Footnoting History

187 EpisodesProduced by Footnoting History

Welcome to Footnoting History! For links to further reading suggestions, a calendar of upcoming episodes, and the complete episode archive, visit us at FootnotingHistory.com!

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Mao and His Mango

January 12th, 2019

(Lesley) In 1968, an act of diplomacy between the Government of Pakistan and China’s Chairman Mao set off a series of actions that would create a …

Potosí: The Silver Mine that Changed the World

November 17th, 2018

(Nathan) In 1545, a new Spanish mining town was founded in the Andes mountains of modern-day Bolivia, and for next 250 years, the mines of Potosí …

King Henry I of England and the White Ship

November 3rd, 2018

(Christine) In 1120, just when King Henry I of England thought he had achieved a much-needed peace, tragedy struck. What happened to the White Ship that broke the king's heart and changed the trajectory of the English …

History for Halloween V

October 20th, 2018

(Christine, Lucy, Elizabeth) It's that time of year again! Hauntings, mayhem, and spooky happenings abound and we are here to feed your dark side with some creepy bits plucked from history.

How to Make a Fortune in Fictional Poyais

October 6th, 2018

(Lesley) While the brave, the curious, and the outlawed began new lives in New World colonies, industrialists in Europe began searching for …

The Legend of Pope Joan

September 22nd, 2018

(Nathan) One of the most famous stories about the medieval papacy is that, supposedly sometime in the 9th or 11th century, there was a woman named Joan who disguised herself as a man and became Pope John. While it …

Escape from Slavery: The Story of Mary and Emily Edmonson

September 8th, 2018

(Elizabeth) Mary and Emily Edmonson were two of the youngest passengers who attempted to escape slavery on the ill-fated Pearl voyage in 1848. Join Elizabeth as she and a descendant of the Edmonson family discuss the …

Beyond the Trenches: Other Fronts of WWI

August 25th, 2018

(Lucy) In popular memory and on the big screen, the First World War was fought in the mud of northern France — or maybe in the skies above it. But …

How to Avoid Serving in Napoleon's Army

August 11th, 2018

(Christine) Napoleon Bonaparte built his career and maintained his empire with soldiers at his back. Often, the fate of the France seemed to hinge …

Who Was Bass Reeves?

July 28th, 2018

(Samantha) Bass Reeves was born a slave but escaped from his master and lived as an outlaw in the Indian Territory until the Emancipation Proclamation officially made him a free man. He went on to use the knowledge he …

Ancient Authoritative Animals

July 14th, 2018

(Lesley) Today's modern economy allows those with resources to lavish love and attention on their pets. In 2017, the pet industry represented $96 billion in sales in the US alone. Countless hours are spent calming our …

Special Edition: The Marriage of John Quincy and Louisa Adams

May 19th, 2018

(Christine and Elizabeth) This weekend Britain celebrates the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, and we at Footnoting History are thrilled. Join us as we mark the occasion by discussing another …

The Blazing World of Lady Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle

May 5th, 2018

(Nathan) Poet, playwright, philosopher, science theorist, and science fiction author--just a few of the occupations held by the 17th-century noblewoman, Lady Margaret Cavendish. One of the towering intellects of her …

Yolande Du Bois and the Weight of W.E.B. Du Bois's Dreams

April 22nd, 2018

(Elizabeth) In the 20th Century, W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the leading intellectuals of the movement to gain equality for African-Americans. His …

Ambition, Anxiety, and the Unseen Universe: Science and Victorian Fiction

April 7th, 2018

(Lucy) It’s a truism to say that the Victorian age was a period of rapid technological and social change. It was also a period when science, …

Evacuating the Loyalists

March 24th, 2018

(Christine) During the American Revolution, not everyone living in the rebellious colonies wanted to separate from Great Britain. In this episode, …

Hoelun the Stolen Bride

March 10th, 2018

(Samantha) Some time before 1162, a Mongol girl named Hoelun was kidnapped and taken as a bride. A short time later she gave birth to a future …

The Papal Pornocracy

February 24th, 2018

(Nathan) When popes are elected today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church meet in secret conclave. But it wasn't always so. In the 9th through …

Censorship in Reformation England

February 10th, 2018

(Lesley) The arrival of the printing press on the scene of early modern Europe helped to spread seditious ideas that became the Protestant …

Jewish Fighters of Medieval Europe

January 27th, 2018

(Elizabeth) When we think of medieval Europe, knights, jousting, and sword fights come to mind. New light has been shed on fighting practices in medieval Europe, however, by the discovery of treatises, some of which …

How to Be a Beguine

January 13th, 2018

(Lucy) In late medieval Europe, groups of women called beguines assembled in twos and threes, or in large communities, to practice the religious life. They lived simply, served the poor and sick, and sometimes engaged …

Back of Every Great Work: The Story of Emily Warren Roebling

December 16th, 2017

(Samantha) According to a plaque on the Brooklyn Bridge “back of every great work we can find the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman.” Indeed, when John Roebling died and his son, Washington, was struck ill, it was …

