187 episodes

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access to our sponsor-free feed of the show. Learn more at plus.npr.org/throughline

Throughline Throughline

    • History
    • 4.7 • 38 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

Subscribe to Throughline+. You'll be supporting the history-reframing, perspective-shifting, time-warping stories you can't get enough of - and you'll unlock access to our sponsor-free feed of the show. Learn more at plus.npr.org/throughline

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    The Characters That Built China

    The Characters That Built China

    Today, China is a global superpower. But less than two hundred years ago, the nation was in a state of decline. After what became known as the 'century of humiliation' at the hands of Western imperialist powers, its very survival was in question. A movement arose to fight off foreign interference and preserve Chinese culture in the face of intense pressure from a rapidly-changing world. And the key to that movement was language.

    In this episode, we follow three key reformers who worked to modernize written and spoken Chinese, sometimes risking their lives to do so. Their work simplified Chinese, standardized it, and took it from an inaccessible language built for the elite to a modern language for the masses. It was a struggle that spanned generations, changed the fate of millions of people, and helped create the powerful modern nation-state of China.

    • 49 min
    Before Roe: The Physicians' Crusade

    Before Roe: The Physicians' Crusade

    Abortion wasn't always controversial. In fact, in colonial America it would have been considered a fairly common practice: a private decision made by women, and aided mostly by midwives. But in the mid-1800s, a small group of physicians set out to change that. Obstetrics was a new field, and they wanted it to be their domain—meaning, the domain of men and medicine. Led by a zealous young doctor named Horatio Storer, they launched a campaign to make abortion illegal in every state, spreading a potent cloud of moral righteousness and racial panic that one historian later called "the physicians' crusade." And so began the century of criminalization.

    In the first episode of a two-part series, we're telling the story of that century: how doctors put themselves at the center of legal battles over abortion, first to criminalize — and then to legalize.

    • 53 min
    Bonus: The Forgotten Mothers of Civil Rights History

    Bonus: The Forgotten Mothers of Civil Rights History

    MLK Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin are household names, but what about their mothers? This hour, author Anna Malaika Tubbs explores how these three women shaped American history.

    • 49 min
    The Shadows of the Constitution (2020)

    The Shadows of the Constitution (2020)

    The Constitution is like America's secular Bible, our sacred founding document. As the Supreme Court debates the future of Roe v. Wade, many of us are looking more closely at the Constitution, trying to discern how it protects us. In her play, "What the Constitution Means to Me," Heidi Schreck goes through her own process of discovering what the Constitution is really about: who wrote it, who it was for, who it protected and who it didn't. Through Heidi's personal story, we learn how both the document itself and the way it's been interpreted have affected generations of Americans — and how those effects are far from ended.

    • 43 min
    Cinco de Mayo and the Rise of Modern Mexico

    Cinco de Mayo and the Rise of Modern Mexico

    Does history have a border? That is the question at the heart of Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, a holiday that symbolizes Mexico's fight for autonomy, even as it's come to be associated with sales and cervezas and margaritas in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo is part of a much deeper story of two nations — Mexico and the U.S. — trying to define themselves at a time when old empires were crumbling and borders were in flux. A story that culminated in a revolution in Mexico that was at the forefront of a worldwide movement against predatory capitalism and foreign domination. So in this episode, we're going back to the first Cinco de Mayo and exploring how it helped shape the future on both sides of the border.

    • 50 min
    The New Gilded Age

    The New Gilded Age

    Philanthropic foundations are a fundamental part of our society: they support media, the arts, education, medical research, and more. NPR, and even this show, is supported by many personal and family foundations. But it wasn't always that way. In this episode, we go back to the beginning — the Gilded Age. We trace the birth and evolution of what many today call "big philanthropy," and ask what all this private wealth means for the public good.

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

Zalgiris1410 ,

Brilliant current events/history pod

The most compelling “history” podcast around - a diverse array of topics, balances journalistic rigour & entertainment values, great production. One of my favourite pods. Great work Rund, Ramtin, and company!

NZBob1944 ,

Thoughtful histories

Well-researched Podcasts explaining the history behind today’s troubling social issues

Kuskuski ,

Succinct info

I don’t live in the US and many of these episodes deal with American issues. Nonetheless I really like them. They are filled with the background info that would take me an age to research by myself. I do appreciate this podcast. It’s terrific.

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