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BackStory

BackStory

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman. We're based in Charlottesville, Va. at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Each week we take a topic that people are talking about and explore it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversation with our listeners, we make history engaging and fun.

Categories & Tags
Society & Culture History

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The Melting Pot: Americans & Assimilation

BackStory

On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan wrestle with a long-running tension in our country’s history: what it means to assimilate and “become American.”

62 Min

Sep 15, 2017

A Conversation with Karl Rove

BackStory

On this episode of BackStory, Brian sits down with Republican political strategist Karl Rove to talk about his book, “The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters.”

38 Min

Sep 8, 2017

Death Before Dishonor: Shame and Reputation in American History

BackStory

In this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Joanne explore how 19th-century honor culture demanded that a man’s good name be saved by any means necessary — even murder.

46 Min

Sep 1, 2017

Episode
Podcast
Time
Released
16 min
Aug 23, 2017
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In this BackStory Short Take, Brian sits down with University of Virginia Law School Vice Dean Leslie Kendrick to discuss the constitutionality of regulating weapons at public protests.

28 min
Aug 18, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Nathan, Joanne and Ed discuss the horrific events that happened in Charlottesville last weekend, and how it fits into American history.

45 min
Aug 11, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Brian and Ed, talk about how Americans have tried to actively change the North American climate.

34 min
Aug 4, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan explore the ways Americans have spent their time off.

54 min
Jul 28, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Nathan explore some of the stories Americans tell about our past and find the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of a few American legends.  

32 min
Jul 21, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Ed, Brian and Joanne discuss the history behind stories in the news.

52 min
Jul 14, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, we explore what it means to be white in America, and how the concept of whiteness has fundamentally shaped our country.

69 min
Jul 7, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, we look at local history by broadcasting segments from podcasts we admire.

50 min
Jun 30, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Ed, Brian and Joanne discuss the history behind stories in the news and celebrate the 200th show with founding host Peter Onuf.

48 min
Jun 23, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne and Nathan explore some of the many meanings Americans have attached to hair.

45 min
Jun 16, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian discuss when and why many of the nation’s Confederate statues were erected, and what they stood for.

53 min
Jun 9, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed and Nathan explore the history of privacy in America.

34 min
Jun 2, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed, and Nathan talk about the history behind items in this week’s news.

42 min
May 26, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Ed, Joanne, and Brian look at the many reasons for joining the U.S. armed services.

34 min
May 19, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed and Brian look at the long history of political satire in America.

41 min
May 12, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Ed and Brian look at America's long history with opioids - like opium, morphine and heroin.

32 min
May 5, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed, Brian and Nathan discuss the history behind items in this week’s news.

39 min
Apr 28, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed and Nathan talk about the people who collect items that preserve the nation's history.

31 min
Apr 21, 2017
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In this grab bag, Joanne, Ed, Brian and Nathan look at the deep history of sanctuary cities and rule of law, at America’s history of boycotts, and talk about why it’s so hard for presidents to actually shrink the federal government.

44 min
Apr 14, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Joanne, and Ed discuss how this oft-forgotten war set the stage for the American century.

40 min
Apr 7, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Joanne, Ed and Brian probe the deeper history of the U.S. relationship with Russia — and discover moments of comity as well as conflict.

44 min
Mar 31, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Joanne explore the central questions of the Reconstruction era.

40 min
Mar 24, 2017
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In BackStory’s second history grab bag, Joanne, Ed, Brian, and Nathan discuss the history behind items in this week’s news.

48 min
Mar 17, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Joanne, and Brian look at the deep roots of advocacy in journalism.

38 min
Mar 10, 2017
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In this episode of BackStory, we explore how the federal government monitors and polices the undocumented.

41 min
Mar 3, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Nathan and Brian look at the central role that political protests have played throughout American history.

37 min
Feb 24, 2017
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In BackStory’s first history grab bag, Joanne, Brian and Nathan discuss the history behind items in this week’s news.

33 min
Feb 17, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Nathan, Joanne and Ed will look at other times in history when Americans had to be a bit more careful about what they read.

30 min
Feb 10, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian, and Joanne look back at sweeping immigration restrictions in the 19th and 20th centuries.

50 min
Feb 3, 2017
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On this episode of BackStory, Brian, Ed and Nathan look at what happens when urban and rural Americans collide.