Napoleon Bonaparte's Near-Fatal Christmas

December 2nd, 2017

(Christine) December may be a celebratory time for many, but in 1800 it caused Napoleon Bonaparte a giant headache. This episode is all about the …

The Malleus Maleficarum

November 18th, 2017

(Nathan) In 1486, two German inquisitors published a treatise on the nature and prosecution of witches: the Malleus Maleficarum or "Hammer of the …

Distrust of Chinese-Americans in Early 20th-Century New York City

November 4th, 2017

(Elizabeth) In 1910, Ida Delancey lost custody of her niece because her neighbors complained to child services that Ida, a white woman living in Brooklyn, was known to move in the same circles as Chinese-Americans. …

History for Halloween IV

October 21st, 2017

(Christine, Lesley, Lucy) German ghosts, medieval inspirations, and horrors in the attic abound! We're back with bite-sized eerie tales in our fourth installment of History for Halloween.

Cemeteries: Washington Park Cemetery and Early 20th-Century Atlanta

October 7th, 2017

(Elizabeth) In this episode, we return once again to the stories of three people buried in a cemetery in the Atlanta metro area. Second-sight, sharecropping, and a street called Auburn Avenue provide context for the …

Belle Gunness, Black Widow Serial Killer

September 23rd, 2017

(Nathan) In the quiet town of La Porte, Indiana at the beginning of the 20th century lived a widow farmer with three children. Originally from Norway, Belle Sørenson Gunness was, like many widows in the period, in …

John Dee: Astrologer, Courtier, Mystic...Spy?

September 9th, 2017

(Lucy) ​John Dee has been variously described as a visionary, a philosopher, and a “real-life Gandalf.” Internationally renowned, he served at the …

The Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie

August 26th, 2017

(Samantha) Who doesn’t love the chocolate chip cookie? Today, chocolate chip is the most popular variety of cookie in the United States, but it did …

The Murderess in History

August 12th, 2017

(Lesley) Serial killers can be fascinating subjects. The men who hunt strangers are terrifying and interesting studies of the human mind. Yet women in history have also killed, and in some cases they have killed in …

Cemeteries: Local History of Mid-20th Century Atlanta

June 17th, 2017

(Elizabeth) Taphophilia is the love of cemeteries and headstones. In this episode, Elizabeth indulges her taphophilia as she uses stories from East …

Guy de Montfort and Dante’s Inferno

June 3rd, 2017

(Christine) When your grandfather was a leading crusader and your father was a famous rebel, what is left for you to do? For Guy de Montfort the answer was to earn a spot in one of the circles of hell imagined by Dante …

The One-Legged Nazi-Fighting Jesuit: Rupert Mayer

May 20th, 2017

(Lucy) Fr. Rupert Mayer’s pastoral career ranged from serving as a chaplain for German troops during the First World War, to finding people jobs and housing. Then, after Hitler came to power, Fr. Mayer defied the …

Jumbo the Elephant

May 6th, 2017

(Christine) In May of 2016 the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ elephants performed for their final time before entering retirement. Over 130 years earlier, in 1882, Jumbo the elephant left London for New …

How to Punish a Witch in 16th-Century England

April 22nd, 2017

(Lesley) We've all seen movies burn witches at the stake. But how did England's lawmakers propose to punish these evil-doers? You might be surprised. …

The Great Unpleasantness? World War One in Whodunits

April 8th, 2017

(Elizabeth and Lucy) The First World War was, infamously, a source of both transformation and trauma. In this episode, Lucy and Elizabeth find evidence of the ways in which the War to End all Wars influenced some of the …

Curious George Escapes Nazi Europe

March 25th, 2017

(Samantha) Everyone knows the beloved children’s character Curious George, but how many of us know about his creators? When Hans and Margaret Rey created the mischievous monkey, they were German Jews living in Paris. As …

Early American Newspapers and Freedom of the Press

March 11th, 2017

(Nathan) In the First Amendment to the US Constitution, tucked between the freedom of speech and right of assembly, is a protection of the freedom of the press. But why did the Framers feel the need to include it? The …

A Royal Son: Henry the Young King

February 25th, 2017

(Christine) What is it like to be a king but still have to answer to your father? In the twelfth century, Henry the Young King lived in the shadow of …

The Trotula and Medieval Gynecology

February 11th, 2017

(Nathan) Imagine you were a medieval woman suffering from fertility problems or an irregular period. How would you deal with these issues, and what …

The Woman and the 20-Pound Tumor

January 28th, 2017

(Lesley) In the age before anesthesia, what would you do with a pregnancy that would not end? Would you accept a doctor's diagnosis of death or would …

54° 40' or Fight: How a Latitude Line became a Rallying Cry

January 14th, 2017

(Elizabeth) How could a line of latitude become a rallying cry for war in the 19th century? Elizabeth examines the Oregon Border Dispute and explains …

Ghosts of Christmas Past

December 17th, 2016

(Lucy) The Victorians gave the English-speaking world a lot of Christmas traditions: trees, the exchange of cards… and, less famously, ghost stories. This week’s episode looks at the historical origins of Victorian …

