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 Virginia Humanities.
There’s the history you had to learn, and the history you want to learn - that’s where BackStory comes in. Each week BackStory takes a topic that people are talking about and explores it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversations with our listeners, BackStory makes history engaging and fun.
The End of the Road: BackStory and the History of Finales in America
It turns out that all good things must come to an end...including BackStory.
Teaser: BackStory and the History of Finales in America
This Friday we’re airing the final episode of BackStory, in which Nathan, Joanne, Ed, and Brian explore different kinds of finales throughout American history.
Best of BackStory: The Time the People Picked
In this best of BackStory, we present three of our listener’s favorite interviews from the show.
Introducing: Seizing Freedom
Coming Feb 2021…
In most history classes, students learn that the Emancipation Proclamation and Union victories “freed the slaves.” But ending slavery in America required much more than battlefield victories and official declarations. Black people battled for their own freedom, taking incredible risks for a country that had actively denied their right to it. And after the Civil War, they made freedom real by organizing for equality and justice.
On Seizing Freedom, you’ll hear stories of freedom taking and freedom making, in the words of those who did both. Drawing on stories from diaries, newspapers, letters, and speeches, we’ll recreate voices that have been muted time and time again.
This excerpt is from the first episode of the series. It tells the story of those who escaped slavery to enlist with the Union Army—an army that wasn’t particularly interested in having them.
Subscribe to the entire series here.
Great, Small and Other Expectations: Charles Dickens and His History with America
On this episode of BackStory, Joanne is joined by Jonathan Wells and Nancy Metz to tell the story of Dickens’ tumultuous -- but ultimately triumphant -- relationship to the United States and his American readers.
The Clue of the Blue Bottle from "The Last Archive"
On this episode of The Last Archive, historian Jill Lepore tells the story of a Spring day in 1919, when a woman’s body was found bound, gagged, and strangled in a garden in Barre, Vermont.