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16 staff picks for best podcasts about history
It should come as no surprise that, as lovers of stories, many History Colorado staffers find inspiration and delight in listening to podcasts across a wide spectrum of topics.
For this year’s Podcast Day, we asked them which ones they might recommend to people interested in learning more about history, especially the history of our beloved state. Here’s what they had to say!
“A couple of my favorites are Stuff You Missed in History Class and Pop Culture Happy Hour. There are a few others that I listen to for in-depth, relevant storytelling like Code Switch by NPR. One episode I'd recommend is the February 21, 2018 episode 'Throw Some Respeck on My Name.' It's about Mary Hamilton, who was from Denver, and her court case to fight for African Americans to be addressed with honorifics like ‘Miss’ or ‘Mister’ that had historically been denied them. I also love Radiolab. One memorable episode is ‘Ghosts of Football Past’ about the incredible legacy of the football team at the Carlisle Indian School. Radiolab's spinoff podcast about the American Supreme Court, More Perfect, is also a really interesting listen.”
- Julie Peterson, Public Historian and Exhibit Developer
“I’ve been enjoying Tides of History lately. It’s a history podcast that focuses on two different periods: the transition from the end of the Roman Empire to the early Middle Ages and the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early Modern Period. The host, Patrick Wyman, talks about broad topics within those periods, like the end of urbanization, how Latin became the Romance languages, the Black Death, and life in the Medieval countryside. Wyman generally spends two or three episodes on each topic and, in addition to historical narrative, creates characters whose life stories help listeners connect to the subject. If you end up liking Tides of History, check out Wyman's earlier podcast, The Fall of Rome.”
- Zach Werkowitch, Community Relations Manager, Community Museums
“One not-to-be-missed podcast is Uncivil, which covers the untold stories of the Civil War era, most of which are strikingly relevant to today. I also like the Wish We Were Here episode about Colorado Springs’ first African American detective who went undercover as a Klansman (this story has recently been made into the Spike Lee movie BlacKkKlansman) and the one about a prison in southeastern Colorado that’s successfully helping people who’ve chronically experienced homelessness rebuild their lives.”
- Lydia Hooper, Digital Content Manager
“Untrammeled! Celebrating 50 Years of American Wilderness is a fascinating podcast about the history of America’s relationship with nature. It’s only three episodes, but be sure to check out the one about Snowmass. Changing Denver is also great. There’s an episode about how the early 20th century trolley lines shaped Denver’s urban geography in ways that are now invisible.”
- Sam Bock, Public Historian and Exhibit Developer
“One of my favorite history podcasts is Hardcore History with Dan Carlin. Carlin does more research and reflection than any podcaster I’ve listened to, presenting multiple perspectives and lenses through which to view any given historical event. He always puts events, decisions, situations and behaviors in historical context. Carlin often spends a quality amount of time discussing warfare and battle tactics, which is incredibly interesting. His podcasts are more like books—instead of the normal 30 minute/definitely under an hour format, his are often multiple hours long with multiple parts. ‘Wrath of the Khans’ is a series that follows the history and succession of the steppe people in Mongolia. Another series, ‘Blueprint for Armageddon,’ impressively documents World War I.”
- Chelsea Stone, Photo Research and Permissions Librarian
“NPR’s On Being podcast addresses issues of meaning, belief and justice among other things. Each week I listen to the podcast while preparing a Sunday night dinner. Some of the most edifying podcasts on the show have been the ones about the theologian, activist, historian, author and Coloradan Vincent Harding. Harding is the author behind Martin Luther King’s famed ‘Riverside Church’ speech. He formed the Veterans of Hope Project at Iliff School of Theology emphasizing the need to listen to and share elders’ stories. His work, grounded in narrative theology, allows us to see stories as means to create transformation.”
- Marissa Volpe, Director of Community Engagement
“Planet Money’s episode 'Tax Me if You Can' is about how Colorado changed the way taxes were assessed by the voting public. TABOR changed not only Colorado but other states who followed our lead. 99% Invisible’s episode 'A Sea Worth Its Salt' talks about how the Colorado River has changed because of the built environment and people’s needs. I’m actually featured in Every Little Thing’s episode 'How Not to Ruin Thanksgiving'!”