Olga Nethersole and the Sapho Scandal

December 3rd, 2016

(Christine) ​In early 1900, actress Olga Nethersole and several of her colleagues were indicted for their roles in the production of a play. Find out …

Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon

November 19th, 2016

(Elizabeth) How did passenger pigeons, which numbered in the millions in the mid-19th century, become extinct in just over 50 years? Elizabeth explains the birds’ sudden decline as she discusses the life and death of …

The Un-Engagement of Jane Austen

November 5th, 2016

(Christine) Jane Austen’s novels contain many courtships and brides, but the author herself never married. In this episode, Christine will delve into …

History for Halloween III

October 22nd, 2016

​(Christine, Lucy, Lesley) We're celebrating the creepiest of holidays with our third edition of History for Halloween. Join us for a selection of …

Poison in Colonial India

October 8th, 2016

(Lesley) Datura is a beautiful flower found throughout India. It is also a minor poison which has a storied past in local folklore. How did locals …

The (Failed) Republic of Fredonia

September 24th, 2016

(Nathan) Most people think of Fredonia as the fictitious country of the Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, but Fredonia was actually a country...sort of. …

Tycho Brahe: The Astronomer with a Copper Nose

September 10th, 2016

(Samantha) Tycho Brahe was born into the Danish aristocracy at a time when noblemen normally didn’t follow academic pursuits. But he found himself so …

The Rise of the British Spy Novel

August 27th, 2016

(Lucy) Death rays, invasions, and bombs, oh my! From Kipling’s “Great Game” to John Buchan’s 39 Steps, the rise of espionage in fiction mirrored British anxieties about the world and its place in it. Idealism and social …

The Murder of Sweden's King Gustav III

August 13th, 2016

(Christine) Louis XVI of France wasn't the only European king to die at the hands of his subjects in the 1790s. In this episode Christine examines the life and dramatic assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden.

The Life of Beatrice de Planissoles

June 18th, 2016

(Nathan) In the hills of Southern France in the fourteenth century lived a woman named Beatrice de Planissoles, whose story remained largely unknown …

Desert Queens? Women at the Edges of Empire from Hester Stanhope to Gertrude Bell

June 4th, 2016

(Lucy) Notorious eccentrics, esteemed researchers, loose-cannon diplomats: this episode looks at the histories of the British women who were …

The Life and Crimes of Caravaggio

May 21st, 2016

(Samantha) One of the most inventive painters of his day, Caravaggio’s work is remembered for its ingenious use of light and shadow. Much like his …

Al Capone's Pineapple Primary

May 7th, 2016

(Lesley) Many Americans are familiar with Al Capone's mobster rule over the city of Chicago during the Prohibition Era, but few know about his …

Easter Rising, Part II: Aftermath

April 23rd, 2016

(Christine and Elizabeth) In Part II of their examination of the rebellion, Christine and Elizabeth follow Patrick Pearse and his associates from the …

Easter Rising, Part I: Origins

April 9th, 2016


(Christine and Elizabeth) For the centennial of the Easter Rising, Christine and Elizabeth look back to the mythology and reality behind the 1916 …

Disney and the Space Race

March 26th, 2016

(Elizabeth) In the 1950s, Walt Disney hired German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, to help make the Tomorrowland section of his developing theme park as accurate as possible. This relationship, however, had greater …

Evelyn Nesbit and the Crime of the Century

March 12th, 2016



(Samantha) In December 1900 the beautiful, fifteen year old Evelyn Nesbit arrived in New York. Within a year she became the “glittering girl model of …

The Eleven Lost Days

February 27th, 2016

(Nathan) In the eighteenth century, the British Parliament undertook the task of fixing the calendar. Due to a problem with the Julian Calendar, …

After Napoleon: Josephine Divorced

February 13th, 2016

(Christine) What happens when one of the most powerful men in Europe ends your marriage? What do you do when you're replaced as Empress of France? In …

Medieval Animal Trials

January 30th, 2016

(Lesley) Humans and animals have developed a symbiotic relationship over the past 30,000 years. From the earliest domesticated dogs to sign-language speaking apes, animals have worked with humans throughout history. Yet …

Sherlock Holmes in Popular Culture

January 16th, 2016

(Lucy) Sherlock Holmes is not only the world's only private consulting detective, he's also arguably the world's longest-running pop culture …

The Great Medieval Canon Law Forgery

December 6th, 2015

(Nathan) In the mid-9th century, a group of Frankish bishops created one of the greatest forgeries in medieval history, making up an entire …

The Origins of "I Am A Man"

November 21st, 2015

(Elizabeth) In 1868, the striking sanitation workers of Memphis carried signs declaring "I AM A MAN." This statement answered a question asked by …

Apples in America

November 7th, 2015

(Samantha) “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Or does it? Americans have grown apples in plentitude since colonization, but we used to drink …

History for Halloween II

October 24th, 2015

(Liz, Christine, Lesley, Lucy, Nathan)  Last year we brought you History for Halloween, a trio of short true tales perfect for the spookiest of …

Hospitals in the Victorian City

October 10th, 2015

(Lucy) From the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in the 1830s, to her death in 1901, the social landscape of Britain was profoundly changed. The …

Papal Residences: The Lateran, The Vatican, and Castel Gandolfo

September 26th, 2015

(Nicole) What was the main papal headquarters in Rome before the Vatican? Where do Popes go on vacation? Find out in this episode's exploration of …

The Royal Teeth of Louis XIV

September 12th, 2015

(Christine) King Louis XIV of France may be known as the "Sun King" but not everything about his life was bright and splendid. In this episode we …

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

August 29th, 2015

(Lesley) The lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England may be seen as a contrast in social expectations during early modern Europe …

The Invention of Canning

August 15th, 2015

(Nathan) Diversity is the key to any well-rounded diet, but variety can be hard to come by if food has to be rapidly consumed to avoid spoilage. …

Big History?

