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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.


Recent Episodes

Pop History

The Past in Last Year’s Media

How did last year’s art, literature and entertainment relive -- and reinvent --[...]

Women at Work

A History

This time on BackStory, we look at women in the workforce, from 19th[...]


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[...]


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 [...]