Episode 43 – More Cults in the 20th Century

Hale Bopp Comet in 1997 – Philipp Salzgeber, CC BY-SA 2.0 AT

We continue our exploration of the history of cults in America this week with a discussion of two infamous groups from the 1990s: The Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate. Both cults ended in the deaths of their charismatic leaders, but the trajectories were quite different. If you’re interested in the militia movement, UFOs, Nike sneakers, Star Trek, the Book of Revelations, the FBI, or how to get cheap real estate in Southern California you should join us this week!

Episode 42 – Cults in 20th Century America


This week we continue the discussion we started last time about utopian experiments and cults by covering two of the most fascinating and disturbing figures of the twentieth century, Jim Jones and Charles Manson. What made these two men turn to violence and how did their lives and the people they convinced to do unspeakable things reveal deep fissures and anxieties in post-war America. Join us this week to find out.

American Utopias

Oneida Community Mansion – Ralph Kohler 2014 CC

So, this week we start a little series about cults in American history, but this first episode took a slight detour into a more general discussion of utopian communities in America, particularly in the nineteenth century. We discuss Oneida, Harmony, and New Harmony, among others. We also trace the way religion and the Second Great Awakening shaped utopian ideas including the concept of moral perfectionism.

Episode 40 – Baseball

To celebrate spring and the return of America’s pastime, we’re delving into the history of baseball this week. From its origins as a children’s game in England to a powerful tool of imperialism, baseball has it all.

This picture is of the new players who joined the New York Yankees in 1960: Kent Hadley, Joe De Maestri, Roger Maris, Elmer Valo, Fred Kipp. Wikimedia Commons

Episode 39 – Taxes

Pieter Breughel the Younger: English: Paying the Tax (The Tax Collector) 

Death and Taxes. Is that all we can be sure of? In honor of traditional Tax Day (April 15), we present a history of taxes in the United States. Tariffs, excises, income taxes, anti-government movements, rebellions, paying for the military and infrastructure, they’re all on the list of topics we cover in this week’s episode.

Episode 38 – The Vietnam War

United States Marine Private First Class Forrest M. Turner, Jr. provides security as two Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters land at the Defense Attaché Office compound during Operation Frequent Wind. Military helicopters dropped the ground security component at landing zones. Once on the ground they set up security positions.

Join us for a deep dive into the causes and effects of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War from 1954 to 1975. Along the way we’ll discuss the aftermath of WWII and French attempts at renewing their empire in Southeast Asia. We’ll also talk about what Dwight Eisenhower defined as the Military Industrial Complex and how the machine of war may have prolonged US involvement in Vietnam. Finally, we’ll talk about some well-known but often misunderstood moments in the war like the My Lai Massacre.

Episode 37 – Women of the American Revolution

Depiction of Betsy Ross in 1893

When people are asked to comment on the most famous figures of the American Revolution, the list is almost entirely men, with a few notable exceptions. Join us this week as we talk about the well-known women who participated and often literally fought during the American Revolution as well as some lesser-known women whose real stories are more fantastic than the myths surrounding Molly Pitcher and Betsy Ross. It’s all on this week’s episode!

Episode 36 – Margaret Sanger and Eugenics

A Eugenics Society poster (1930s) from the Wellcome Library Eugenics Society Archive.

Margaret Sanger founded the organization that later became Planned Pioneer. She has been widely lauded as a staunch advocate of women’s reproductive rights, but there’s more to the story. Join us this week as we delve into Sanger’s story as well as the simultaneous rise of eugenics. The United States in general and California pioneered the field of eugenics, and that is not necessarily a good thing! From forced sterilizations to medical experiments without the patient’s consent, many of the ideas and methods emerging within the eugenics movement later found expression in the gruesome experiments and ideologies of Germany in the 1930s.

Episode 35 – Second Wave Feminism

 Gloria Steinem at a women’s conference held at the LBJ Library on Nov. 9, 1975.

What is Second Wave Feminism? How does it differ from the First Wave? Join us as we do a deep dive into the ins and outs of Second Wave Feminism and its connections with Mary Wollstonecraft, Lucretia Mott, Simone de Beauvoir, and Betty Friedan. How did the Roe v Wade and Griswold v Connecticut change everything? And was the Houston Conference in 1977 really the end of the movement? Finally, how should we conceptualize the Third and Fourth Waves? Join us this week to find out!

Episode 34 – More Conspiracy Theories

Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines Building Paco Manila

This week we return to an often-requested topic – conspiracy theories. We discuss George Washington, QANON, COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, Henrietta Lacks, and Pearl Harbor. Why are Americans so obsessed with conspiracy theories? What happens when there is some truth to a particular theory? Join us this week to find out!