August 1st, 2015

(John) What do the universe, galaxy, Sun, Earth, and state formation have in common? In this episode John discusses Big History and how it can help better define state formation.

Comic Books and Thrill-Killers? An Interview with Mariah Adin

July 18th, 2015

(Elizabeth and Mariah)  This week, Elizabeth interviews Mariah Adin about her book The Brooklyn Thrill-Kill Gang and the Great Comic Book Scare of the 1950s to explore why juvenile delinquency kept so many parents up at …

Independence from Whom? The American Revolution and Europe

July 4th, 2015

(Kirsti) On July 4, we tend to think about America's birth as a product of plucky colonial grit and determination, but could it have succeeded …

Nuts: James Mulligan, Anthony McAuliffe, and the Notion of Surrender

June 20th, 2015

(Ryan) More than eighty years before General Anthony McAuliffe gave his famous response of "Nuts" or "Go to hell!" to the German ultimatum to …

Dogs: The Final Frontier

June 6th, 2015

(Christina) The first animals to be domesticated, for centuries dogs helped their humans conquer the world. So perhaps it was only natural, as humans began to look toward other worlds, that their minds turned back to …

Opium Wars and Peace

May 23rd, 2015

(John) What if I were to tell you that the Opium Wars weren't really about opium? What if I told you that they were about trade, tea and silver? And …

Bonapartes in America: Jerome and Elizabeth

May 9th, 2015

(Christine) As his brother Napoleon rose to power in France, Jerome Bonaparte was across the ocean in Baltimore, Maryland. While there the young …

Special Edition: British Royal Siblings

May 2nd, 2015

(Elizabeth and Christine) As Britain celebrates the birth of Prince George's little brother or sister, Footnoting History is pondering royal siblings who became influential figures in the country's history. Join us as …

Pop! Pop! Pop! A Brief History of Popcorn

April 25th, 2015

(Samantha) The average American eats 68 quarts of popcorn each year - making the salty treat the most popular snack food in the country. But where …

Cola di Rienzo: Medieval Tribune of the Roman Republic

April 11th, 2015

(Nicole) Cola di Rienzo had a turbulent career in fourteenth century Rome. Find out how this son of a Roman innkeeper became embroiled in papal and …

The Mystery of the Classic Authors

March 28th, 2015

(Elizabeth) Beloved children's classics such as The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys have been appearing in print for 75 to 100 years. …

The Lepers and the London Nurse: The Remarkable Travels of Kate Marsden

March 14th, 2015

(Lucy) Kate Marsden was born and died in London, but in the intervening decades, she traversed thousands of miles - and engaged the patronage of two empresses - in her efforts to ameliorate the lot of lepers, from …

Jean Hardouin and the Phantom Time Conspiracies

February 28th, 2015

(Nathan) What if everything you ever knew about history and classical literature was fundamentally wrong? What if there were a massive conspiracy, set in motion by medieval monks, to create entire bodies of literature …

Watson, Franklin, and the Drama of DNA

February 14th, 2015

(Lesley) In the 1950s, a series of discoveries allowed biologists to capture and construct the double-helio structure of DNA. For these efforts, …

Mush!: A Short History of Dog Sledding

January 31st, 2015

(Christina) Each year in early March, professional mushers and their dog teams converge on Anchorage, Alaska to run the Iditarod, a grueling race to Nome, more than 1,000 miles away, ostensibly in commemoration of …

Empress Eugénie in Exile, Part II: Life After Empire

January 17th, 2015

(Christine) The Second French Empire has fallen and Empress Eugénie fled to England, but what happened next? In this episode, we conclude our look …

Empress Eugénie in Exile, Part I: Flight from Paris

January 3rd, 2015

(Christine) When Napoleon III’s French Empire began to crumble in the late 19th century, his wife was trapped in Paris. Who could possibly help the …

Protest Pop and Queen Elizabeth II' s Silver Jubilee

November 29th, 2014

(Esther) As the Queen celebrated her 25th year on the throne, England was restless, on the verge of anarchy, and sweating out the hottest summer in years. "God Save the Queen" went to the top of the charts, and the Sex …

Robert Bruce: Stabbings and Statebuilding

November 22nd, 2014

(John) Following the most recent referendum on Scottish independence, it's a perfect time to reflect on the origins of Scotland. What does the …

Mental Institutions, Part II: The Rosenhan Experiment

November 15th, 2014

(Elizabeth) In the 1970s, Dr. David Rosenhan set out to show just how easy it is to be labeled  mentally ill.  Following the model of Nellie Bly, …

Mental Institutions, Part I: Nellie Bly's Exposé

November 8th, 2014

(Elizabeth) In 1887, Nellie Bly was asked to pass a week at an insane asylum. She said she would and she could and she did.

