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The Librarian's Almanac

94 EpisodesProduced by Elizabeth NymanWebsite

The Librarian's Almanac is a daily podcast curated by a professional librarian that looks back into that day's history for literature, letters, and journalism to help us better understand the past in a new way.

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Housekeeping: Hiatus

October 1st, 2020


Need to take a hiatus from our daily cadence for the rest of 2020

September 30: A Psychopathic Killer in Kansas

September 30th, 2020


On this day in 1924 the author, Truman Capote, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.

Listen to the newspaper article that sent him …

September 29: Billionaires are Bad

September 29th, 2020


On this day in 1916, American oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller becomes the world's first billionaire.

Over the years, the attitudes of Americans and …

September 28: Ye Cannot Swerve Me

September 28th, 2020


On this day in 1891, the author, Herman Melville, passed away in New York City in the United States.

Hear the musical language Melville employs in his novel, Moby-Dick, to emphasize the madness of Captain Ahab.

Today is …

September 27: A Beautiful Theory

September 27th, 2020


On this day in 1905, Albert Einstein's paper "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?” is published, introducing the equation E=mc² and the Special theory of relativity.

Learn about Einstein's life, …

September 26: An Instrument of Your Peace

September 26th, 2020


On this day in 1181, Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order in the Catholic Church, was born in Assisi, in what is now Italy.

September 25: Seeing the Ending

September 25th, 2020


On this day in 1897, American author, William Faulkner, was born in New Albany, Mississippi, in the United States.

Learn about the world Faulkner …

September 24: Something Gorgeous About Him

September 24th, 2020


On this day in 1896, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in the United States.

Listen to the opening paragraphs of his famous …

September 23: We Women are the Most Unfortunate

September 23rd, 2020


On this day in 480 BC, Euripides was born in Salamis, Greece.

Listen to the monologues of one of his gifts to western theater, Medea, criticizing the …

September 22: Shall be Then, Thenceforward, and Forever Free

September 22nd, 2020


On this day in 1862, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American President, issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Listen to the entire document, which began …

September 21: Kill Your Darlings

September 21st, 2020


On this day in 1947, Stephen King is born in Maine.

Listen to his rules for writers from his memoir and writing guide. Wannabe novelists, these rules …

September 20: Feeding an Island

September 20th, 2020


On this day in 2017, Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico.

Listen to an excerpt from the first-hand account of Chef Jose Andres when he flew down to Puerto Rico to help.

Today is September 20, 2020.

This is the …

September 19: So I Never Forget

September 19th, 2020


On this day in the Jewish calendar in 2020 is Rosh Hashanah. It acts as the first of the Jewish High Holy Days specified in the book of Leviticus …

September 18: How She Loved Him

September 18th, 2020


On this day in 1846, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning exchange their last letters to each other before they move to Italy.

Listen to the words of one of those letters from Elizabeth, giving a glimpse into the …

September 17: Didn't Take No Stuff

September 17th, 2020


On this day in 1849, the American abolitionist, Harriet Tubman, escapes from slavery.

Listen to the American poet, Eloise Greenfield, capture …

September 16: People, I've paid my dues

September 16th, 2020


On this day in 1925, B.B. King,  American blues artist, was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi.

Listen to the pain-filled lyrics of one of his songs, “Why I Sing the Blues”.

Today is September 16, 2020.

This is the …

September 15: Murder on the Nile

September 15th, 2020


On this day in 1890, Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in the United Kingdom.

Listen to the settling being placed for one of her beloved novels, Murder on the Nile.

Today is September 15, 2020.

This is the Librarian’s …

September 14: Thank You for Being a Friend

September 14th, 2020


On this day in 1985 "The Golden Girls", starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, debuts on NBC.

Listen to one of many …

September 13: A Good Sensible Loving Child

September 13th, 2020


On this day in 1916, Roald Dahl is born in Llandaff, Cardiff in Wales.

