskaidekaphobia stock photo. Source: iStock by Getty Images BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming by...

Duration:00:50:44

"Trade Winds" from episode #0141 “They Might Be Giants: China and the U.S.”

9/11/2019
More
This morning, China published a short list of products exempted from its tariffs on American made goods. This list comes about a month before scheduled talks between Chinese negotiators and Trump administration officials. The current U.S. trade war with China is not unlike previous conflicts. In this segment from BackStory’s 2015 show, “They Might Be Giants: China and the U.S.,” host emeritus Peter Onuf talks to historian John Haddad about how Americans smuggling opium into China during the...

Duration:00:11:27

293: Standing Rock and the History of Indigenous Resistance in the United States

9/6/2019
More
In 2016, protests broke out at Standing Rock - a reservation in North and South Dakota - to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Indigenous peoples and other activists opposed the pipeline because they believed it violated sacred sites and threatened to contaminate the Missouri River, a major source of drinking water in the region. Taking social media by storm, the #noDAPL movement quickly became an international headline. On this episode, Nathan sits down with historian and...

Duration:00:36:28

"What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate" from episode #043 "Weathering the Storm"

9/4/2019
More
Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas this week, and east coast states from Florida to North Carolina are bracing for its impact. In preparation, governors are declaring states of emergency to allow emergency management teams to coordinate and act quickly. But in this segment from BackStory's 2012 show, "Weathering the Storm," host emeritus Peter Onuf learns from Oxford University professor Gareth Davies that responses to disasters are often fraught with politics. Image: Poseidon by Mark Rain...

Duration:00:11:18

292: BackStory’s Labor Day Special: A History of Work and Labor Relations in the U.S.

8/30/2019
More
To mark the Labor Day holiday Brian presents a compilation of BackStory’s best stories about work and workers. Why were so many employers keen on hiring children in the 19th century? When was computing considered women’s work? And what happened when almost a million Mexicans were expelled from the US to free up jobs for white workers? Image: John Vachon photo of a Minneapolis employment agency, 1939. Source: Library of Congress BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep...

Duration:00:37:28

"Let Freedom Ring" from episode #075 "Fierce Urgency of Now"

8/28/2019
More
On August 28, 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom - a demonstration held by civil rights leaders and attended by approximately 250,000 people – took place. It was during this protest, one of the largest in U.S. history, that Martin Luther King made his now famous speech at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial where he uttered the words, “I have a dream.” In this segment from BackStory’s 2013 episode “Fierce Urgency of Now: The 1963 March on Washington,” Ed talks with historian...

Duration:00:09:42

291: 1619: The Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia

8/23/2019
More
This month marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to land on what would become British North America. It wasn’t the first time Africans set foot in what became the United States - they’d arrived some 100 years earlier with Spanish colonists. But 1619 looms large in American history because it marks the beginning of slavery’s development in the Virginia colony and later the entire nation. Image: "Landing Negroes at Jamestown from Dutch man-of-war, 1619," illustration...

Duration:00:58:34

Teaser: 1619: The Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia

8/22/2019
More
On Friday's episode, BackStory digs into the complicated history of 1619 and the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to the English colonies. In this preview, BackStory travels to Hampton, Virginia to meet with members of the Tucker family. Using oral history and official records, they’ve traced their lineage back to William Tucker, the first African American born in British North America in 1624. Image: BackStory producer Melissa Gismondi speaks to Walter Jones, Vincent...

Duration:00:01:50

"Above the Law" from episode #104 "Serve and Protect?"

8/21/2019
More
This week, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo was fired for his involvement in the 2014 death of Eric Garner. The incident helped to stimulate the Black Lives Matter movement, and sparked public debate about the limits of and accountability for law enforcement. With these debates once again at the fore, BackStory revisits a segment originally published in 2016. In it, producer Nina Earnest explores how the professionalization of the Los Angeles Police Department ended up putting the department...

