BackStory

The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

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A Conversation with Author Sonia Purnell

In 1942 the Gestapo sent out a message: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” This most dangerous of spies was Virginia Hall, an American woman with a prosthetic leg who became one of the greatest, and least known, spies in U.S. history. Virginia established vast spy […]

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on You

Listener question: I have been thinking of the reconstruction and Jim Crow eras and how little I know about them. I live in Oregon, and I know that the state has a history of racism set in its constitution (from 1859). I also understand that sundown laws were still in effect in some towns at […]

History Behind the Headlines: Unsung Founders Memorial

On Monday, two people were arrested on charges of vandalism and ethnic intimidation, after allegedly vandalizing a memorial dedicated to slaves and African American workers on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. The Unsung Founders Memorial was defaced with racial slurs and urine on March 31. The memorial’s vandalism has further inflamed […]

History Behind The Headlines: Jimmy Carter, Longest-Living American President

Today, Jimmy Carter passes George H.W. Bush to become the longest-living president in American history at 94 years, 172 days old. His presidency saw some major setbacks including inflation, energy crisis, war in Afghanistan, and the Iran hostage crisis (which ended 20 minutes after President Reagan took the oath of office). Nevertheless, Carter’s legacy has […]

Podcast Boot Camp

If you’ve ever wanted to teach your students how to tell stories with audio, this is the workshop for you. Spend July 15-16 at historic University of Virginia learning the basics from your favorite American history podcast. BackStory is a program of Virginia Humanities and this experience is funded in part by a grant from […]

History Behind the Headlines: White Stories of Black Lives

At the Oscars on Sunday, the award for Best Picture went to “Green Book,” a film loosely based on the real-life relationship between classically-trained African American jazz pianist Don Shirley, and racist, Italian-American Tony “Lip” Vallelonga. Tony is Don’s chauffeur and unofficial bodyguard as they drive through the segregated South on tour in 1962. The […]

Today in Historiography: How an #MLKDay Tweet About a Confederate General Sparked a Debate

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many followers of the Library of Congress Twitter account saw this post about the birth of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on January 21, 1824: Today in History: Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson born, 1824 #hbd #otd #tih https://t.co/JCxhaqgI0M pic.twitter.com/sHW8criMp7 — Library of Congress (@librarycongress) January 21, 2019 Many responses to […]

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: A Q&A with Author David Treuer

On the morning of December 29, 1890, U.S. Cavalry troops went into a Lakota camp near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota to disarm its inhabitants. What happened next is up for debate because there are differing accounts of how the shooting that became known as The Wounded Knee Massacre started. Regardless of how it […]

History Behind the Headlines: Tom Brokaw and Assimilation

On Sunday, former anchor of “NBC Nightly News” Tom Brokaw indicated that Hispanics aren’t doing enough to assimilate into American culture. Brokaw, who now serves as a special correspondent for NBC since his retirement in 2004, appeared as part of a panel on the network’s weekly political roundtable, “Meet the Press.” During a discussion about […]

History Behind the Headlines: Government Shutdowns

The government shutdown will become the longest in US history if it persists through Saturday. With President Trump and the Democrat-controlled House at loggerheads over the issue of funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border, roughly 800,000 federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay. But while funding disputes have occurred as long […]

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