7 History Podcasts You Should Download Today

By Nova BarelaLast Updated Apr 15, 2021 6:40:04 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: American History Tellers via Wondery

Were you one of those students who absolutely loved history class? Well, there’s some good news: you can continue to discover (and rediscover) little-known stories from history — all without the stress of exams. We’ve rounded up seven of our favorite history podcasts, which, despite being different in tone and subject matter, will help you round out not just your playlist, but your knowledge of historical events too.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Imagine that you and your coworker-turned-best-friend run your mouths at a work party, so much so that someone suggests you start a podcast. And, then, you do, only to become a viral hit. Well, that’s what happened to Tracy B. Wilson and Holly Frey, the creators of Stuff You Missed In History Class.

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Photo Courtesy: iHeartRadio

Both history buffs and history teachers swear by this podcast, especially since it delves into some of history’s hidden — and most passed over — topics. Best of all, Tracy and Holly have an incredible chemistry, which makes listening fun and recalling the stories a cinch. Some of our favorites include "Anne Lister," an episode about the titular queer person’s diary, which is written in code; "SYMHC Live: Mysteries of the Color Blue," which discusses the history of the hue; and "Walt Whitman, Poet of Democracy," an episode that makes an argument for its subject being the most important poet in U.S. history.

Revisionist History

Have you ever wondered if you were taught the right lesson in school — or at least given a well-rounded picture of history? Sometimes, textbooks get it wrong, from blatant misinformation and editing decisions to mistranslations and a lack of varied sources. Whether the history you read about in school wasn’t quite right on purpose or by accident, you can glean a fuller picture with Revisionist History.

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Photo Courtesy: Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Ozy Media

Hosted by Malcolm Gladwell, this podcast takes deep dives into both people and historical events. Its mantra? Give the overlooked and misunderstood a second chance to tell their story — the right way. Some standout episodes include "Blame Game," which focuses on Toyota’s recall of 10 million cars; the museum scandal-filled "Dragon Psychology 101;" and "Free Brian Williams."

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Throughline

NPR’s Throughline explores the moments that have shaped the world and changed history as we know it. Hosted by Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei, this podcast has a cinematic feel that helps bring the historical moments it covers to life more than any textbook could. For the hosts, every headline has a history — and those stories from the past can help us understand our present, and how it was shaped.

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Photo Courtesy: NPR

Topics range from Whitney Houston performance of the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 1991 to presidential impeachments and the invention of race. In short, nothing’s off limits — and that’s exactly why Throughline should be next in your podcast queue. Some standout episodes include "Reframing History: Mass Incarceration," an exploration into the origins of the U.S. criminal justice system; "The Litter Myth," which delves into how one organization changed the American public's relationship with waste; and "Strange Fruit," an episode that covers Billie Holiday, protest, the War on Drugs, and more.

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Making Gay History

If you’re a self-proclaimed history buff, you owe it to yourself and others to tune into a swathe of history that isn’t often discussed in schools: LGBTQ+ history. Hosted by Eric Marcus, Making Gay History highlights the queer trailblazers and activists — and their allies — who have shaped not just history, but the LGBTQ+ community as well.

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Photo Courtesy: Making Gay History via Spotify

Best of all, most episodes draw on an audio archive of rare interviews that Marcus conducted decades ago as part of an oral history he was commissioned to write in the late 1980s. Some of the podcast’s best episodes center on folks like transgender rights icon Sylvia Rivera; writer and public health activist Larry Kramer; and popular advice columnist Pauline Phillips ("Dear Abby"), but one thing unites all of Making Gay History’s subjects: they all have a story that deserves to be told — and heard.

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American History Tellers

As the name suggests, American History Tellers focuses on the history of the United States. Hosted by Lindsay Graham (no, not the senator), the episodes are presented in a somewhat-chronological order and illustrate the most important moments from different eras of American history.

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Photo Courtesy: Wondery

Some of the podcast’s must-listen episodes include "Revolution - The Independent Woman | 4," which explores shifting gender roles throughout history; "The Bastard Brigade - The Strangest Man | 4," a deep dive into the atomic spies of the Manhattan Project; and "The Cold War - An Ideological War | 1," which is just the first part of a six-part series. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fascinating tales.

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Revolutions

Hosted by Mike Duncan, the Revolutions podcast examines, well, revolutions, from the English Civil War and the American Revolutionary War to the French Revolution. Duncan takes deep dives into each topic, weaving together all the facts and context you’ll need to get a clear picture.

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Photo Courtesy: Revolutions Podcast via Spotify

But don’t worry — it’s not a lecture, so you’ll be far from bored. Some of our favorite episodes include "The Thirteen Colonies," which explores colonial America; "The Coup of 1907," which might not have been a coup at all; and the short-but-sweet "The Last King of France."

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You're Wrong About

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that misinformation is everywhere — and it can spread like wildfire. Without some clarification, these falsities become treated like fact. And that’s where the danger lies, especially when it comes to history.

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Photo Courtesy: Stitcher

Hosted by Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall, this podcast tackles a wide variety of topics, from the story of Princess Diana to the Stanford Prison Experiment. Best of all, although many of the topics stem from history, most have present-day threads, making You’re Wrong About more important than ever. Fact checkers and history buffs alike will find themselves fascinated by episodes like "Losing Relatives to Fox News" and "The Disappearance of Chandra Levy," a missing intern who sparked a nationwide obsession.

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