Cleanliness is next to godliness, we say, and Americans have long associated good hygiene with moral and spiritual purity. On this episode, we dig into the changing ways we’ve defined what it is to be clean. We’ll meet an 18th-century Pennsylvania woman who didn’t immerse herself in water for 28 years, and ask how Americans [...]
In this episode, the History Guys consider the advent of air conditioning, and explore its far-reaching implications on everything from architecture and leisure to demography and politics. They also look at what happened when stoves became widely available in the mid-19th century, and how technology altered Americans’ way of life.
We’re devoting this episode of BackStory to maps – asking how the ways in which Americans have mapped geography illustrate the ways in which Americans have understood themselves socially.
This week on BackStory, we tackle extreme weather: how we’ve tried to predict it, control it, make sense of it. Along the way, we discover that our responses to wind, sleet, and rain have said as much about us as about the natural world.
In New England, 1816 was “The Year Without a Summer.” Snow fell throughout June and July. According to one diarist, the 4th of July saw “ice as thick as window glass” as far south as Pennsylvania. This week on BackStory, we tackle weather in its strangest and scariest permutations.
In this episode, the History Guys will explore sweetness in American history. How has our national sweet tooth shaped our political and economic priorities?
The following audio clip is excerpted from the BackStory episode “From Whales to Wind: A History of Energy.” You can listen to the entire episode here. Historian David Nye discusses the origins of Americans’ ample appetites for energy. Excerpted from: From Whales to Wind: A History of Energy
The following audio clip is excerpted from the BackStory episode “From Whales to Wind: A History of Energy.” You can listen to the entire episode here. Historian Ann Norton Greene explains why the “Age of Steam” was also the Age of Horses. Excerpted from: From Whales to Wind: A History of Energy
The following audio clip is excerpted from the BackStory episode “Climate Control: A History of Heating & Cooling.” You can listen to the entire episode here. Historian Gail Cooper talks about the early days of air conditioning and the effort to move the outside indoors. Syndey Katz describes movie theaters in the days before A/C. [...]
In this episode, BackStory takes on big oil! And big trees, big water, big whales.. How have changing energy sources shaped the growth and decline of cities and towns? What are the social costs and benefits of new energy technologies?