Listen to an excerpt from his famous work, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

September 12: These relics, bless.

September 12th, 2020


On this day in 2012, excavators announced they likely found the remains of King Richard III of England under a carpark (parking lot for my fellow non-Bostonian Americans) in Leicester.

Listen to the poem that was read …

September 11: One Last Goodbye

September 11th, 2020


On this day in 2001, four coordinated terrorist attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States, killing 2,996 people and injuring …

September 10: The Truth is Out There

September 10th, 2020


On this day in 1993  "The X-Files", created by Chris Carter and starring Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, debuts on Fox.

Listen to an excerpt from the episode, which set the stage for Duchovny’s character’s motive …

September 9: War and Peace

September 9th, 2020


On this day in 1828, Leo Tolstoy is born at Yasnaya Polyana, his family's estate in Russia.

Listen to the opening of his famous book, War and Peace, …

September 8: The Right to Live

September 8th, 2020


On this day in 1966, Star Trek premieres with its first-aired episode, "The Man Trap".

Listen to an excerpt of the episode and learn about part of the show’s approach to serious moral topics.

Today is September 8 2020.

September 7: African Prayer

September 7th, 2020


On this day in 1986, Desmond Tutu becomes the first black man to lead the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa.

Listen to part of his book, An African Prayer Book, and get a glimpse into Tutu as a religious …

September 6: A City Upon a Hill

September 6th, 2020


On this day in 1628 Puritans with the Massachusetts Bay Colony land at Salem.

Learn about the theological beliefs that encouraged them on through …

September 5: Justice for Rappe

September 5th, 2020


On this day in 1921, a Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle party in San Francisco ends with the death of the young actress Virginia Rappe.

Learn about the scandal details and how it affected (and didn’t affect) Arbuckle’s career.

September 4: Beyoncé

September 4th, 2020


On this day in 1981 Beyoncé Knowles Carter was born in Houston, Texas.

Learn about her attraction to feminism philosophy and its influence on her work in the 2010s.

Today is September 4, 2020.

This is the Librarian’s …

September 3: Knowledge is Power

September 3rd, 2020


On this day in 1838, the famed abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, escaped from slavery.

Listen to his first-hand account about his experience being a …

September 2: Song of Beren and Lúthien

September 2nd, 2020


On this day in 1973, J. R. R. Tolkien died in Bournemouth in the United Kingdom. He is best remembered as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of …

September 1: Death Poetry

September 1st, 2020


On this day in 1945, the Japanese formally surrendered to the United States aboard USS Missouri. This officially marks the end of World War II. Shortly before this defeat General Tadamichi Kuribayashi wrote three death …

August 31: Goodbye England's Rose

August 31st, 2020


On this day in 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris.

Listen to the reimagined lyrics for “Candle in the Wind,” which her friend, Elton John, arranged for her funeral.

Today is August 31, 2020.

August 30: Some Semblance of Justice

August 30th, 2020


On this day in 1800, rebel leader, Gabriel Prosser, is forced to postpone a planned slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia, because of rain.

Listen to the newspaper article from when he was pardoned centuries later in …

August 29: Her Floating Ribs, Her Spleen & Backbone

August 29th, 2020


On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina makes its second landfall over southeast Louisiana and Mississippi.

Listen to “Requiem” by Yusef Komunyakaa, written in memory to the destruction and effects of the storm on the …

August 28: A Wreath for Emmett Till

August 28th, 2020


On this day in 1955, a young teen named Emmett Till is brutally murdered by a mob of white supremacists in Mississippi.

Listen to selected sonnets by …

August 27: Something Fearful

August 27th, 2020


On this day in 1883, west of Java in Indonesia, the volcano, Krakatoa, violently erupts.

Listen to a first-hand account of the immense destruction …

August 26: ’Cause I’m a Woman Phenomenally.

August 26th, 2020


On this day in 1920, the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution took effect. It gives women the right to vote.

