Everything has a history, whether it’s a country, a famous figure, a piece of art, or a popular snack food. Try doing one quick search for a history podcast and the expansive range of the topic becomes clear. With such a massive selection of history-themed podcasts available, it’s tough to decide where to start in scratching your itch for interesting and informational content. Luckily, this massive selection also means there are niche podcasts to cover the history of just about any topic you can think of. Here are our picks for the 10 best history podcasts.
Gastropod is like heaven in an audio file for anyone who is both a foodie and a history buff. The show, which is hosted by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley, takes a deep dive into the science and history of every food topic under the sun. Since 2014, Gastropod has covered a huge range of topics, including how humans began cooking our food in the first place, the history of cannibalism, and the science and history of cheese. The show is well produced, with audio clips and interviews interjected into the narration and in-depth research translated into perfectly digestible bites of food history.
Before the 2016 election, the Washington Post launched Presidential, a podcast about every person who has held the highest office in the United States. Each episode focuses on a single president and tells the story of how they ended up on the ticket and all the ways in which their presidency shaped the course of American history. The show includes interviews with experts, political figures, and descendants of some of the nation’s earliest leaders. While every episode includes interesting tidbits about its subject, the show is at its best when covering the lesser-known presidents who often get left out of discussions about the office.
History enthusiast and part-time Salem tour guide Nancy Mades Byrd hosts this show, focused entirely on the history of witch hunts around the world. She begins the series by covering the infamous Salem Witch Trials, then branches out to other similar events from across the globe, diving into the darkly fascinating histories of trials that don’t get talked about as often. Byrd’s narration style makes it feel like you’re swapping stories around a campfire as she explores how and why witch hunts became a part of human history.
You Must Remember This
You Must Remember This is an entertainment-history podcast that explores the first century of Hollywood. Host Karina Longworth’s genuine passion for her subject matter is evident in every syllable as she unravels the fascinating, unexpected, and often surprisingly emotional stories of early Hollywood figures like Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, and more.
Tides of History
The Middle Ages are one of the most interesting time periods in human history, so it’s easy to understand why Patrick Wyman created Tides of History, which focuses largely on the era. Wyman tells the history of topics like chivalry, the Black Death, and the Age of Discovery through characters he creates to mimic the experience of someone living through the Middle Ages. These characters and the mini-narratives surrounding them give the show a unique feel as Wyman places you back in time and reveals the world of the Middle Ages to you through his characters’ eyes.
Sawbones explores the weird, icky, and downright ridiculous history of medicine and just how much crazy stuff we humans have done to each other in the pursuit of understanding our own bodies. The show is hosted by husband and wife duo Justin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroy, who herself is a practicing physician and an exceptionally thorough super nerd/researcher. The couple’s humor makes the show equal parts hilarious and informative.
Host Jennifer Dasal describes Art Curious as a show all about “exploring the unexpected, the slightly odd, and the strangely wonderful in art history.” Episodes focus on a specific artist, movement, or work of art and unwrap the fascinating stories that color the art world. Past topics have included the rivalry between Manet and Degas, art and World War II, and Hitler the (failed) artist. Dasal’s enthusiasm for her topics is infectious.
History of Pirates
Craig Buddy is your captain on History of Pirates, an adventure into the history behind all things pirate, from Black Beard to ancient pirates to pirate-themed media. Buddy has a gentle narration style and dives head first into his theme, referring to himself as captain and to you, the listener, as his crew. The show is quick and quirky, with episodes ranging in length from a few short minutes to just under an hour.
Philosophy can be a difficult topic to wade into, with so many notable figures, such vast history, and no shortage of lofty ideas. On Philosophize This!, host Steven West makes the topic completely accessible without brushing away any of the fascination and introspection that makes philosophy such a rewarding subject. West tackles everything you’d ever want to know about the history of Philosophy with a snappy sense of humor and a conversational tone that invites you to ponder the big picture of the human experience.
From Mike Duncan, who you may know from his wildly popular History of Rome podcast, comes Revolutions, a show that follows revolutions from throughout history. Duncan covers each revolution with a dedicated series of episodes, telling each story independently and exploring the connections between them as he transitions from one revolution story to the next. From the American Revolution to the French Revolution to the fight for Latin American Independence (and more), the show explores how revolutions happen and how they shape history.
If you burn through all of these, you should check out our favorite podcasts for road trips, our top overall picks for 2018, these productive podcasts to help get your life together, some spooky horror podcasts, the best fiction podcasts overall, podcasts to listen to at work, or The Manual’s own podcast. Need more suggestions? Here are some of our faves for men’s fashion, craft beer, and true crime.