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Fall back, spring forward

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Episode description

Why, oh, why is daylight savings a thing? It's because for roughly two decades after World War II, no one had any clue what time it was.

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The assassin who wore braids and killed Nazis

September 13th, 2019

5:15

Freddie Oversteegen was 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance.

Colonel Blood, the scoundrel who tried to steal Great Britain's crown jewels

September 12th, 2019

3:32

Thomas Blood had somewhat of a shady past. According to Ireland’s History magazine, he had a reputation for espionage and conducting terrorist campaigns — though many of his plans were foiled just in time.

The rookie pilot who was ready to give her life on Sept. 11

September 11th, 2019

5:08

Heather Penney was among the first female combat pilots in the country. On Sept. 11, 2001, she got a mission: Bring down the fourth hijacked plane hurtling towards Washington.

Between Lincoln and Washington, only one was a great poet

September 10th, 2019

4:19

Both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln wrote poetry. But only one had a way with words.

The Nazi stone

September 9th, 2019

4:20

A mysterious stone memorial was found in 2006 in Washington, D.C. But who placed a memorial to Nazi spies on government property? And why?

Paul Jennings, the former slave who disputed a legend from history

September 6th, 2019

4:23

According to James Madison’s Virginia mansion Montpelier, Paul Jennings’ account reveals, “how the racial and gender hierarchies of the time …

The dark history of the pill

September 4th, 2019

4:27

A group of poor women in Puerto Rico were the first test subjects for the birth control pill. Were they guinea pigs or pioneers?

Were the Duke of Windsor and Adolf Hitler friends?

September 3rd, 2019

3:59

Was the Duke of Windsor a Nazi sympathizer? Did he plot to dethrone his brother, King George VI? Did he really suggest more German bombings of Britain might end World War II?

The day anti-Vietnam War protesters tried to levitate the Pentagon

September 2nd, 2019

3:45

In October 1967, antiwar protesters announced that they would march en masse to the front steps of the Pentagon. and levitate it. And then they would …

The worst presidents

August 30th, 2019

5:02

Besides President Trump, whom do scholars scorn the most?

The surprise hurricane that devastated the Florida Keys

August 29th, 2019

4:17

In 1935, the Florida Keys ignored the threat of a looming hurricane. When the Category 5 storm made landfall, it left a wake of death and destruction.

Being a maverick almost stopped John McCain from becoming a public servant

August 28th, 2019

4:38

At the Naval Academy, McCain was in a group called the “Bad Bunch” as he rebelled against his father’s expectations.

LBJ's political bombshell

August 27th, 2019

5:04

By 1968, things were going badly for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Morale around the Vietnam War was sinking, and in Washington, political sharks were …

The most romantic day

August 26th, 2019

3:41

All over the country, couples rushed to Las Vegas to get married. The demand for quickie weddings was at a fever pitch. But it wasn't Cupid's arrow causing the frenzy. It was the Vietnam War.

The French aviators who almost beat Charles Lindbergh

August 23rd, 2019

4:30

In 1927, the world watched as two French aviators attempted the world’s first transatlantic flight.

The photographer who helped end child labor in America

August 22nd, 2019

5:23

Lewis Hine posed as a Bible salesman or machinery photographer to expose the hardships of child labor.

The performance that saved Johnny Cash's career

August 21st, 2019

4:52

In a year of extraordinary, chaotic moments this was a hopeful one - a beat-up country music star recording an album live at a troubled maximum …

When Olympic silver beats gold

August 20th, 2019

4:57

Ski jumping involves flying more than 800 feet in the air and then landing on two feet, without dying. Where on earth did this sport come from?

Meet Paul Manafort's century-old forefather, who also liked fancy suits

August 19th, 2019

4:52

Samuel Cutler Ward, also known as the “King of the Lobby,” is credited with shaping the craft of lobbying. And like lobbyist and former Trump …

How Hollywood's first major blockbuster revived the KKK

August 16th, 2019

4:35

"The Birth of a Nation" depicted life after the Civil War in a way that glorified Klansmen. The film and its cultural impact led one man to conclude …

The biscuit tin that protected the crown jewels

August 15th, 2019

3:21

It’s World War II, and you’re King George VI of England. You fear a Nazi invasion of England could come at any moment. How do you protect the crown …

Rosie the Riveter isn't who you think she is

August 14th, 2019

4:28

An American in the 1940s would not recognize the woman from the “We Can Do It!” poster as Rosie the Riveter.

Reagan's most historic speech took a few years to make an impact

August 13th, 2019

3:40

When President Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” it was not seen as a historic moment. It took the actual fall of the wall to …

How the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds began

August 12th, 2019

5:10

The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding the Rothschild family date all the way back to The Battle of Waterloo.

The first congresswoman's vote

August 9th, 2019

5:24

In April 1917, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, faced an agonizing choice: should she, or should she not, vote for the United …

The day the nation's capital welcomed the KKK

August 8th, 2019

5:24

In 1925, 30,000 Klansmen descended on Washington, D.C. The city cheered their arrival.

The man and the coconut that saved JFK

August 7th, 2019

4:58

William Liebenow rescued John F. Kennedy from an island filled with coconuts.

The first daughters

August 6th, 2019

4:02

Ivanka Trump might be the only first daughter in American history to score a West Wing office, but she’s not the first presidential daughter to wield power in the White House.

The time a senator won an Emmy for grilling witnesses at a hearing

August 5th, 2019

5:02

In 1951, a televised Senate hearing caught America’s attention.

The fact and fiction of Prince Philip

August 2nd, 2019

4:29

The most recent British royal wedding puts all eyes on the Windsor family. But perhaps no royal is as controversial as Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip.

What Operation Pied Piper taught us about family separations

August 1st, 2019

5:23

Millions of British children were evacuated from London and other cities to escape the horrors of war. But the family separations seemed to impart long-term trauma that was in many cases as severe as if they had stayed …

The teen who tied a Virginia election

July 31st, 2019

3:55

In 1971, Stephen Burns was 18 years old and a newly minted voter. He was so jazzed to be a part of the Democratic process.

The books the presidents read

July 30th, 2019

4:32

People have long been fascinated by the books presidents choose to read. But how much do reading habits actually reveal about a president?

How God became part of the pledge

July 29th, 2019

4:47

For over 50 years, the phrase “under God” was not a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. One sermon changed that.

How Harry S. Truman went from being a racist to desegregating the military

July 26th, 2019

6:13

When Harry Truman became president in 1945, Southern members of Congress were delighted. They thought he’d be sympathetic to segregationists. He proved them wrong.

The U.S. government recruited black men to watch them die

July 25th, 2019

4:30

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment is a horrific piece of American history.

The femme fatale

July 24th, 2019

4:27

For the past 100 years, Mata Hari has been revered as the quintessential glamorous spy. But the real Mata Hari was much more complicated.

The congressman who shot a waiter

July 23rd, 2019

4:59

A hungry congressman didn’t get the breakfast he ordered. So he shot the waiter.

The children's crusade

July 22nd, 2019

4:28

The movement organized by survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., is not the first time that kids have taken a stand. H

Introducing Moonrise

July 19th, 2019

5:03

Host Lillian Cunningham's next podcast explores the real story of why we went to the moon -- a darker, but truer story than the one you've heard before. Listen to this trailer, and subscribe on your favorite podcast app …

The time Truman met with Stalin and it went well

July 18th, 2019

5:11

Back in 1941, a get-together that should have been fraught with uneasiness didn't turn out that way, which is surprising given the participants: …

Mrs. Graham

July 17th, 2019

4:33

Katherine Graham's leadership in the decision to release the Pentagon Papers was the subject of the Stephen Spielberg film "The Post." But it was her leadership during the pressman's strike in 1975 that is perhaps the …

The storied past of Alderson federal women's prison

July 16th, 2019

4:30

The Alderson Federal Prison Camp has a history filled with powerful women. Some pushed for the prison to be built. Others served time there.

The deaf men who helped NASA send humans to space

July 15th, 2019

4:17

In a largely forgotten experiment, a group of students from Gallaudet University spent years helping NASA understand the mechanisms of motion sickness and how to prevent it.

The first shark attacks

July 12th, 2019

4:20

For most of American history, no one was scared of sharks. One week--and one shark--changed people's opinions of the marine creatures.

The oldest surviving banjo recording

July 11th, 2019

5:57

Charles Asbury’s digitized songs serve as a time capsule to the music of the 19th century.

The Jedwabne massacre

July 10th, 2019

3:42

Raw questions of complicity versus compulsion have surrounded the 1941 murders of a Polish village's Jewish residents.

The long-lost 'Laws of Baseball'

July 9th, 2019

4:32

On display in Washington, D.C. are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and another document that details a fundamental institution in American life: baseball.

