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States of Mind

Mental Illness in America [rebroadcast]

In this episode, we look back over the history of mental illness in America – exploring how the diagnostic line between mental health and madness has shifted over time, and how we’ve treated those on both sides of it.

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On the Take

Corruption in America

Forty years ago, Richard Nixon resigned from office in the midst of one of the largest political corruption scandals in American history. On this episode, we’ll do some muckraking and expose some other corruption stories from our past.

Tapped Out

Thirsting For Fresh Water

The Western U.S. is in the grip of a punishing drought. So on this episode, we’re looking at how Americans have managed access to water across the centuries.

American Apparel

A History of Fashion

Summer might mean taking off the layers, but what Americans wear reflects so much more than the weather. In this episode, we’ll explore what fashion can tell us about ourselves.

Pitch a Show

Spring/Summer 2014

Last year we received nearly 200 pitches for show topics – some of which made it on the air! Episodes about higher education and the US relationship with Mexico were pitched by listeners, and lots of individual stories had their origins in your brains as well. So help us keep up the process!


Recent Episodes

U.S. vs. Them

Sports on the World Stage

With this World Cup, have Americans succumbed to the lure of the world’s[...]

Independence Daze

A History of July Fourth [rebroadcast]

BackStory celebrates Independence Day with a classic episode, tracing how July Fourth went[...]


From the Blog

In the Event of a Moon Disaster

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore[...]

“I escaped unhurt from amidst that perfect hail of shot and shell.”

A Letter from the battlefield

Morris Island, SC July 20 My Dear Amelia: I have been in two[...]


Latest Comments


Commented on: Tapped Out

Suzanne, thank you for that extremely thorough response! We are speaking with someone today about the 'law of the river' [...]

Kyle Sweeney

Commented on: Pitch a Show

Somewhat relevant due to the internet debate. What about the history of common carriers and utilities. In the history of [...]