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BackStory

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A Society and Culture podcast featuring Edward L. Ayers and Brian Balogh
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Sponsored Promotion: Bleeped
Bleeped is a new podcast about censorship and the people who stand up to it. Each episode relives a time someone was censored, examines how they fought back, and explores what the things we try to censor reveal about our culture. Subscribe to Bleep…
282: The Many Lives of Roe v Wade: The Little Known History Behind the Famous Ruling
In 1973, the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion. But since then, the court’s findings have been simultaneously celebrated and contested. Now, Roe is in the news again. States including Alabama and Missouri have passed laws that …
Sponsored Promotion: Unknown History Podcast
In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, "Unknown History" podcast, author and historian Giles Milton takes listeners through the perilous 24 hours of D-Day, sharing the tales of the men and women who risked their lives by land, sea, and air.For …
281: Mind, Body and Spirit: The History of Wellness in America
Recent estimates have put the value of the “Wellness Industry” at $4.2 billion, with celebrities like Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow offering advice on how to get, and stay, well. But being holistically healthy hasn’t always involved a daily dose of med…
280: Song of Ourselves? Walt Whitman and the American Imagination
May 31st marks Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday. In honor of the man known as America’s “bard of democracy,” we explore diverse aspects of Whitman’s life and legacy - from sexuality to spirituality, poetics to place.Image: Walt Whitman by George C. Co…
279: Paying for the Past: Reparations and American History
Reparations for African-Americans has been a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, with Democratic candidates including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren coming out in favor of compensation for unpaid African-American labor.But the debate …
Sponsored Promotion: Introducing The Shrink Next Door
Marty Markowitz had his share of problems. His parents had recently died. He had troubles at work. A failing relationship. He needed someone to help him through this rough patch in his life. So he decided to get some professional help from a psychi…
Sponsored Promotion: Family Ghosts
Announcing Season 2 of Family Ghosts, a podcast that takes a closer look at the legendary tales that shape our family histories.Listen: https://megaphone.link/FG7245488954
234: You Have The Right to Remain Silent: A History of the Miranda Warning
When a man named Ernesto Miranda confessed to a rape and kidnapping on March 13, 1963, his trial went all the way to the Supreme Court becoming one of the most well-known cases of the 20th century: "Miranda v Arizona." Nathan and Joanne look at the…
278: The Year of the Woman: A History of Women in Congress
Today, 131 women serve in the House and Senate, making Congress the most female and most diverse it’s ever been.But women in politics continue to face an uphill battle. Even after their election, Congresswomen such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and R…
277: The Civil War in the 21st Century: A New Museum Marks an Old Conflict
On May 4, 2019, the American Civil War Museum opens in Richmond, Virginia. It’s a historic endeavor, building upon a merger of several museums and historical sites in the region, including the former Museum of the Confederacy. The museum’s goal is …
276: Red in the Stars and Stripes?: A History of Socialism in America
More candidates for political office in America today identify themselves as socialists than ever before. But isn’t the idea of socialism anathema to American values of free enterprise and entrepreneurism? BackStory reveals the rich history of soci…
275: Alternative Facts, Falsehoods and Delusions: The Lies We've Told Ourselves and Each Other in American History
Late last month, the Washington Post reported President Trump has made some 9,451 false or misleading claims throughout his term in office. Yet, Trump’s supporters have maintained he’s not lying — he’s presenting so-called alternative facts. No mat…
274: Death on the Assembly Line: Industrial Tragedies in American History
On Wednesday an explosion from a gas leak in Durham, NC killed one person and injured 25 others. Local authorities say the leak started after a construction worker hit a gas line. The explosion occurred soon after. From explosions to pollution, tra…
273: All the Presidents’ Vetoes: A Brief History of Saying No to Legislation
To veto or not to veto? That was the question President George Washington wrestled with on this day in 1792. In honor of that decision, and the precedent it set for subsequent leaders, this week BackStory looks at presidential vetoes through two pe…
236: Teen Activists: A History of Youth Politics and Protest
This month, youth around the globe participated in Youth Strike 4 Climate, coordinated demonstrations by school students who are demanding action by world leaders to prevent further climate change. So, in this episode, Joanne, Brian & Ed talk about…
272: Burnt Corks & Cakewalks: The Toxic Legacy of Blackface in American History
Ed, Nathan and Brian explore the history of blackface, from its heyday as the most popular form of entertainment in America to its afterlife in the controversial images that appear in college yearbooks. What explains the long life of blackface in A…
243: Shore Thing: A History of the Beach
Spring Break is here and BackStory has gone to the beach. Ed, Joanne, and Brian dip their toes into four tales from America’s shoreline. We’ll talk about race, health, and daringly provocative woolen swimsuits. And the hosts will add their own expe…
271: Oh, Bloody Hell: BackStory’s History of Profanity in America
WARNING: THIS EPISODE CONTAINS UNCENSORED USE OF THE STRONGEST PROFANITIES. PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN IF YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE OFFENDED AND PLEASE DO NOT PLAY IF CHILDREN ARE LISTENING. This week, BackStory looks at the history of profanity in America. W…
270: Shattering the Glass Ceiling in America: BackStory Celebrates Women's History Month
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Brian showcases our favorite BackStory segments that highlight female achievement in American history. We’ll hear from a former switchboard operator about her experiences at New York Telephone in the 1970’s …
269: Man vs. the Machine: Technophobia and American Society
What drives people to reject technology? Though American society has been driven by technological leaps forward, not everyone has come along for the ride. We explore the strain of technophobia in American society from Neo-Luddism to Sabbatarianism …
268: Love Off Limits: A History of the Relationships Once Considered Taboo in America
In this episode, Joanne, Brian, and Nathan discuss stories of love that challenged social norms and transcended class, race, and gender. They explore how people subverted laws banning interracial marriage, and why a wave of heiresses running away w…
267: The Faces of Racism: A History of Blackface and Minstrelsy in American Culture
Nathan talks with historian Rhae Lynn Barnes about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 yearbook page and its link to a long and disturbing history of blackface minstrelsy. They discuss how white civic organizations used minstrel shows for fundra…
266: BlackStory: BackStory Celebrates Black History Month with a Compilation
Nathan showcases some of BackStory’s best content about African American history in honor of Black History Month. In this episode, hear about one historian’s heartbreaking research into the human effects of lynching to the extraordinary story of Ko…
265: Nixon Beyond Watergate: A History of the Presidency Before the Scandal
Today the Presidency of Richard Nixon is mostly remembered for how it ended - with the Watergate scandal, impeachment and resignation. But what about early Nixon, the man sworn into office in January 1969? As Nathan, Ed and Brian discover, Nixon ra…
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Podcast Details
Started
Sep 4th, 2015
Latest Episode
May 31st, 2019
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
187
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour
Explicit
No
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