Listen to the other making power that is given work. Listen about a woman talking her own power in …

August 25: A Paradise

August 25th, 2020


On this day in 1916, the National Park Service is created in the United States.

Listen to a poem commissioned for the National Park Service Centennial by the Academy of American Poets. It is called “And the Old Man …

August 24: The Great Perhaps

August 24th, 2020


On this day in 1977, American author, John Green, is born in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States.

Listen to an excerpt from his first …

August 23: Scots Wha Hae

August 23rd, 2020


On this day in 1305, William Wallace is executed for high treason at Smithfield, London.  His execution is credited with spurring Scotland's subsequent uprising against England lead by Robert the Bruce.

Learn about …

August 22: Provenance, Authenticity, and Legal Title

August 22nd, 2020


On this day in 2004, two paintings by Edvard Munch, versions of The Scream and Madonna, were stolen at gunpoint from a museum in Oslo, Norway.

Learn …

August 21: Know When to Fold 'Em

August 21st, 2020


On this day in 1938, Kenny Rogers was born in Houston, Texas.

Listen to what made his career a success and the lyrics of one of his best known recordings, The Gambler.

Today is August 21, 2020.

This is the Librarian’s …

August 20: Willingly Immersed Himself into Controversy

August 20th, 2020


On this day in 1920, The National Football League is first organized in Canton, Ohio, under the name the American Professional Football Conference.

August 19: Before, 
a Witch.

August 19th, 2020


On this day in 1612, the "Samlesbury witches", three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury, England, are put on trial. It becomes one of the most famous witch trials in British history. Eighty years later in …

August 18: CROATOAN

August 18th, 2020


On this day in 1587, Virginia Dare, the first English child born in a New World English colony, is born on Roanoke Island in what would become North …

August 17: All Animals Were Equal

August 17th, 2020


On this day in 1945, George Orwell first published his novella Animal Farm.

Learn about how Orwell used Animal farm to criticize Joseph Stalin and …

August 16: Always on My Mind

August 16th, 2020


On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley died in Memphis, TN at his Graceland estate.

Listen to the lyrics of a song he recorded during one of the saddest moments of his life, "Always on My Mind".

Today is August 16, 2020.

August 15: This is What Good Cooking is All About

August 15th, 2020


On this day in 1912, Julia Child was born in Pasadena, California.

Learn about her early days in France and how that directly impacted her approach …

August 14: Consistency is Key

August 14th, 2020


On this day in 1947, American romance writer, Danielle Steel was born in New York City.

Listen to how consistency and ritual have helped make it possible for her to keep up her reputation for constantly publishing.

August 13: The Gathering Storm

August 13th, 2020


On this day in 1946, the science fiction writer H.G. Wells, passed away.

Learn where his work tied into some of the political events of his time, …

August 12: Oh My Gawd, Becky

August 12th, 2020


On this day in 1963, Anthony L. Ray (Sir Mix-a-Lot) was born in Auburn, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Learn about the reverberations of his iconic work, “Baby Got Back”, and what it meant personally to him verses …

August 11: Give the world the best you have anyway

August 11th, 2020


On this day in 1942, Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil receive a patent for a frequency hopping system that Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and many wireless …

August 10: Thanks for the Museum!

August 10th, 2020


On this day in 1846, the United States Congress chartered The Smithsonian Institution.

Listen to part of James Smithson’s will, which bequeathed the money for founding the Institution.

Today is August 10, 2020.

This is …

August 9: Will you, won't you want me to make you

August 9th, 2020


On this day in 1969, Charles Manson cult members murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and guests at her home.

Listen for yourself the lyrics of Helter …

August 8: First to the Pole

August 8th, 2020


On this day in 1866, Matthew Alexander Henson, the first person to reach the geographic North Pole, was born in Maryland in the United States.