Guy Fawkes

November 1st, 2014

(Kirsti) Remember, remember the Fifth of November! Guy Fawkes has become an iconic face of the American Occupy movement, but was the Gunpowder Plot really an effort to improve the lot of the lower classes? This week we …

History for Halloween I

October 31st, 2014

(Elizabeth, Lucy, and Christine) Stories are spookier when they are rooted in reality. In celebration of Halloween, some of our podcasters have …

The Demon Core

October 25th, 2014

(Kirsti) The Manhattan Project placed the lives of scientists and staff in New Mexico at great risk. One plutonium core in particular claimed two …

Advances in the West: Grant's Army in 1862

October 18th, 2014

(Ryan) In this episode, Ryan looks at the Union advances in the west from the battle of Shiloh through the Siege of Corinth and how the retreat of …

Taking the Waters: Good Health Among the "Best People"

October 11th, 2014

(Lucy) From the late eighteenth century to the coming of WWI, Europe's haute bourgeoisie looked to mineral waters (sipped or bathed in) as medication for their malaises and a cure for ennui. The architecture and economy …

Hugh O'Neill and the Tudors

October 4th, 2014

(Christine) At the dawn of the 17th century, only one region of Ireland was largely outside of English control: Ulster. To change this, the Gaelic …

Dog Stars, Part II

September 27th, 2014

(Christina and Esther)  In Part II of their look at the history of dogs in cinema, Christina and Esther talk about Lassie's patriotism, the moral implications of depicting animal cruelty on screen, and the strategic use …

Dog Stars, Part I

September 20th, 2014

(Christina and Esther) From Edison Studios’ nineteenth-century “actualities” to present day internet videos of twerking Corgis, dogs’ presence on …

Seeking to Punish in 17th-Century England

September 13th, 2014

(Lesley) As the United States deals with a critical mass of imprisoned citizens, it might be worthwhile to consider how historical civilizations …

King Childeric of the Franks: Barbarian?

September 6th, 2014

(Nicole) The fifth-century king of the Franks, Childeric, was a pagan king of a group whom Romans clearly thought of as barbarians. Nevertheless, he …

Space Exploration and History ft. Asif Siddiqi

August 30th, 2014

This week, Nathan spoke with Asif Siddiqi, the only historian on the "Committee for Human Spaceflight," which recently completed its two year study on the future of NASA's efforts to send human beings into deep …

Alan Turing

August 23rd, 2014

(Kirsti) Alan Turing has been called a lay saint, and he surely was one of the greatest minds of the Greatest Generation. His work at Bletchley Park was vital to Allied success in World War II. Why, then, did he end his …

Warrior, Wife, and Mother: The Story of Sichelgaita of Salerno

August 16th, 2014

(Samantha) According to Anna Comnena, the Byzantine historian, Sichelgaita of Salerno personally turned the tide at the battle of Dyrrachium when she charged at her own troops and drove them towards their enemy. But did …

The Scientific Passions of Mary Buckland

August 8th, 2014

(Lucy) In the early 19th century, ancient fossils formed the basis of cutting-edge discoveries. Geology still hovered between amateur pursuit and …

Laura Bridgman, Charles Dickens, and Helen Keller

August 2nd, 2014

(Christine) Laura Bridgman made headlines in the 19th century when her parents enrolled her at the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Under the …

Rosamund: 6th-Century Regicide and Politics

July 26th, 2014

(Nicole) The sixth century was one of serious upheaval and shifting alliance. Get a glimpse of this world as we explore the life of Rosamund, a Gepid …

Lawrence O'Brien: Fenians and the American Civil War

July 19th, 2014

(Ryan) Who were the Fenians and what were their goals? This is a question that historians have debated for years- this podcast will trace the life of a prominent Fenian, Lawrence O'Brien, to, perhaps, help explain the …

Love, Parachutes, and Käthchen Paulus

July 12th, 2014

(Lucy) Käthchen Paulus was born in the late 1860s, in a German village where she supported her mother by working as a seamstress. She died in the …

The Rise of the Studios: The Origins of the Film Industry, Part II

July 5th, 2014

(Nathan) Picking up where we left off in Part I, in this episode, we'll look at where film aspect ratios come from, why production studios began to move to Southern California, how World War I affected the film …

Alcibiades: The Bad Boy of Athens

May 31st, 2014

(John) A student of Socrates, a friend of kings, a general and pirate, Alcibiades defies definition. He argued for a more aggressive policy against …

Before Napoleon: Josephine Bonaparte's First Marriage

May 25th, 2014

(Christine) May 29, 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Josephine’s life did not …

The King James Bible: One Version of the Greatest Story Ever Told

May 17th, 2014

(Elizabeth and Nathan) In 1611, a group of men completed what has become one of the most well-known translations of the Bible. But why did King James ask them to do it?

