Cover image of BackStory
(2196)

Rank #39 in History category

Society & Culture
History

BackStory

Rank #39 in History category

Society & Culture
History
Read more

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.

Read more

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.

iTunes Ratings

2196 Ratings
Average Ratings
1589
458
50
47
52

Not perfect, but REALLY good

By madsh24 - Feb 09 2019
Read more

I am a college student about to graduate from university with a history degree. I have listened to this podcast for over a year now. While not every weeks topic interests me, such as the thanksgiving-ish 2018 episode on taxidermy, this podcast is one of the best I know, they provide sources, or at least scholars, and they do the most important thing I believe history can do, they give you glimpses of an issue/topic throughout American history that give the listener a glimpse into how a particular issue develops over time. The banter between the hosts can get corny, but if it is nonetheless important and educational. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite podcasts. Thank you for making history interesting and connected to today.

A historian’s heaven

By DarkwingDuckboy - Oct 19 2018
Read more

Love this podcast. Learn so much and love the fun tone of the show.

iTunes Ratings

2196 Ratings
Average Ratings
1589
458
50
47
52

Not perfect, but REALLY good

By madsh24 - Feb 09 2019
Read more

I am a college student about to graduate from university with a history degree. I have listened to this podcast for over a year now. While not every weeks topic interests me, such as the thanksgiving-ish 2018 episode on taxidermy, this podcast is one of the best I know, they provide sources, or at least scholars, and they do the most important thing I believe history can do, they give you glimpses of an issue/topic throughout American history that give the listener a glimpse into how a particular issue develops over time. The banter between the hosts can get corny, but if it is nonetheless important and educational. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite podcasts. Thank you for making history interesting and connected to today.

A historian’s heaven

By DarkwingDuckboy - Oct 19 2018
Read more

Love this podcast. Learn so much and love the fun tone of the show.

Cover image of BackStory

BackStory

Rank #39 in History category

Read more

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.

Top Episodes

Most Popular Episodes of BackStory

Rank #1: Fit to Print?: A History of Fake News

Aug 31 2018
Podcast cover
Read more

As we approach the midterm elections, concerns about fake news - widely circulated news stories that are inaccurate, misleading, or completely made-up – continue to dominate the headlines. The topics, targets, and sources of this content continues to expand, while labelling stories as “fake news” has become a commonplace tactic to blur the lines between fiction and reality. On this episode, Nathan, Joanne and Ed will look at other times in history when Americans had to be a bit more careful about what they read.

Play Now

Rank #2: Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History

Jul 28 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

On this week’s episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends.  

Play Now

Rank #3: Skin Deep: Whiteness in America

Jul 14 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

This week, BackStory looks at whiteness in America by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire. These stories -- from the podcasts Scene on Radio and What’s Ray Saying along with a segment from BackStory’s archives -- explore what it means to be white in America, and how the concept of whiteness has fundamentally shaped our country. 

Play Now

Rank #4: Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast]

Dec 15 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? The holiday season is notorious for bringing out the beast in shoppers. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys plunge into the history of shopping in America—the glitz and glamour, the overflowing shelves, and the cheesy Muzak. They’ll consider the role that consumption played in the revolutionary politics of the colonies, look at the curious rash of shoplifting among well-heeled women in the country’s first department stores, and reveal the connection between the Wizard of Oz and window shopping.

Play Now

Rank #5: Worlds Apart: Urban/Rural Divides in America

Feb 04 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

According to the New York Times, the 2016 election “highlighted a growing rural-urban split.” So, on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Nathan look at what happens when urban and rural Americans collide.They’ll tell the story of one coastal couple’s proposal to make part of the Great Plains a vast nature preserve and how it wasn’t received too kindly by the residents of those states. They’ll look at how attitudes towards small town voters shaped American politics in the 1920s. Finally, they’ll explore the urban/rural divide during the Founding Era, when city slicker Alexander Hamilton challenged Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a country composed of humble yeoman farmers.

Play Now

Rank #6: The Habit: Opioid Addiction in America

May 12 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

Opioid addiction is a national epidemic. According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, "drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States." In this episode, Nathan, Ed and Brian look at America's long history with opioids - like opium, morphine and heroin. They’ll discuss how late 19th century doctors spurred the nation’s first addiction crisis and how race and class have shaped our perception of addicts and addiction.  

Play Now

Rank #7: Over There: America Enters WWI

Apr 14 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

This April marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’s entry into World War I. So on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Ed discuss how this oft-forgotten war set the stage for the American century. We’ll explore how Woodrow Wilson led a decidedly isolationist country into war. We’ll also discuss the repressive ways Wilson and his administration cracked down on anti-war sentiment. 

