The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


How Two Adventure-Hungry Germans Became the First to Depict the Grand Canyon in the Mid 19th Century and How a Filing Error Came to Haunt One of Them (Part 1)

Adapted from Looking for Humboldt & Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond by Erika Schelby Few Americans are aware of the long-standing fascination Germans have for the American West. Even fewer know that it was two Germans, Heinrich Balduin Möllhausen and Friedrich Wilhelm von Egloffstein who were the first to depict the […]

Escape From Libby Prison

The American Civil War proved to be one of the bloodiest, most devastating wars in United States history, claiming more than 600,000 lives within four years. However, twice the number of soldiers who lost their lives in battle died as a result of disease. Poor sanitation and unsophisticated medical care contributed to the contraction of […]

7 Ways to Catch a Millionaire Husband (In 1904)

On September 25, 1904, the “Chicago Tribune” printed an article entitled “How to Catch a Millionaire Husband.” It featured women who had made “brilliant” matches to some of the wealthiest and most prominent men of the time. With its strong use of graphics and gossipy style of writing, the article foreshadows the modern-day “listicle.” With […]

Luisa Capetillo: Feminism and Labor In Puerto Rico

In 1915, Luisa Capetillo strolled the streets of Havana as the first Puerto Rican woman ever to wear pants in public. She was shortly stopped and arrested for “causing a scandal.” News outlets of the time reported that Luisa Capetillo petitioned ardently in her own defense. They quoted her as saying “Your Honor, I always […]

Old News, Fake News: The Many Deaths of Sitting Bull

On this week’s episode of BackStory we are looking at “fake news.” The term has been used alternatively to describe the mainstream media; false stories which proliferated on Facebook over the 2016 election cycle; and even stories which extend beyond the political sphere into issues like vaccinations and celebrity gossip. But while the phrase itself […]

In With The Old: Fort Des Moines and the Challenge of Keeping Museums Relevant

Fort Des Moines represents an essential space in the historical intersection of the United States military and the Civil Rights Movement. The fort served as the first Officer Candidate School for African American men during World War I, and then became the first school for Commissioned female officers in World War II. Countless human stories […]

History Behind the Headlines: Prison Strike

Today, prisoners across the country are set to begin a 19-day strike with the intent to end what they’re calling “modern-day slavery.” The inmates plan to stop working and end commissary spending. Those involved in what’s being called Prison Strike 2018 released their list of demands via the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee’s website. The second […]

History Behind the Headlines: Silent Sam

At the UNC Chapel Hill campus last night, a crowd of protesters tore down a Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam.” The statue has been a source of controversy on the UNC campus for decades, and tensions have been rising in recent years. Calls for its removal increased following the 2017 white supremacist rally in […]

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