Nursery Rhymes, History, and Memory

May 10th, 2014

(Kirsti) What kind of plums were in Jack Horner's pie? Why were the lion and the unicorn spoiling for a fight? Why did Humpty Dumpty fall? This week, …

A Tale of Three Breeds

May 3rd, 2014

(Christina) Head to a dog park and you’re sure to see a greyhound, a pug, or a German Shepherd. Which one is most closely related to the wolf? The …

The Birth of a Blockbuster

April 26th, 2014

(Esther) Urban legend has it that when President Woodrow Wilson first saw D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915), he said "it is like writing history with lightning." While the first epic movie in American film …

Jumping the Broom: The Evolution of a Wedding Tradition

April 19th, 2014

(Lesley) Weddings are ceremonies steeped in cultural traditions. From the costumes to the carefully-selected color schemes, marriage ceremonies often …

From Magic Lanterns to Nickelodeons: The Origins of the Film Industry, Part I

April 13th, 2014

(Nathan) For early movie-goers, film was a magical experience, but also sometimes a crowded and stuffy one. From the magic lantern shows of the eighteenth century to the heyday of the nickelodeon in the twentieth, in …

Dr. Fredric Wertham: Hero or Super-Villain?

April 5th, 2014

(Mariah) For decades, comic book fans across the globe have reviled Dr. Fredric Wertham as the man who single-handedly brought down the "Golden Age" …

The Life and Times of Emperor Diocletian

March 29th, 2014

(Nicole) Join Nicole as she discusses Diocletian’s rise from obscure beginnings and low social standing to emperor, his reign, and his decision to …

Richard the Lionheart on Crusade

March 22nd, 2014

(Samantha) Richard the Lionheart hardly seems like a footnote in history. He is celebrated as a great warrior king and is commemorated in just about …

Irish Family Values: The Clannrickard Burkes in the Mid-Sixteenth Century

March 15th, 2014

(John) What can the experience of one family tell us about authority in early modern Ireland? Quite a bit! John will discuss how the many wives, many children and many subsequent problems of the earls of Clannrickard …

Tuxedo Park: Inside the Gate

March 8th, 2014

(Elizabeth) At the end of the 19th century, one of the earliest planned communities in the United States was created just over an hour north of New York City. Learn about the founding of Tuxedo Park, some of its more …

Mademoiselle de Maupin: The Life and Afterlife of a 17th-Century Swashbuckler

March 1st, 2014

(Lucy) How did a swashbuckling seventeenth-century opera singer become the heroine of a nineteenth-century novel? What does this tell us about the performance and perception of gender in both eras? And did the …

The History of the Academy Awards

February 22nd, 2014

(Nathan and Esther) Full of gowns, gaffes, and gushing, the Academy Awards are the epitome of pageantry and must-see television that sometimes has …

Buck and Blanche (and Bonnie and Clyde)

February 15th, 2014

(Christine) The love story of infamous American outlaw pair Bonnie and Clyde is cemented in modern pop culture- but they were not the only couple in …

Brotherhood Under the Black Flag: Multiracial Pirate Crews of the Early Modern Period

February 8th, 2014

(Lucy) Who were the pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, and what enabled them to rise to power? In Europe, pirates could be treated as …

One Year Anniversary Show: How We Became Historians

February 1st, 2014

On February 2, 2013, the first episode of Footnoting History went live. To celebrate our first anniversary, Nathan conducted a series of brief …

From Union Soldier to Confederate Bushwacker: Loyalty and Disloyalty in Civil War West Virginia

January 25th, 2014

(Ryan) In 1862, William, Christopher, and Phillip Raber enlisted in Company K of the 9th Regiment, Virginia Infantry. As loyal Union men, they joined …

Cold Noses and Oxytocin: Doggy Prehistory

January 18th, 2014

(Christina) They are warm, fuzzy beings that come in many different shapes and sizes, yet they all sense our emotions and thrive in our company. But …

Rilla of Ingleside and the WWI Homefront

January 11th, 2014

(Elizabeth) What was life like for those on the Canadian home front during WWI? Join Liz as she uses L.M. Montgomery's final book in her Anne series, Rilla of Ingleside, to answer questions about the ones who stayed …

2:31:56*: The Rosie Ruiz Scandal

January 4th, 2014

(Esther) How did an unassuming office assistant from New York fool her way to the winners' circle of the 1980 Boston Marathon? The first major …

The Christmas Truce of 1914

December 28th, 2013

(Samantha) In 1914 Europe's troops marched off to war expecting to be home by Christmas. When the holiday came and they found themselves stuck in the …

King Arthur's Christmas: Christianity, Paganism, and Community

December 21st, 2013

(Lucy) For much of the Middle Ages, King Arthur was Europe’s model king. His court could be a space for heroism, for romance, and also for the …

Historical Ad Campaigns

December 14th, 2013

(Lesley) Ever wonder why women shave their legs? Or why manly cigars gave way to slim, feminine cigarettes? The answer lies with people like Don Draper. Examine the history of advertising and how some of our personal …

