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Backstory

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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

309: Best of BackStory: The Peter Onuf Edition

1/24/2020
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For close to ten years, Peter Onuf hosted BackStory along with Ed Ayers and Brian Balogh. Now, with the show coming to a close, Peter is back to help kick off a new series we’re doing on the show. These are episodes in which all five of our hosts will look back on their time with the show and highlight some of their favorite moments. With so much time at the show, Peter had a lot of material to work with. But he has narrowed it down to three conversations that still stick out in his memory...

Duration:00:29:38

235: The Real Martin Luther King: Reflecting on MLK 50 Years After His Death

1/17/2020
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Had he lived, Martin Luther King, Jr. would have celebrated his 91st birthday this week. King is regarded as an American hero and championed in children’s books and inspirational posters, but have Americans lost sight of the real MLK? Image: Martin Luther King press conference by Marion S. Trikosko, March 26, 1964. Source: Library of Congress

Duration:00:49:56

308: The U.S. and Iran: A Brief History of an Often Tense Relationship

1/10/2020
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Last weekend, an American airstrike killed Iranian General Qasam Soleimani, at the direction of President Trump. Iran vowed to retaliate and launched more than a dozen missiles at two American military bases in Iraq. In response, President Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday, saying the US will impose new economic sanctions on Iran. Only time will tell what Solemani’s death means for U.S./Iran relations, and the future of the Middle East. But how did we get here? On this episode of...

Duration:00:30:57

307: Those Were The Days: Nostalgia in American History

1/3/2020
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It’s common for folks to look back on a time gone by and romanticize it as “better days.” But is nostalgia a harmless yearning for the past, or a distraction from what’s happening in the present? Image: Memory Lane sign by Martin Bennett / Stockimo Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Duration:01:08:15

257: Stuffed - Taxidermy in the History of America

12/27/2019
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The holidays are upon us and we're more than a little obsessed with stuffing - just not the kind you eat. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Nathan find out about the father of American natural history dioramas, talk to a man with a condor in his freezer, discover how a mischievous raven connects Edgar Allan Poe to Charles Dickens and unravel the extraordinary story of the man who proposed stuffing the Founding Fathers. Image: "In the workroom," photograph shows occupational...

Duration:01:09:19

306: The Best of BackStory 2019

12/20/2019
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On this episode of BackStory, Brian brings you a sampling of some of our favorite segments from the past year. BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming by supporting the show: https://www.backstoryradio.org/support

Duration:00:45:22

305: From BackStory to You: A History of Giving and Receiving

12/13/2019
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‘Tis the season for giving. Whether it’s the latest gadget or the coziest sweater, many Americans are spending the month of December searching for that perfect gift. But throughout American history, gift giving has taken on many different forms. And the act of giving and receiving has allowed bonds to form across social, political, and cultural divides. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne and Nathan bring you two very different stories of giving and receiving. One starts in Ireland,...

Duration:00:57:35

304: Telling Stories About the Past: Historians on Historical Fiction

12/6/2019
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On Christmas Day, the sixth film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved 1868 novel Little Women hits theaters nationwide. The movie reflects the ongoing popularity of historical fiction, a genre that has captivated audiences for decades and shows no signs of slowing down. BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming by supporting the show: https://www.backstoryradio.org/support

Duration:00:43:04

225: What's Cooking? A History of Food in America

11/29/2019
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It’s the holidays — that time of the year when food is everywhere. So, 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. In this episode we talked to Pati Jinich of “Pati’s Mexican Kitchen.” Find her recipe for Chilorio Burritas (and more) on her website (https://patijinich.com/recipe/chilorio-burritas/) . We also talked about Maida Heatter’s “Best Damn Lemon Cake.” Learn more about...

Duration:00:48:38

303: Sunny Days: The History of Sesame Street in America and the World

11/22/2019
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This month marks the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street, the children’s television show that has made an indelible mark on American culture, not to mention people all over the world. So 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. Image: A scene of the US children's series "Sesame Street" with puppets Ernie and Bert, photographed in March 1976. Photo by Dieter...

