It’s a strange time we’re living in now. It’s hard to grasp that we’re living history and that people will be reading about this in the distant future. How people band together clad in pajamas and sweatpants to fight a pandemic, quarantining, and making banana bread. It’s moments like these where a history podcast can give insight into past events that led to the present.
This new normal is surreal and confusing. And during this history in the making, looking to the past could be the best thing we can do. See how our ancestors and forefathers did during times of crises and radical change. This is where history podcasts come in to give us a blast from the past.
What Is a History Podcast?
History podcasts are a new form of entertainment where people can listen to an insightful conversation between groups of people or just one host discussing the time that was before. They are a great source of education and entertainment in these times where most people are stuck at home with more time in their hands than they could ever get pre-pandemic.
As Winston Churchill stated, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So, we’ve gathered the best history podcasts you can listen to right now to get some insights from our vintage selves. Or if you just want to brush up on your French Revolution trivia and American presidents lore.
The Top 15 History Podcasts
With NPR hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah, Throughline reminds its listeners to always consider the past when living the present. This history podcast tackles different headlines in the past and how their effect transcended today’s events.
Arablouei and Abdelfatah like to say the past is never past. And it truly isn’t, if anything, the past has become more relevant right now with cancel culture and the sad regression of some humanity.
In Throughline, politics takes over most of their episodes, but they do examine history from different lights. The episode Force of Nature dove into the ’60s and ’70s movement that led to what Earth Day is now. It talked about how Republicans and Democrats, with the people behind them, came together to pass legislation in honor of environmental preservation. If you’re interested in these kinds of topics, you may want to check out some science podcasts as well.
2. Ridiculous History
When people hear history, the first thing on their mind is — long hours of lectures that could be used as ASMR because it will help you sleep. Well, Ridiculous History begs to differ. iHeart Radio’s history podcast aims to lighten the mood when discussing the heavy past. For hosts Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown, history is anything but boring.
Ridiculous History talks about the weirdest facets of the past from the Windham Frog Fight of 1754, to the time where people paid their rent with eels, and to the pig that almost started a war between the US and the UK. Their topics might be unconventional compared to other history podcasts, but they are incredibly researched content.
Ridiculous History podcast proves that human beings are never short of funny anecdotes that make life worth looking back to.
3. The Fantastic History of Food
Food has been present in almost all historic events, from Mary Antoinette’s famous “let them eat cake” quote that sparked a revolution to the iconic Last Supper before a holy crucifixion that inspired the painting in all Catholic kitchens. Food could be the only thing that’s been consistent in history.
That’s why Nick Charlie Key opted to dive into the past with food. The Fantastic History of Food is a history podcast that discusses the way food has shaped our society. The topics Key tackles in the show are equal parts captivating and silly, like their episodes The Day Paris Ate Its Zoo Animals and The Eggnog Riot.
This history podcast is one for the history books and cookbooks, for sure. It gives history buffs a new way to digest the past and understand there’s more to food than meets the eye.
4. Art History for All
Visual art can be difficult to translate into a podcast, a whole different medium, for art enthusiasts to enjoy. But that’s what Art History for All does for its listeners with class and finesse, no less. This history podcast provides access to the most prestigious artworks to everybody willing to listen.
Art History for All is clever and highly informative. It invites its listeners to be subjective when they think about art and what it means to them. In each episode, Allyson Healy discusses one art masterpiece and paints it together with today’s major cultural movements.
In one episode, Healy talked about a Zimbabwean Shona headrest in the Met’s collection and how foreign art came to be in a Western museum. It’s an intelligent analysis of cultural appropriation. It also discusses the controversial question of whether art should be returned to their culture of origin.
5. More Perfect
More Perfect gives you a history lesson you never asked for but needed. This history podcast explores Supreme Court cases that include everything from education, marriage, public safety, and sex.
Host Jad Abumrad with his special guests, do their best to understand what affected the decisions court justices made years ago. Decisions that are still making their ripple effects on today’s American society. This is an important history podcast everyone should make time for. People tend to overlook judicial rulings because they think it won’t affect them as a single citizen. But it’s the complete opposite.
More Perfect puts light on the decisions made in the Supreme Court and how it has shaped almost every aspect of American lives. These decisions unravel the roots of what America was and what America will be.
6. The Memory Palace
The Memory Palace is a must-hear for history enthusiasts with its extensive archive of evocative stories that will definitely transport you to a different time.
Nate DiMeo, the history podcast’s host, is the creative architect of The Memory Palace. He provides a safe haven for people who want to vividly experience ancient history, or what it’s like to be a surfman in the 19th century.
The Memory Palace specializes in delivering nostalgia rather than a history lesson, which is often what people need in times of uncertainty. A look back on our humble roots to keep our feet grounded in reality.
7. The British History Podcast
The British History Podcast takes history very seriously in its chronological retelling of the entirety of the history of Britain.
In this history podcast, host Jamie Jeffers focuses on the lives of British men and women through the years. In every episode, we dive deeper into their fears, desires, and flaws and how they shaped the great nations of Scotland, England, and Wales.
Nothing is more terrifying than real life. Aaron Mahnke makes sure we know with his award-winning history podcast, Lore.
Lore exposes the dark side of history from true crime to mystery creatures and haunted places. Mahnke hosts this campfire-style storytelling to evoke fears you didn’t know you have. It also brings a different perspective on why these horrible things happened and why they should stay in the past.