Secret Santa: The History of Santa Claus

December 7th, 2013

(Nathan) We kick off the Christmas season and celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6th) with a look at the history of Santa Claus, from his …

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Part II: Australia and New Zealand

November 30th, 2013

(Christine and Elizabeth) In Part II of the life of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, we follow him as he leaves prison, picks up his pen, and chases a new …

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Part I: The Abduction

November 23rd, 2013

(Christine and Elizabeth) The abduction of Ellen Turner was the talk of  early 19th century England and at the center of it was Edward Gibbon Wakefield, a widower with dreams of a seat in Parliament. How did Wakefield …

Reformation Propaganda

November 16th, 2013

(Nicole)  Most people think of modern campaigns, such as propaganda posters during World War I, when they hear the word 'propaganda'. But did you …

Living Memory: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

November 9th, 2013

(Kirsti) For 28 years, the Berlin Wall stood as a monument to the division between East and West. In the summer of 1989, a the borders of Hungary, then Czechoslovakia opened, and thousands of East Germans fled …

Cheating on Jesus: Bigamy in the Medieval Catholic Priesthood

November 2nd, 2013

(Christine) How could a priest in medieval England, who was single at the time of his ordination, be guilty of bigamy? Can a person actually cheat on …

The Only Running Footman

October 26th, 2013

(Esther) Country roads were rough, tough, and uneven. But the agile, handsome, and (sometimes) opulently dressed running footmen traversed these …

The Many Reformations of 16th-Century Europe

October 19th, 2013

(Lucy) In the 16th century, high taxes and fears of apocalypse went hand in hand, and from the fairly common practice of calling for church reform emerged a series of movements which have become known as the capital-R …

Queer Women in the Golden Age of Mysteries

October 12th, 2013

(Lucy and Elizabeth) From the early to mid-twentieth century, queens of crime Sayers, Christie, Marsh, and Wentworth reigned supreme over British detective fiction. Their works not only reveal whodunit but give insight …

Criminalizing Sex in Early Modern England

October 5th, 2013

(Lesley) In the middle of the Reformation, Parliament passed a law criminalizing some forms of sexuality. This became known as the Buggery Law of …

Medieval Gift Elephants

September 28th, 2013

(Nathan) An elephant may seem a strange thing to give as a gift, but these exotic animals--along with giraffes, lions, polar bears, and hyenas--were …

Hernán Cortés and the Conquest of Mexico

September 21st, 2013

(John) How did Hernán Cortés and his “300” soldiers topple the Aztecs? What motivated these conquistadores, and what legal justifications did they …

The Strategic Failure of the Habsburg Chin

September 14th, 2013

(Kirsti) What’s the best approach to consolidating power and land within your family? The ambitious Habsburgs achieved greatness through marrying …

Popular Protest in Late Antique Ravenna

September 7th, 2013

(Nicole) When many people think of Late Antique society, they think of powerful secular and ecclesiastical rulers; mighty emperors and archbishops. …

Confucius and Jesus: The Jesuit Mission to China

August 31st, 2013

(Elizabeth) The Jesuits were tasked with a large order: convert the Chinese to Christianity. Their nontraditional methods ended up getting them in a lot of trouble.

Napoleon, Part II: Life in Napoleonic Society

August 24th, 2013

(Christine and Nathan) What on earth is a city of smugglers? Why did Napoleon like to tease his Second Consul so much? And what would you have seen …

The Origin of the Marathon: Linking Past to Present

August 17th, 2013

(Esther) The story of the most popular long-distance event, from its origins in ancient literature to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and how …

The Mau Mau Insurgency

August 10th, 2013

(Samantha) In June 2013 the British government agreed to pay approximately £20 million in reparations to individuals tortured during the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya in the 1950s. But who were the Mau Mau? What was the …

Mozart's Zombie, the Runaway Priest, and the Emperor's Opera

August 3rd, 2013

(Lucy) In Don Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus and Lorenzo da Ponte created opera's most famous antihero. Find out how Mozart and Da Ponte were influenced …

Emperor Akbar, the Mughal Empire, and Divine Faith

July 27th, 2013

(Lesley) The religious consequences of the European Reformation are often part of our education. But the 16th century saw reformations across the globe: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Aztec …

Special Edition: Royal Baby Names

July 23rd, 2013

(Elizabeth and Christine) The Kingdom of Great Britain is celebrating today because the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed their first child, a son! In this special edition of Footnoting History, we discuss the …

The Husband-Killing She-Wolf: The Life of Joanna of Naples

July 21st, 2013

(Nathan) Joanna I of Naples led a fascinating life marked by both triumph and tragedy.  Orphaned as a child, married four times, and rumored to have had her first husband killed outside her own bedchamber, she was a …

Napoleon, Part I: The Man

July 13th, 2013

(Nathan and Christine) It's Bastille Day weekend so we make a return to France for today's topic.  In the third installment of our Revolutionary …

The Several Defenestrations of Prague

July 6th, 2013

(Kirsti) The people of Prague have a unique approach to the resolution of religious and political arguments: throwing the opposition out of windows! …

