Are you wondering what it was like when a President addressed the nation competently at a time of crisis and uncertainty? Professor Phil Nash enlightens us about FDR's “Fireside Chats” from the 1930s and 1940s! Were they really as ground-breaking as we all tend to believe? Did they really help the American people get through the Great Depression and World War II? Was it FDR’s tone and confidence that connected to the people, or was there something more mundane that explains the popularity of the Fireside Chats?
What a great way to get taxes lowered! Get your land-owning husband to agree to lower property taxes if you ride naked on horseback right down main street. That’s just what Lady Godiva agreed to do in 11th century England in order to get her tight-fisted husband to lighten up on his tenants. But is it true or just another mini-myth? Listen in Buzzkillers!
Lots of people are credited with coining the great phrase, “well-behaved women rarely make history.” These include Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anne Boleyn, and our own Aunt Ginger from the Buzzkill Institute. Given time, any powerful woman with backbone and verve will get credit for this phrase and sentiment. Listen and learn who said it first.
Almost all history books, encyclopedia entries, and news items place the exact origin of the women’s rights movement in the USA to the meeting at Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848. But did a movement as big as women’s rights have one specific geographic origin at only one meeting? Professor Lisa Tetrault explains the complexity and the multiple histories of Seneca Falls and the American female suffrage movement.
The Professor seems to want to make enemies in this episode. He shows that many things central to Irish culture and identity are actually British in origin -- St. Patrick, “the craic,” and “Danny Boy” come under his withering analytical gaze. But he may surprise you with the ultimate conclusions he reaches. Maybe he’s not that much of a buzzkill after all.
Please stop saying "the Spanish flu" when referring to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. This encore mini-myth episode shows that the question of origin is complex, but that it certainly didn't start in Spain. Find out why it's called "the Spanish flu."
Ever wonder how the shamrock, the Celtic Cross, and the Claddagh Ring became symbols of Irish culture? And which Irish people deserve more historical attention and shouldn't remain "Hidden Hibernians"? Professor Edward O'Donnell explains all in this St. Patrick's Day episode!
What can possibly be wrong with St. Patrick’s Day? Not much, except that there’s very little historical basis behind stories about St. Patrick. And there’s certainly no historical basis for excess drinking, green beer, and the Chicago River turned green. Or is there? The Professor becomes more open-minded right before our very ears!
The blackout of November 1965 was a big event in the north-east of the United States and in Ontario. But did it result in an increase in babies born nine months later? When deprived of other “entertainments,” did people divert themselves with love? Snuggle up with the Professor, Buzzkillers, and hear the full story.
The number of different images and different sayings or phrases printed on t-shirts exploded in the early 70s. And one of the most striking was the t-shirt from the women’s rights movement which said, "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle," most famously worn by the feminist champion, Gloria Steinem. Did she coin the saying? We explain the history behind that great phrase.
Do women have a constitutional "right to vote" in America? Didn't the 19th Amendment resolve that issue? Professor Lisa Tetrault enlightens us about this very thorny issue in American history and politics. One of our best episodes ever!
Professor Marie Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
It's a Mini-Myth Monday! Like all good Americans, I just had a PB&J for lunch. I couldn’t help thinking of George Washington Carver, the reputed inventor of peanut butter. You won’t be surprised to hear that the invention of peanut butter is much more complicated (and more important) than is usually told. Listen in over your own PB&J, Buzzkillers!
William Henry Johnson eventually became one of the most decorated soldiers in World War I. His medals and military decorations came only eventually, however. He acted bravely and heroically in the Argonne Forest in May, 1918, killing multiple German soldiers and saving an American comrade, all the while being heavily wounded himself. The French military awards him the Croix de Guerre, their highest honor. Johnson’s heroism was not recognized by the American military and American government until much later. Find out why there was such a delay, listen to this Man Crush Monday episode!
Anybody who's completed an elementary school education knows that Abraham Lincoln finished his dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863 by saying that, "...we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." But I thought the background of the quote might fascinate you, and also provide more ammunition for your assault on the ignorance among your office-mates and/or neighborhood pals. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
Episode #338 - Levi and Catharine Coffin were early leaders of the Underground Railroad. Opposed to slavery from childhood, they helped over 3,000 slaves escape to freedom by the end of the Civil War. They pioneered a very broad anti-slavery approach, from direct action (the Underground Railroad) to other tactics, such as owning stores and wholesale establishments that sold goods produced only by free labor. Genuine humanitarians!
Valentine’s Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we’re depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of love and affection befitting her rank and station. And it’s always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it “Your Valentine”? Was this the first Valentine’s Day card? Listen and learn!
All wars are bad. But why was World War II so extreme? Coming less than 20 years after World War I (the most extreme war up until that time), the Second World War’s death toll is _conservatively_ calculated at 60 million people. And some estimates are higher than that. Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain why the death and destruction were so severe, and to give us grim statistics on some overlooked facts. These include: the number of civilian deaths outweighing military deaths, and the number of Allied deaths far exceeding Axis deaths. If this episode doesn’t bring the peace-nix in you out into the open, we’ve failed to convince you. Listen and learn!
Our inaugural POS Saturday episode is dedicated to one of the biggest pieces of s**t in 20th century American history -- Roy Cohn. Cohn’s influence on American politics and society from the 1950s to the 1980s was almost completely negative. Along with a handful of others, he is responsible for the toxic tone and behavior that has polluted recent American politics. Professor Philip Nash from Penn State explains why Roy Cohn’s our first Buzzkill POS!
We hear this all the time in the US: “George Patton should have been unleashed and taken care of the Soviets in 1945 when we had the chance.” And from the movie, Patton: “We're gonna have to fight them sooner or later anyway. Why not do it now, when we got the army here to do it with?” If we had let Patton have his way, the Soviet Union would have been eliminated, there would have been no Cold War, and no threat of a nuclear WWIII. True? Professor Nash from Penn State explains all! One of our best episodes!
Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted so much more from the US government and US elite, than most people realize. Popular history has airbrushed out far too much about his life and work. Professor Phil Nash reminds us of the importance of King’s work, especially during the forgotten period between his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and his assassination in 1968. Listen and learn.
When announcing the beginning of impeachment proceedings, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, brought up a Ben Franklin “quotation.” Franklin supposedly said this after the Founding Fathers had agreed on the broad nature of the new U.S. government in 1787. But is the quote genuine? We explain it all, and the wider context of Franklin’s political and social world.
We explain the complicated and much-mythologized history of the Pentagon Papers, which is shorthand for the government-funded study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. Once leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and others, American newspapers, led by the New York Times, printed significant extracts from the Papers. This led to a major freedom of the press controversy, and Supreme Court ruling.
You often hear that "the real heroes" of the Nixon Impeachment Crisis were the Republicans in Congress. They put country ahead of party, so the story goes, and facts ahead of friendship, and urged Nixon to resign rather than be impeached and removed from office. But is that what really happened? Were the 70s Republicans heroic? And exactly when did they take their heroic stand? Professor Buzzkill explains all the complexities!
Lots of people take comfort from the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and it’s usually credited to Martin Luther King. He said it, but was it an original MLK thought? The long history of this famous quote is fascinating and uplifting. Listen and learn!