It’s BackStory’s birthday! To celebrate our first year as a weekly show, the American History Guys are going back to where it all begins: birth. From midwives to maternity wards, ideas of sin, and of citizenship, this episode explores what it means to be “Born in the USA.”
On this special Election Day episode of BackStory, the History Guys put current voting trends in historical perspective, and explore the changing face of voting in America.
To mark the rebirth of BackStory as a weekly program, the History Guys set out to explore the earliest stages of life in America. They begin with a few of the basic assumptions we have about birth in America today, and spend the hour exploring how those assumptions came into being.
This is the transcript of “Beyond Numbers: A History of the US Census.” You can listen to the entire episode here. _______________________________________________________________________ P. Onuf: From VFH Radio in Charlottesville, Virginia, this is “BackStory.” [music] The 2011 Census numbers are in and that means the Census Bureau can get onto its next project—figuring out how accurate [...]
The following are extended versions of interviews included in the BackStory episode “Beyond Numbers: A History of the U.S. Census,” broadcast in December of 2010. You can listen to the entire episode here. Vincent Barabba: The 1980 Census — Brian Balogh interviews former Census Bureau director Vincent Barabba about the Bureau’s attempts to address the [...]
We’re digging into the little-considered story of the U.S. Census – the invisible backbone of American democracy. Join us to explore why the idea was so revolutionary in 1787, and how it has continued to shape our society in fundamental ways.
The following readings relate to the BackStory episode, “Beyond Numbers: A History of the U.S. Census.” View online resources here. Anderson, Margo. The American Census: A Social History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. —–., ed. Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2000. Cohen, Patricia. A Calculating People: The Spread of Numeracy [...]
For most of American history, women were charged with raising productive citizens, but not given full citizen status, themselves. Our Mother’s Day episode explores this enduring paradox.
Ed Ayers interviews historian Mark Summers, Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and author of Party Games: Getting, Keeping, and Using Power in Gilded Age Politics. Prof. Summers discusses some of the hijinks associated with Gilded Age elections.
Although the memory of hanging chads still clouds the electoral mood, elections have come a long way. But how effective is our current system? Does it accurately register the will of the People? And why did America’s founders opt out of direct democracy? With the help of callers, the History Guys provide the backstory on [...]