Looking for the best history podcasts? Look no further. I’m an avid podcast listener and these are my favorites from the history category. They’re all a little different, but really enjoyable and you’ll learn a thing or two!
This podcast is pretty academic seeing as it’s hosted by history professors from the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins, and Yale with guest hosts and interviews from other historians. They use current events to explore US history. How did we handle immigration in the past? How long has “fake news” been around? How have women influenced American politics?
Episodes to check out: National Lampoon, The Habit, and Counter Culture.
The History Chicks
The “chicks” in the title is working overtime here: the show is two women talking about women in history. They cover everyone from Catherine the Great to Lucille Ball in an approachable yet authoritative way. Basically, they do their research and I feel like I could hang out with them. The audio quality of early episodes isn’t as polished as most podcasts but it does get better and the content is so good, I can deal with the audio issues.
Episodes to check out: Julia Child (duh!), The Wizard of Oz, and Lizzie Borden.
A History of the World in 100 Objects
This podcast is a conglomeration of my favorite things: podcasts, history, and museums. In this series, Neil MacGregor, director of The British Museum, takes a look at 100 objects from the museum’s collection that shaped the world. He discusses everything from stone tools to Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ to the credit card in a delightful, insightful way. The series ran during 2010 so don’t expect new episodes. This is a BBC production so the quality is top notch!
Episodes to check out: Really, all of them. But if you really need a recommendation, I’ll say The Rosetta Stone and the Suffragette Defaced Penny.
Witness, also a BBC production, is almost exclusively 20th-century history as it features interviews with people that experienced history (the witnesses.) They cover every topic you can think of and with episodes that are around 10 minutes long, you can listen to them here and there without having to commit to a 1+ hour long podcast. There is a new episode almost every day and the archives stretch back years so there is a lot to check out!
Episodes to check out: due to the sheer number of episodes in their archives, I’m going to direct you to their collections page. Pick a topic you’re interested in and have a listen!
Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine
Dr. Syndee McElroy and her husband Justin McElroy explore medical history and all the bad, dumb ways we’ve tried to heal people over the centuries. It’s one of my favorite podcasts, period. I should make it clear that this is a comedy podcast first and a history podcast second. Still, I’ve learned so many weird, interesting things from Sawbones while laughing until I cry. Sawbones isn’t for everyone but if you like a little silliness, check it out.
Episodes to check out: The Dancing Plague, Medical Cannibalism, and all of the episodes about patent medicines.
Lore is about folklore and true, often historical, scary stories. Aaron Mahnke, the host, is stellar. If you like to be creeped out, like folklore, and/or like stories from history, Lore is for you.
Episodes to check out: Negative Consequences, The Big Chill, and Mary, Mary.
You Must Remember This
You Must Remember This is about “the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” Even if you’re not super into old movies, give YMRT a listen. Karina Longworth, the host/researcher/editor, is an incredible storyteller. I’ve been listening to the current season about Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg…and I’d never heard of Jean Seberg until a few weeks ago.
Episodes to check out: All of the episodes from “Charles Manson’s Hollywood.” Seriously. It’s incredible. Also, check out all of the episodes from “Dead Blondes.”
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