The AskHistorians Podcast

The AskHistorians Podcast

United States

A podcast by the moderators of the largest online history forum,


AskHistorians Podcast 073 - Politics and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Part 2  

The conversation on the Kansas-Nebraska Act continues with the political wrangling in Washington. The discussion moves from the passage of the Act on towards Bloody Kansas and the opposing sides (and constitutions) vying to be recognized at the legitimate government of the newly formed Kansas. We conclude with a brief historiographical commentary on the importance of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. (70min)

AskHistorians Podcast 072 - Politics and the Kansas-Nebraska Act  

Freedmanspatrol discusses the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, which gave us "Bloody Kansas" and paved the way to the Civil War. The focus is on the political (and geographic) landscape as well as the Washington DC wrangling over the deal. Along the way we also discuss the transcontinental railroad, the Second Party System of the Whigs and Democrats, and the ambitions of Stephen Douglas and men of the F Street Mess. (77min)

Read more from our guest at the blog Freedmen's Patrol: Exploring the Civil War Era.

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Indigenous Writers in Early Colonial Mexico  

DryLaw discusses the society of early Colonial Mexico (aka New Spain), particularly the interrelations between American and European peoples. The focus is primarily on the historical writings produced by Nahua and Mestizo writers producing histories of thier own societies and lineages, as well as those works by Spanish friars focusing on indigenous culture and history. Major literary works by Tezozomoc, Ixtlilxochitl, are Chimalpahin covered and put into context, as are works by Sahagun and Duran. (59min)

AskHistorians Podcast 070 - Italian Fascism and Football  

SunshineBag discusses the intersection of sport and nationalism, as we cover both the rise of Mussolini's Fascists and the growth of the sport of calcio in Italy. The ways the Fascists attempted to use football as a medium for building a national spirit and demonstrate Italian strength on the world stage is discussed, as is the backdrop of Italian national disunity and regionalism. (59min)

AskHistorians Podcast 069 - Milan in the Era of Communal Italy  

Alvise Falier discusses medieval communes, a term for a complicated and heterogeneous system of local rule in the 11th through 13th centuries. The focus is on the city of Milan, and northern Italy in particular, under the dominion of the Holy Roman Empire, but with a distinct political and cultural difference from that entity. In this conversation we trace the development of the communal system in Milan from the end of Charlemagne up through the end of the system with the establishment of the Duchy of Milan by the Visconti dynasty. Issues of Italian disunity, with local identification taking precedence over a singular national identity are discussed. (68min)

AskHistorians Podcast 068 - Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Restricted Data  

Historian of nuclear weapons and secrecy, Dr. Alex Wellerstein, discusses the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Specifically, the conversation focuses on the high level, and highly classified, debates over how best to employ these new weapons. From there, the episode segues into the inherent difficulties of doing historical research on classified materials and how that has shaped the historiography of the bombings. (75min)

Dr. Wellerstein is the author of Restricted Data: the Nuclear Secrecy Blog, where his NUKEMAP can also be found (among many other items of note). He and his work have also appeared NPR, FOX News, and The Daily Show, as well as in The New Yorker, where his article, "Nagasaki: The Last Bomb," can be found.

AskHistorians Podcast 067 - 20th Century Popular Music and the Rise of Guitar Groups  

Tim Byron (aka /u/hillsonghoods) drops in to discuss the popular music of the mid and later 20th Century, tracing the development of guitar driven rock and roll from its diverse origins on through to its musical dominance. Included in the conversation is the changing physical and technological environment of the mid-20th Century, as well as the significance of the Baby Boom. (85min)

AskHistorians Podcast 066 - Communism and the Black Radical Tradition  

Falafel1066 discusses interactions between American communism (particularly the CPUSA) and Black workers against the Great Migration. The focus is on events in the Midwest, as Black workers and the CPUSA mobilized to claim labor rights, fight evictions, and obtain relief during unemployment. Special attention is paid to the role of women, both as laborers and as caretakers of the family. The episode concludes by tracing how a tradition of radicalism persisted through the early 20th into the 60/70s and on to modern day. (53min)

AskHistorians Podcast 065 - Tibet, Buddhism, and Bhutan  

Jime Dorje discusses the founding of the modern state of Bhutan and its relationship to Tibet. The conversation covers the relationship between various sects of Buddhism, Mongol patronage, the political and economic role of monasteries, and ultimately the conflict which would lead the Zhabdrung to head south, putting in motion the events which would lead to the formation of Bhutan. (91min)


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No Episode This Week  

Apologies, but due to a personal loss, there will be no episode this week. We will be back next week (7/1) with JimeDorje discussing Bhutan.

