It seems like podcasts are the only supply not facing a shortage. It’s a lucky thing for us, because there are some incredible podcasts covering all sorts of untold history. All of us have podcast queues overflowing with history that we didn’t learn in school. Here are just a few of our favorite hidden history podcasts:
The Other Half. This is a well-researched podcast about women from history. Each season has a theme and then he tells the stories of individual women around the world who fit the theme. For example, the current season on the mistresses of rulers has included Lady Nijo of Kamakural Japan, Roxelana of the Ottoman Empire, and Aspasia of Classical Athens. Previous seasons have included the women of the Vatican, the first ladies of the Roman Empire, and the daughters and granddaughters of Queen Victoria. (The latter inspired an Ask A Badass column!) It was born of the Queens of England podcast, which showed English history by following the lives of its queens.
Black Cowboys. This is a fascinating example of a well-documented history that goes utterly against everything we think we know. The American West has been mythologized so thoroughly that it seems utterly counter-intuitive to hear about the many (MANY) Black cowboys, sheriffs and outlaws. This fascinating podcast explores both the people themselves and the meaning these real figures have on Black Americans. Many of these stories were fictionalized in Netflix’s star-studded “The Harder They Fall”. It’s an entertaining series, but it’s also one that really gets to the heart of why representation matters, both in history and in the history-tellers.
Bad Gays. We love this podcast even though it’s our diametric opposite. At Badass Tours, we seek out stories to inspire, empower and engage. (Founder Elyzabeth even performed a story about accidentally overidealizing a subject.) Bad Gays comes from the opposite viewpoint. They explore historical LGBTQ+ figures who people like us skip over, the people whose actions range from troublesome to nefarious to destructive. They do it with wit, humor and a broad range of knowledge. For example, their episode about our favorite bisexual opera singer, La Maupin, included an exploration of opera in the LGBTQ+ community, both historically and today.
The China History Podcast. This is a fascinating example of how to tackle a sprawling history. China is an interesting challenge for a historian because its history is incredibly long, comparatively well-documented and mostly within the same sprawling mass of land. So how do you tell all of the interesting cultural side-stories when the political history is so sweeping? How do you even condense the political history? Host Lazlo Montgomery, whose long experience working in China gives him the added benefit of good pronunciation of Mandarin words, began with an overview of the history and dynasties, before beginning to jump around to interesting topics. Today, the many episodes are divided into playlists for easier navigation. This is also a podcast that’s given inspiration for Ask A Badass.
Womanica. This is perfect if you’re not sure you want to add another podcast to your busy schedule. Womanica is a five – sometimes ten! – minute look at a women from history. It’s deeply intersectional, really digging into every country across the world to find women whose lives impacted their communities, even if they weren’t always given credit for it. While the monthly themes range from heroines to troublemakers, the subjects inspire with their determination and wit. It’s the perfect way to start your day.
These are just a few of the many podcasts that we love listening to. We ended up having to cut some podcasts we really love. (We’re so sorry, You’re Dead to Me…) Did we miss one of your favorites? Hit us up on social with your recommendations.