The Quaker abolitionist who was disowned for condemning slave owners

July 8th, 2019

6:27

Benjamin Lay wrote one of the first treatises against slavery in Colonial America, a time when many prosperous Pennsylvania Quakers were slave …

Meet Yvonne Burke, the first congresswoman to give birth in office

July 5th, 2019

3:57

Sixty years after Congress welcomed its first woman, it welcomed its first baby.

Thomas Jefferson's last letter

July 4th, 2019

3:15

Somehow, in the depths of his personal misery towards the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson once again found his powerful way with words.

The epic bender that launched America

July 3rd, 2019

3:47

George Washington and his fellow partiers racked up a hefty bill--$15,000 in today’s currency--celebrating the completion of the Constitution.

The time we thought an asteroid might kill us all

July 2nd, 2019

3:22

In 1998, the world briefly panicked over an asteroid that seemed headed straight for Earth.

Suzanne Lenglen, the first goddess of tennis

July 1st, 2019

3:08

Suzanne Lenglen was physically ferocious, always fashionable and a disrupter of convention.

The first pride parade

June 28th, 2019

3:28

The very first pride parade was held in 1964 and was a bit calmer than what we think of today.

The rainless flood that destroyed a city

June 27th, 2019

4:41

In 1868, Ellicott City, Md. flooded. The lack of rain made the natural disaster totally bizarre and unexpected.

How Eleanor Roosevelt invented the modern idea of a first lady

June 26th, 2019

4:23

Eleanor Roosevelt held news conferences just for female reporters. The men were not impressed.

The complicated story of Linda Brown and the fight for desegregated schools

June 25th, 2019

3:58

Linda Brown and her father Oliver Brown are heroes of the civil rights movement. The backstory of the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of …

The origins of the National Rifle Association

June 24th, 2019

4:45

When the NRA was founded in 1871, its primary concern was not gun rights or the Second Amendment.

How a textile shortage led to the invention of the bikini

June 21st, 2019

4:47

Designer Louis Réard left automotive engineering to work in his mother’s lingerie business. He decided to compete with another design to create the world’s smallest swimsuit.

The man who won World War II

June 20th, 2019

4:33

Andrew Higgins wasn't in the Army. He wasn't a paratrooper. He was a wild and wily genius, a tough, crafty, businessman. And he built the built the boats that brought troops ashore at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Oregon was America’s first and only state to begin as 'whites-only'

June 19th, 2019

5:07

Oregon’s original constitution banned black people from the state, and the law stayed in the constitution for well over 100 years.

Publishers hated ‘A Wrinkle in Time,' and Madeleine L'Engle never forgot the rejections

June 18th, 2019

3:55

'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle said she received 26 rejection letters from publishers.

This security guard discovered the Watergate break-in, but nobody remembers him

June 17th, 2019

3:33

The man who called the police on the Watergate burglars never received the credit he deserved.

A history of extreme makeovers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

June 14th, 2019

4:14

When the White House was built over 200 years ago, it lacked certain modern conveniences. A hodgepodge of improvements have been added over the years.

The unlikely start of the Boy Scout movement

June 13th, 2019

4:37

The Boy Scout movement began 110 years ago on a tiny island just off the southern coast of England.

Eartha Kitt confronted the first lady and it nearly ruined her career

June 12th, 2019

5:11

At a White House luncheon, actress Eartha Kitt would not let the president or the first lady avoid the issue of the Vietnam War. She paid a heavy …

The 'temporary insanity' legal defense started with an affair

June 11th, 2019

4:25

If you love gossip, drama and D.C. politics -- this story is the gift that keeps on giving.

Eisenhower’s famous speech to U.S. troops the day before D-Day

June 10th, 2019

4:22

On the day before D-Day, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech to the troops that totally masked how nervous he actually was.

The painter who became the CIA’s master of disguise

June 7th, 2019

10:11

The spy business is all about masking the truth. One CIA agent’s deceptions and sham identities were so enterprising that he earned the nickname …

The ax that killed Leon Trotsky

June 6th, 2019

9:25

Joseph Stalin wanted his political rival dead. When bullets didn’t do the job, his intelligence service tried something even more gruesome.

Related …

That time the CIA stole a Russian submarine

June 5th, 2019

9:12

When a Russian sub sank at the height of the Cold War, the CIA got help from Howard Hughes and created a fictitious mining operation to snag the …

The pistols that almost fell from the sky

June 4th, 2019

5:34

During World War II, U.S. intelligence operatives devised a plan to airdrop one-shot handguns, nicknamed the Liberator pistol, to allies in Europe in …

The rat that helped win the Cold War

June 3rd, 2019

7:32

In the first of a weeklong series of episodes about spies, subterfuge and intelligence, a look at how the CIA used dead rats to send secret messages …

The test that changed childbirth

May 31st, 2019

6:41

In the 1950s, Dr. Virginia Apgar created a quick test that nurses have since performed on millions of babies just after birth. She is considered one of the most important figures in modern medicine — a world that almost …

Amid rising tension between the U.S. and Cuba, Hemingway's widow went on a literary rescue mission

May 30th, 2019

8:29

When author Ernest Hemingway killed himself in 1961, the political strain between the United States and Cuba was escalating. In the midst of that …

Frank Lloyd Wright tried to create a perfect house for an imperfect world

May 29th, 2019

9:49

In 1939, an unknown copy editor from Washington, D.C., begged famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design his family a home. The result was a …

Rising from ruin: The many rebuilds of Notre Dame

May 28th, 2019

4:50

The world watched Notre Dame as it burned in April. But the cathedral has endured a lot in its 856 years.

A debate that went into extra innings: Can baseballs curve?

May 24th, 2019

7:14

Beginning in the earliest days of baseball, fans, journalists and even physicists disputed whether or not pitchers could make a ball curve.

How food found its way into the freezer

May 23rd, 2019

5:49

While on a research trip to the Arctic in the early 20th century, scientist Clarence Birdseye — a name you might recognize from the frozen food aisle …

The man who helped create the first measles vaccine didn’t vaccinate his own son

May 22nd, 2019

5:23

In the 1950s, millions of people suffered from measles every year. David Edmonston, an 11-year-old student, became the cure.

Clara Barton, America's most famous nurse, broke boundaries to treat Civil War victims

May 21st, 2019

6:37

The nurse who founded the American Red Cross had no formal training in medicine. She tended to countless wounded soldiers.

Why Naval Academy students climb a greased up obelisk every year

May 20th, 2019

4:04

Every year, freshmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis take part in an annual tradition where they must climb a 21 foot high obelisk covered in …

The forgotten pioneers of the first American utopia

May 17th, 2019

5:41

More than a decade ago, bestselling historian David McCullough stumbled upon an important name from the past that even he’d never come across before. …

The game show contestant who cheated his way to fame

May 16th, 2019

6:16

In the 1950s, Charles Van Doren, a quiet professor in New York City, became wrapped up in one of the biggest television quiz show scandals in history.

The unlikely beginning of paint-by-number

May 15th, 2019

5:27

Paint-by-number was a national phenomenon. And then, the paint sets disappeared from the shelves.

The jazz queen who chose home over fame

May 14th, 2019

6:03

Jazz singer Ethel Ennis’s voice wowed audiences and won praise from critics. But when she was faced with the opportunity to become a superstar, Ennis chose a different path.

The most difficult job Robert Mueller ever had

May 13th, 2019

6:12

Serving as special counsel is probably only the third hardest job Robert Mueller has held. His life in public service started when he just 23 years …

John Brown's prophecy

May 9th, 2019

3:45

Abolitionist John Brown made a prophecy before he was executed.

The books presidents read

May 8th, 2019

4:11

People have long been fascinated by the books presidents choose to read. But how much do reading habits actually reveal about a president?

The original Alcoholics Anonymous book was auctioned for millions, but its author was never paid

May 7th, 2019

4:28

The original manuscript was auctioned off for $2.4 million to an NFL owner, after almost a year of legal wrangling.

The invention of sarin

May 6th, 2019

3:35

Weevils, a voracious beetle found in fields and orchards, were the original target of sarin gas.

May the Fourth be with you

May 3rd, 2019

5:05

Mark Hamill, the actor known for playing Luke Skywalker, shares stories from Star Wars history.

Need a job? Ask Ulysses S. Grant.

May 2nd, 2019

3:18

While President Grant had an impressive resume on the battlefield, he was known to be a patsy when it came to helping job hunters. People used to walk right into the White House and ask the president to find them a job.

Meet the Press

May 1st, 2019

3:25

At the beginning of the television age, “Meet the Press” dented the dominance of newspapers and thrilled news junkies with the power of live broadcasting.

The mother who made George Washington miserable

April 30th, 2019

4:28

George and his mother had an unusual relationship for the 1700s.

The Sullivan brothers

April 29th, 2019

3:41

Five brothers fought and died together on the same ship during World War II. Their final resting place was discovered in 2018.