Play Now

Rank #8: Hamilton: A History

Jun 10 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

Alexander Hamilton is living large these days! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical about the Founding Father won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and scored a record-breaking 16 Tony award nominations. In addition, Hamilton’s surge in popularity helped keep his face on the front of the $10 bill. Peter, Ed and Brian take apart the Hamilton phenomenon by considering who Alexander Hamilton was, his legacy (and how it was remade) and why a white migrant from the British West Indies appeals to so many Americans in 2016.

Play Now

Rank #9: What’s Cooking? A History of Food in America

Dec 28 2018
Podcast cover
Read more

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. We also talked about Maida Heatter's "Best Damn Lemon Cake." Learn more about Heatter and find her lemon cake recipe (as well as a few other desserts) in this 1982 story from the Washington Post.

Play Now

Rank #10: A More Perfect Union?: The Reconstruction Era

Mar 31 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

It’s been 150 years since Congress passed the first Reconstruction Acts, which paved the way for Confederate states to rejoin the Union after the Civil War. Ed, Nathan and Joanne explore the central questions of this period: how would the country be put back together? Who belonged in it? And what rights would they have?

Play Now

Rank #11: Seeing Red: A History of U.S./Russia Relations

Apr 07 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

In recent years, the White House’s relationship with the Kremlin has dominated the headlines in America --  from Syria to Ukraine. According to CNN, Vladimir Putin denounced last night's U.S. airstrike against Syria (a response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack earlier this week) as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law." In addition, an FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians in the 2016 election has turned into a full-blown political scandal.  It can be tempting to view these events through the familiar lens of the Cold War, but in this episode, Joanne, Ed and Brian probe the deeper history of our relationship with Russia — and discover moments of comity as well as conflict.

Play Now

Rank #12: Contested Landscape: The Battle over Confederate Monuments

Jun 16 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

Communities from New Orleans to Charlottesville, Virginia have been debating the presence of Confederate monuments. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian discuss when and why many of the nation’s Confederate statues were erected, and what they stood for.  They’ll examine the many meanings of the Confederate flag and hear a Civil War re-enactor take a closer look at his Southern heritage. 

Play Now

Rank #13: The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation

Sep 15 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan wrestle with a long-running tension in our country’s history: what it means to assimilate and “become American.” We’ll explore the 19th-century notions of who could become an American and the ways they were expected to change. Plus, we’ll discuss how much room there was for a hyphenated American identity in the past and if there is room today. 

Play Now

Rank #14: Finding Americana: Butter Sculptures, Tiny Towns and Other Irresistible Gems

Jan 04 2019
Podcast cover
Read more

What could be more American than . . . butter carving? Maybe miniature roadside towns or perhaps a dead whale on a train. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian and Nathan explore the best of Americana, finding the unique and the kitschy in American culture. (This show features two segments from previous episodes.)

Play Now

Rank #15: Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History

Mar 02 2018
Podcast cover
Read more

On this week’s episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends.  

Play Now

Rank #16: The GOP: A History Of The Republican Party

Jul 14 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

Donald Trump has clinched the Republican party presidential nomination, and some political pundits wonder if his nomination represents a watershed for the GOP. On this episode of BackStory, we unpack the origins, evolution, and reinvention of the Grand Old Party. From its birth in 1854 by anti-slavery activists in the North, to the party of small government and low taxes, we look at how theRepublican party has reinvented itself at various points in its history.

Play Now

Rank #17: It is So Ordered: 4 Landmark Decisions of the Supreme Court

Oct 06 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

This month, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments for cases that may have a profound impact on the lives of everyday Americans -- ranging from cell phone privacy and the rights of workers during labor disputes, to whether a baker has the right to turn away same-sex couples because of his religious beliefs. So this week, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan dip into the BackStory archive to look at four rulings that shaped public life in America. survey.panoply.fm

Play Now

Rank #18: A History of Manufacturing in 5 Objects

Oct 13 2016
Podcast cover
Read more

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have talked about loss of manufacturing jobs, and the importance of having things “Made In America.” In this episode of BackStory, we take a look at the history of American manufacturing by exploring several objects that transformed American life. From 18th century colonists struggling to produce that most coveted of tems -- porcelain -- to the invention of nylon stockings and the TV picture tube in the 20th century, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the surprising history behind five inventions and innovations.