Duration:00:54:38

Sponsored: Introducing Clearstory, from This Old House

11/20/2019
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Host Kevin O'Connor digs into the systems, structures and materials in our homes from unexpected angles. Why is the window the ultimate machine? What can Las Vegas teach us about lowering our water bills? How did the Great Chicago Fire change the way we frame houses today? You’ll hear from This Old House experts, as well as industry leaders, historians, and builders. Find Clearstory in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen, and learn more at https://www.thisoldhouse.com/clearstory

Duration:00:25:06

302: The End of an Era: History That Was Made - and Unmade - in the 2010s

11/15/2019
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The calendar is nearing closer and closer to the end of 2019. Which has us thinking about the end of the decade and how the United States has changed since the start of the 2010s. So on this episode, Brian, Nathan and Joanne dive into an extended conversation about the memorable moments of the last 10 years and what future historians might say about the decade. Image: "Tuesday morning the police evicted the Occupy Wall Street protesters and cleaned the park." by David Shankbone, November 11,...

Duration:00:28:16

301: The Chinese in American History: How Afong Moy, Mayling Soong and Bruce Lee Changed the Narrative About China

11/11/2019
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Conversations about US-China relations often revolve around tariffs, trades and recently, President Donald Trump’s tweets. So on this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Joanne and special guest host Erika Lee (http://www.erikalee.org/) go beyond the standard narrative of US-China relations and learn about three Chinese and Chinese American people who worked to change American perceptions of China. Support for this podcast comes from International Education at the University of Richmond and The...

Duration:01:05:00

195: Call To Arms: Enlistment in America

11/8/2019
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It's Veteran's Day weekend, when we in the US honor those who have served in our Armed Forces. 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. They’ll discuss the struggles of the Continental Army to find enough soldiers during the Revolutionary War and how thousands of Filipinos became American citizens by enlisting in the US Navy after World War...

Duration:00:41:18

300: Blasts from the Past: A History of Dynamite in the United States

11/1/2019
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In the 19th century, dynamite helped transform the nation. It led to the construction of important milestones like the transcontinental railroad and helped create iconic American monuments like Mt. Rushmore. But some people also saw these small explosives as potential weapons and used dynamite to promote violence. Learn more about Smithsonian's Sidedoor podcast and find episodes: https://www.si.edu/Sidedoor BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming...

Duration:00:33:59

Coming Up: The History of Dynamite in America

10/29/2019
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More than 154 million treasures fill the Smithsonian’s vaults, but where public view ends, Sidedoor begins. With the help of biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers, and astrophysicists, host Lizzie Peabody sneaks listeners through Smithsonian’s side door to search for stories that can’t be found anywhere else. Follow Sidedoor at @SidedoorPod or sign up for the e-newsletter at http://www.si.edu/Sidedoor

Duration:00:04:44

299: Haunted Histories: A BackStory Halloween Special

10/25/2019
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Image: Alleged 1911 spirit photograph of Emma Hardinge Britten taken by William H. Mumler. BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming by supporting the show: https://www.backstoryradio.org/support

Duration:00:35:44

298: Rallying Behind Racism: The Women of White Supremacy

10/18/2019
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White supremacy has been in the news a lot recently. It is often seen as a movement at the fringes of American society, and discussion of it rarely includes white women. But women play a critical, if overlooked, role in the white supremacy movement, and examining their involvement shows it to be far less fringe than many think. So on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan and Joanne dig into the little known history of white women and white supremacy. Image: Attention has been focused on...

Duration:00:53:58

"The Schizophrenic Sixties" from episode "States of Mind"

10/16/2019
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Image: Woman in state of 'hysteria' (Wikimedia Commons). BackStory is funded in part by our listeners. You can help keep the episodes coming by supporting the show: https://www.backstoryradio.org/support

Duration:00:10:39

297: How Reconstruction Transformed the Constitution: A Feature Conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Eric Foner

10/11/2019
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If you turn on the news, you’re likely to find a heated debate about big issues, from citizenship to voting rights. For Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner, these issues are at the heart of what are often called the “Reconstruction Amendments”: the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the US Constitution. They were passed in 1865, 1868 and 1870, respectively. And if you ask Eric, they’ve been misinterpreted and overlooked for generations. On this episode, Ed sits down with Eric Foner...

Duration:00:35:22