Elaine Brown, the first and only woman to lead the Black Panther Party

April 26th, 2019

3:34

Elaine Brown's takeover in 1974 was a pivotal moment for a woman in the black power movement. Although women had been a dynamic force for social and racial justice, they had often been overshadowed by men.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day was once just for daughters

April 25th, 2019

2:44

Mike is joined by a special guest to talk about how Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day began.

These guys were college jocks, and then became presidents of the United States

April 24th, 2019

4:02

We dug through The Washington Post's archives and consulted the Pro Football Hall of Fame to bring you a rundown of the best presidential ballers.

The truth is out there

April 23rd, 2019

4:38

Area 51's secrets may not be alien in nature, but that doesn't make it any less mysterious.

One broadcast helped turn Americans against the Vietnam War

April 22nd, 2019

4:45

Walter Cronkite's calm but authoritative voice carried so much weight that in 1968 one single news report helped persuade the American public that we weren't winning the war in Vietnam.

Egg Roll

April 19th, 2019

3:52

One day a year, the White House grounds are turned over to kids for the Easter Egg Roll.

Chillicothe, Missouri: The town that invented sliced bread

April 18th, 2019

3:37

The town of Chillicothe, Missouri, discovered they have a surprising claim to history: the creation of sliced bread.

The black power protest that shook the world

April 17th, 2019

2:57

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, one of the most iconic moments of that chaotic year unfolded on television screens around the world.

History's most fascinating misquote

April 16th, 2019

3:45

The Apollo 13 astronauts never said “Houston we have a problem.” Here’s why you think they did.

Hate the IRS? Blame Abraham Lincoln.

April 12th, 2019

3:36

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was in a financial bind. Also, he was in a war. To raise money, he pushed for and won passage of an income tax …

The Mouth of the South

April 12th, 2019

5:54

Martha Mitchell was the wife of President Nixon's attorney general. Nixon blamed Mitchell for Watergate.

Hair peace. Bed peace.

April 11th, 2019

5:54

On March 25, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono were a few days into their marriage when they invited the press to join them at their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.

Queen Arawelo

April 10th, 2019

6:39

Growing up in Somalia, a country where stories are handed down through generations, one of the first tales that children are told is about an ancient …

The man who killed Bonnie and Clyde

April 9th, 2019

6:58

It was April of 1934. The multi-state crime spree of Bonnie and Clyde came to an end in an ambush on a winding country road in Louisiana. The man who …

Ketamine in the mainstream

April 5th, 2019

5:56

Once a party drug, ketamine has found its way into modern medicine.

From handsaws to parades: D.C.’s cherry blossom trees weren’t always beloved

April 5th, 2019

6:22

Over one million people attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival each year. But the cherry blossom trees, and Japanese culture, were not always …

The day before the Chernobyl disaster

April 4th, 2019

6:50

Disasters don’t just happen. Like anything in life, there’s usually a buildup. In the case of the Chernobyl disaster, the series of failures stretched back more than a decade. But what happened the day before the …

Last Seen Ads

April 3rd, 2019

6:21

After the Civil War, formerly enslaved people placed notices in black-owned newspapers across the country to find their loved ones.

Earthrise

April 2nd, 2019

4:49

On Christmas Eve in 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts captured an image that symbolizes hope and inspired environmentalism.

George Taliaferro, the first black player drafted to the NFL

April 1st, 2019

5:46

He thought being drafted into the National Football League was so unlikely that he signed with an African American league team. Then, the NFL called.

The first 'Queen of the Air'

March 29th, 2019

5:26

Four years before Amelia Earhart ever got into a plane, Ruth Law was already making a name for herself in the skies.

A spy in the Confederate White House

March 28th, 2019

6:38

During the American Civil War, a former slave smuggled secrets from the Confederate President to help the North to victory. Her name was Mary Bowser.

The nurse who picked up a rifle

March 27th, 2019

4:16

During World War I, British nurse Flora Sandes put down her nurses bag to fight with the Serbian Army.

The 'Night Witches'

March 26th, 2019

4:56

During World War II, around 80 Russian women took to the skies and risked their lives to fight against the Germans.

The extraordinary life of Civil War veteran Albert Cashier

March 25th, 2019

7:12

On August 6, 1862, a shy young man from Belvidere, Illinois, signed up to fight for the North in the Civil War. His name was Albert Cashier.

The first black senator and America’s brief biracial democracy

March 22nd, 2019

5:49

Hiram Rhodes Revels came to the Senate after the Civil War in a shining moment of triumph — a black man taking over the seat once held by Jefferson Davis. It didn’t last.

Why isn’t lynching illegal?

March 21st, 2019

6:03

It is one of the worst expressions of racism in American history. And there’s no federal law to prevent it.

Robert Morris, the creator of the subpoena

March 20th, 2019

6:05

The history of subpoenas, and the fiery congressional hearings that have captivated Americans for centuries began with a Founding Father raising his hand to say, “Investigate me!”

Judy Garland and the long history of 'Me Too' in Hollywood

March 19th, 2019

5:01

Sexual harassment has been existed in showbiz as long as there have been bright lights.

A rich piece of scandal

March 18th, 2019

5:44

In the 19th century, publications both reputable and scandalous routinely blackmailed society figures caught in compromising circumstances.

The godfather of bracketology

March 15th, 2019

4:06

Some 50 million people are projected to fill out a March Madness bracket this year. As you finish filling out yours, you might want to tip your pencil and say thanks to the late and loud Staten Island bar owner Jody …

To ban a 'Mockingbird'

March 14th, 2019

4:19

Harper Lee's classic novel has been causing controversy for as long as its been in print. Here's a look at the history of banning "To Kill a Mockingbird."

The history of epic North Korean insults

March 13th, 2019

3:05

North Korea has long been a superpower when it comes verbal attacks.

Special delivery!

March 12th, 2019

2:46

There’s one thing that you can’t have delivered anymore that was totally normal to send by mail in the early 1900s.

Why Thurgood Marshall asked an ex-Klan member to help him make Supreme Court history

March 11th, 2019

3:46

Thurgood Marshall, the first African American member of the Supreme Court, took the constitutional oath of office from Hugo Black, a white associate justice who had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

The glass ceiling

March 8th, 2019

3:37

In 1978, Marilyn Loden gave new meaning to an image women have fought for decades.

The woman behind Lisa Ben

March 7th, 2019

4:10

Edythe Eyde, also known by her pen name Lisa Ben, was a visionary who fought to make lesbians visible in pop culture decades before most others had …

The night America burned

March 6th, 2019

3:51

The deadliest wildfire in U.S. history wasn’t in California.

Was Mary Todd Lincoln a leaker?

March 5th, 2019

4:20

President Abraham Lincoln had to worry about the first lady being a leaker, and it was quite a scandal.

The forbidden question

March 4th, 2019

3:34

If the order for a nuclear attack is issued, the soldiers operating the launch machine have no choice but to fire. Or do they?

The best birthday card ever

March 1st, 2019

2:52

In 1926, the United States received a birthday card signed by 5.5 million Polish people.

The houses built by slaves

February 28th, 2019

3:13

Buildings that stand as symbols of American democracy - the White House, Mount Vernon and Monticello, to name a few - were erected with the labor of …

How are you, Grandmama?

February 27th, 2019

3:47

A dog and a cadaver deserve credit for their contributions to the invention of the telephone.

The crooked picture

February 26th, 2019

4:15

Jesse James, the most famous outlaw in history, was eventually foiled by a picture hanging crooked on a wall.

The Limping Lady

February 25th, 2019

3:42

President Trump made history when he nominated a woman to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But while a woman leading the CIA was once unthinkable, female spies have made enormous, overlooked …

And the winner is...

February 22nd, 2019

5:09

Oscars night is probably the one moment around the world when people become really interested in envelopes.

What hath God wrought?

February 21st, 2019

4:06

The history of social media began in 1844, when Samuel F.B. Morse sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. It said, "What hath God wrought?"

The ice queen

February 20th, 2019

4:52

Sonja Henie won three Olympic gold medals and 10 world championships, and turned her star power into as career as one of Hollywood's biggest movie …

The electric rivalry

February 19th, 2019

3:47

To understand the gruesome history of the death penalty, it is essential to comprehend how badly Thomas Edison wanted to zap George Westinghouse.

All the Presidents' Ghosts

February 18th, 2019

3:38

Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the many accounts that have spilled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over two centuries give ghosts an undeniable place in the country’s history.

The spy plane

February 15th, 2019

4:09

Historians and national security analysts have been re-examining one particular forgotten moment in the history of U.S. and North Korea conflict.