Play Now

Rank #19: Red Dawn: Americans and the Bolshevik Revolution

Nov 10 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

One hundred years ago, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik Party seized power in a revolution that would change the world. They would establish the world’s first Marxist state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a few years later. As the 20th century wore on, the USSR became the United States’s chief military and ideological foe. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore how that distant revolution had an immediate impact in the United States. 

Play Now

Rank #20: Hometown History: Local Stories From Across The Country

Jul 07 2017
Podcast cover
Read more

This week, BackStory looks at local history by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire. These stories -- from Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis and San Francisco -- illuminate big themes in American history and tell us something about what makes these places so unique. 

Play Now

Rank #1: Fit to Print?: A History of Fake News

Podcast cover
Read more

As we approach the midterm elections, concerns about fake news - widely circulated news stories that are inaccurate, misleading, or completely made-up – continue to dominate the headlines. The topics, targets, and sources of this content continues to expand, while labelling stories as “fake news” has become a commonplace tactic to blur the lines between fiction and reality. On this episode, Nathan, Joanne and Ed will look at other times in history when Americans had to be a bit more careful about what they read.

Aug 31 2018
37 mins
Play Now

Rank #2: Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History

Podcast cover
Read more

On this week’s episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends.  

Jul 28 2017
53 mins
Play Now

Rank #3: Skin Deep: Whiteness in America

Podcast cover
Read more

This week, BackStory looks at whiteness in America by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire. These stories -- from the podcasts Scene on Radio and What’s Ray Saying along with a segment from BackStory’s archives -- explore what it means to be white in America, and how the concept of whiteness has fundamentally shaped our country. 

Jul 14 2017
55 mins
Play Now

Rank #4: Counter Culture: A History of Shopping [rebroadcast]

Podcast cover
Read more

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? The holiday season is notorious for bringing out the beast in shoppers. On this episode of BackStory, the Guys plunge into the history of shopping in America—the glitz and glamour, the overflowing shelves, and the cheesy Muzak. They’ll consider the role that consumption played in the revolutionary politics of the colonies, look at the curious rash of shoplifting among well-heeled women in the country’s first department stores, and reveal the connection between the Wizard of Oz and window shopping.

Dec 15 2016
51 mins
Play Now

Rank #5: Worlds Apart: Urban/Rural Divides in America

Podcast cover
Read more

According to the New York Times, the 2016 election “highlighted a growing rural-urban split.” So, on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Nathan look at what happens when urban and rural Americans collide.They’ll tell the story of one coastal couple’s proposal to make part of the Great Plains a vast nature preserve and how it wasn’t received too kindly by the residents of those states. They’ll look at how attitudes towards small town voters shaped American politics in the 1920s. Finally, they’ll explore the urban/rural divide during the Founding Era, when city slicker Alexander Hamilton challenged Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a country composed of humble yeoman farmers.

Feb 04 2017
53 mins
Play Now

Rank #6: The Habit: Opioid Addiction in America

Podcast cover
Read more

Opioid addiction is a national epidemic. According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services, "drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States." In this episode, Nathan, Ed and Brian look at America's long history with opioids - like opium, morphine and heroin. They’ll discuss how late 19th century doctors spurred the nation’s first addiction crisis and how race and class have shaped our perception of addicts and addiction.  

May 12 2017
43 mins
Play Now

Rank #7: Over There: America Enters WWI

Podcast cover
Read more

This April marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’s entry into World War I. So on this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Ed discuss how this oft-forgotten war set the stage for the American century. We’ll explore how Woodrow Wilson led a decidedly isolationist country into war. We’ll also discuss the repressive ways Wilson and his administration cracked down on anti-war sentiment. 

Apr 14 2017
46 mins
Play Now

Rank #8: Hamilton: A History

Podcast cover
Read more

Alexander Hamilton is living large these days! Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical about the Founding Father won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and scored a record-breaking 16 Tony award nominations. In addition, Hamilton’s surge in popularity helped keep his face on the front of the $10 bill. Peter, Ed and Brian take apart the Hamilton phenomenon by considering who Alexander Hamilton was, his legacy (and how it was remade) and why a white migrant from the British West Indies appeals to so many Americans in 2016.

Jun 10 2016
51 mins
Play Now

Rank #9: What’s Cooking? A History of Food in America

Podcast cover
Read more

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. We also talked about Maida Heatter's "Best Damn Lemon Cake." Learn more about Heatter and find her lemon cake recipe (as well as a few other desserts) in this 1982 story from the Washington Post.

