The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


Out In America

On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to the Upstairs Lounge, a bar popular with New Orleans’s gay community. 32 people perished in the fire, which garnered little sympathy among public officials and the media. New Orleans’ mayor, Moon Landrieu, refused to cancel his vacation in response to the fire. Radio announcers wondered if […]

Let’s Rap!

Hamilton the musical is a phenomenon, but you probably already knew that – especially if you are a young person, or have kids. Young people (many of whom haven’t seen the Broadway show) are really taken with the two-and-a-half hour, 46-song soundtrack. They roam the hallways of schools singing every single word. And teachers have […]

The Four Kings

In the early 18th century, four Native American men visited London on a diplomatic mission. They were members of the Haudenosaunee, known to us now as the Iroqouis Confederacy, which consisted of five related peoples – the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas and the Senecas. Upon their arrival in England, the men became […]

The History of Multi-State Lottery Games

Editor’s note: Jonathan D. Cohen is a University of Virginia student currently writing a cultural history of the lottery. On September 12, 1964, Paul Cordone of Gloversville, New York, won what was at the time the biggest lottery jackpot in American history. The previous year, New Hampshire became the first state to legalize a state-operated lottery […]

A Look At Jewish Holidays

Editor’s note: Rabbi Tuvia Genuth is a sofer stam (writer of holy scrolls). He received rabbinical ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Holidays in Judaism can be subdivided into two main categories. The first category includes holidays of biblical origin, explicitly mentioned in the “Torah” – the first 5 books of Moses that were received by the […]

Keeping Kosher

This evening, Jewish communities across the world will begin celebrating Passover. Like many other cultures, food is a central part of Jewish celebrations. However, unlike some cultures, many Jews observe rules that inform what types of food they can consume and how that food should be prepared. “The literal translation of the word kosher means […]

Best Passover Recipes

We asked new and longtime BackStory listeners to submit some of their best recipes for Jewish cuisine. Just in time for Passover, we’re highlighting a few of those submissions on our blog. If you have a recipe you’d like to submit, just use the form below. Max & Sally’s Gefilte Fish About the recipe: Ziggy Gruber is […]

What We’re Reading [Spring 2016]

In celebration of National Library Week, we asked the Guys, past guests, and BackStory producers: what are you reading?   Brian Balogh, 20th Century History Guy and author of the forthcoming book, In the Nation’s Backyard: How History Preserved Rural Life in Green Springs, 1970 to the Present   “The book I am listening to […]

The Best Little Whorehouse in NOLA

  Today, the house at 1026 Conti looks quiet and unassuming but 100 years ago, it was one of the most popular brothels in New Orleans. In the early twentieth-century, Norma Wallace, now known as the Last Madam of New Orleans, lived and ran her prostitution business from this house. The house came with a […]

Integrated Solutions

In the late 1940s, the US Supreme Court struck down restrictive covenants—rules that barred people of certain races from living in particular neighborhoods. This, combined with a booming post-war housing market, fueled a massive movement of people in Chicago. Over the next two decades, black Chicagoans increasingly moved out of the South Side to white neighborhoods on […]

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