Duration:00:11:56

290: Enlightened America?: A History of Buddhism in the United States

8/16/2019
More
Today, Americans generally view Buddhists favorably, according to the Pew Research Center (https://www.pewforum.org/2014/07/16/how-americans-feel-about-religious-groups/) . Meanwhile, terms like “zen” and “mindfulness” are often used as buzzwords to evoke the religion. However, over the last century, Buddhism wasn’t always viewed as a peaceful practice by a mainstream population. On this episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan, explore the ways the religion adapted and evolved throughout the 20th...

Duration:01:02:48

184: Border Patrols: Policing Immigration in America

8/14/2019
More
On the heels of what may have been the biggest single-day sweep of undocumented immigrants last week in Mississippi, this week the Trump administration released a new "Public Charge" rule. The idea of a public charge – an individual who isn’t considered capable of self-sufficiency – became a part of U.S. immigration law after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The new rule will make it harder for immigrants who fail the public charge test to obtain a Green Card. Efforts to curb immigration...

Duration:00:37:07

289: Man Up: A Look at Masculinity in American History

8/9/2019
More
It’s an age-old question: What makes a man? Americans have thought about it for generations. So this week on BackStory, we go back into the archives to look at past segments that explore the changing perceptions of American manhood. We’ll look at why so many men started growing beards in 19th century America, and we’ll explore how ideas about the perfect male body used to be very different from what you might think of today. Image: The “Manly art of self-defense” Newsboys’ Protective...

Duration:00:26:40

“Armed For Freedom” from episode #183 “Taking it to the Streets”

8/7/2019
More
At least 31 people were killed this past weekend in mass shootings in the U.S. The violence that took place during the early morning hours of August 4 in Dayton, Ohio was the nation’s 251st mass shooting of 2019. As the U.S. and its leaders once again debate gun control, BackStory revisits a segment originally published in 2013. In it, UCLA legal scholar Adam Winkler talks to Brian about the day in 1967 that 30 Black Panthers walked into the California State House in Sacramento carrying...

Duration:00:10:20

Sponsored: Introducing Sean Carroll's Mindscape

8/5/2019
More
Each week, Sean Carroll hosts conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers in the world. From neuroscientists and engineers to authors and television producers, Sean and his guests talk about the biggest ideas in science, philosophy, culture and more. Start listening now at: http://wondery.fm/MindscapeAB

Duration:00:08:34

252: Thar She Blows Again: The History of Whales and America (Part 2)

8/2/2019
More
Whale deaths are reaching record numbers in 2019. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association, gray whale deaths are “notably greater than the average” and have led the NOAA to declare the occurrence an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-unusual-mortality-events) . In addition, NOAA considers the death rates of North Atlantic right whales an urgent conservation crisis leading the U.S. to begin working...

Duration:01:03:16

251: Thar She Blows: The History of Whales and America

7/31/2019
More
Whale deaths are reaching record numbers in 2019. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association, gray whale deaths are “notably greater than the average” and have led the NOAA to declare the occurrence an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-unusual-mortality-events) . In addition, NOAA considers the death rates of North Atlantic right whales an urgent conservation crisis leading the U.S. to begin working...

Duration:00:43:07

288: Making the Team: Sports and Equality in American History

7/26/2019
More
This month, the US Women’s Soccer Team won the Women’s World Cup for the fourth time since the tournament was established in 1991. But alongside the celebrations were calls for female players to be paid the same as their male counterparts. So, on this episode of BackStory, we’re revisiting past segments that explore the issue of sports and equality throughout American history. Image: Althea Gibson, U.S. and Wimbledon tennis champion, gives some pointers on the game which has brought her...

Duration:00:27:58

"Jose Julio Henna & the Invasion of Puerto Rico" and "What is Puerto Rico?" from episode 248 "After Hurricane Maria"

7/24/2019
More
On Monday, hundreds of thousands of people surged through the capital of Puerto Rico in the largest protest the island has ever seen. It is the latest in a series of demonstrations calling for the resignation of Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, who is expected to finally resign today. While the recent unrest was sparked by the publication of messages between Rosselló and his friends and advisors in which they mocked an obese man, a poor man, a gay pop star, and several women, it...

Duration:00:18:14