Archive for the Episode Category

Episode 104: Louisa May Alcott

Posted 8 April 2018 by
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Louisa May Alcott is easily remembered as the author of the sweet coming of age novel about four sisters in Civil War era New England. It was based on her life and her family, but it left out a lot. Like poverty, consistent moving, a father with more lofty ideals than successful methods to deliver them, and writing a large body of work across many genres before she even sat down to write Little Women. Learning her story brings a deeper level of appreciation to all of her work and a good look into the era from a unique perspective.

Plus, it’s a great story of a determined, brilliant and brave woman. Lots to love.

Portraits used with permission, Louisa May Alcott Orchard House

Portraits used with permission Louisa May Alcott Orchard House

Louisa was born on November 29th, 1832 on her father’s 33rd birthday. She was an active child; headstrong, clever, and did we mention active? She did have three sisters that she would later base her Little Women characters on, and the family moved over 30 times in Louisa’s childhood years. They settled down in Concord, Massachusetts, for a long stretch, but Papa was never good with money, started a (quickly) failed Transcendentalist Utopian community, and Mama Abigail (we call her “Abba” because she called herself that) took control of the family. But that meant a lot of hard work for all of the girls (except the baby, May…Amy in the books).

Orchard House (via LM Alcott Orchard House)

Louisa called this house, Orchard House, “Apple Slump” in a derogatory way, but this dessert looks very good (and we stopped looking when we found a recipe that called for bourbon because…duh.) Apple Slump Recipe, would be great noshing when you have a Little Women viewing party.

Louisa had her first published work at 22, then more romance, mystery and thrillers (think: Bodice Rippers) under her own name – and pseudonyms. She did an eye-opening stint as an Army nurse during the Civil War, wrote a successful series of stories about it when she came home, and was then asked to write a juvenile novel for girls.

So she did. And then she did several times more. It wasn’t that she loved writing any particular genre, she loved getting paid to write anything that sold.

Susan’s copy (with the price tag still inside!)

Louisa also spent time and energy working on abolition, women’s suffrage and helping the impoverished.  When her baby sister May died just after childbirth, Louisa took the child into her own home(s) and raised her.

Well, raised her until years of some mystery ailment (although signs seem to point to Lupus) sent her health into a spiral and she died (signs seem to point to a stroke) at the age of 55 on March 6, 1888…two days after her birthday-twin father died at 88.

Louisa’s grave via wikicommons


Time Travel with The History Chicks


If you are in the Concord (it’s near Boston. Massachusetts) area, you really should stop by Louisa’s Orchard House museum, and if you’re like the rest of us and are too far away, you can take a virtual tour. Here’s a link to Louisa May Alcott Orchard House

And here you may as well go to Fruitlands, too…why not? You’re almost there anyway. Fruitlands Museum, Harvard Massachusetts. 



Like books? Want to read some of the ones we’ve suggested over the years and talk about them with other listeners? Join our Goodreads Book Club! 


Madeleine Stern


Harriet Reisen


Madeleine Stern


Eve La Plante


John Matteson

Beckett’s suggested LM Alcott reading:


Terry Clothier Thompson. If you make this, please, please, please send us a pic!


By Rey Terciera, illustrated by Bre Indigo (Graphic novel)

This one is available on Project Gutenberg so you can start reading right now! Louisa May Alcott: Her life, letters and journals

Transcendental Oats is also online for your reading pleasure.

If you are excited about reading Pilgrim’s Progress, it’s on Project Gutenberg, too! It starts with an Author Apology…ahhh, we’ve all read books that should have had one of those, amirite?


If you would like to join our private Facebook group, The History Chicks Podcast Lounge, here is a link and if you could answer the entry question when you knock on the door, it makes our lives just a little easier!

If you would like to join our listener run Goodreads Book Club and read some of the books that we have been recommending over the years and join in the discussion from the comfort of your own home, please do!