Learn …

August 7: What Makes a Serial Killer

August 7th, 2020


On this day in 1560, Elizabeth Báthory, a notorious serial killer and Hungarian aristocrat, was born.

Hear a sampling of her horrific crimes and how the FBI standardizes the classification of serial killers today

Today …

August 6: Break, Break, Break

August 6th, 2020


On this day in 1809, Alfred Tennyson, the famous English poet, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, England.

Learn how his poetry could become deeply …

August 5: Death by...

August 5th, 2020


On this day in 1962, Marilyn Monroe is found dead at her home.

Learn how her death was not easily accepted as a suicide or accidental, remaining shrouded in conspiracy to this day.

Today is August 5, 2020.

This is the …

August 4: Lizzie Borden Took an Ax...

August 4th, 2020


On this day in 1892,  Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother are found hacked to death in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Listen to the …

August 3: Olympic Glory Vs Nazis

August 3rd, 2020


On this day in 1936, Jesse Owens wins the 100 meter dash at the Berlin Olympics in Nazi Germany.

Listen to the New York Times announcing the win and how the world looked at Hilter’s high hopes crushed on the sidelines.

August 2: This World is White No Longer

August 2nd, 2020


On this day in 1924, James Baldwin was born in New York City. Over his career, he made a reputation for himself as a writer, poet, and civil rights …

August 1: Video Killed the Radio Star and Internet Killed Video

August 1st, 2020


On this day in 1981, MTV aired its first video, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles. MTV completely changed the entertainment industry. The …

July 31: Yer a Wizard!

July 31st, 2020


On this day in 1990 (or 1991, depending on who you believe on HP lore), Hagrid tells Harry Potter he’s a wizard on Harry’s 11th birthday.

Listen to the passage where Hagrid tells Harry in Harry Potter and the …

July 30: When Love is a Horror Story

July 30th, 2020


On this day in 1818, Emily Brontë was born in the town of Thornton in the United Kingdom.

Learn how her most famous work, Wuthering Heights, is less …

July 29: Walking Along the Cosmic Ocean

July 29th, 2020


On this day in 1958, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Learn about the dreams of Carl Sagan to …

July 28: The Tale of Peter Rabbit

July 28th, 2020


On this day in 1866, Beatrix Potter, is born in Kensington, a London borough.

Listen to the whole of one of her most notable works, The Tale of Peter …

July 27: The Stupidest Song Ever

July 27th, 2020


On this day in 1995, the Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. in West Potomac Park, southeast of the Lincoln Memorial. July …

July 26: Barbra is the end!

July 26th, 2020


On this day in 1928 Stanley Kubrick, the famed American filmmaker, is born in New York City.

Learn about his everyday correspondences with his …

July 25: The Philosophy of Wikileaks

July 25th, 2020


On this day in 2010, an organization called WikiLeaks published classified documents about the War in Afghanistan.

Learn about the aftermath of one of the largest leaks in U.S. military history and how affected American …

July 24: My Family Starts where Yours Ends

July 24th, 2020


On this day in 1802, Alexandre Dumas, French novelist, was born in Villers-Cotterêts, France.

Learn about Dumas’s experiences with racial prejudice through reports about his life and also his masterpiece about revenge, …

July 23: A Letter to a Friend

July 23rd, 2020


On this day in 1829, in the United States, William Austin Burt patented the typographer, a precursor to the typewriter in the United States.

Learn about how typewriters are still used by people like Tom Hanks as a way …

July 22: How to Take Down a Lone Wolf

July 22nd, 2020


On this day in 2011, Anders Behring Breivik committed mass murder and marked Norway’s most tragic day in its modern history.

Learn how his actions …

July 21: Life Goes On

July 21st, 2020


On this day in 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.

Learn about how he viewed his book, The Sun Also Rises, about the “Lost Generation”. He never viewed his or any generation …

July 20: Humankind’s Leap Fallen Short

July 20th, 2020


On this day in 1969,  Apollo 11's crew successfully landed the first crewed craft on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility.

