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The History Chicks podcast review

by Lainey Harlow, Junior Editor

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Rating: 10/10

Starring: Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider

Sometimes when I see a rating of a perfect-ten, I’m immediately skeptical. But “The History Chicks,” which recently reached its hundredth episode, is truly deservant of that mark.

Whether you’re a history buff or you yawn at the mention of days gone by, the preparedness, enthusiasm and charm that Graham and Vollenweider bring to each and every episode are sure to keep you captivated.

So much of what we learn in high school history classes is dominated by male figures, and to quote Abigail Adams, isn’t it time that we “remember the ladies?” Each podcast episode presents an extensive tale of a different woman, or group of women, with painstaking detail and insightful commentary.

With seven years under their belts, the History Chicks have covered queens, first ladies, scientists, actresses, and women of countless other backgrounds ranging from 1500 BC to the 1900s. Additionally, their coverage of fictional characters, such as Cinderella, features multiple backgrounds and perspectives on beloved tales.

From their very first episode, covering the fabulously controversial Marie Antoinette, Vollenweider and Graham’s great passion buzzed in listener’s ears and was evident in their laughter and abundance of notes, obscure facts, and commentary. That very first episode, for example, opened my eyes to the rich history behind a queen so often written off as a flake, famous for a misquoted mention of cake.

What makes the podcast so unique, beyond the female perspective of times that so often worked to trap them in subordination, is the ample amount of additional resources, book and media recommendations and facts found in each episode’s show notes. The show’s website is teeming with special features, information about the podcaster’s trips to historical landmarks and enough pop-culture and media recommendations to make your inner geek squeal with delight.

And perhaps most importantly, each episode is more reminiscent of a chat with an old friend over tea rather than a full-on lecture. Susan and Beckett weave in tangents, opinions and a plethora of delightfully nerdy jokes, making it so much more than your ordinary and, to some, boring history lesson.

With 100 episodes and several mini-casts, I can’t quite pick a definitive favorite. My top picks include the episodes on 1950’s housewives, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Mary Todd Lincoln. By highlighting the eye-catching pasts of the wives and family members of prominent men, Graham and Vollenweider give these typically overshadowed women the attention they deserve.

So if you, like I so often have, scoffed at a perfect-ten rating, give just one episode a listen and give their website a quick browse and you might become just as obsessed as I am. Let’s just say that if I could give this gem of a podcast an “eleven,” I just might.

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