Archive for the Episode Category

Episode 161: Q&A Three

Posted 15 September 2020 by
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It’s been over four years since we last stepped from behind the curtain to answer questions from the other end of the mic. We put out a call in our private Facebook group,The History Chicks Lounge for questions not answered in either of our two previous Q&A episodes…and the response was fast and overwhelming! Unless you like six-hour podcasts, there isn’t time to answer all those questions in one episode, but we narrowed down the list, combined some similar ones, and then threw some of our own into the discussion after we hit RECORD.

Can we spend an hour talking and not include book references? No, we can’t.

Beckett’s ultimate life inspiration. By Rosamunde Pilcher


The David Susan couldn’t remember, David Levithan’s inter-human vessel transportation series.


Chicago’s beloved and glorious Palmer House hotel has been closed since March due to Covid issues, but they may never be able to open those glorious doors again. Read about it in the Chicago Tribune and take a virtual tour here at the Palmer House.

Like Minds Travel is organizing our Field Trip to London which is now postponed until June 2021. If you’re interested in finding out more, click on through to see the schedule and sign up to join us!


“Wait! You wrote a book?! ” No, we wrote a partially finished, not-ready-to-talk- about book. This is what happened when word got out (not because of anything we said -which was nothing.) (The hot mess of a cover has been changed.) Thank you for trying to pre-order and keeping the dream alive for us!

2022…maybe? Probably?

Not that sending us hooch is the way to our hearts, but it sure was welcome when Sailor from Uncle Nearest whiskey did! If you’re over 21, click THIS LINK to see the really amazing origin story told by LaVar Burton and recipes! We do apologize for calling it “bourbon” we know better, it was an “in the moment” thing. (Also, we don’t have a PO Box or address we give out in public.)

Quantum Leap doesn’t appear to be streaming anywhere, but you can purchase it to view on Prime Video.

(And, yes, the main character’s name was Sam Beckett.)



A hearty THANK YOU to everyone who submitted questions and all who listen! You are our reward.

All music courtesy of James Harper of Harper Active, the end song is his remix of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons


Episode 160: Empress Elisabeth, “Sisi,” of Austria Part Two

Posted 3 September 2020 by
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Empress Sisi at 28 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, dress by Charles Frederick Worth (of course it was)  1865

Empress Sisi’s story often reads like a fairytale … usually because it’s fiction. The basics of her life do parallel those tales: a vivacious, beautiful young woman is chosen from all the lands as the love of the Austrian emperor. As a beloved Empress, she added a fresh energy to Viennese court while riding horses, maintaining her youthful glow, being a fashion icon, mingling with her people, and raising a family.

But the reality behind that lovely facade is s a little darker, a little sadder, and did not end in a “happily ever after.”

When we left Sisi in Part One, she had returned from a successful diplomatic mission to Italy with her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, and found a rather disturbing, and anonymous (cough Aunt Sophie cough), message basically saying, “You’re replaceable until you produce a male heir.”

Cool. Cool.

(Not really cool.)

One of two racy boudoir portraits of Sisi about age 28 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Sisi did, eventually, deliver a male heir (and even helped name him, so that’s an improvement over baby Sophie and Gisela) but the joy was overshadowed by the loss of her firstborn, many years of living under Aunt Sophie’s thumb, a desire to be out of the public eye, and a growing nonchalance towards Franz Joseph. Sisi retreated into a restrictive and … um … unique personal care routine and as much extended travel as she could arrange. (Helllooooo, Corfu!) Even when she finally returned to court she realized that life as the freshly crowned Queen of Hungary was more to her liking than what being the Empress of Austria in Vienna offered her.

Hungarian Imperial Palace, Gödöllő via Irene Nemess pixabay 


House on Corfu, Achillion, thankfully not destroyed wikicommons

What Hungary also gave her was a place to give birth to and raise on her own, her fourth and final child, Valerie. But the thrill of her semi-independence and Friend-Zoned marriage was again overshadowed by tragedy when her son, Rudolf died by suicide when Sisi was 51 and Rudi was only 30.

Last photo of Sisi taken the day before her assassination with companion, Irma Sztaray wikicommons

For the remaining nine years of her life, Sisi traveled almost exclusively and retreated from public life as much as a recognizable empress with paparazzi stalking her could. Although her Aunt/Mother-in-law had passed away, the damage she had created to Sisi’s reputation in the Viennese court was long-lasting and Sisi’s See Ya Later lifestyle ignited an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality in Austria. FJ had his hands full losing territory and power, but when Sisi was assassinated by an anarchist simply for being the wrong royal at the wrong place at the wrong time, on September 10, 1889, he mourned her deeply and said, “You do not know how much I loved that woman.” Sisi was 60 years old.

Although Sisi was physically no longer alive, her image took on a life of its own. She was beautiful and kind (also very eccentric and vain) but in the collective memory of her, she became the most beautiful, generous, kind, glamorous woman the world had ever known … and when the Sisi movies came out in the 1950’s that’s the image that had a serious power boost.

Sisi is buried in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna.


Time Travel with The History Chicks



Sisi Museum in Vienna has a fantastic online collection of artifacts and articles, going would be great…but this is a good one for us keyboard travelers, we do love a good virtual tour: Sisi Museum

You can also visit the Imperial Crypt in Vienna 

The comparisons to Princess Diana is pretty obvious to us, but if you would like to see all the points here is an article in Vanity Fair comparing the two, and here is an article in Town and Country of Princess Diana’s life in pictures.

We love the Court Jeweller, she really does a great job of documenting the history of royal jewels including Sisi’s famous edelweiss stars that she wore in her hair and ignited (another) fashion trend.