Learn about the protests …

July 19: That All Men and Women are Created Equal

July 19th, 2020


On this day in 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention began.

Learn its goal to read and sign the Declaration of Sentiments and listen to how it was meant to deliberately be a sort of revision for the Declaration of …

July 18: Optimism as a Weapon

July 18th, 2020


On this day in 1918, Nelson Mandela was born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Learn how his optimism acted as one of his most powerful weapons …

July 17: A Poem Without a Hero

July 17th, 2020


On this day in 1762, Catherine II becomes tsar of Russia upon the murder of Peter III of Russia. Also on July 17, her dynasty ended with the mass …

July 16: Now I am Become Death

July 16th, 2020


On this day in 1945 the atomic age began when the United States successfully detonated a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon in New Mexico.

Learn why …

July 15: To Know Your Enemy’s Heart

July 15th, 2020


On this day in 1799, troops led by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign uncovered a large stone etched in …

July 14: Revolution as Chemotherapy

July 14th, 2020


On this day in 1789, the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille.

Learn through the eyes of literature about how these days were filled with terror …

July 13: Et Tu, Brute?

July 13th, 2020


Around this day in 100 BCE, Julius Caesar was born in Rome, Italy. It is uncertain if he was born on July 12 or July 13.
Learn about how his legacy is …

July 12: The Walden Effect

July 12th, 2020


On this day in 1817, Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in the United States.

Learn about his purposes with his book Walden and …

July 11: Some Pig

July 11th, 2020


On this day in 1899 E. B. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York in the United States.

Learn about his creative process for constructing the story of Charlotte's Web and how it connected to his philosophical …

July 10: The King of Beer

July 10th, 2020


On this day in 1839, Adolphus Busch, German brewer and co-founder of Anheuser-Busch, is born in Mainz-Kastel, a district of Wiesbaden, Germany.

Learn …

July 9: Gothic Lit Metonymy

July 9th, 2020


On this day in 1764, Ann Radcliffe is born in Holborn in the West End of London.

Learn how her signature style permeated literature so much, Jane …

July 8: They’re Out There! Maybe?

July 8th, 2020


On this day in 1947, radio reports broadcasted a UFO crash landing in Roswell, New Mexico.

Learn how merely years earlier the idea of aliens and UFOs …

July 7: Richard Starkey, Ringo Starr

July 7th, 2020


On this day in 1940, Richard Starkey was born on Madryn Street in Liverpool.

Learn how he became Ringo Starr and created one of the most beloved …

July 6: Frida and her Diago

July 6th, 2020


On this day in 1907, Frida Kahlo is born in Mexico City.

Learn how her marriage to Diago Rivera helped shape her love and her art.

Today is July 6, …

July 5: Bikinis in Love and War

July 5th, 2020


On this day in 1946, the bikini debuted in France, just days after an American nuclear weapon test at the Bikini Atoll.

Learn how sex and war …

July 4: ‘Merica! On the Brink...Again

July 4th, 2020


On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress formed by some English colonies in North America adopted the United States Declaration of …

July 3: Life is a Kafka Story

July 3rd, 2020


On this day in 1883, Franz Kafka was born in Prague, Bohemia, now the Czech Republic.

Learn how his stories draw parallels to some everyday life …

July 2: Presidents and their Assassins

July 2nd, 2020


On this day in 1881, James A. Garfield is assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. He is the second American president to be assassinated. He was targeted only …

July 1, 2020: America's First Public Libraries

July 1st, 2020


On this day in 1731, the first public library in the United States was founded by Benjamin Franklin and his close colleagues from a group called the …

Connecting History to Today through the Arts and Journalism

June 24th, 2020



Welcome to the Librarian’s Almanac.

My name is Liz.

Every day, the Librarian's Almanac looks back into history on that date. I talk about anything connected to that historic moment with books and poetry, even …

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