Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

August 8, 2012
Three smart history podcasts

Symbol_Podcasting_00.pngThe Internet Age is a golden age for history buffs. Think of the sheer quantity of material -- lectures, conferences, books, articles, photographs, paintings, maps, census records, historic audio and video clips, all kinds of of primary and secondary resources -- available at the click of a mouse.

There are also podcasts devoted to history. Podcasts (for the uninitiated) are audio or video series produced by amateurs or professional outlets on every imaginable topic. Some are quite serious and educational, some very silly and superficial. You can get apps for your computer, smart phone or media player to automatically download new episodes of a podcast as soon as they're available.

Lately I've been enjoying three history-oriented programs that are smart, well-researched and thought-provoking. (I'm sure there are others. Share your favorites in the comment section below.) You can find these in the iTunes store. (They're free to download.)

BackStory with the American History Guys. Hosted by three experts representing the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, BackStory aims to bring a "historical perspective to the events happening around us today." Episodes take a contemporary political or cultural issue or trend and trace its evolution from colonial times to the present. Recent topics include: the concept of "American Exceptionalism;" the role of the Post Office in U.S. development; the changing character of courtship and marriage; and the continuing battle over teaching evolution in the schools. It's an engaging, well-produced series -- sort of history's answer to the science program RadioLab.

My History Can Beat Up Your Politics. My History examines the historical antecedents of today's hot political trends and debates. Host Bruce Carlson is articulate, well-informed and refreshingly neutral in his politics. His romps through American history often reveal lesser-known facts that cast a thought-provoking light on contemporary events. Recent topics include: choosing a Vice President; the legal history behind the Supreme Court's healthcare decision; Presidential communication; what Obama can learn from Truman's 1948 election; and the critical role of swing states in the 1912 election.

C-Span Lectures in History. Part of C-Span's American History TV series, Lectures in History lets viewers drop into a history class led by some of the country's top university professors. Recent topics include: the Great Migration from the South of African Americans in the early 20th century; the Truman/MacArthur conflict; socialism in America; political economy in the 1970s; and redistricting and gerrymandering in U.S. history.

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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