Lighten Up Your Day With These Entertaining, Educational History Podcasts

By Source, <a href="">Fair use</a>

By Source, Fair use

One of the defining attributes of the modern era is the abundance of high quality information that can be easily – and freely – accessed over the Web. Regardless of what you are interested in, there is a source to supply high-quality information.

This is especially true with history.

Here are five podcasts to consider. I chose these based on brevity (only the final podcast in the list is longer that 15 minutes) and subject matter — the more obscure or intriguing, the better.

  1. Ted-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing. Plenty of topics and most of the podcasts are about 4-minutes long. Subjects range from whimsical (Why Is Ketchup So Hard To Pour), scientific (What Percentage Of Your Brain Do You Use) to the complicated (Big Data). These fast-paced episodes are packed with information and are usually presented by industry or subject experts.
  2. Past and Present The Colonial Williamsburg History Podcast. These presentations tend to run about 15 minutes in length and the format is kind of like old-time radio where an expert is interviewed. This leads to a wide range of topics from — Colonial Marriage Customs to Skill and Science in Historic Trades.
  3. Today In History. Fast and to the point, these three-to-five minute podcasts tell the interesting back story behind a specific event or object on this day in history. You can learn everything from the history of the Barbie doll (March 9), the Frisbee (January 23) or more about when Elvis Presley was drafted into the Armed Forces (December 20). Adding to the intrigue of this podcast is the 60s style robotic sounding voice of the narrator.
  4. History in Five Minutes. Although the episodes are slightly longer than five minutes, usually around seven, they cover some of the more intriguing and obscure stories from history. The podcast includes series about History’s Greatest Spies, Explorers that Pushed the Boundaries, and Examples of Unintended Consequences (like rabbits in Australia).
  5. Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids. Technically this one is not about history, per se, except it is about personal history. But, it is quite funny. The premise of the show is simple — adults share journals, diaries, poems and other musings written in their youth. Some of the journals were written as young as second grade. Needless to say, the ideas, beliefs and comments are entertaining including a 13-year-old’s letter to her future self and a young man’s ranting after getting fired. (episode 213). Episodes are 20-30 minutes in length.

Unfamiliar With The Medium?

If you are new to podcasts, they are essentially radio shows for the Web. They remind me of the old shows we used to listen to on the Oxford (OH) radio station in my youth — shows like Lum and Abner.

There are two ways to listen to podcasts: download them to your phone or mobile device — or stream them live over a website. I tend to stream (and only listen when I am on Wi-Fi) because I don’t want to clutter up the limited amount of memory on my phone. However, regardless of which method you choose, to begin listening to podcasts, you need to download an app by visiting iTunes (if you have an iPhone) or the Google Play Store for Android phones.

Several apps exists. You can learn about Android apps here (I use Podcast and Podcast Addict — both are free) and iTunes apps here.

Categories: American History, How To Learn History, Podcasts | Tags: ,

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