160 episodes

A podcast about people and events in American history you may not know much about. Yet.

Unsung History Kelly Therese Pollock

    • History
    • 4.8 • 74 Ratings

A podcast about people and events in American history you may not know much about. Yet.

    Quilting & the New Deal

    Quilting & the New Deal

    As part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), so-called “unskilled” women were put to work in over 10,000 sewing rooms across the country, producing both garments and home goods for people in need. Those home goods included quilts, sometimes quickly-made utilitarian bedcoverings, but also artistic quilts worthy of exhibition. Quilts were featured in other New Deal Projects, too, like the WPA Handicraft Projects, part of the Women’s and Professional Projects Division. Throughout the Great Depression, the programs of the New Deal created a supportive and innovative environment for the art of quiltmaking.  

    Joining me in this episode is historian, writer, and podcaster Dr. Janneken Smucker, Professor of History at West Chester University and author of A New Deal for Quilts.

    Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode music is “A Mazurka played on harmonica,” performed by Aaron Morgan and recorded as part of a WPA project by Sidney Robertson Cowell on July 17, 1939, in Northern California; the recording is available via the Library of Congress.The episode image is “Grandmother from Oklahoma and her pieced quilt. California, Kern County,” take by Dorothea Lange in February 1936 through the U.S. Farm Security Administration; the photograph is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. 

    Additional Sources:
    “The Works Progress Administration,” PBS American Experience.“Works Progress Administration (WPA),” History.com, Originally posted July 13, 2017, and updated September 21, 2022.“Question 22: 1940 Census Provides a Glimpse of the Demographics of the New Deal,” by Ashley Mattingly, Prologue Magazine, National Archives, Summer 2012, Vol. 44, No. 2.“Women and the New Deal,” Living New Deal.“Women’s Work Relief in the Great Depression,” by Martha H. Swain, History Now, February 2004“WPA sewing project kept Hoosier women working through the Great Depression,” by Dawn Mitchell, Indy Star, January 19, 2018.“‘We Patch Anything’: WPA Sewing Rooms in Fort Worth, Texas,” Living New Deal, May 27, 2013.“Frugal and Fashionable: Quiltmaking During the Great Depression,” The Quilt Index.“WPA Milwaukee Handicraft Project,” Milwaukee Public Museum.


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    • 41 min
    The Federal Theatre Project

    The Federal Theatre Project

    Between 1935 and 1939, the Federal Theatre Project, part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), employed over 12,000 actors and put on over 1200 productions in 29 states. Led by Hallie Flanagan, the FTP, using only a small fraction of the total WPA budget, employed theater professionals; entertained audiences, some two-third of whom had never attended theater before the FTP; and helped launch the careers of people like director Orson Welles and playwright Arthur Miller. However, despite its success and small budget, the Federal Theater Project, was controversial, both for its supposed communist affiliations and because of the perception that theater wasn’t worthy of receiving federal tax dollars. After four years, Congress axed the project, immediately putting out of work 8,000 people across the country. 

    Joining me in this episode to tell us more about the Federal Theatre Project is Dr. Paul Gagliardi, Teaching Associate Professor at Marquette University and author of All Play and No Work: American Work Ideals and the Comic Plays of the Federal Theatre Project.

    Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode music is “The Broadway blues,” composed by Carey Morgan, with lyrics by Arthur Swanstrom; this performance was recorded by vocalist Aileen Stanley and conductor Rosario Bourdon on August 10, 1920, in Camden, New Jersey; the recording is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress National Jukebox. The episode image is a photograph from A Sailor's Ballad, performed at St. James Theatre in the 1930s as part of the Federal Theatre Project; the image is available in the Library of Congress, Music Division, Federal Theatre Project Collection.

    Additional Sources:
    “Hallie Flanagan Davis,” Vassar Encyclopedia.“The WPA Federal Theatre Project, 1935-1939,” Library of Congress.“The Works Progress Administration,” PBS American Experience.“The Federal Theatre: Revisiting the Dream [video],” The Living New Deal, October 17, 2022."Voodoo Macbeth - Trailer and Interview - Orson Welles - 1936 [video],” Shakespeare Network, posted on YouTube on May 2, 2021.“The Play That Electrified Harlem,” by Wendy Smith; originally published in the January-February 1996 issue of Civilization magazine and reposted on the Library of Congress website.“Federal Theatre Project,” by Paula Becker, HistoryLink, October 30, 2002.“The theater project that sparked a congressional probe — and culture war,” by James Shapiro, The Washington Post, May 26, 2024.“F.D.R.'S WPA FTP; At Moderate Box Office Prices the TheatreGoing Public Is Inexhaustible,” by Brooks Atkinson, The New York TImes, May 28, 1939.


