The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


Fear of an Immigrant Nation

Many seem startled by the recent maelstrom of political rhetoric on immigration bans, fake news, and “alternative facts” under the Trump administration. Yet, some of these features of 2017 American politics aren’t novel or new, especially regarding immigration. On a recent episode of “Here and Now,” Joanne Freeman and Ed Ayers talked about bans and […]

Celebrate the #NewBackStory!

BackStory relaunches this Friday with our new podcast. Help us celebrate by changing your cover and/or profile photos on Twitter and Facebook. See below for images and further instructions. Also, be sure to subscribe to BackStory so you won’t miss an episode. If you’re new to podcasts, the best way to find BackStory is by searching […]

BackStory’s Year In Review

  As 2016 comes to a close, BackStory takes a look at the stories that resonated most with our audience. Here are the 12 most popular episodes from this year:   12. Judaism In America In this episode, the Guys explore the history of Judaism in America.   11. Watch The Throne: America & Royalty For […]

BackStory’s Year In Review

  As 2016 comes to a close, BackStory takes a look at the stories that resonated most with our audience. Here are the 10 most popular blog stories from this year: Jan. 12, 2016 – Lottery Fever by Diana Williams The lead up to the largest lottery jackpot to date – the $1.6B Powerball jackpot […]

BackStory’s Holiday Reading List

Our goal at BackStory is to look at the history behind the headlines. As the holiday reading season gears up, we’ve compiled a list of engaging and insightful books that will help unpack the backstory to some of this year’s top news stories. Help us add to the list: give us your own recommendations and let […]

The Shaking Quakers

The “United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing,” more commonly known as the Shakers, were founded in the late 1700s. Although scholars disagree on their status as a utopia, the Shakers have created a unique community with wide ranging and long lasting impacts.   Led by Mother Ann Lee, the first Shaker settlement was […]

Buddhists Enemies of the State?

Under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI is rarely remembered for its restrained investigation methods. Yet, one target of its scrutiny is particularly surprising today: Ordained Buddhist priests. After the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, all Japanese-Americans were held under suspicion, but officials considered Buddhism to be a particularly concerning tie between […]

Inventions People Thought Would Change the World for the Better (but didn’t)

  The Candy Bar. In BackStory episode  “Sweet Talk: A History of Sugar,” guest Steve Almond explained that products like the “Chicken Dinner Candy Bar” were sold and advertised as meal replacement bars. “The essence of the idea of the candy bar,” said Almond, “was that it’s quick, and it’s portable. You can eat it […]

The Language of Transgender History and Visibility

From the 1850s to the early 20th century, newspapers wrote sensationalist stories about people who were born female but lived and “passed” as men. When someone’s birth sex was “discovered,” they were often outed by the press. Although their circumstances and motives varied, the people whom newspapers reported on were generally white, and usually were […]

The Mythology and Misrepresentation of the Windigo

If you’re a fan of Stephen King, horror movies, science fiction novels, or the show Supernatural, there is a pretty good chance you’ve heard of the windigo. But do you know where–or more importantly, from whom– this story originated? Hint: It was not in a writers’ room at Warner Bros. The windigo originates from spiritual […]

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