Episode 103: Ada Lovelace

Posted 17 March 2018 by
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Countess Ada Lovelace’s mind was extraordinary in the truest sense, truthfully there was very little that was ordinary about her. She was the only legitimate daughter of the poet, Lord Byron and his only wife, Annabella (the 11th Baroness Wentworth thankyouverymuch.) She never met her wild and wildly popular father, was raised by a mother who protected her from the fame-by-association that came with having that kind of parent, educated in a manner that most girls of the time never experienced and, eventually, used that education along with her logical and creative brain to write the world’s first computer program. (more…)

Episode 102: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part Two

Posted 25 February 2018 by
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When we last left Jackie, she was about to set off for a political appearance with her husband to Texas in 1963. This episode covers what happened on that trip, and how she handled her grief and lived her life until her death on May 19, 1994. We really saw three different versions of Jackie in this episode: The Widow, The Mrs. Onassis, The Happy Jackie… and we cover all of them.

The most tragically iconic suit. Dallas, Texas November 22, 1963


Jackie and her children had to establish a new life.

We had such a long list of media, our book stacks (and subsequent library late fines) were larger than we’ve ever had before, so we’re just going to focus on all of our recommendations and links here.


The National First Ladies Library and Museum in Canton, OH (someone should go and report back to us) has both a physical and a cyber presence, as does the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Boston MA

Audio of Boston Symphony conductor informing audience of assassination on VIMEO and then symphony playing the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony on November 22, 1963.

Jackie addressed the nation not long after her husband’s assassination, this is the raw footage from that television appearance:


We both think that watching this, listening to part of the hours and hours of recordings that she made shortly after the President’s death is a really important element of understanding her. Settle back for an hour and listen to Jackie in her own words.


Want a peek into Jackie’s New York apartment and a video about her time there? Check out this Untapped Cities article and this Vanity Fair video.

Our friends, The Bowery Boys, recently covered the rescue of Grand Central Station and not only talk about Jackie’s involvement but interview someone who worked with her on the project! The Bowery Boys New York History #255


We had a lot of books that we liked and we pared those down to our favorites listed here, but if you are only going to read a couple we strongly recommend these two:

Collection of 250 letters selected from the over 1.5 million received during the first year after JFK’s death. It’s not only very touching but it gives good insight into the way the public felt about Jackie.


We both had this as our favorite biography–that rarely happens!

Bonus one we both liked for the kids:

And we both loved this kids’ book!

More biographies:

By Donald Spoto


This is the very thick, very detailed one by C. David Heyman

Coffee table books:

Susan liked this one about Jackie’s life as an equestrian


If you happen to be digging through old People Magazines, you might like to read this one. John Kennedy, Jr, Sexiest Man 1988


There have been several movies with and about Jackie, but the only one we really care about is this one:

Jackie starring Natalie Portman

And there are many documentaries. This one is on Netflix now (February, 2018) and is a good look at both Jackie and her sister, Lee who is still living an interesting life.

Currently on Netflix

Episode 101: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part One

Posted 9 February 2018 by
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Only the most iconic of women can simply go by one name, and Jackie is one of them. Her life was a complicated collage of privilege, challenge, balance and reinvention. In this episode, we talk about the first half of that life from baby of affluence born exactly when the wealth of the US crashed, to just before she headed off on a trip with her husband to Texas in 1963.


Episode 100: A Celebration!

Posted 17 January 2018 by
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We’re celebrating our 100th full-length episode and our 7th year by pulling back the curtain and taking a look at some women and moments that we will never forget.


Episode 99: Pocahontas

Posted 23 December 2017 by
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The only image of her done in her lifetime and this was close to the end of it. Marketing materials of the Virginia Company

The story of Pocahontas is legendary: Native American Princess saves early English settler’s life, they fall in love, she thinks he dies so she moves in with the English, converts to Christianity and marries another Englishman only to learn her original love was still alive. Pocahontas. Captain John Smith. Ring any bells? But do the bells in that story ring true? At all?

Did she really save John Smith from being murdered? Photo: U.S. Capital building, Architect of the Capital

Pocahontas was a young Powhatan who was instrumental in the survival of the earliest English colonists and did live with them, but “princess”? Not exactly.

“Young woman?” How about little kid?