Before the Lovings, another interracial couple fought to marry

February 14th, 2019

3:50

The Kinneys married in Washington, D.C., in 1874. Then, they were arrested back home in Virginia for violating the state’s laws. They fought the …

Dr. Spock

February 13th, 2019

4:32

Dr. Spock - not the guy from Star Trek - was at one time America's most beloved pediatrician. A whole generation of children was raised on his …

The first female Marine

February 12th, 2019

3:03

During World War I, the Marines Corps needed help on the home front while men were fighting overseas. Opha May Johnson was the first woman in line.

Philadelphia's plumbing revolution: wood pipes

February 11th, 2019

3:35

In 1812, Philadelphia was outfitted with the latest in plumbing technology - a network of wooden pipes to carry water throughout the city.

Jim Crow and the rise of blackface

February 8th, 2019

5:15

Back in the 1830s, Jim Crow wasn't yet a symbol of inequality. He was a fictional character in minstrel shows who, to entertain his audiences, …

The Wicked Bible

February 7th, 2019

4:27

A full year after the King James Bible was printed in 1631, people discovered an error.

How the State of the Union went from speech to spectacle

February 6th, 2019

6:00

The president's State of the Union started as a simple report on the condition on the nation; overtime, the address became a moment to rally Congress and the public.

Winifred Stanley, a forgotten equal pay pioneer

February 5th, 2019

3:28

The woman who first introduced equal pay legislation in Congress had to fight to be taken seriously — and often failed.

The Soviet officer who stopped World War III

February 4th, 2019

4:58

In 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Union’s Air Defense Forces, trusted his gut and averted a global nuclear catastrophe.

How 'Broadway Joe' redefined the NFL

February 1st, 2019

6:15

A few days before his team took the field as huge underdogs in Super Bowl III, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath made what was seen as an insane prediction at the time: "The Jets will win Sunday," he said. "I …

The godmother of the open office

January 31st, 2019

5:44

If you work in an office without offices, with just about everyone working in a large spare space full of stylish desks, straight lines and papers …

The Confederate spy who evaded capture

January 30th, 2019

7:03

After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, John Surratt traveled across three continents, wore disguises and used fake names for nearly …

The rise of supermarkets

January 29th, 2019

3:34

If you’re like most Americans, you probably visit a grocery store once or twice a week. But you probably don’t know that one single grocery item is responsible for the rise of supermarkets as we know them.

How the Doomsday Clock came to be

January 28th, 2019

4:15

Over the past seven decades, the Doomsday Clock has served as a metaphorical measure of humankind’s proximity to global catastrophe. Every year, scientists and nuclear experts set the clock's time after grappling over …

Pinball’s sordid past

January 25th, 2019

5:48

Pinball was once so vilified that it was banned in cities across the United States.

The man inside the minds of a million consumers

January 24th, 2019

5:29

In the 1950s, Lester Wunderman became the king of direct mail advertising — the ancestor of today’s online targeted ads.

A history of hats in the House

January 23rd, 2019

5:59

In the early days of the House, some congresspeople thought hats had no place atop the heads of representatives debating the great issues of the day. Hats, they argued, weren’t dignified.

The last person to set foot on the moon

January 22nd, 2019

4:41

When Eugene Cernan walked on the moon, he didn’t know he’d be the last astronaut to make the journey.

How Martin Luther King Jr. got his name

January 21st, 2019

6:23

The name on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth certificate was not Martin. Nor did the document include the middle name Luther.

Tenure for life

January 18th, 2019

6:53

When Alexander Hamilton argued in favor of lifetime tenures for Supreme Court justices, he probably didn’t foresee them living past their prime.

The hatchet wielding leader of the anti-alcohol movement

January 17th, 2019

6:11

More than a century ago, Carry Amelia Nation — hatchet in hand — chopped the country toward temperance.

A bridge of ice at Niagara Falls

January 16th, 2019

5:08

Once upon a time, people walked between the U.S. and Canada over a frozen Niagara Falls. But one day, that all changed forever.

The only person Hitler loved

January 15th, 2019

4:52

Adolf Hitler's mother may be the only person he genuinely cared for.

A history of the U.S.-Mexico border

January 14th, 2019

6:44

For decades, the boundary between Mexico and the United States was little more than an imaginary line in the sand.

A presidential emergency that didn't end well

January 11th, 2019

6:47

When a steel industry strike threatened military production during the Korean War, and Congress couldn’t come to an agreement, President Truman had a …

How Lego took over the toy world

January 10th, 2019

6:32

Lego started as a company that made wooden toys, and grew into an empire of plastic building blocks.

The summer men rebelled against their shirts

January 9th, 2019

5:30

It doesn't seem like a big deal today, but 1930s America lived in fear of the male nipple.

The researcher whose rats predicted the Internet

January 8th, 2019

6:49

John Calhoun’s rodent experiments revolutionized the way we think about social behavior and the impact of growing populations.

One of the greatest astronomers of her generation

January 7th, 2019

5:55

Nancy Grace Roman was one of NASA’s first female astronomers and was a key figure in the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

How one World War II veteran lived to be a centenarian

January 4th, 2019

5:03

At 112-years-old, Richard Overton was the oldest living World War II veteran.

A wooden mallet with a colorful history of being shattered

January 3rd, 2019

5:37

Throughout American history, speakers of the House have pounded their gavels so hard in search of order that they wind up smashing the gavel itself into smithereens.

The rabble rouser who inspired Ruth Bader Ginsburg

January 2nd, 2019

6:33

Dorothy Kenyon was an early leader in the legal fight for women's rights.

Mourning Bobby Kennedy

January 1st, 2019

6:26

We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, we look back on the assassination …

The story of the real Charlotte of ‘Charlotte's Web’

December 31st, 2018

6:32

We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, an episode co-hosted by Madeline …

The day Martin Luther King Jr. died

December 28th, 2018

7:46

We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, our episode marking the date Dr. …

Doughnuts, the most patriotic of the junk foods

December 27th, 2018

4:01

We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, doughnuts. They aren’t just …

Ida B. Wells, the woman who never gave up

December 26th, 2018

6:39

We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, Ida B. Wells, who was an …

Big Bird and the genius inside

December 25th, 2018

6:43

We're taking a little break over the holidays to look back on some of the best Retropod episodes from 2018. Today, the story of Caroll Spinney and …

The military’s famous Santa Tracker began with a wrong number

December 24th, 2018

6:10

In the 1950s, a child trying to call Santa Claus accidentally called NORAD and changed Christmas Eve forever.

The Christmas Truce

December 21st, 2018

5:47

During the first Christmas of World War I, a miracle took place all along the Europe’s Western Front.

A piece of punctuation that failed to leave its mark

December 20th, 2018

5:48

A new punctuation mark called the interrobang found its way onto some typewriters in the 1960s, but it never caught on.

President Grant fired his own special prosecutor

December 19th, 2018

6:28

In 1875, Ulysses S. Grant hired a special prosecutor to investigate the Whiskey Ring scandal. Furious with his findings, Grant had him fired.

The first presidential press conference

December 18th, 2018

5:22

Before 1913, the presidential press conference didn’t exist. But a president who liked reporters changed that.

The astronomer who took gay rights to the Supreme Court

December 17th, 2018

5:42

After being fired from his job for being gay, Frank Kameny took his battle for equality to the nation’s highest court.

The policeman who arrested a president

December 14th, 2018

6:16

After receiving complaints about carriages driving too fast, Washington D.C. policeman William H. West arrested a presidential speed demon.

One of the ugliest speaker fights in congressional history

December 13th, 2018

4:58

In 1859, the House went to war over Rep. John Sherman’s bid for leadership.

The evangelist and convicted cat burglar who galvanized gay rights

December 12th, 2018

5:45

In Houston, Ray Hill was a colossal character. He even adopted "citizen provocateur" as a formal title.

In 1939, the 'American Hitler' took the stage at Madison Square Garden

December 11th, 2018

5:54

Fritz Kuhn was the leader of the pro-Nazi group known as the German American Bund. He was a hero to his audience, and a scourge on the world to most others.

The cranberry crisis that changed how we see our food

December 10th, 2018

6:15

Weeks before Thanksgiving, 1959, cranberries were declared unsafe to eat. The race was on to save America’s favorite holiday side dish.

The 'Toy King' who never aspired to the throne.

December 7th, 2018

6:09

Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus had no idea how big the toy industry would become.

America’s first black Catholic priest

December 6th, 2018

6:17

Augustus Tolton’s miraculous life took him from slavery to the brink of sainthood.

John Adams was eulogized before his son even knew he died

December 5th, 2018

5:59

News traveled so slowly in 1826 that the former president was buried days before his son, sitting president John Quincy Adams, got word of his death.

George H.W. Bush was a president and a prankster

December 4th, 2018

6:09

Bush, who died last week, is being fondly remembered for his cool demeanor and a boundless sense of humor.

The unlikely friendship between George H.W. Bush and Dana Carvey

December 1st, 2018

5:12

George H.W. Bush had a lot of humility. So much that he developed a friendship with the comedian who impersonated him on SNL, Dana Carvey.