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    • 45 min
    The Red Summer of 1919 & Black Resistance

    The Red Summer of 1919 & Black Resistance

    In 1919, racial tensions in the US, exacerbated by changes brought about by the first wave of the Great Migration and by the return of Black soldiers who demanded equal citizenship from the country they’d fought for, boiled over into a summer of violence. In Washington, DC, 39 people died after days of fighting between white mobs and Black citizens who stood their ground and fought back. The events of the Red Summer are just one example of the ways that Black Americans have resisted white supremacy. Our guest this episode, Dr. Kellie Carter Jackson, the Michael and Denise ‘68 Associate Professor of Africana Studies and the Chair of the Africana Studies Department at Wellesley College and author of We Refuse: A Forceful History of Black Resistance, discusses five remedies by which Black people have responded and continue to respond to white supremacy.

    Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode music is “My way's cloudy,” a traditional negro spiritual, arranged by H.T. Burleigh, and performed by Contralto Marian Anderson and a backing orchestra conducted by Rosario Bourdon, in Camden, New Jersey, on December 10, 1923; the recording is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress National Jukebox.

    The episode image is “National Guard during the 1919 Chicago Race Riots,” photograph by Jun Fujita; the photograph has no known copyright and is available via the Chicago History Museum, ICHi-065477.
     
    Additional Sources:
    “Close Ranks (1918),” W.E.B. Du Bois, Editorial from The Crisis, Reprinted on BlackPast.“Returning Soldiers (1919),” W.E.B. Du Bois, Editorial from The Crisis, Reprinted in American Yawp.“African-American Troops Fought to Fight in World War I,” by Richard Goldenberg, U.S. Department of Defense, February 1, 2018.“An American and Nothing Else: The Great War and the Battle for National Belonging,” Yale University Library Online Exhibitions.“Racial Violence and the Red Summer,” National Archives.“Red Summer of 1919: How Black WWI Vets Fought Back Against Racist Mobs,” by Abigail Higgins, History.com, July 26, 2019.“The Red Summer of 1919, Explained,” by Ursula Wolfe-Rocco, Teen Vogue, May 31, 2020.“Hundreds of black deaths during 1919’s Red Summer are being remembered,” PBS NewsHour, July 23, 2019.“The Red Summer of 1919,” by Julius L Jones, Chicago History Museum, July 26, 2019.“Red Summer: The Race Riots of 1919,” National WWI Museum and Memorial.“The deadly race riot ‘aided and abetted’ by The Washington Post a century ago,” by Gillian Brockell, The Washington Post, July 15, 2019.“One Hundred Years Ago, a Four-Day Race Riot Engulfed Washington, D.C.,”by Patrick Sauer, Smithsonian Magazine, July 17, 2019.“How a Brutal Race Riot Shaped Modern Chicago,” by Adam Green, The New York Times, August 3, 2019.“Black Communist in the Freedom Struggle: The Life of Harry Haywood,” by Harry Haywood, Edited  by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, University of Minnesota Press, May 8, 2012.“Our History,” NAACP.


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    • 44 min
    The Reconstruction Era & its Aftermath

    The Reconstruction Era & its Aftermath

    As the Civil War was drawing to a close, President Lincoln was preparing for what came after, with plans for reunification of the country, and he began to advocate for limited suffrage for Black Americans. John Wilkes Booth’s bullet cut short those plans, and Southerner Andrew Johnson, who was much more sympathetic to the former Confederacy, succeeded Lincoln. It wasn’t until Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867, over Johnson’s veto, that federal troops enforced a true remaking of the former Confederate states, and for a brief period Black men voted and ran for office in the South in large numbers. In 1877, however, the federal troops withdrew, formally ending the Reconstruction era and leaving Black Americans alone to face a terror campaign of white supremacist violence.

    Joining me in this episode is historian Dr. Manisha Sinha, the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut and author of The Rise and Fall of the Second American Republic: Reconstruction, 1860-1920.

    Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode music is “Brethren Rise!” performed by the Fisk University Jubilee Singers in New York City on February 3, 1916; the song is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress National Jukebox. The episode image is “Black Legislators Elected During Reconstruction,” an 1872 lithograph by Currier and Ives; image is in the public domain and is available via Wikimedia Commons.

    Additional Sources:
    “Lincoln's Evolving Thoughts On Slavery, And Freedom,” Fresh Air NPR, October 11, 2010.“Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation,” Library of Congress.“Hannibal Hamlin (1861–1865),” UVA Miller Center.“Lincoln’s Successor Problem,” by Julie Witcover, Politico Magazine,” April 13, 2015.“How did Lincoln end up with a Democrat for a vice president?” by Roger Schlueter, Belleville News Democrat, April 6, 2017.“Andrew Johnson's Inauguration,” United States Senate.“A Call for Reconciliation: Lincoln’s Final Speech,” by Nathan Cooper, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, July 29, 2020.“The President's Last Public Address: April 11, 1865,” The American Presidency Project.“Andrew Johnson,” The White House.“​​Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction,” National Park Service.“Reconstruction,” History.com, Originally posted October 29, 2009, and updated January 24, 2024.“14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868),” National Archives.“A Short Overview of the Reconstruction Era and Ulysses S. Grant's Presidency,” National Park Service.“The Legacy of the Reconstruction Era’s Black Political Leaders,” by Olivia Waxman, Time Magazine, February 7, 2022.“Disputed Election of 1876: The death knell of the Republican dream,” by Sheila Blackford, UVA Miller Center.“Reconstruction Didn’t Fail. It Was Overthrown,” by Allen C. Guelzo, Time Magazine, April 30, 2018.