If you or anyone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. In the US, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit THIS LINK for free, confidential support. In the UK you can call Samaritan’s Purse at 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258 .

Want to learn more about anarchists’ violent activities? Here is a good place to start at the US Library of Congress.and from Susan’s former employer, Encyclopaedia Britannica.



The one we both put as our favorite. It’s very contemporary for a book from the 1930s! By Bertita Harding



By Joan Haslip, Susan’s most Post-it flagged


Beckett’s Number Two, by Andrew Sinclair


If you want ALL the political intrigue and love the deep, deep…deep dives. By George Marek


By Empress Elisabeth herself. Good luck finding it, but if you can read German, it’s on Projekt Gutenburg-De


It’s a translation and could use a good copy editing, but the pictures are terrific. By Katrin Unterreiner


Fiction, one of several by Allison Pataki (the audiobook Susan’s son was listening to when he said “That Sophie is a b**ch!”)

For kids:

Royal Diaries series, we’re fans of these books for younger readers. Fiction, but very well researched.

Moving Pictures!

This is the site/app that we use through our libraries for movies and documentaries, KANOPY, and for ebooks and audiobooks we like Libby (Not sponsored, none of our recommendations ever are and we do not accept books in exchange for reviews.)

Here’s a little taste of the Sisi of the movies with Romy Schneider Beer, beer, beer…:


And the more contemporary (and doppelganger) Italian Sisi of 2009:

Princess Sissi was an animated series for a couple of seasons in Canada, three cheers if you can find it online, but here is the wikifandom page for it!


The Dorell’s in Corfu is on Amazon Prime and PBS (in the US) but here is an article about the real family behind the semi-autobiographical books turned TV series. Wait. Larry Didn’t Write Them?? 

This episode was sponsored by you (when you donate through our tasteful link to your right or use the links and codes listed in the Sponsor Tab) Thank you!

Break Music: Hungarian Holiday, by Fernwood; Hypnotized, by Proper Authorities

End Song: She is looking for something, by LYNX and Janover

Music used with permission from ILicense Music

Episode 159: Empress Sisi of Austria, Part One

Posted 17 August 2020 by
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Sisi as a newlywed circa 1855 

Empress Sisi’s story often reads like a fairytale…usually because a lot of the coverage of her life is fiction. The basics do parallel those tales: a vivacious, beautiful young woman is chosen from all the lands as the love of the Austrian emperor. As a beloved Empress, she adds fresh energy to Viennese court while riding horses, maintaining her youthful energy, being a fashion icon, and raising a family.

But the reality behind that lovely facade is a little darker, a little sadder, and did not end in a “happily ever after.” (more…)

Episode 157: Lady Bird Johnson

Posted 21 July 2020 by
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Lady Bird’s official White House portrait by Elizabeth Shoumatoff   Library of Congress

While researching Zephyr Wright, we both learned quite a bit about her employer, Lady Bird Johnson. Since we knew a lot about her (and our libraries were still closed) we thought we would share the story of this intelligent woman who had her own interests and accomplishments outside the work she did with her husband, President Lyndon B. Johnson. (more…)

Episode 156: The Statue of Liberty, Revisited

Posted 6 July 2020 by
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courtesy, Ahundt via Pixabay

Time Travel With The History Chicks

For photos, recommendations, and links to things we talked about today, click on over to our original STATUE OF LIBERTY SHOWNOTES.



We would like to say thanks to the sponsors of this episode! Did you know that when you support the companies that support us, YOU become a sponsor, too? Thank you!


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Episode 155: Aunt Jemima

Posted 26 June 2020 by
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Nancy Green was the first of several women who played the role to sell pancake mix 

In 1889, Aunt Jemima crossed from the footlights to the grocery store, where she’s been a fixture for 131 years. On the eve of her departure, we give you the dark history of this American icon – and the stories of a few women who made her come alive. (more…)

Episode 154: Fannie Lou Hamer

Posted 15 June 2020 by
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Fannie giving her testimony in 1964 at the Democratic National Convention…despite the president’s attempts to silence her.

Fannie Lou Hamer was called the “Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” and, sometimes, “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement” and both are very appropriate. (more…)

Episode 153: Catherine the Great, *Part Two of an entirely true story

Posted 8 June 2020 by
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Elle Fanning will mature and look exactly like the real Catherine. Maybe. Probably not.

Are you watching Hulu’s series, The Great, and wondering what the real story of Catherine the Great is?  We’ll finish up her life in this episode, so you can do your own comparing and contrasting. We left Catherine at the end of Part One alone, sad, and directionless. The perfect time for a woman to make some life changes, right?

Oh yeah. (more…)

Episode 152: Catherine the Great *An entirely true story

Posted 25 May 2020 by
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The real Catherine and Peter

Have you watched Hulu’s The Great yet? It’s a new series based on the life of Catherine the Great. It’s funny, bawdy, beautifully costumed and shot in some very lovely locations (mostly in the UK) but how true is it? The graphics tell us, right upfront, that it’s “an occasionally true story” so we’re warned. BUT there is just enough truth to make even us pause and Google, so we thought that a revisit was in order. This episode was originally posted in 2016, and we’ve remastered the audio as best as possible.  (more…)

Episode 151: Zephyr Wright

Posted 14 May 2020 by
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Not all civil rights activists lead marches, sometimes their contributions are quiet and out of the spotlight. We talk a lot about the women who have the bullhorn in their hands and are leading the charge, but what about the women who work behind the scenes? The women whose contributions aren’t well known but are, nevertheless, important? Zephyr Wright was one of those women.

Zephyr, far right with her handbag*, as President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1964. *fairly certain that’s her, she wasn’t in front of the camera much!