History Podcasts

One of the many perks of teaching in a digital era is the multitude of alternative teaching methods. The same goes with learning for both students and enthusiasts of various disciplines; there are endless forms of interactive digital tools that can make learning a bit more engaging and, well, fun.

Take history podcasts, for example. You can download everything from academic lectures to speeches given by historic figures onto your computer and/or MP3 player. You can listen to these history podcasts in your downtime at work or in the morning on the metro.

There are a number of web sites available that span across countless historical eras, so you’ll likely be able to find at least one site that has podcasts conducive to your interests and/or your research.

The Gilder Lehrman, Institute of American History, offers recordings of dozens of historians discussing their latest, greatest books. Available podcasts cover topics from the Salem Witchcraft Trials to King Philip’s War.

Digital Campus has “biweekly discussion[s] of how digital media and technology are affecting learning, teaching, and scholarship at colleges, universities, libraries, and museums.” This web site includes podcasts on somewhat hot topics in the digital realm. From Google’s controversial book search to academic sustainability in a free-for-all era. From trends in future readers to concentration levels in a digitally distracting environment. Even to how, if at all, wikipedia is helpful. One could spend hours listening to these witty, modern podcasts.

You can search History News Network Podcasts for historian interviews or recordings from prominent historic figures. Topics range from religion to politics, both currently and historically.

For those interested in military history, again both currently and historically, there’s the Military History Podcast web site that explores everything from the current Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to the Peloponnesian War to Joan of Arc to Gladiatorial Combat. This web site brings “you the strangest anecdotes, innovative technology, and most significant events of military history.”

One final web site you may find interesting is the Organization of American Historians’ Talking History. Though they had to suspend airing their shows due to funding in 2006, they still have an expansive archive of interesting history podcasts, such as “The Confederation Emancipation,” which discusses the Confederates’ plan to free and arm slaves during the Civil War, and “American Brutus” that explores the conspiracy theories surrounding President Lincoln’s assassination. All of the Talking History podcasts are 29 minutes long, so they’re good when you have a limited amount of time to sit down and listen—they’re easy-to-download and fun to listen to.

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  1. Tony Field

    And while we’re at it, allow me to put in a plug for another great new history podcast from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. It’s called “BackStory,” and it features renowned historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh. Each week the three hosts take a topic from the contemporary world and explore its historical context. (Full disclosure: I am the producer show’s producer.) You can subscribe to the podcast here: http://www.backstoryradio.org/

  2. Nick Breyfogle

    Those interested in historical podcasts should also look at Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, published by the History Department at The Ohio State University. [ http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/origins/, podcasts at http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/origins/podcasts.cfm] Each month Origins focuses on a current issue of national or international importance, and invites an historian to write an essay putting that issue in historical context. The essays are written to be informative, provocative, intriguing but most of all accessible. They are written by leading historians but intended for a wide, general public and educators. [I am one of the editors.]