Entertainment in Medieval Towns

June 29th, 2013

(Christine) Whether they got a day off from working at their trade or had so much money they could pay people to entertain them, everyone within the …

Goethe's Werther and the Suicide Effect

June 22nd, 2013

(Elizabeth) Forget Nirvana or James Dean! Back in the 19th century, every angsty teen had one idol: Werther--and they would do anything to be like …

Why Simon de Montfort is in the U.S. House of Representatives

June 15th, 2013

(Christine) His father was a major player in the Albigensian crusade but when was the last time you heard about the man who led a rebellion against King Henry III and became the father of the modern parliament? It's …

Running in the Ancient Olympic Games

June 8th, 2013

(Esther) How did the Greeks monitor foot races during the ancient Olympic games without technologies such as Timex watches and slow-motion …

Getting Skinny: A Brief History of Dieting

June 1st, 2013

(Samantha) From WeightWatchers to the Atkins Diet to the Lemon Detox, Americans are obsessed with using diet to control our weight. But we’re not the …

Lepers and Leprosy in the 13th Century

May 25th, 2013

(Lucy) Reactions to medieval lepers were often extreme. Medieval romance-writers depict them as not only disease-ridden but filthy, and morally suspect to boot. Saints, on the other hand, ran around kissing them. More …

Occupy Alcatraz: Protesting Native American Autonomy

May 18th, 2013

(Lesley) As an imposing fortress, Alcatraz island isolated inmates and imprisoned the most dangerous criminals like mob boss Al Capone. Yet after its …

Tulipmania!

May 11th, 2013

(Nathan) In the 1630s, the tiny-but-wealthy Netherlands were gripped by a frenzy of public trading in tulip bulbs.  At the height of the craze, a …

The French Revolution Countdown (Part II)

May 4th, 2013

(Nathan and Christine) Picking up where they left off at the end of Part I, Nathan and Christine tackle actors' rights and changing fashions while …

Science, Plague, and Pericles: Reconstructing the Face of Myrtis

April 27th, 2013

(Kirsti) In 430 BCE, a plague swept through ancient Athens, killing thousands. It eventually claimed even the great Pericles. But what was it? In 1994, a group of historians and scientists banded together to find out, …

Viking Invasions and St. Edmund's Talking Head

April 20th, 2013

(Nicole) In 870 A.D.,  Edmund, the king of East Anglia, was killed by a Viking army. Discover how this event was transformed from a battle between …

Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone" and the Indian Mutiny

April 13th, 2013

(Elizabeth) The Indian Mutiny had repercussions felt all over the world, but how did it affect the average Brit's feelings about the Empire? A 19th century mystery novel reveals all!

The French Revolution Countdown (Part I)

April 6th, 2013

(Nathan and Christine) From Marie Antoinette's fake peasant village to Robespierre's botched suicide, the French Revolution is full of fascinating …

Prehistoric Runners and the 'Fall' of the Neanderthals

March 30th, 2013

(Esther) Did you know that our homo sapien ancestors were altogether skinnier, weaker and dumber than our fellow hominid relatives, the Neanderthals? Some scientists theorize that it was running that saved us from …

Drinking in Medieval England

March 23rd, 2013

(Samantha) Do you like to drink? Well, so did people in the Middle Ages.  Tune in to learn about what people were drinking and about the culture …

Heresy and You: Alice Rowley and Lollardy

March 16th, 2013

(Kirsti) Some people just get all the luck. Others, like poor Alice Rowley of Coventry, just can’t seem to catch a break. Join us as we explore …

Cruel Mind and Deadly Malice: A Murder in Early Modern England

March 9th, 2013

(Lesley) Imagine hiring a man to kill off your enemy... and then pleading a defense that would allow you to walk out free. This week, we'll trace the …

Zombies in Thietmar of Merseburg

March 2nd, 2013

Cathars, Templars, and The Siege of Montségur

February 23rd, 2013

(Nathan) What do medieval frat boys, Nicholas Cage, and Iron Maiden have in common? They're all part of one of the most popular (and far-fetched) …

Special Edition: Olaudah Equiano

February 20th, 2013

(Nathan and Elizabeth) Join us for a discussion of one of the most well-known narratives of slavery used by the British Abolitionist cause in the …

Henry II and the Invasion of Ireland

February 16th, 2013

(Christine) The English and the Irish have been fighting (and singing) about hating one another) for as long as both sides can remember, but what brought the English to Ireland in the first place? What did the English …

Special Edition: Papal Abdication

February 12th, 2013

(Nathan) At the end of this month, Pope Benedict XVI will become the first pope in nearly 600 years to abdicate the papal seat. In this Special …

A French Silversmith in Mongol Karakorum

February 9th, 2013

(Nicole) The Mongols have a reputation for their brutal tactics in war and the fear they instilled in the peoples they conquered. But the Mongols …

Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck

February 2nd, 2013

(Elizabeth) Before social security cards, driver's licenses, and DNA testing, how did you prove your identity? Join us to hear about two famous "pretenders" and their attempts to gain the English throne!
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