January 13, 2009
By Jessica Pritchard
With digital history growing exponentially, it seems new history podcasts are popping up nearly daily. Consequently, we’ve decided to run a supplementary article (to our earlier podcast post) to note other interesting podcasts you might enjoy.
For those not too familiar with history podcasts, they include everything from academic lectures to historic figures’ speeches that you can either download onto your MP3 player or listen to directly on your computer.
The Civil War Traveler has recorded tours of multiple battlefields that you can download and subsequently take with you on outings. National Public Radio (NPR) historians record the tours on the actual battlefield being discussed and couple their tours with period music by Southern Horizon, an authentic Civil War era band. The website also includes maps of each of recorded battlefield. The Civil War Traveler more or less supplies you with all the tools you need to visit battlefields such as Devil’s Den in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, or Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg, Virginia—a map, an experienced tour guide, and even period music.
Jumping back roughly a century in American history to Colonial Williamsburg, you can find podcasts that include everything from the Colonial weapons system to Christmas in Williamsburg to witches in the colonies.
When many think history, they think people of the past. Rightly so; however, Environmental History Resources has melded people of the past with their environments to investigate trends and to see if and how the environment has shaped these societies. Podcasts include Disasters, History, and Cultures of Coping, which explores “how the persistent threat and reality of disasters shapes the history, social, and cultural development of societies.” Archaeology, History, and Climate Change looks at how societies have dealt with climate and environmental change and how archaeology has helped in the climate change debate. Urban Air Pollution reviews the historic relevance of air pollution, with documents dating back to the 17th-century exploring the problems affiliated with coal usage and the consequential deterioration of air quality.
History of Photography
Jeff Curto, a professor at the College of DuPage, created a web site for his history of photography course. History of Photography Podcasts include Curto’s class lectures on the various periods of photography and the methods used. This set of podcasts is interesting because by exploring the history of photography, you learn the history of the people behind the photograph.
Current Events and Lectures
The University of Virginia has a web site dedicated to podcasts on both current events and academic lectures. They have a section devoted to history podcasts that include lectures such as One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War, in which Michael Dobbs discusses his experiences as a Washington Post Warsaw correspondent in the 1980s. The Gordon and Mary Beth Smyth Forum on American History, A Virginia Dynasty? James Monroe and the Presidential Elections of 1816 and 1820, featuresDaniel Preston, a leading Monroe scholar and editor of The Papers of James Monroe at the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library.
From the 1940s
One final podcast that may be of interest is World at War, featuring 1940s radio dramas, interviews, and modern reenactments of period letters. This web site offers many personal accounts of World War II that bring this era alive.