Dec 28 2018
53 mins
Play Now

Rank #10: A More Perfect Union?: The Reconstruction Era

Podcast cover
Read more

It’s been 150 years since Congress passed the first Reconstruction Acts, which paved the way for Confederate states to rejoin the Union after the Civil War. Ed, Nathan and Joanne explore the central questions of this period: how would the country be put back together? Who belonged in it? And what rights would they have?

Mar 31 2017
47 mins
Play Now

Rank #11: Seeing Red: A History of U.S./Russia Relations

Podcast cover
Read more

In recent years, the White House’s relationship with the Kremlin has dominated the headlines in America --  from Syria to Ukraine. According to CNN, Vladimir Putin denounced last night's U.S. airstrike against Syria (a response to a Syrian chemical weapons attack earlier this week) as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law." In addition, an FBI probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians in the 2016 election has turned into a full-blown political scandal.  It can be tempting to view these events through the familiar lens of the Cold War, but in this episode, Joanne, Ed and Brian probe the deeper history of our relationship with Russia — and discover moments of comity as well as conflict.

Apr 07 2017
41 mins
Play Now

Rank #12: Contested Landscape: The Battle over Confederate Monuments

Podcast cover
Read more

Communities from New Orleans to Charlottesville, Virginia have been debating the presence of Confederate monuments. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian discuss when and why many of the nation’s Confederate statues were erected, and what they stood for.  They’ll examine the many meanings of the Confederate flag and hear a Civil War re-enactor take a closer look at his Southern heritage. 

Jun 16 2017
49 mins
Play Now

Rank #13: The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation

Podcast cover
Read more

This week, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan wrestle with a long-running tension in our country’s history: what it means to assimilate and “become American.” We’ll explore the 19th-century notions of who could become an American and the ways they were expected to change. Plus, we’ll discuss how much room there was for a hyphenated American identity in the past and if there is room today. 

Sep 15 2017
1 hour 5 mins
Play Now

Rank #14: Finding Americana: Butter Sculptures, Tiny Towns and Other Irresistible Gems

Podcast cover
Read more

What could be more American than . . . butter carving? Maybe miniature roadside towns or perhaps a dead whale on a train. On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian and Nathan explore the best of Americana, finding the unique and the kitschy in American culture. (This show features two segments from previous episodes.)

Jan 04 2019
56 mins
Play Now

Rank #15: Too Good To Be True?: Myths in American History

Podcast cover
Read more

On this week’s episode, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends.  

Mar 02 2018
57 mins
Play Now

Rank #16: The GOP: A History Of The Republican Party

Podcast cover
Read more

Donald Trump has clinched the Republican party presidential nomination, and some political pundits wonder if his nomination represents a watershed for the GOP. On this episode of BackStory, we unpack the origins, evolution, and reinvention of the Grand Old Party. From its birth in 1854 by anti-slavery activists in the North, to the party of small government and low taxes, we look at how theRepublican party has reinvented itself at various points in its history.

Jul 14 2016
1 hour 3 mins
Play Now

Rank #17: It is So Ordered: 4 Landmark Decisions of the Supreme Court

Podcast cover
Read more

This month, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments for cases that may have a profound impact on the lives of everyday Americans -- ranging from cell phone privacy and the rights of workers during labor disputes, to whether a baker has the right to turn away same-sex couples because of his religious beliefs. So this week, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan dip into the BackStory archive to look at four rulings that shaped public life in America. survey.panoply.fm

Oct 06 2017
48 mins
Play Now

Rank #18: A History of Manufacturing in 5 Objects

Podcast cover
Read more

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have talked about loss of manufacturing jobs, and the importance of having things “Made In America.” In this episode of BackStory, we take a look at the history of American manufacturing by exploring several objects that transformed American life. From 18th century colonists struggling to produce that most coveted of tems -- porcelain -- to the invention of nylon stockings and the TV picture tube in the 20th century, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the surprising history behind five inventions and innovations.

Oct 13 2016
57 mins
Play Now

Rank #19: Red Dawn: Americans and the Bolshevik Revolution

Podcast cover
Read more

One hundred years ago, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik Party seized power in a revolution that would change the world. They would establish the world’s first Marxist state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a few years later. As the 20th century wore on, the USSR became the United States’s chief military and ideological foe. On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore how that distant revolution had an immediate impact in the United States. 

Nov 10 2017
57 mins
Play Now

Rank #20: Hometown History: Local Stories From Across The Country

Podcast cover
Read more

This week, BackStory looks at local history by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire. These stories -- from Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis and San Francisco -- illuminate big themes in American history and tell us something about what makes these places so unique. 

Jul 07 2017
1 hour 12 mins
Play Now