It is often said that history is written by the winners. In high school, you may have noticed a certain pattern of the events that we were taught: The American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party, the Civil War, etc.
Among these important events, there is a whole slew of individuals and circumstances that are omitted from our textbooks. From Francis Perkins and her work on unemployment benefits to the formation of the US Postal Service is glossed over.
Even the anti-Vietnam war protests, the rise of the Black Panther Party, and the Freedom Schools are excluded from what we were taught. These stories are filled with people that rose up against all odds to confront the status quo. For too long, they have been ignored, but many podcasts are digging up these narratives and putting them in the spotlight.
Here are some historical podcasts that will teach, surprise, and inspire you about the past.
Hosted by IHeartRadio, “Stuff You Should Know” is a great podcast that covers historical moments you may have briefly touched on in class, to ones you may never have heard of! They recently covered the sinking of the Titanic from the perspectives of the people actually on board. Some of my favorite episodes include complex, but largely unknown origin stories like “Cellphone on Airplanes” and “How California Got Its Name.” The hosts of the podcast, Josh and Chuck, are also extremely funny, which is what makes the show so engaging.
Hosted by NPR, “Throughline” connects present-day events to the past. The hosts use history to help us better understand modern times and show us how we can use it to solve some of the world’s most complex problems. With expert interviews, archived audio from the past, and fascinating storytelling skills, Throughline is sure to captivate you from the get-go. Every episode is connected to a current news story, making the podcast informative and timely. Just recently, they released an episode titled “Policing in America” that covers the origins of the police system and how it has continuously discriminated against minority groups. Other phenomenal episodes include “Chaos”, featuring the incredible historian Rutger Bergman, and “N95”, which tells us where the N95 mask came from.
Hosted by two journalists, “You’re Wrong About" discusses all the stuff that was misrepresented to us as children and all the events we thought we knew.
Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall are spectacular hosts with an obsession for the past. Every week, one tells the other about an event or person they may have misjudged. The format of this podcast makes it so special. One person always knows more than the other, which allows the other to ask questions and react, often in hilarious and relatable ways. Since the topics are chosen by one of the hosts, they are always super enthusiastic to dig deeper and learn more about how history gets misrepresented. Some of my favorite episodes include “The Newsboy Strike” and “The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.”
Also hosted by IHeartRadio, “Stuff You Missed in History Class” explains the events you have never even heard of. Now you may be thinking, “What’s the point of learning about these random historical moments?” but history can be incredibly telling and inspiring. It also makes you think deeper about why certain events or people are rarely mentioned in history classes. This podcast will teach you about the weirdest, craziest, but most interesting events in history such as “The Eggnog Riot”, a riot that occurred when two military cadets smuggled alcohol onto an army base, or “Isadora Duncan”, where they dive deeper into the life of one of the most famous dancers.
Whenever I hear stories of women running for office before they even got the right to vote or workers coming together to form the first unions, I feel empowered to make history myself. I hope you feel the same after learning about the powerful movements and people that came before us. If you check out any of these podcasts, be sure to let us know what you’ve learned on Instagram @HerCampusSJSU!