“Love with Captain John Smith?” Friendship, yes, love…not so much.

“Moves in with English?” Try imprisoned. “Pocahontas” wasn’t even always her name, she had several: Amonute, Matoake and Rebecca. “Pocahontas” was a nickname.

And that “colonist” thing? Let’s use “emigrant,” shall we? The English didn’t discover the land around the modern Chesapeake Bay on the eastern shores of the current United States, that land was already home to a very large nation of native American tribes all governed under the umbrella of the Powhatan Chiefdom and led by the Paramount Chief–the English stole it. Heck, they weren’t even the first Europeans to land in the area, the Spanish beat them by decades.

First English map of the area, by John Smith

Pocahontas was the daughter of that chief. When she was about 11, John Smith and friends landed in her backyard and never left. In this episode we give you all the sides to that story from her birth up, through her imprisonment by the English, marriage to John Rolfe, influence on the economic home-run that was Virginia tobacco…all the way until her early death at the age of 21 when she was on tour in England.




Oral history of the Mattaponi Reservation People, one of the tribes in the Powhatan Chiefdom




Paula Gunn Allen a more spiritual look at her life


YA by Gail Fay




If you feel you must (and go in knowing the real story)

1995 Disney “White men are dangerous.”


Straight to video (and best seen at fast forwarded speed)


2005, lovely to look at (the dressing in English clothing scene is probably pretty spot on) but…argh, why must there be a romance??


The diet of the early British settlers in the Powhatan territories was very limited…and ghastly. Smithsonian article about cannibalized girl, the Powhatan Chiefdom, and more about life in general for the Jamestown settlers.

Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia have a lot of of early American historical activity waiting for you (and don’t forget to #historychicksfieldtrip on Instagram):

Historic Jamestown

Jamestown settlement living history museum

Visit Williamsburg

You wouldn’t have to travel much farther to get to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington or New York City.

And you could travel and travel and travel but you wouldn’t be able to get to the National Women’s History Museum because, well, it doesn’t exist…yet. Read about the efforts and how you can play a part in helping to establish this very important museum in Washington, D.C. as well as some great articles about women that need to be remembered.  National Women’s History Museum


It’s a little cheesy, but kids might like this Virginia Department of Education video about the 11 currently recognized Virginia Indian tribes.


And, in closing, we leave you with the only good song from Disney’s Pocahontas…

Episode 98: Coco Chanel

Posted 5 December 2017 by
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Gabrielle Chanel wasn’t born into the type of wealth she would earn or life she would live; she created everything she had from her signature look, scents, fortune, reputation, and image–good or bad.


Episode 97: Queen Lili’uokalani

Posted 11 November 2017 by
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She was the first Queen to rule and the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, but Queen Lili’uokalani’s story is the story of Hawaii.

Lili’uokalani at Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 (via Wikicommons)

Lili’u Loloku Walania Kamakaeha was born on September 2, 1838. She was given an English name at her baptism, Lydia (which we never used in the podcast) and raised in a Hawaiian tradition called hanai, a sort of adoption, by Abner Paki and his wife, Laura Konia. Hawaii, at Lydia’s birth and for most of her life, was an independent nation, with a legislative government, a constitution, laws, a system of land ownership and Lili’u was a part of the ruling class. (more…)

Episode 96: Sojourner Truth

Posted 22 October 2017 by
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Sojourner Truth was a slave, a mother, a freewoman, a preacher, a speaker and an activist at a time in US history that was full of change but also full of obstacles for a woman who was any of those things.


Episode 95: Hypatia of Alexandria

Posted 30 September 2017 by
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Yeah, your guess is a good as the illustrator’s here. No one knows what she looked like. wikicommons

Hypatia of Alexandria was a scholar, teacher, mathematician, philosopher and astronomer. She was the daughter of another intellectual, Theon of Alexandria, lived in the waning years of the Roman Empire and died in 415 A.D…and the rest of the details of her life are a bit sketchy. They had to be puzzled together from the writings of others that reference her and a lot of puzzle pieces are still missing. (more…)