The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


A Good Fellow

In 1901, on a January afternoon, New York City undertakers buried the body of Murray Hall, a fixture in local politics. One bookseller who knew Hall described him as “distinctively masculine,” if somewhat effeminate. Others remembered Hall as a man who liked cigars, poker, and good-looking women. But Hall was buried in women’s clothing. Born […]

Lottery Fever

  The largest jackpot in PowerBall history got a lot larger when no one selected the winning numbers again on Saturday night, and the nation’s lottery fever continues. The jackpot now stands at an estimated $1.3B, and as Americans gear up for the next round on Wednesday, it’s hard not to wonder how this all […]

Holy Ghosts

  In October of 1842, a Shaker woman named Ruth Green was visited by the spirit of Mariah Wantay, a deceased Native American. Wantay spoke through Green at a church meeting in the Shaker community of Watervliet, New York. She was 175 years old, she said. She had been “killed by the white man” at […]

Signs of the Times

By Juliana Daugherty, with Audio by Nina Earnest     Alexander Graham Bell has long been praised as an icon of American industry. A Scottish-born immigrant with an innovative spirit and a dogged work ethic, he is famously credited with the invention of the first telephone. Less famously, he invented the graphophone, the photophone, and […]

The People’s Party

By Melissa J. Gismondi, with Audio by Nina Earnest     On March 4, 1829, president-elect Andrew Jackson was probably not in the mood to party, although it was his inauguration day. At almost sixty-two years old, Jackson was frail and in poor health. He was also mourning the death of his beloved wife, Rachel, […]

Better to Burn

In the 1870s, a rural Pennsylvania physician named Francis LeMoyne thought he had found a way to solve a very real problem: outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria. He thought the outbreaks were a cycle that could be broken. His solution was simple: instead of burying the bodies of the dead where they could decay and contaminate […]

Tell the Truth…but don’t publish it.

  It’s probably safe to say that most Americans have read–or at least been assigned–one of Mark Twain’s many books and essays: Huck Finn, Jim and Tom Sawyer all remain iconic literary figures. However, very few Americans have ever read perhaps Twain’s most devastating piece of satire: “The United States of Lyncherdom.” As with much […]

What We’re Reading

As producers are putting together each new show, we read…a lot. Here are a few of the works that helped shape this show.   African American Satire: The Sacredly Profane Novel Darryl Dickson-Carr University of Missouri, 2001 Dickson-Carr argues that many works by major authors included Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and Ishmael Reed, are first and […]


Listener Margot from Washington, D.C. left a question for us on this very website. It had to do with something she’s noticed about the state of modern satire> Why does it seem like liberals have a monopoly on satire? Why isn’t there a conservative version of the Daily Show or Colbert Report or Last Week […]

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