The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


BackStory the American History Podcast Ends Production in 2020

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, will record its final episode this summer. The last episode of BackStory will publish on July 3, 2020. Over the years, BackStory has looked at pivotal points […]

Constructing Race in Reconstruction: An Interview with Daniel Brook

Almost 100 years before Rosa Parks’s famous protest of segregation on the Montgomery bus system, a woman named Mary P. Bowers took a similar stand on a streetcar in Charleston, South Carolina. Her 1867 protest would eventually lead to the desegregation of the city’s streetcars that same year. This was no isolated incident, either. Elements […]

The Dreamt Land: Mark Arax On the History of California’s Water

We have all read that California is burning. Wildfires continue to threaten, and destroy, communities across the state. They are so numerous that the Los Angeles Times recently published a guide for those who have “lost track of all the California fires.”  These fires have become repetitive, even normal. More commonplace are the causes often […]

Anointed with Oil: A Conversation with Darren Dochuk

“Anointed with Oil places religion and oil at the center of American history. As prize-winning historian Darren Dochuk reveals, from the earliest discovery of oil in America during the Civil War, citizens saw oil as the nation’s special blessing and its peculiar burden, the source of its prophetic mission in the world. Over the century […]

The BackStory on Writing BackStory’s Code of Ethics

In the interest of maintaining the quality and integrity of our work, BackStory is working to establish a code of ethics that will help to make our storytelling process more transparent for those who serve as sources for our work and for our audience. We also need to consider the unique space we occupy as […]

On the Heels of Ignorance: A Conversation With Owen Whooley

The fundamental concerns of American psychiatry – articulating madness, understanding mechanisms responsible for mental distress – have always eluded it. As Owen Whooley argues in On the Heels of Ignorance: Psychiatry and the Politics of Not Knowing, the history of the field is a history of ignorance, and a cyclical record of disappointment and reinvention. […]

The High and Beautiful Wave: A Conversation with Erik Davis

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the iconic 1969 music festival that defined the counter-cultural “summer of love” movement of 1960’s America. But if Woodstock was the retrospective peak, then what about the descent? In his book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote: “We had all the momentum; we […]

The Mueller Hearing: What You Need to Know

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is set to break his silence tomorrow morning. After almost two years of tight-lipped investigations and one brief press conference, Mueller is testifying in front of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees at 8:30am. The testimony comes three months after Mueller’s 448 page report detailing his team’s investigation into Russia’s […]

Disrupting the Cemetery: An Interview With Adam Morris

Our June BookStory features “American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation” by Adam Morris. The book traces various messianic figures through centuries of American history, from the 18th century communalist teachings of Jemima Wilkinson to Jim Jones and the tragic end of his Peoples Temple at Jonestown, Guyana. “American Messiahs” examines these diverse figures […]

History Behind the Headlines: Six Questions You Should Ask About Reparations

I keep hearing about “reparations.” What is it? Reparations is the idea that compensation of some form should be given to the ancestors of trafficked and enslaved peoples. Reparations stem from the idea that effects of enslavement and discrimination can be felt through generations and that descendants from these ancestors can still feel the negative […]

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