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The Middling Sort

Visions of the Middle Class


The middle class is a powerful idea in American culture. On this show we explore the rise — and, some might say, the fall — of “the middle class” in the United States.

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Pitch a show!

Winter/Spring 2015


Have a topic you’d like to see on air this year? Tell us more.

Born Again

Religious Renewal in America


This Easter season, we reflect the history of religious fervor in America — from the first Great Awakening in colonial times to the televangelism of the 20th century.

Another Man’s Treasure

A History of Trash


That’s right, trash: refuse, rubbish, litter and landfills — we’ll dive into all that good stuff. What does America’s garbage tell us about its past?

Island Hopping


On this episode of BackStory, take a cruise with the Guys in search of islands — material and metaphysical — that have played notable roles in the course of American history.

Black History Month

2015 Playlist


A playlist of BackStory segments in honor of this year’s Black History Month.

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From the Blog

The Tipping Point

Middle-class outrage over leaving a tip

By Andrew Parsons Eating out in the 19th century was a strong indicator[...]

A New Way Forward

African-American labor activism and the middle class

By Andrew Parsons Earlier this month, President Obama traveled to Chicago to designate[...]

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Latest Comments

Jack Pommer

Commented on: Pitch a show!

We hear a lot about "constructionist" and "activist" Supreme Court justices, but it can be confusing. By some measures Antonin [...]

Chris Schweizer

Commented on: Born Again

Since the 1980s it seems that the mainstream evangelical community has been pretty uniformly aligned with the Republican Party (our [...]