The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


A Conversation with Dustin Abnet

From its outbreak, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a wave of speculation, and worry, over an expected acceleration of the use of automated labor. After all, “the machine doesn’t fall ill.” Worries over the future of labor in the face of competition from robots and computers is especially acute, and serious, today. But as historian […]

BackStory the American History Podcast Ends; Episodes Move to Archives

Charlottesville, VA— After more than three hundred episodes that have reached millions of listeners over the last twelve years, BackStory, the American history podcast produced by Virginia Humanities, published its final episode today. “Virginia Humanities is proud to have produced BackStory for the past twelve years. The staff, guests, and hosts have created a show […]

A Conversation with Russell Cobb

Earlier this year, the Netflix documentary Tiger King briefly dominated American culture. In doing so, it shone a rare spotlight on Oklahoma, the setting for the wild, almost unbelievable antics of its characters. But for many people familiar with the history of Oklahoma, Tiger King is just another anecdote in a culture packed with contradictions, […]

Best of BackStory: Listener Submissions

As BackStory wraps up production, we’ve been asking each of our hosts to select moments from the show’s history and compile their very own “Best of BackStory.” Now it’s your turn! We’re looking for suggestions for June’s Best of BackStory, the listener edition.  Leave us a voicemail at (434) 260-3320, telling us about your favorite […]

A Conversation with Kimberly A. Hamlin

In her latest book “Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener,” historian Kimberly A. Hamlin tells the story of an influential and fascinating woman who you likely have never even heard of. Helen Hamilton Gardener dedicated her life to championing women’s rights and pushing back against the sexual double standard. […]

A Conversation With Lizabeth Cohen

Urban renewal has received a bad rap over the last few decades. The phrase often brings to mind population displacement, the destruction of historic neighborhoods, and a general failure of the public sphere. But this is far from the whole story. Lizabeth Cohen’s book “Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban […]

Best of BackStory – Ed Ayers’ Playlist

As BackStory moves towards the end of its production, we’ve asked our hosts – both past and present – to select memorable moments from the show that we’re publishing as episodes once per month. As a founding host, Ed has had hundreds of conversations on a huge variety of topics. But some of his favorite […]

From New York to London: South African Music in Exile

Toward the end of, “From Music to Madiba: A History of U.S. Relations with South Africa,” Brian Balogh speaks with Louis Meintjes about the links between South African and American music and the political influence of music during apartheid. Meintjes describes how some musicians performed within the confines of the state-owned system of censored radio. […]

A Conversation with Jonathan Rosenberg

For many of us, political discourse is difficult to extricate from the cultural lexicon that mirrors and helps define it. Movies, music, award shows, and much much more, help us understand our world, and even have the potential to influence it. This interplay between culture and politics is nothing new, even if the lexicon has […]

Black History Month: BackStory Playlist

It’s Black History Month, when we recognize the achievements and history of African Americans throughout US history. BackStory frequently highlights these stories, whether across a whole show or in a specific interview. So to celebrate, we’ve put together a playlist of some of our favorites from different time periods, generations, and viewpoints. The topics range […]