A Lore episode looked into the Danvers State Hospital, the first asylum that did an icepick lobotomy and committed countless horrors to mentally ill patients. It’s a harrowing tale of true tortures that the human psyche can be capable of. But on a different note, it also shows the progress we have made in terms of mental health and healthcare in general.
According to Backstory’s hosts Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly, and Joanne Freeman, there’s history you had to learn and there’s history you want to learn. This history podcast discusses history their listeners want to hear and encourages you to engage in the podcast like you’re in a cocktail party.
Backstory approaches each topic with a history lesson on America. Its hosts are bona fide academics from Virginia Humanities, but don’t mistake them from tedious professors because learning history has never been this entertaining.
10. History of Rome and Revolutions
Rome is a staple in every history lesson. When discussing the past, one cannot help mentioning the great empire that ruled the world once upon a time.
Mike Duncan’s history podcast discusses Roman history in the most humorous way as you should when you talk about betrayals, scandals, and civil war in Rome. Revolutions is another history podcast of Duncan that circles on the different revolutions in the world.
This podcast doesn’t only give you your history fix but also your dose of drama. Because just like everything else, history is never short of drama.
11. Our Fake History
Our Fake History is a different kind of history podcast. Instead of honoring the past, podcast host Sebastian Major challenges history’s myths and tries to prove them wrong.
History, unfortunately, isn’t one of the most truthful retellings of the past. Despite its standing in the educational system, history can still be biased in terms of who’s telling it. This is where Our Fake History comes in. This history podcast debunks the myths retold from generation to generation. In each episode, they explore the past and find the truth amongst myth and find the myth amongst truth.
Our Fake History dives deep and finds the answers to the questions from the past people are too afraid to ask. Did William Shakespeare write those famous plays? Was Queen Elizabeth I actually a cross-dressing man? Moon landings, true or not? The answers are out there! You can check their website for all their podcast episodes to find out.
12. History Becomes Her
When Rachel Thompson found out that women only fill 0.5 percent of recorded history, despite making up 50% of the total population, she made it her mission to bring forth “herstory” forward.
History Becomes Her is a history podcast dedicated to undoing the erasure of women in history books. In every episode, Thompson interviews modern-day heroines and discusses the women from the past who paved the way for them.
History Becomes Her is an essential podcast for those looking for female role models and representation in history. If you’re tired of hearing the his in history, History Becomes Her provides a refreshing and timely alternative.
13. You Must Remember This
There’s something about Hollywood that captivates everyone who gazes upon it. It’s the lights, camera, action, and all that jazz. But Hollywood is not all glitz and glamour, and that’s what Karina Longworth unravels in her history podcast.
You Must Remember This kills the romanticism of Tinseltown. In each episode, it exposes the harsh reality the stars of the past faced behind the camera. Host Longworth takes you backstage to Hollywood scandals, violence, sex, and drugs in the Golden Age that led to what Hollywood is now.
You Must Remember This is a special history podcast that pushes people to remember a bygone era that’s been extremely sensationalized to hide the truth. This podcast is a film and history enthusiasts’ wet dream. Longworth did extensive research to get you the inside scoop from icons like Marilyn Monroe and villains like Charles Manson. You can check out their website for their archive of episodes.
14. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History might be the top search result you get when you type history podcast. Broadcaster and journalist Carlin has been in the podcasting game for years now. And he takes history very seriously — hardcore, even.
What sets Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast apart is that he doesn’t take any interviews or guests. He doesn’t use any fancy sound effects either. Carlin utilizes his pure oratory prowess to narrate epic battles and wars of the past which’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Hardcore History specializes in high drama and mind-bending twists and turns. This incredibly researched and produced podcast is definitely worth your time because one episode lasts at least four hours.
15. Hope, Through History
Hope, Through History is best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham’s brainchild. It’s a history podcast that explores the impact of the major crises the American people endured and how they came through stronger as a nation.
Season one of Hope, Through History focused on the Great Depression, the 1918 Flu Pandemic, the polio epidemic, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and World War II. Meacham examined how America’s citizens and leaders reacted amid panic and tumult, which is a great way to reflect while we are going through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hope, Through History aims to, well, offer hope to its listeners. America, the whole world is in a difficult time, and Meacham encourages the people to take a step back and look to their predecessors and learn from them.
Where You Can Listen to History Podcasts
Now what good are these history podcasts if you can’t listen to them? Here are some apps you can download and use to listen to the top 15 history podcast shows on any device.
Why You Should Listen to History Podcasts
Everyone should take the time to listen to history podcasts. They are like two-way mirrors you can use to look at the past and reflect on what’s happening now. It’s a great tool to honor the people who have made the present possible for you.
Thanks to history podcasts, history lessons have never been more entertaining and engaging. Historians, academics, and history aficionados have put in the work for you to understand the past. All you need to do is lend an ear.
As we live through this pandemic, political unrest, economic crisis, and mass mental health decline, one can’t help but feel overwhelmed and disheartened. But it’s okay — it’s going to be okay. Do you know how we know that? History.
The human race has been through a pandemic, political unrest, economic crisis, and mass mental health decline. And we have prevailed. Listening to history podcasts can provide you the comfort you might be needing at this time. Listen for yourself how there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
If you want, you can share your learning from these history podcasts and start one yourself with our beginner’s guide. Help us spread hope and educate!