The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.
The Spotted Owl
Thursday 26 November 2020
: The story of how the Endangered Species Act went from unanimous passage under a Republican president to becoming a deeply partisan wedge....
The Invention of Race
Thursday 19 November 2020
: The idea that race is a social construct comes from the pioneering work of anthropologist Franz Boas. During a time when race-based science...
BONUS: Louder Than A Riot
Monday 16 November 2020
: This week we're bringing you something extra, an episode from the NPR Music series, Louder Than A Riot. The series examines the relationship...
The Shadows of the Constitution
Thursday 12 November 2020
: The Constitution is like America's secular bible, our sacred founding document. In her play, What the Constitution Means to Me, Heidi...
Bush v. Gore and Why It Matters in 2020
Thursday 05 November 2020
: In the 2000 presidential election, results weren't known in one night, a week, or even a month. This week, we share an episode we loved from...
The Most Sacred Right
Thursday 29 October 2020
: Frederick Douglass dreamed of a country where all people could vote and he did everything in his power to make that dream a reality. In the...
How We Vote
Thursday 22 October 2020
: Drunken brawls, coercion, and lace curtains. Believe it or not, how regular people vote was not something the founding fathers thought much...
The Electoral College
Thursday 15 October 2020
: What is it, why do we have it, and why hasn't it changed? Born from a rushed, fraught, imperfect process, the origins and evolution of the...
(mis)Representative Democracy, A New Series From Throughline
Thursday 08 October 2020
: America has never been a country of one person, one vote. And that's by design. Our system was built by a select few, for a select few. We...
The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Thursday 08 October 2020
: Billie Holiday helped shape American popular music with her voice and unique style. But, one song in particular has become her greatest...
The Everlasting Problem
Thursday 01 October 2020
: Health insurance for millions of Americans is dependent on their jobs. But it's not like that everywhere. So, how did the U.S. end up with...
The Evangelical Vote
Thursday 24 September 2020
: With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the president is hoping to fill the seat with a more ideologically conservative justice. And...
James Baldwin's Fire
Thursday 17 September 2020
: In a moment when America is undertaking an uncomfortable reckoning with its racial inequality and violence, we wanted to look back at...
The Postal Service
Thursday 10 September 2020
: The US Postal Service has played a role throughout American history - from the Declaration of Independence to today's mail-in voting. It was...
Reframing History: Mass Incarceration
Thursday 03 September 2020
: The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and a disproportionate number of those prisoners are Black....
Reframing History: Bananas
Thursday 27 August 2020
: The banana is a staple of the American diet and has been for generations. But how did this exotic tropical fruit become so commonplace? How...
Reframing History: The Commentator
Thursday 20 August 2020
: Today the foundations of philosophy are seen as a straight line from Western antiquity, built on thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle. But,...
Reframing History: The Litter Myth
Thursday 13 August 2020
: There is more waste in the world today than at any time in history, and the responsibility for keeping the environment clean too often falls...
America's Caste System
Thursday 06 August 2020
: "Race" is often used as a fundamental way to understand American history. But what if "caste" is the more appropriate lens? In conversation...
Thursday 30 July 2020
: This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is considered the most important civil rights law since...
Lives Of The Great Depression
Thursday 23 July 2020
: The Great Depression was a revolutionary spark for all kinds of things — health insurance, social safety nets, big government — all of...
Thursday 16 July 2020
: Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898 and for much of the next fifty years Puerto Ricans fought fiercely about this status. Should...
The Long Hot Summer
Thursday 09 July 2020
: Starting in 1965, summer after summer, America's cities burned. There was civil unrest in more than 150 cities across the country. So in...
Mecca Under Siege
Thursday 02 July 2020
: Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, is effectively canceled this year, due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus. But,...
There's Something About Mary
Thursday 25 June 2020
: When a cook who carried typhoid fever refused to stop working, despite showing no symptoms, the authorities forcibly quarantined her for...