108 episodes

This week, something momentous happened. Whether or not it made the textbooks, it most certainly made history. Join HISTORY This Week as we turn back the clock to meet the people, visit the places and witness the moments that led us to where we are today.


To get in touch with story ideas or feedback, email us at HistoryThisWeek@History.com, or leave us a voicemail at 212-351-0410.

HISTORY This Week HISTORY

    • History

This week, something momentous happened. Whether or not it made the textbooks, it most certainly made history. Join HISTORY This Week as we turn back the clock to meet the people, visit the places and witness the moments that led us to where we are today.


To get in touch with story ideas or feedback, email us at HistoryThisWeek@History.com, or leave us a voicemail at 212-351-0410.

    A Secret Mission to Cross the Pacific

    A Secret Mission to Cross the Pacific

    December 1, 1564. Spanish vessels left a secret port in Mexico about two weeks ago. Their goal: to sail across the Pacific and back, charting a new route for international trade, and giving Spain an edge against its chief colonial rival, Portugal. But today, when a storm hits, the smallest ship is separated from the rest of the fleet. Now, that ship, the San Lucas, is on its own. The following year, when the San Lucas makes it back to Mexico, against all odds, its pilot—a Black mariner—is accused of treason. How did the San Lucas—the smallest ship in the fleet—complete a near-impossible journey that would connect the world? And how did the trailblazing mariner Lope Martín get erased from the story?


    Special thanks to our guest, Andrés Reséndez, author of Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery.
     
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    • 32 min
    Thanksgiving Reconsidered

    Thanksgiving Reconsidered

    November 26, 1970. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival, protestors gather under a statue of Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader who had made peace with the Pilgrims, and partook in the legendary Thanksgiving meal. This protest was organized by Wamsutta Frank James, a Wampanoag activist who wanted to draw attention to the full story of Thanksgiving – a story of fear, violence, and oppression that spanned generations. America’s reckoning with the truth of Thanksgiving, James argued, would empower indigenous people to fight for their equal rights. This protest – a National Day of Mourning – continues to this day, now led by James’s granddaughter. So what is the true story of Thanksgiving? And why is it so important for us to remember?
     
    Special thanks to Kisha James, Paula Peters, and David Silverman, author of This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.
     
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    • 32 min
    Defying Gravity and Monarchy

    Defying Gravity and Monarchy

    November 21, 1783. The garden at the Chateau de la Muette is full of expectant Parisians, looking up at the sky. They’re waiting to watch the first two human beings ever take free, untethered flight. After a gust of wind nearly derails the entire operation, some volunteer seamstresses help repair the 75 foot tall hot air balloon. Finally, two Frenchmen step into their wicker baskets and take off. This first human balloon flight is more than just a landmark in aviation history. For the crowds of huddled French masses looking up from below, it's a revolution in and of itself. How did two sons of a papermaker create the first successful aviation device in history? And how did the balloon come to symbolize the French Revolution? 


    Special thanks to our guests, Tom Crouch, author of Lighter Than Air: An Illustrated History of Balloons and Airships, and Mi Gyung Kim, author of The Imagined Empire: Balloon Enlightenments in Revolutionary Europe.
     
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    • 29 min
    The Last Battle of the First World War

    The Last Battle of the First World War

    November 11, 1918. At exactly 11 AM local time, the shooting stops. It’s eerily quiet for the first time in a long time. World War I has finally come to an end today after Germany and the Allied nations signed an armistice not long before. The final battle of the war, known today as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, saw an unexpected turn of events and a surprising victory. Today: the battle that ended the first world war. How did an inexperienced American army help turn the tides? And how did the Meuse-Argonne Offensive change the way America would fight future wars?


    Thank you to our guest, Professor Mitchel Yockelson, author of “Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing's Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army in World War I.”


    Primary source letter from army doctor Stanhope Bayne-Jones can be found on the website of the Historical Collections of the US National Library of Medicine.
     
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    • 29 min
    Remember, Remember the 5th of November

    Remember, Remember the 5th of November

    November 4, 1605. The king's men are conducting a search. They're making their way through the storerooms and cellars and vaults that cluster around and beneath the Palace of Westminster. They've gotten a tip in the form of a mysterious, anonymous letter that something bad is going to happen at the House of Lords tomorrow. And shortly before midnight, they find a ton of firewood, a suspicious man, and 36 barrels of gunpowder. What brought a group of conspirators together in a plot to kill the king? And in the 400 years since, how has an annual celebration of the failed plot, and the story of one of the plotters—Guy Fawkes—come to stand for something else entirely?


    Special thanks to our guests: James Sharpe, author of Remember Remember: A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day, and Mark Nicholls, author of Investigating Gunpowder Plot.
     
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    • 30 min
    The Haunting Case of H.H. Holmes

    The Haunting Case of H.H. Holmes

    October 28, 1895. It’s the first day of a murder trial in Philadelphia, and H.H. Holmes has been left to represent himself. His lawyers say they haven’t had time to prepare for his case, although they may just want to avoid defending the man some newspapers are already saying is “sure to grace a gallows.” Holmes has been accused of murdering his business associate, but rumors swirl that he may have killed dozens, even hundreds more. And even a century later, some still call him "America's first serial killer." But how did H.H. Holmes earn this reputation? And why is it so hard to learn the truth about this legendary fiend?
     
    Special thanks to Adam Selzer, author of H.H. Holmes: The True Story of the White City Devil, and Harold Schechter, professor emeritus of literature at Queens College and author of Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer.
     
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    • 30 min

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