The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


A Bill for BackStory


BackStory is enmeshed in a grammatical crisis – and we need your help to resolve it. Divisions are forming, banners are flying, and a war of words might break out at any second over a critical question of BackStory policy: which indefinite article to use with the noun “historian”?

“AN HISTORIAN” OR “A HISTORIAN”? Our hosts took their grammar seriously in school and hoped they might one day be known as “AN HISTORIAN” – where the emphasis on the second syllable makes the “h” softer (more like a silent “h”), and so makes “an” the correct indefinite article to use. But some listeners and modern grammarians suggest “A HISTORIAN” is increasingly the preferred usage today.

What is at stake? For an overview of these grammatical issues, take a look at this discussion of the matter, or this one. (So interested you want to read a paper on this topic? See here).

How To Act: This is no time to be a passive bystander, but to stand up and fight for what you believe in (grammatically)! Submit your opinion through the poll below, and be part of the great BackStory democratic experiment!

We the Listeners to the public radio program “BackStory,” in order to form a more perfect sonic experience, do solemnly resolve and recommend that:

Poll Closed



Thank you to all who voted!

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