William Howard Taft’s housekeeper kept track of his weight

November 30th, 2018

4:39

White House maid Elizabeth Jaffray not only cleaned up after presidents, she had an amazing insight into their appetites.

The National Christmas Tree

November 29th, 2018

4:27

One of the grandest events the president presides over every year is the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

The trials and tribulations of being a cat

November 28th, 2018

2:57

Cats have endured some really mean stuff throughout history. Dogs should be thankful.

Then they came for me

November 27th, 2018

4:32

Martin Niemoller's simple and haunting words are often quoted in moments of intolerance. The story behind them is much more complicated.

A brief history of presidents visiting troops in combat

November 26th, 2018

5:39

Presidents throughout history have visited battlefields to better grasp conditions, reverse public doubt and signal that the country took war efforts seriously.

Benjamin Franklin’s complicated relationship with turkeys

November 21st, 2018

5:56

Benjamin Franklin, the most colorful of America's Founding Fathers, had a misunderstood, electrical and ultimately homicidal relationship with …

The Green Book

November 20th, 2018

5:01

In the 1930s, traveling the nation's highways while black was fraught with peril. One postal worker, Victor Green, wrote a guidebook for African Americans after he faced discrimination on a road trip.

The origins of the Unknown Soldier

November 19th, 2018

6:08

The story of how the anonymous soldier came to rest inside the famous tomb is almost as unknown as his identity.

Mark Twain's complicated relationship with the typewriter

November 16th, 2018

5:41

Mark Twain first laid eyes on a “newfangled typing machine,” as he called it, sometime in the early 1870s.

Food stamps were born out of a surplus of food

November 15th, 2018

6:06

The idea of food stamps was born out of a complicated paradox.

The first lady who couldn’t get her memoir published

November 13th, 2018

5:27

Julia Grant didn't a have particularly good experience in the world of publishing. In fact, her memoir wasn’t even published in her lifetime.

Joachim Ronneberg, the saboteur who crippled Nazi atomic bomb project

November 12th, 2018

5:02

Ronneberg started speaking about his experience in history in recent years.

America and warfare were never the same after World War I

November 9th, 2018

4:55

Along with staggering death tolls, the "Great War" generated memorable literature, geopolitical upheaval, hope, disillusion, the Russian Revolution …

Wong Kim Ark's Supreme Court fight for birthright citizenship

November 8th, 2018

6:25

In 1895, the United States tried to deny an American citizen entry to the country even though he was born on U.S. soil.

The makings of an electoral heist

November 6th, 2018

6:48

Gerrymandering became a real electoral cudgel with a project called REDMAP.

Rahm Emanuel, Howard Dean and the midterm elections of 2006

November 5th, 2018

5:37

Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had two different approaches to taking back the House of …

Mary Ann Van Hoof and the Marian apparitions

November 1st, 2018

6:04

Van Hoof said she also has seen George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc.

Close encounters with the Capitol’s Demon Cat

October 31st, 2018

4:22

From the mid-1800s to well into the 20th century, the Capitol’s Demon Cat was the top dog of Washington ghost stories.

How Pittsburgh's Mister Rogers talked to children about tragedy

October 30th, 2018

6:42

Mister Rogers’s approach to dealing with grief began with an American tragedy.

New York's mad bomber

October 29th, 2018

7:20

In 1956, New York City’s bomb squad used criminal profiling to catch a terrorist known as “The Mad Bomber.”

The sword pulled from history

October 26th, 2018

4:38

An 8-year-old found an ancient sword in a Swedish lake. Does that make her the queen?

A love supreme: Ruth Bader and Martin Ginsburg

October 25th, 2018

6:06

She was short. He was tall. Her family wasn't well off. His was. She was a worrier. He had not a care in the world. If you looked up mismatch in the dictionary, Ruth Bader and Martin D. Ginsburg fit the definition …

The unstoppable Fannie Lou Hamer

October 24th, 2018

5:42

Civil rights crusader Fannie Lou Hamer rivaled Martin Luther King Jr. in her command of audiences.

The Sultan of Swat wasn’t always known as a slugger

October 23rd, 2018

4:21

Before becoming a legendary big hitter, Babe Ruth was one of baseball’s best from the mound.

Big Bird and the genius inside

October 22nd, 2018

6:03

Caroll Spinney and his iconic character were inseparable for almost 50 years.

Woodrow Wilson's secret letters to another woman

October 19th, 2018

5:55

Family and friends had known about the president’s intimate relationship with Mary Peck for years, but whispers about their involvement were growing.

The metamorphosis of Jackie O

October 18th, 2018

6:04

As Jacqueline Kennedy transitioned from wife-in-chief to widow-in-mourning, there was tension between whom she had been and whom she was allowed to become.

The body of Emmett Till

October 17th, 2018

4:03

Emmett Till’s mother opened his casket and sparked the civil rights movement.

The photographer and the busboy

October 16th, 2018

5:25

Photographer Boris Yaro shot the photo of Bobby Kennedy lying fatally wounded in the arms of Juan Romero, a busboy. The photo would haunt both of …

The Romanovs, Russia's 'odious' autocratic family

October 15th, 2018

5:55

If you think your family is overrun with controlling lunatics, please meet the Romanovs.

The gory origins of the Waterloo teeth

October 12th, 2018

4:29

More than 50,000 soldiers died during the Battle of Waterloo, but their teeth lived on.

How the teddy bear was born

October 11th, 2018

4:46

In the fall of 1902, a year into his presidency, President Teddy Roosevelt set off to Mississippi for a bear-hunting vacation. It ended differently than planned.

The first black female White House reporter held the powerful accountable on civil rights

October 10th, 2018

5:09

It was rare to be a woman or African American covering the White House in the 1940s. Alice Dunnigan was both.

The teenage girl who caught a Nazi monster

October 9th, 2018

6:06

In the fall of 1957, as the world was moving on from World War II and the extermination of 6 million Jews, Sylvia Hermann knocked on the door of a modest home in Buenos Aires.

The assassin who wore braids and killed Nazis

October 5th, 2018

5:15

Freddie Oversteegen was 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance, though with her long, dark hair in braids she looked at least two years younger.

The surprising history of the 25th Amendment

October 4th, 2018

6:19

The 25th Amendment passed after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

In the 1850s, navigating Ice Alley was deadly for ships

October 3rd, 2018

5:21

Despite warnings of icebergs, the John Rutledge set sail from Liverpool, England, to New York.

America’s forgotten Iranian hostage

October 2nd, 2018

4:45

Nine months before the Iran hostage crisis, Kenneth Kraus was held hostage in Iran for eight days.

The heroine of Lime Rock Lighthouse

October 1st, 2018

3:59

Ida Lewis saved as many as 25 people during her service at the lighthouse. But her deeds have largely been forgotten.

How accusations against Supreme Court nominees were once handled

September 28th, 2018

4:26

In 1890, Henry Brown sailed through the confirmation process after being accused of shooting and killing someone in self defense.

The man and the coconut that saved JFK

September 27th, 2018

4:35

William Liebenow rescued John F. Kennedy from an island filled with coconuts.

Rosie the Riveter isn’t who you think she is

September 26th, 2018

4:28

An American in the 1940s would not recognize the woman from the “We Can Do It!” poster as Rosie the Riveter.

The presidential pardon the country never forgot

September 25th, 2018

5:21

When Gerald Ford took over the presidency after Richard Nixon’s resignation, he soon made a controversial choice: He pardoned Nixon.

How Anita Hill’s testimony led to the "Year of the Woman"

September 24th, 2018

5:53

No women served on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. The ugly Anita Hill hearings changed that.

The thin-skinned president who made it illegal to criticize his office

September 21st, 2018

5:07

The Alien and Sedition Acts passed under President John Adams led to the arrests of more than two dozen people.

The photographer who helped end child labor in America

September 20th, 2018

5:23

Lewis Hine posed as a Bible salesman or machinery photographer to expose the hardships of child labor.

Only half of George Washington’s Supreme Court justices showed up on time

September 19th, 2018

5:19

All of George Washington’s Supreme Court nominees were confirmed in only two days, but half of them didn't show up on time.

The day the nation's capital welcomed the KKK

September 17th, 2018

5:02

In 1925, 30,000 Klansmen descended on Washington, D.C. The city cheered their arrival.

The search for the anonymous author of a 1996 political novel

September 14th, 2018

5:47

Before an unnamed senior official in the Trump administration published the opinion piece, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration" in the New York Times, another mysterious anonymous author lit up …

The surprise hurricane that devastated the Florida Keys

September 13th, 2018

4:17

In 1935, the Florida Keys ignored the threat of a looming hurricane. When the Category 5 storm made landfall, it left a wake of death and destruction.

