About a year ago I started going for morning walks. I started this reluctantly as a means of managing stress and anxiety, but soon it became so pleasurable and grounding that now I feel discombobulated if I don’t go for a walk in the morning.
Part of what makes these walks so rejuvenating is that in addition to getting my blood moving and my head clear, I discovered podcasts (I’m behind by about 10 years, I know). There are four I listen to religiously for inspiration or a good laugh then like 50 more that I hop onto when I’m working or doing chores. Best of all, there are soooooo many podcasts out there that focus on history and historical figures.
So I present to you, dear readers, my top five favorite historical podcasts for when you need to engage your brain in something interesting and stimulating.
This was the first historical podcast I found and would put it on whilst bottling all of your perfumes. This show is exhaustive! It has an archive of hundreds of episodes and is updated regularly. You’ll find two types of show formats when you listen: one hour interviews or bite-sized question and answer. The question and answer shows are my favorite as they tend to focus on obscure topics like what did people eat during the middle ages? Inquiring minds must know! I also like that this show has a wealth of information online and resources for teachers. If you like historical deep dives, this is the show for you.
Favorite Episode: Why the Potato Led to the Rise of Modern Europe (My family is Irish ok?)
Ok this is actually an offshoot of a popular podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class which is delightful. Like History Unplugged, these ladies do deep dives on historical topics most of which is obscure or about little known people which are the people I love to hear about. I like this one over SYMIHC because each episode is only 5-10 minutes and is a fun little “On This Day” type program to start your day off. Pretty much every time I listen my first reaction is, “Oh really, no way!” Recent episodes that have captivated my attention were about Otzi the Iceman and Jack the Ripper.
Favorite Episode: Lizzie Borden’s Parents Were Murdered - August 4, 1892 (Of course this one is my favorite.)
Another lady-helmed podcast, Dressed takes a deep dive into the history of fashion. But it’s not just about gorgeous dresses and fancy shoes, they really get into what the clothing means in terms of society and events of the time. It’s super fascinating and they do a great job of curating topics. I really enjoyed the episode on Rose Bertin, Marie Antoinette’s Minister of Fashion, and the episode on Egyptian fashion because my daughter is OBSESSED with King Tut. She’s five.
Favorite Episode: Murderous Millinery (the Marie Antoinette one is a close second but this one is about how the Victorian/Edwardian obsession with plumage on hats killed millions of birds.)
OLD HOLLYWOOD HISTORY! This super well-researched podcast covers the real stories about old Hollywood starlets as well as other forgotten histories of the film industry. The podcast has more of a storytelling quality and everything from the music to the way she speaks gives it this ethereal, ghostly quality that is just haunting and fun.
Ok this one is not strictly historical but it’s probably my favorite podcast in the world and I will cry when they stop making new episodes. Will and Mangesh (Mango on the show) are the co-founders of the magazine Mental Floss. This show is basically a mash up of culture, history, science and big questions. What I love most about it is the positivity - pure happiness for your ears. Each week, there are two long form episodes about a topic and one short episode called 9 Things that consists of just nine interesting facts about whatever the topic is. This is my go-to when I need a smile.
There you have it! If you’re unsure where to listen, I use Stitcher but there’s Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and a million other ways to listen on your phone or computer. I’m gonna go listen to the poison garden episode again now.
Also, a clue to the new collection was in this post ;)