Archive for the Podcasts Category

Episode 108: The Statue of Liberty

Posted 30 June 2018 by
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She’s neither alive nor dead; she exists but has never taken a breath; her innards are as hard as steel, but just the sight of her has brought men to grateful, hopeful tears. The Statue of Liberty is a she, which makes her fair game for one of our conversations.


Liberty Enlightening the World was born in the mind of this guy, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the artist who is responsible for creating this now iconic symbol of liberty, freedom, immigration and the United States.

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, circa 1880 wikicommons


Bartholdi’s Lion of Belfort, another gigantic statue he created, this one to commemorate a battle of the Franco-Prussian war.


The podcast has all the details –we discuss the origin stories floating around for Lady Liberty, the background of her creator, the inspiration for her image and how it progressed, the intended symbolism of her and how it has changed over the years.


France Crowning Art and Industry–where have we seen that face? It’s been said that Bartholdi’s mother, or his brother or his lover could have been the model…but we’re both, like, huh. Really? (Elias Robert via wikicommons)


This was given to Mary Todd Lincoln in 1866–long before our Statue of Liberty was a thing (although, there it is on the coin.)

We talk about all the steps in Liberty’s transformation from lighthouse for the Suez Canal (didn’t happen) to a more figurative lighthouse than a literal one on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor…and how did Gustav Eiffel get her to stand up in some really rough conditions?

The arm and torch at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876


The head hanging out in Paris

The path to National Treasure was a long and bumpy one, especially financially. The people of France banded together to finance this gift to the United States, but it took a lot longer for the US to get her act together, with the help of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and his very successful campaign to get even the smallest of donations from the American people.


After US funding FINALLY came through for the pedestal.


After she was shipped to the US and unpacking began (a year after the boxes arrived.) Library of Congress

Bartholdi brilliantly patented Liberty’s image. Hey, an artist has to make a living–working for “exposure” is not adequate compensation and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Finally, on October 28th, 1886 the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York harbor.

It was a BIG deal! Edward Moran, Liberty Enlightening the World (her birth name.)

But that wasn’t the end of her story, not by a long shot! She’s still with us, standing 305′ tall (base of pedestal to tip of torch) and unlike every other subject that we’ve covered, you can still visit her and be a part of her history.


Time Travel With The History Chicks


Elizabeth Mitchell


Edward Berenson


Jonathan Harris


Nancy Jo Fox (This is the one with the Liberty and Columbia art that Beckett talked about)


Barry Moreno


Graphic kids’ book, Xavier Niz, Cynthia Martin


Kids’ book, Linda Glaser, Claire. A. Nivola


Liberty Ellis Foundation. Be a part of history and contribute to help build a museum, look for ancestors who came to New York while Ellis Island was open or just take a click-tour around the site.

National Park Service Statue of Liberty Site, that link will take you right to the torch cam portal, but there is a lot more on the rest of the site to explore (Susan just thinks the camera views are seriously cool.)

Bartholdi Museum in Colmar, France. He created a lot more art than just a 151′ woman, you know, check it out here (and if you go in person, post some photos on Instagram with #historychicksfieldtrip please.) Did we mention that there’s a virtual tour? How much do we love this trend? Don’t get us wrong, GOING to a museum is a 100000bajillion% better, but it’s often not possible.

There are Liberty replicas all over the world, here’s a Guardian piece about some of them.

Our friends The Bowery Boys did a great podcast on Ellis Island, it’s back in their archives, Episode #88.

And the fine folks at Drunk History covered part of the story in Joseph Pulitzer Saves the Statue of Liberty.

They don’t make the Statue of Liberty version anymore-although they do have a colorful selection available now- we know someone is going to want a link to Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty so here ya go. 


Beckett ran down her top five movies where Lady Liberty had a role, but here’s a Babble article with several more.

If you would like to learn more about Columbia and Liberty here is a good write-up,and here’s the audio of the first US National Anthem, Hail Columbia (which is so much like Itsy Bitsy Spider it’s impossible to unhear. )

A couple of documentaries:


This is the one that will show you how she was built


Finally, here is the Pinterest board for Lady Liberty! (You should follow us on Pinterest) and the link to help the show get into the ears of people around the world is at the top of this page, a tasteful donate button.)

Episode 107: Mary Pickford

Posted 11 June 2018 by
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Mary Pickford was an actress, writer, director, producer, studio head and entrepreneur…but she’s often remembered as “that pretty girl with the curls in silent movies.”

Excuse us? Oh no, that just won’t do.

Library of Congress


Episode 106: Beatrix Potter Revisited and Refreshed

Posted 19 May 2018 by
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This week we’re taking a look back at one of the women who surprised us both, in the most delightful of ways-Beatrix Potter. As time and technology has allowed, we’ve gone back and quietly remastered the audio in a number of our older shows and Beatrix is the latest. When we know better, we do better! (more…)

Episode 105: Dowager Empress Cixi of China

Posted 30 April 2018 by
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The true story of a woman who, essentially, ruled China for almost 50 years is cloaked by years of inaccurate (read: fabricated) reporting and several sources muddled through translation. Sometimes it feels as if her history is behind the same silk screen where she ruled, a clear outline with veiled detail.

So this’ll be fun!

Yehenara Tsing was born on November 29, 1853. Her name changes several times through her life (and more through translated spellings): Tsing (some sources use her family name which appears first), Lan, Yi and finally the form that she is known to history: Cixi. (more…)

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. (more…)

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


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…