How a solar eclipse made Albert Einstein famous

September 12th, 2018

4:54

It may be hard to believe, but one single event rocketed Einstein to fame.

The rookie pilot who was ready to give her life on Sept. 11

September 11th, 2018

5:08

Heather Penney was among the first female combat pilots in the country. On Sept. 11, 2001, she got a mission: Bring down the fourth hijacked plane hurtling towards Washington.

Abraham Lincoln says he owes everything to his ‘angel mother’ and ‘mama’

September 10th, 2018

5:27

President Abraham Lincoln had two loving and supportive mothers in his lifetime. The second helped him cope with the tragic loss of the first.

The story of the real Charlotte of ‘Charlotte's Web’

September 7th, 2018

5:50

This episode is co-hosted by Madeline Daly, who won Retropod trivia last Saturday at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Roe v. Wade’s forgotten loser

September 6th, 2018

4:46

Dallas prosecutor Henry Wade never intended to become a central figure in Supreme Court history.

The French aviators who almost beat Charles Lindbergh

September 5th, 2018

4:30

In 1927, the world watched as two French aviators attempted the world’s first transatlantic flight.

The campus massacre before Kent State

September 4th, 2018

5:09

The first mass police shooting on a U.S. college campus happened two years before the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent …

The time the United States illegally deported 1 million Mexican Americans

September 3rd, 2018

5:45

In 1931, President Herbert Hoover started a program that would result in the illegal deportation of 1.8 million people to Mexico by the end of the …

The Quaker abolitionist who was disowned for condemning slave owners

August 31st, 2018

6:48

Benjamin Lay wrote one of the first treatises against slavery in Colonial America, a time when many prosperous Pennsylvania Quakers were slave …

Ida B. Wells, the woman who never gave up

August 30th, 2018

6:17

Ida B. Wells was an investigative journalist, an anti-lynching activist, a suffragette and a teacher.

How a Supreme Court clerk changed the decision on Clay v. United States

August 29th, 2018

6:06

Muhammad Ali was so close to going to jail for evading the draft. He has a Supreme Court clerk to thank for his freedom.

Colonel Blood, the scoundrel who tried to steal Great Britain's crown jewels

August 28th, 2018

3:53

Thomas Blood had somewhat of a shady past. According to Ireland’s History magazine, he had a reputation for espionage and conducting terrorist campaigns — though many of his plans were foiled just in time.

Being a maverick almost stopped John McCain from becoming a public servant

August 27th, 2018

4:38

At the Naval Academy, McCain was in a group called the “Bad Bunch” as he rebelled against his father’s expectations.

Paul Jennings, the former slave who disputed a legend from history

August 24th, 2018

4:23

According to James Madison’s Virginia mansion Montpelier, Paul Jennings’ account reveals, “how the racial and gender hierarchies of the time …

What Operation Pied Piper taught us about family separations

August 23rd, 2018

5:01

Millions of British children were evacuated from London and other cities to escape the horrors of war. But the family separations seemed to impart long-term trauma that was in many cases as severe as if they had stayed …

Reagan's most historic speech took a few years to make an impact

August 22nd, 2018

3:40

When President Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” it was not seen as a historic moment. It took the actual fall of the wall to …

A president’s lions and the emoluments clause

August 21st, 2018

5:15

The greatest emoluments-clause dilemma of the 1800s involved two lions.

How Harry S. Truman went from being a racist to desegregating the military

August 20th, 2018

5:52

When Harry Truman became president in 1945, Southern members of Congress were delighted. They thought he’d be sympathetic to segregationists. He proved them wrong.

The long-lost 'Laws of Baseball'

August 17th, 2018

4:32

On display in Washington, D.C. are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and another document that details a fundamental institution in American life: baseball.

The congressman who shot a waiter

August 16th, 2018

4:38

A hungry congressman didn’t get the breakfast he ordered. So he shot the waiter.

The time Truman met with Stalin and it went well

August 15th, 2018

4:50

Back in 1941, a get-together that should have been fraught with uneasiness didn't turn out that way, which is surprising given the participants: …

Meet Paul Manafort’s century-old forefather, who also liked fancy suits

August 14th, 2018

4:52

Samuel Cutler Ward, also known as the “King of the Lobby,” is credited with shaping the craft of lobbying. And like lobbyist and former Trump …

An aviation flop was a stamp collector’s dream and the U.S. Postal Service’s nightmare

August 13th, 2018

4:53

A stamp collector’s discovery of the “Inverted Jenny” stamp created a headache for the U.S. Postal Service.

How Mister Rogers talked to children and families about tragedy

August 10th, 2018

6:28

Mister Rogers’s approach to dealing with tragedy began with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

The storied past of Alderson federal women’s prison

August 9th, 2018

4:13

The Alderson Federal Prison Camp has a history filled with powerful women who both pushed for the walls to be built there and served time within them.

Rebels, turn out your dead!

August 8th, 2018

4:32

During the American Revolution, more patriots died as prisoners of war in or around New York City than died in combat.

The Saturday Night Massacre

August 7th, 2018

4:46

The one night that changed President Nixon’s fate has stuck with us as a reminder of the limits of presidential power.

The dark history of the pill

August 6th, 2018

4:27

A group of poor women in Puerto Rico were the first test subjects for the birth control pill. Were they guinea pigs or pioneers?

Meet Yvonne Burke, the first congresswoman to give birth in office

August 3rd, 2018

3:57

Sixty years after Congress welcomed its first woman, it welcomed its first baby.

The unlikely start of the Boy Scout movement

August 2nd, 2018

4:37

The Boy Scout movement began 110 years ago on a tiny island just off the southern coast of England.

How the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds began

August 1st, 2018

4:48

The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding the Rothschild family date all the way back to The Battle of Waterloo.

The first campus shooting

July 31st, 2018

4:15

A professor at The University of Virginia was fatally shot by a student in 1840.

How God became part of the pledge

July 30th, 2018

4:25

For over 50 years, the phrase “under God” was not a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. One sermon changed that.

How a textile shortage led to the invention of the bikini

July 27th, 2018

4:27

This episode addresses the history of the bikini in, naturally, two parts.

The complicated story of Linda Brown and the fight for desegregated schools

July 26th, 2018

3:58

Linda Brown and her father Oliver Brown are heroes of the civil rights movement. The backstory of the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of …

The time a senator won an Emmy for grilling witnesses at a hearing

July 25th, 2018

4:40

In 1951, a televised Senate hearing caught America’s attention.

The rainless flood that destroyed a city

July 24th, 2018

4:41

It did not rain, at least not in Ellicott City, Md. That’s what made the 1868 flood so bizarre and unexpected.

How a renovation made the Supreme Court a friendlier place

July 23rd, 2018

4:29

One simple change to how the Supreme Court bench was designed made a world of difference to how the justices communicated.

The Mountaintop

July 20th, 2018

4:48

On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were protesting for their civil rights. It was there that King delivered his last speech.

The most romantic day

July 19th, 2018

3:52

From all over the country, couples rushed to Las Vegas to get married. The demand for quickie weddings was at a fever pitch. But it wasn't Cupid's arrow causing the frenzy. It was the Vietnam War.

The night America burned

July 18th, 2018

4:03

The deadliest wildfire in U.S. history wasn’t in California.

All the presidents' ghosts

July 17th, 2018

3:21

Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the many accounts that have spilled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over two centuries give ghosts an undeniable place in the country’s history.

Don't mess with Harriet Tubman

July 16th, 2018

4:46

She was just 5 feet tall. There was once a $40,000 bounty on her head. She suffered seizures throughout her life. She never gave up. She never gave in.

The epic bender that launched America

July 13th, 2018

3:47

Washington and his fellow partiers racked up a bill of $15,000 in today’s currency celebrating the completion of the Constitution.

A Supreme Court justice morally opposed abortion, but voted to legalize it

July 12th, 2018

5:36

The justice who helped persuade a majority of the Supreme Court to legalize abortion found the practice unthinkable — personally, but not constitutionally.

Eartha Kitt confronted the first lady and it nearly ruined her career

July 11th, 2018

4:56

At a White House luncheon, actress Eartha Kitt would not let the president or the first lady avoid the issue of the Vietnam War. She paid a heavy …

Oregon, America’s first and only state to begin as "whites-only"

July 10th, 2018

4:53

Oregon’s original constitution banned black people from the state, and the law stayed in the constitution for well over 100 years.

How Eleanor Roosevelt invented the modern idea of a first lady

July 9th, 2018

4:23

Eleanor Roosevelt held news conferences just for female reporters. The men were not impressed.

The teen who tied a Virginia election

July 5th, 2018

3:31

In 1971, Stephen Burns was 18 years old and a newly minted voter. He was so jazzed to be a part of the Democratic process.

Thomas Jefferson's last letter

July 4th, 2018

3:15

Somehow, in the depths of his personal misery towards the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson had found his powerful way with words again.

