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 December, recreational marijuana use became legal in Washington and Colorado. But back in the early 20th century, both states were among the first to ban the drug. If that seems like a radical change, well – it’s hardly the first time a drug has undergone a major image overhaul in America. This week, we trace the [...]
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 links and documents relate to the BackStory episode “Black and White: The Idea of Racial Purity,” broadcast in January of 2009. You can listen to the entire episode here. Read up on the origins and history of the idea of race. Peruse an excerpt from The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette [...]
Thomas and Sally — Historian Annette Gordon Reed speaks with 18th Century History Guy Peter Onuf about Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. Reed proposes that historians have come to erroneous conclusions trying to “save” Jefferson’s reputation. Slavery & Science — Historian Daryl Scott discusses rise of scientific racism and how race has [...]
The following audio clip is excerpted from the BackStory episode “Black & White: The Idea of Racial Purity.” You can listen to the entire episode here. Historian Daryl Scott discusses rise of scientific racism and how race has evolved–and not evolved–in the 19th and 20th centuries. Excerpted from: Black & White: The Idea of Racial [...]
On this episode of BackStory, the History Guys look for the roots of America’s obsession with race, and ask why the line between black and white has remained so bold despite centuries of racial mixing. Were the categories of “black” and “white” already in place when Africans first came to America, and if not, when [...]
For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is behind bars. For African-Americans, that figure is one in 15. In this hour, the History Guys ask whether we’ve always been so fond of the lock & key, and look at how our prison system has been structured in the [...]