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    • 50 min
    The Southern Plantation System

    The Southern Plantation System

    Fictional depictions of Southern plantations often present romanticized visions of genteel country life, but for the people enslaved on plantations the reality was that of a forced labor camp. At the same time the plantation was also their home. And although they had no choice in where or how they lived, enslaved people did work to make their residences home, for instance by sweeping their yards, keeping items like books and ceramics, and even hiding personal objects in the walls or under the floor where they couldn’t be found by enslavers.

    Joining me in this episode to help us understand the importance of homemaking by enslaved plantation workers is historian Dr. Whitney Nell Stewart, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Dallas, and author of This Is Our Home: Slavery and Struggle on Southern Plantations.

    Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode music is “Welcome, Honey, to Your Old Plantation Home,” composed by Albert Gumble with lyrics by Jack Yellen, and performed by the Peerless Quartet in New York on June 19, 1916; the audio is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress National Jukebox Project. The episode image is “Picking cotton on a Georgia plantation, 1858;” the photograph is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress.

    Additional sources:
    “‘Gone With the Wind’ is also a Confederate monument, but on film instead of stone,” by Nina Silber, The Washington Post, June 12, 2020.“How Gone With the Wind Took the Nation by Storm By Catering to its Southern Sensibilities,” by Carrie Hagen, Smithsonian Magazine, December 15, 2014.“Why Confederate Lies Live On,” by Clint Smith, The Atlantic, May 10, 2021.“The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,” Jefferson Davis, D. Appleton and Company. 1880.“The Plantation System,” National Geographic Education.“Slavery, the Plantation Myth, and Alternative Facts,” by Tyler Parry, Black Perspectives,  December 6, 2017.“The Myth of the Peaceful Plantation,” by Wayne Curtis, The Daily Beast, Originally published on August 4, 2020, and updated on November 30, 2021.“Plantations could be used to teach about US slavery if stories are told truthfully,” by Amy Potter and Derek H. Alderman, The Conversation, March 15, 2022.“Inside America’s Auschwitz,” by Jared Keller, Smithsonian Magazine, April 4, 2016.


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    • 46 min
    Slavery & Incarceration in New Orleans

    Slavery & Incarceration in New Orleans

    Shortly after New Orleans became a US city (via the Louisiana Purchase), the municipal council established one of the country’s first professional salaried police forces and began operation of Police Jail, both efforts aimed at the capture and control of enslaved people who had run away from or otherwise disobeyed their enslavers. The history of New Orleans and Louisiana is an intertwined history of slavery and incarceration, the effects of which can still be felt today.

    Joining me in this episode is Dr. John Bardes, Assistant Professor of History at Louisiana State University and author of The Carceral City: Slavery and the Making of Mass Incarceration in New Orleans, 1803-1930.

    Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode music is “The Best Jazz Club In New Orleans,” by PaoloArgento, available for use via the Pixabay Content License. The episode image is “Slave prison (Calabozo), New Orleans,” by photographer A. Genthe, taken between 1920 and 1926; the photograph is in the public domain and is available via the Library of Congress.

    Additional sources:
    “Timeline: New Orleans,” PBS American Experience.“Third Treaty of San Ildefonso,” by Elizabeth Clark Neidenbach, 64 Parishes.“Louisiana Purchase, 1803,” United States Department of State Office of the Historian.“‘Confined in the Dungeons’: Orleans Parish Prison and Self-Emancipated People,” Lauren Smith, Kathryn O’Dwyer, Editor, and with initial research contributions by Brett Todd, New Orleans Historical, accessed May 12, 2024. “Before the Civil War, New Orleans Was the Center of the U.S. Slave Trade,” by Joshua D. Rothman, Smithsonian Magazine, April 19, 2021.“Lincoln’s 'laboratory': How emancipation spread across South Louisiana during Civil War,” by Andrew Capps, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, June 18, 2021.“Why slavery as a punishment for crime was just on the ballot in some states,” PBS News Hour, November 18, 2022.“‘You’re a slave’: Inside Louisiana’s forced prison labor and a failed overhaul attempt,” by Cara McGoogan, Washington Post, Published January 1, 2023, and updated January 3, 2023.“Louisiana's over-incarceration is part of a deeply rooted pattern,” by Hassan Kanu, Reuters, February 1, 2023.


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    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
74 Ratings

74 Ratings

Kacky07 ,

What You Need To Know

Excellent Podcast! I’m really enjoying learning so many things about our History. TY for creating this space!

her half of history ,

Great Topics

I loved learning about women and events that were completely left out of my education like Patsy Mink and the National Women's Conference.

Loganfool ,

Thanks Beans

This is great. Right up my alley!

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