The U.S. government recruited black men to watch them die

July 3rd, 2018

4:09

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment is a horrific piece of American history.

The deaf men who helped NASA send humans to space

July 2nd, 2018

3:55

In a largely forgotten experiment, a group of students from Gallaudet University spent years helping NASA understand the mechanisms of motion sickness, and how to prevent it.

That time we thought an asteroid might kill us all

June 29th, 2018

3:22

In 1998, the world briefly panicked over an asteroid that seemed headed for a close call with Earth. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

The femme fatale

June 28th, 2018

4:05

For the past 100 years, Mata Hari has been revered as the quintessential glamorous spy. But the real Mata Hari was much more complicated.

The first congresswoman’s vote

June 27th, 2018

5:02

In April 1917, Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, faced an agonizing choice. Should she, or should she not, vote for the United …

How Hollywood’s first major blockbuster revived the KKK

June 26th, 2018

4:35

"The Birth of a Nation" depicted life after the Civil War in a way that glorified Klansmen. The film and its cultural impact led one man to conclude …

The first pride parade

June 25th, 2018

3:28

The very first pride parade was held in 1964 and was a bit … calmer … than what we think of today.

The oldest surviving banjo recording

June 22nd, 2018

5:57

Charles Asbury’s newly digitized songs serve as a time capsule to the music of the 19th century.

The worst presidents

June 21st, 2018

5:02

Besides President Trump, whom do scholars scorn the most?

Doughnuts, the most patriotic of the junk foods

June 20th, 2018

3:18

Doughnuts aren’t just delicious. They also helped America win a war.

The first shark attacks

June 19th, 2018

4:20

For most of American history, no one was scared of sharks. One week - and one shark - changed that.

Between Lincoln and Washington, only one was a great poet

June 18th, 2018

4:19

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two great presidents, had a lot in common: Both lost a parent as a child, both had a serious demeanor, and …

This security guard discovered the Watergate break-in, but nobody remembers him

June 15th, 2018

3:14

The man who called the police on the Watergate burglars never received the credit he deserved.

Thomas Jefferson’s iftar dinner and the long history of Ramadan at the White House

June 14th, 2018

3:11

In December 1805, a handful of prominent politicians receive invitations to join President Thomas Jefferson for a White House dinner. The occasion …

The biscuit tin

June 13th, 2018

3:21

It’s World War II, and you’re King George VI of England. You fear a Nazi invasion of England could come at any moment. How do you protect the crown …

Before Loving, another interracial couple fought to marry

June 12th, 2018

3:50

The Kinneys married in Washington, D.C. in 1874. Then, they were arrested back home in Virginia for violating the state’s laws. They fought the …

The Jedwabne massacre

June 11th, 2018

3:42

The controversy around the murders of a Polish village's Jewish residents has centered on raw questions of complicity versus compulsion.

Tennis's first goddess

June 8th, 2018

3:08

Suzanne Lenglen was physically ferocious. Always fashionable. A disrupter of convention.

The White House makeover

June 7th, 2018

3:54

When the White House was built over 200 years ago, it lacked certain modern conveniences. They got added in a hodgepodge of improvements over the years.

The Order of the Day

June 6th, 2018

4:08

On the day before D-Day, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech to the troops that totally masked how nervous he actually was.

The “temporary insanity” legal defense started with an affair

June 5th, 2018

4:11

If you love gossip, and drama, and D.C. politics - this story is the gift that keeps on giving.

History’s most fascinating misquote

June 4th, 2018

3:45

The Apollo 13 astronauts never said “Houston we have a problem.” Here’s why you think they did.

Mourning Bobby Kennedy

June 1st, 2018

5:30

Robert F. Kennedy's death, which came just weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., shocked the nation, especially those who looked to him to continue the national discussion over racial inequality.

The black power protest that shook the world

May 31st, 2018

2:57

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, one of the most iconic moments of that chaotic year unfolded on television screens around the world.

LBJ's political bombshell

May 30th, 2018

5:04

By 1968, things were going badly for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Morale around the Vietnam War was sinking, and in Washington, political sharks were …

One broadcast helped turn Americans against the Vietnam War

May 29th, 2018

4:45

Walter Cronkite's reputation, his calm but authoritative voice, carried so much weight that in 1968 one single report helped persuade the American public that we weren’t winning the war in Vietnam.

The performance that saved Johnny Cash's career

May 28th, 2018

4:52

In a year of extraordinary, chaotic moments this was a hopeful one - a beat-up country music star recording an album live at a troubled maximum …

Publishers hated ‘A Wrinkle in Time,' and Madeleine L'Engle never forgot the rejections

May 25th, 2018

4:04

'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle said she received 26 rejection letters from publishers.

When Ronald Reagan visited a family targeted by the KKK

May 24th, 2018

3:48

In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan wasn’t exactly known for his racial sensitivity. But when he read about a family whose house was targeted by the KKK, he and the First Lady flew out to comfort them.

The Nazi stone

May 23rd, 2018

4:20

A mysterious stone memorial was found in 2006 in Washington, D.C. But who placed a memorial to Nazi spies on government property? And why?

Elaine Brown, the first and only woman to lead the Black Panther Party

May 22nd, 2018

3:34

Elaine Brown's takeover in 1974 was a pivotal moment for a woman in the black power movement. Although women had been a dynamic force for social and racial justice, they had often been overshadowed by men.

The man who filmed JFK's assassination

May 21st, 2018

3:16

For many, memories of that devastating day quickly revert to that silent, flickering sequence captured by Abraham Zapruder. It is as chilling as it is familiar: the approaching convertible, the waves of a crowd about to …

Princess Diana's final hours

May 18th, 2018

4:01

When Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle are married this weekend, there will be one other royal on the world’s minds - Harry’s mother, the beloved Princess Diana.

The enigmatic Prince Philip - separating fact from fiction

May 17th, 2018

4:08

The British royal wedding puts all eyes on the Windsor family - this time, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. But perhaps no royal is as controversial as Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip.

Wallis Simpson, the last American divorcee who married a British royal

May 16th, 2018

3:37

Another British royal wedding is coming up, so over the next few days, we'll explore a few moments from the history of royal marriages in Great Britain. Today, we meet Wallis Simpson, the last American divorcee to marry …

The truth is out there

May 15th, 2018

4:38

Area 51's secrets may not be alien in nature, but that doesn't make them any less mysterious.

John Brown's prophecy

May 14th, 2018

3:45

Abolitionist John Brown wrote made a prophecy before he was executed.

The Sullivan brothers

May 10th, 2018

3:41

Five brothers fought and died together on the same ship during World War II. Their final resting place was discovered earlier this year.

Lee Harvey Oswald's final hours before killing Kennedy

May 9th, 2018

3:54

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy devastated the nation. But the day before the shooting was just a normal day. It was particularly calm …

To ban a "Mockingbird"

May 8th, 2018

4:04

Harper Lee's classic novel has been causing controversy for as long as its been in print. Here's a look at the history of banning "To Kill a Mockingbird."

The original Alcoholics Anonymous book was auctioned for millions, but its author was never paid

May 7th, 2018

4:30

The original manuscript was auctioned off for $2.4 million this weekend to an NFL owner, after almost a year of legal wrangling.

May the Fourth be with you

May 4th, 2018

5:06

Mark Hamill himself shares stories from Star Wars history. You can hear the full interview with Hamill on the Cape Up podcast with Jonathan Capehart.

The battle between Old Waddy and the press

May 3rd, 2018

3:15

Believe it or not, the relationship between politicians and the press has been worse. A lot worse.

Were the Duke of Windsor and Adolf Hitler friends?

May 2nd, 2018

3:59

Was the duke a Nazi sympathizer? Did he plot to dethrone his brother, King George VI? Did he really suggest more German bombing of Britain might end World War II?

Need a job? Ask Ulysses S. Grant

May 1st, 2018

3:18

Grant had an impressive resume on the battlefield, he was known to be a patsy when it came to helping job hunters. People used to walk right into the White House and ask the president to find them a job

How the Doomsday Clock came to be

April 30th, 2018

3:53

The Doomsday Clock was created not by a scientist, but by an artist.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day was once just for daughters

April 27th, 2018

2:46

Mike is joined by a special guest to talk about how Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day began.

These guys were college jocks - and then became Presidents of the United States

April 26th, 2018

4:02

We dug through The Washington Post's archives and consulted the Pro Football Hall of Fame to bring you a rundown of the best presidential ballers.

The only person Hitler loved

April 25th, 2018

4:37

Adolf Hitler's mother may be the only person he genuinely cared for.

Philadelphia's plumbing revolution: wood pipes

April 24th, 2018

3:08

In 1812, Philadelphia was outfitted with the latest in plumbing technology - a network of wooden pipes to carry water throughout the city.