AskHistorians Podcast 064 - Milling and Baking in 19th Century Britain, Part 2  

The conversation with AgentDCF continues, as pick up with talking about how milling and baking relates to the scientific revolution, before moving into to discussing the industrialization of mills and the connection to the golden age of microbiology. We then discuss adulteration and food purity and the role of The Lancet in reforming bakeries. The conversation concludes with a discussion of bread in the context of the British Imperial system. (60min)

AskHistorians Podcast 063 - Milling and Baking in 19th Century Britain  

AgentDCF discusses the changes in styles and technologies in how grain was milled and bread baked as Britain moved into the modern era. The conversation spans from feudal laws and privileges to industrialization and global shipping, as we examine how a basic staple like bread reflects the larger changes to society and the world. (65min)

Cleanliness and Hygiene in the Early United States  

ColeVintage talks about how people used to get clean and stay fresh. The conversation begins with bathing, then moves into hair care, deodorants, and underwear, before segueing into how personal hygiene transformed into both a social status marker and public health concern. (53min)

AskHistorians Podcast 061 - Hoplite Warfare and the Battle of Nemea  

Iphikrates discusses the largest hoplite battle in known history, after a substantive overview of hoplite tactics and equipment. Covered are the changing interpretations of ancient Greek warfare, the usefulness of the famous "push" and deep ranks, the role of cavalry and auxiliaries, and the evolving equipment used. Also discussed is the vaunted Spartan military prowess. (68min)

AskHistorians Podcast 060 - Wei of the Three Kingdoms  

Chris Stewart of The History of China podcast discusses the Three Kingdoms period of China. Specifically, the conversation focuses on Wei, also known as Cao Wei, the polity would eventually bring about an end to the Three Kingdoms, though that unification would not last. We discuss the rise of Cao Cao and the decline of the Han, as well as the famous northern expeditions of Zhuge Liang. Also covered is the ascent of the Sima family, who would eventually supplant the Cao lineage and conquer the rival states of Shu and Wu. (78min)

AskHistorians Podcast 059 - Abolition and Emancipation in the British Caribbean  

Sowser discusses the end of slavery in the British Caribbean. We cover ideas held now (and then) about the death rates in the area, misconceptions about the role of the Irish, the 1807 abolition of the slave trade, and the political movements leading up official emancipation. Also covered are the failure of the apprenticeship system, payments made to slave owners, and the lasting legacy of slavery in the Caribbean. (73min)

AskHistorians Podcast 058 - Colonial German Venezuela  

Yawarpoma explores the 16th Century colony in what is now Venezuela, granted by Charles V to a German banking family, the Welsers. The colony, established in the same period as Spanish successes in Mexico and Peru, struggled to meet those successes by searching for a quick route to the Pacific and for the fabled city of gold, always just one more valley over. Yet, at the same time, the Germans led some of the first European expeditions into northern South America, though they would occasionally race against and even clash with Spanish rivals in an attempt to stake a claim to wealth and territory.

AskHistorians Podcast 057 - Intentionalism and Functionalism in the Holocaust  

Commiespaceinvader explores the academic debate over the causes and the development of the Holocaust. We discuss the early steps taken by the Nazis to make Jewish life untenable within Germany, ghettoization, the Madagascar Plan, and finally, the transition to mass murder. These actions are viewed through the lens of the intentionalism and functionalism debate, which has at its core the question of not just of why the Holocaust came about, but also the question of assigning culpability for its development. (73min)

AskHistorians Podcast 056 - AskHistorians Panel Presentation at the 2016 AHA Conference  

For those who missed the live stream (and for posterity), the presentation by AskHistorians at the 2016 American Historical Association meeting in Atlanta, GA is presented here in full. The title of the panel session was “AskHistorians”: Outreach and Its Challenges in an Online Space and featured five presentations on how AskHistorians has created, grown, sustained, and moderated an online space for historical discussion.

See also, an article in the AHA's magazine about the panel

AskHistorians Podcast 055 - History and Folklore  

Ronald James, a historian and folklorist with 30 years of experience with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, Inductee into the Nevada Writer's Hall of Fame, former chair of the National Historic Landmarks Committee, and author of more than a dozen books, including The Roar And The Silence: A History Of Virginia City And The Comstock Lode and Introduction to Folklore: Traditional Studies in Europe and Elsewhere, takes some time to speak to the AskHistorians Podcast. 

This episode looks at the development and practice of folklore as an academic discipline, while also exploring folkloric traditions from Cornwall, particular those spirits known as "Knockers." The importance of folktales and legends in everyday life are discussed, as well how those tales can change over time and in different situations, such as immigration from Cornwall to the American West. (59min)


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