2 min
Jan 31, 2017
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Urban/Rural Divides in America

51 min
Jan 25, 2017
i

Best of BackStory Pt. 2 by BackStory with the Ame…

1 min
Jan 20, 2017
i

BackStory is going through some big changes. Take…

51 min
Jan 18, 2017
i

We’ll spend our last regularly scheduled broadcas…

51 min
Jan 8, 2017
i

As Washington prepares for the next four years, B…

57 min
Jan 4, 2017
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Health Nuts: A History of Nutritional Advice [reb…

58 min
Dec 20, 2016
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On Dec. 24th, Jewish communities across the count…

51 min
Dec 14, 2016
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is i…

55 min
Dec 7, 2016
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From the persecution of Quakers in colonial Massa…

14 min
Dec 6, 2016
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On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers refused to…

58 min
Nov 30, 2016
i

Nieman-Marcus’ 2016 Christmas Book, which was fir…

16 min
Nov 30, 2016
i

President-elect Donald Trump said the election wa…

51 min
Nov 22, 2016
i

If a Pilgrim were to attend a contemporary Thanks…

51 min
Nov 16, 2016
i

In his recent book “Utopia for Realists,” Rutger …

51 min
Nov 11, 2016
i

With Donald Trump vowing to keep undocumented Mex…

13 min
Nov 9, 2016
i

Early this morning, Donald J. Trump was declared …

52 min
Nov 2, 2016
i

If the record TV viewership of the Clinton-Trump …

15 min
Nov 1, 2016
i

Last Friday, FBI Directory James Comey informed C…

51 min
Oct 19, 2016
i

America has a long and colorful history of confid…

57 min
Oct 12, 2016
i

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have talked…

59 min
Oct 5, 2016
i

With the presidential debates between Donald Trum…

52 min
Sep 28, 2016
i

Calls to pardon Edward Snowden, the former CIA co…

57 min
Sep 20, 2016
i

Americans have sought to censor all kinds of expr…

57 min
Sep 13, 2016
i

American presidential candidates are expected to …

37 min
Sep 7, 2016
i

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act made…

58 min
Aug 31, 2016
i

The Labor Day holiday offers some of us a much-ne…

51 min
Aug 24, 2016
i

BackStory is quitting the city and heading into t…

51 min
Aug 16, 2016
i

For many Americans, police shootings in Louisiana…

57 min
Aug 10, 2016
i

As summer winds down, millions of Americans are p…

51 min
Aug 3, 2016
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Let’s just call this episode trashy. The Guys pic…

60 min
Jul 27, 2016
i

Hillary Clinton moved a giant step closer to beco…

51 min
Jul 21, 2016
i

The 2016 presidential race switches into high gea…

63 min
Jul 13, 2016
i

Donald Trump has clinched the Republican party pr…

58 min
Jul 7, 2016
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Eating meat is a time-honored tradition in Americ…

52 min
Jul 4, 2016
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In this episode of BackStory, Peter, Ed, and Brian explore the origins of July Fourth.

51 min
Jun 29, 2016
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Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - it’s…

51 min
Jun 24, 2016
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As of June 2016, the Republican controlled Senate…

51 min
Jun 17, 2016
i

The month of June gets its name from Juno, the Ro…

51 min
Jun 10, 2016
i

Alexander Hamilton is living large these days! Li…

51 min
Jun 3, 2016
i

***CONTENT ADVISORY: THIS EPISODE CONTAINS STRONG…

51 min
May 27, 2016
i

This past March, Sea World announced it will stop…

52 min
May 20, 2016
i

To date, four states have legalized recreational …

57 min
May 13, 2016
i

Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday this…

52 min
May 6, 2016
i

This May, thousands of Americans will bet on the …

51 min
Apr 29, 2016
i

This month, the U.S. Treasury announced that Harr…

58 min
Apr 22, 2016
i

This month, Jewish communities across the country…

51 min
Apr 15, 2016
i

While Senate Republicans refuse to consider Presi…

51 min
Apr 8, 2016
i

This spring, millions of American high school stu…

51 min
Apr 1, 2016
i

With less than 2% of ESPN March Madness brackets …

58 min
Mar 28, 2016
i

As the presidential candidates continue their con…

51 min
Mar 18, 2016
i

No sitting U.S. president has visited Cuba in nea…

53 min
Mar 11, 2016
i

Earlier this year, tensions between federal offic…

51 min
Mar 4, 2016
i

On this BackStory, we’ll take a look at what it m…

51 min
Feb 26, 2016
i

President Barack Obama claims that the country’s …

51 min
Feb 19, 2016
i

As the Zika virus spreads across the Americas, it…

54 min
Feb 12, 2016
i

The 2016 Academy Awards are just around the corne…

59 min
Feb 5, 2016
i

More than 100 million Americans will tune in to w…

0 min
Feb 2, 2016
i

More than 100 million Americans will tune in to w…

51 min
Jan 29, 2016
i

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will explo…

52 min
Jan 22, 2016
i

In his final State of the Union address, Presiden…

65 min
Jan 15, 2016
i

On this episode of BackStory, the Guys will consi…

51 min
Jan 8, 2016
i

For as long as anyone can remember, Americans hav…

51 min
Dec 31, 2015
i

A new year has dawned, and we’re willing to bet t…

51 min
Dec 25, 2015
i

Here at BackStory, we’re always on the lookout fo…

54 min
Dec 18, 2015
i

On this episode of BackStory, we’ll take a look a…

51 min
Dec 11, 2015
i

History textbooks often argue that the United Sta…

51 min
Dec 4, 2015
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On this episode of BackStory, the Guys jump headl…

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