Chillicothe, Missouri, the town that invented sliced bread

April 23rd, 2018

3:37

The town of Chillicothe, Missouri, recently discovered they have a surprising claim to history: the creation of sliced bread.

Barbara Bush’s remarkable commencement address

April 20th, 2018

4:10

In 1990, students protested the choice of the first lady as their commencement speaker, calling it anti-feminist. Her speech silenced the critics.

The day anti-Vietnam War protesters tried to levitate the Pentagon

April 19th, 2018

3:45

In October 1967, antiwar protesters announced that they would march en masse to the front steps of the Pentagon. and levitate it.
And then they would …

The history of epic North Korean insults

April 18th, 2018

2:48

North Korea has long been a superpower when it comes verbal attacks.

Hate the IRS? Blame Abraham Lincoln.

April 17th, 2018

3:36

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was in a financial bind. Also, he was in a war. To raise money, he pushed for and won passage of an income tax …

The mother who made George Washington miserable

April 16th, 2018

4:30

George and his mother had an unusual relationship for the 1700s, more like what you might see in a sitcom from the 1970s. She was indispensable to …

Why Thurgood Marshall asked an ex-Klan member to help him make Supreme Court history

April 13th, 2018

3:31

Thurgood Marshall, the first African American member of the Supreme Court, took the constitutional oath of office from Hugo Black, a white associate justice who had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

A letter from home

April 12th, 2018

3:31

A German woman discovered that her childhood home was stolen from a Jewish family who fled Nazi Germany. Last year, she tracked down the address of …

Was Mary Todd Lincoln a leaker?

April 11th, 2018

4:06

President Abraham Lincoln had to worry about the first lady being a leaker, and it was quite a scandal.

Winifred Stanley, a forgotten equal pay pioneer

April 10th, 2018

3:28

The woman who first introduced equal pay legislation in Congress had to fight to be taken seriously -- and often failed.

The invention of sarin

April 9th, 2018

3:35

Weevils, a voracious beetle found in fields and orchards, were the original target of sarin gas.

The spy plane

April 6th, 2018

4:09

Over the past few months, historians and national security analysts have been re-examining one particular forgotten moment in the history of U.S. and …

The toughest job in politics

April 5th, 2018

2:58

The most thankless job might be that of the White House press secretary. Just ask Ron Ziegler.

The day Martin Luther King Jr. died

April 4th, 2018

7:03

Fifty years ago today, the civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. Riots broke out across the country, but in …

The Mountaintop

April 3rd, 2018

4:21

On April 3, 1968, 50 years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were protesting for their civil rights. It was there that King delivered his last speech.

The books the presidents read

April 2nd, 2018

4:11

Throughout history, the reading of books has been a sort of armchair way measuring someone's intelligence. Here are stories of three former presidents at opposite ends of the reading spectrum. You can decide for …

Egg Roll

March 30th, 2018

3:52

One day a year, the White House grounds are truly turned over to the people - well, the kids. That day is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and …

The girl who struck out Babe Ruth

March 29th, 2018

3:09

One of baseball's most enduring mysteries surrounds a 17-year-old girl name Jackie Mitchell.

The first daughters

March 28th, 2018

4:02

Ivanka Trump might be the only first daughter in American history to score a West Wing office, but she’s not the first presidential daughter to wield power in the White House.

Meet the Press

March 27th, 2018

3:26

At the beginning of the television age, “Meet the Press” dented the dominance of newspapers and thrilled news junkies with the you-were-there power of live broadcasting.

The man who won World War II

March 26th, 2018

4:13

Andrew Higgins wasn't in the Army. He wasn't a paratrooper. He was a wild and wily genius, a tough, crafty, businessman. And he built the built the boats that brought troops ashore at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The children's crusade

March 23rd, 2018

4:06

The movement organized by survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., is not the first time that kids have taken a stand. History shows that …

The forbidden question

March 22nd, 2018

3:34

If the order for a nuclear attack is issued, the soldiers operating the launch machine have no choice but to fire. Or do they?

The crooked picture

March 21st, 2018

4:00

Jesse James, the most famous outlaw in history, was eventually foiled by a picture hanging crooked on a wall.

Lawn wars

March 20th, 2018

4:46

Lawns have always been more than just grass.

Dr. Spock

March 19th, 2018

4:17

Dr. Spock - not the guy from Star Trek - was at one time America's most beloved pediatrician. A whole generation of children was raised on his …

Then they came for me

March 16th, 2018

4:32

Martin Niemoller's simple and haunting words are often quoted in moments of intolerance. The story behind them is much more complicated.

The godfather of bracketology

March 15th, 2018

3:51

Some 50 million people are projected to fill out a March Madness bracket this year. As you finish filling out yours, you might want to tip your pencil and say thanks to the late and loud Staten Island bar owner Jody …

The Limping Lady

March 14th, 2018

3:44

President Trump made history Tuesday when he nominated a woman to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. But while a woman leading the CIA was once unthinkable, female spies have made enormous, overlooked …

The first female marine

March 13th, 2018

2:37

During World War I, the Marines Corps back home needed help while the men were fighting overseas. Opha May Johnson was the first in line.

The trials and tribulations of being a cat

March 12th, 2018

2:52

Cats have endured some really mean stuff throughout history. Dogs should be thankful.

Fall back, spring forward

March 9th, 2018

3:00

Why, oh, why is daylight savings a thing? It's because for roughly two decades after World War II, no one had any clue what time it was.

The glass ceiling

March 8th, 2018

3:22

In 1978, Marilyn Loden coined a phrase that paints very image that women have been fighting for decades.

How are you, Grandmama?

March 7th, 2018

3:33

A dog and a cadaver deserve credit for their contributions to the invention of the telephone.

The night America burned

March 6th, 2018

3:37

The deadliest wildfire in U.S. history wasn’t in California.

And the winner is...

March 5th, 2018

4:51

Oscars night is probably the one moment around the world when people become really interested in envelopes.

Special delivery!

March 2nd, 2018

2:31

There’s one thing that you can’t have delivered anymore that was totally normal to send by mail in the early 1900s.

The woman behind Lisa Ben

March 1st, 2018

3:56

Edythe Eyde, also known by her pen name Lisa Ben, was a visionary who fought to make lesbians visible in pop culture decades before most others had …

The houses built by slaves

February 28th, 2018

3:13

Buildings that stand as symbols of American democracy - the White House, Mount Vernon and Monticello, to name a few - were erected with the labor of …

How the NRA began

February 27th, 2018

4:26

When the NRA was founded in 1871, its primary concern was not gun rights or the Second Amendment.

The rise of supermarkets

February 26th, 2018

3:20

If you’re like most Americans, you probably visit a grocery store once or twice a week. But you probably don’t know that one single grocery item is responsible for the rise of supermarkets as we know them.

The Green Book

February 23rd, 2018

4:21

In the 1930s, traveling the nation's highways while black was fraught with peril. One postal worker, Victor Green, wrote a guidebook for African Americans after he faced discrimination on a road trip.

The ice queen

February 22nd, 2018

4:56

Sonja Henie won three Olympic gold medals and 10 world championships, and turned her star power into as career as one of Hollywood's biggest movie …

Mrs. Graham

February 21st, 2018

4:31

Katherine Graham's leadership in the decision to release the Pentagon Papers was the subject of the Stephen Spielberg film "The Post." But it was her leadership during the pressman's strike in 1975 that is perhaps the …

The electric rivalry

February 20th, 2018

4:08

To understand the gruesome history of the death penalty, it is essential to comprehend how badly Thomas Edison wanted to zap George Westinghouse.

All the president's ghosts

February 19th, 2018

3:35

Whether you believe in this stuff or not, the many accounts that have spilled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over two centuries give ghosts an undeniable place in the country’s history.

Don't mess with Harriet Tubman

February 16th, 2018

5:14

She was just 5 feet tall. There was once a $40,000 bounty on her head. She suffered seizures throughout her life. She never gave up. She never gave in.

When Olympic silver beats gold

February 15th, 2018

4:57

Ski jumping involves flying more than 800 feet in the air and then landing on two feet, without dying. Where on earth did this sport come from?

The most romantic day

February 14th, 2018

3:41

From all over the country, couples rushed to Las Vegas to get married. The demand for quickie weddings was at a fever pitch. But it wasn't Cupid's arrow causing the frenzy. It was the Vietnam War.

The best birthday card ever

February 13th, 2018

3:10

In 1926, the United States received a birthday card signed by 5.5 million Polish people.

What hath God wrought?

February 12th, 2018

4:08

The history of social media began in 1844, when Samuel F.B. Morse sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. It said, "What hath God wrought?"

Introducing 'Retropod'

February 7th, 2018

3:40

Preview The Washington Post's newest daily podcast, a show about the past, rediscovered. Subscribe now to get the first episode when it launches February 12.

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