Author Archive - The History Chicks

Episode 181: Olympias

Posted 22 July 2021 by
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This image, from an ancient coin, is believed to be Olympias and the only known image of her still in existence…but even this has been disputed.

She had several names: Polyxena, Myrtale, Stratonice, and the one she is best known by, Olympias. People often get hung up on the snakes she had around her and the faith by which she lived her life– but we focused on the power she had as not only a wife of a king but the mother of a great one: Alexander the Great. We had to go in the Way…Way Back Machine for the story of this woman who was descended from Achilles (or so family lore claimed) and managed to survive a cut-throat court life at a very turbulent time and place in history.

Alexander the Great riding Bucephalus in Alexandria, Egypt

Olympias was born (probably) in 375 BCE, married King Phillip II of Macedonia in 357 BCE, and raised both a son and a daughter in the court of Macedonia. Her story has been buried beneath thousands of years of propaganda and patriarchy, but the truth is sloooowly being revealed and she isn’t quite as evil as ancient writers suggested.

Don’t get us wrong, she did some pretty vile things but her actions and motivations weren’t as shocking and out there when placed in the context of society of her time. The cast of players in her story are plentiful (and often share the same names, sigh) the actions of her family are legendary and, eventually, Olympias met a very painful end after a sham of a trial and a life of strategy, diplomacy, and victories.

Hers is an epic tale of mystery, deception, violence, devotion, cunning, bravery…and a few snakes.

Time Travel With The History Chicks

Books!

Pretty much the only biography only on Olympias by, Elizabeth Carney

 

Olympus also makes an appearance in this one also by Elizabeth Carney

 

Overview of Ancient Greece (in 450+ pages) by Robin Waterfield

 

The little one by Richard Billows

 

The big one by Adrian Goldsworthy

 

Good coverage of what the men behind the women were doing by Ian Worthington

By the fine folks at National Geographic

 

You can’t go wrong with anything by Jason Porath, and don’t miss his website, Rejected Princesses. He doesn’t update it any longer, and if you read his, Where’d you go post, your heart will go out to him and understand why he has moved on and, like us, wish him all the best.

Web!

Our You Say Potato, I Say Potato ( a title that works much better in an audio format) discussion about pronunciations of Macedonia: Forvo, Macedonia Discussion, Macedonia same Reddit

Dan Carlin Hardcore History Addendum podcast, episode 9: Glimpses of Olympias; and the History Cache Podcast (3-parter on Olympias)

Want to know more about Olympias? Some interesting point in this article by Lisa Jackson,

Doing What Comes Naturally:Olympias as Mother, Regent, and Royal Woman and more about Alexander as a person can be learned from this article from Facts and Details

Where is Olympias buried? Jury is still out. The very week of recording, this article in Live Science discusses the leading contender at this moment.

Where is Alexander the Great buried? Who knows? There have been discoveries of where it might be, read about the latest here, but the mystery is still unsolved, read about that in this History Extra article.

While Olympias had very little to do with the Olympics, it was the source of the name she’s best known by. For more facts on the ancient Olympics, check out this piece from The Collector.

To brush up on your Greek gods, here is a handy, easy-to-read primer, Pantheon of the Greek Gods.

Dionysus and a bit about his cult and what happened to Dionysus when the Romans got their hands on him? Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D tells you in this article.

Would you like to visit the Sovereign Nation of the Republic of Molossia? How about just reading about it here?

Moving Pictures!

That Movie, from 2004

This guide might help you follow along with facts in your head if, despite our best efforts, you decide to watch That Movie.

Here is one review you might want to read before giving 3 hours and 33 minutes of your life to That Movie: Peter Sobczyski review, rogerebert.com

Want to take a virtual tour of Samothrace?

Break music: Gnossienne No.3 by La Reverie and Toward the Battle by Phil Rey

End music: Killing the Drums by Horstreich

Episode 180: Statue of Liberty, Revisited

Posted 2 July 2021 by
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Liberty Enlightening the World! DoD photo by Lt. Matthew Stroup, U.S. Navy/Released)

The annual revisit of our coverage of the Statue of Liberty is, this year, coinciding with her Little Sister’s arrival in the US! The replica version is on loan first to be displayed on Ellis Island next to her big sister, and then heading to the French Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. where she will be on display for the next ten years!

Time Travel with The History Chicks

For more information on the Little Sister’s shipping and arrival, the Smithsonian Magazine has an article including a video of her packing for the trip.

For photos and links to the things we talked about in this episode, visit her original SHOWNOTES 

Episode 179: Marjorie Merriweather Post, Part Two

Posted 25 June 2021 by
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Portrait of Marjorie that hangs in the Marjorie Merriweather Post parlor in the Women’s Democratic Club in Washington, DC. (If you donate enough money to refurbish and furnish a mansion, you get a room named after you.) photo credit, us

When we left Marjorie, she was on her second marriage, this one to E.F. Hutton, and they were moving and shaking up New York and Palm Beach society. Marjorie had “strongly suggested” that the Postum Company should buy a new frozen food company, owned by one Clarence Birdseye, despite most homes and grocery stores not having freezers– and she had begun work on a very unique home in Palm Beach she named Mar a Lago.

Front gate to Mar a Lago, circa 1967 via wikicommons

Marjorie was quite the visionary…a very, very wealthy visionary!

Eventually, Postum did buy Birdseye (and a whole bunch of other prepared food companies) and became General Foods. Mar a Lago was joined on the Marjorie Property List by another estate in Washington, D.C. that she named Hillwood. She had a third daughter, helped feed the hungry in style during the Depression, did a great deal during WWII…and had another couple of husbands. Her third, Joseph Davies, enabled her to become the first American Ambassadress to Russia, and her fourth, Herbert May…well, that marriage probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place and wouldn’t have, if being gay wasn’t the social stigma that it was at the time.

Marjorie and Joe Davies onboard the Sea Cloud circa 1948

For the majority of her life, Marjorie spent her time and money on hosting society events, philanthropy, and philanthropic society events in Palm Beach, upstate New York, and Washington, D.C. She supported the arts in general and youth in the arts, specifically; she wrote large checks to help the Boy Scouts of America and threw garden parties for Vietnam veterans, and earned a library worth of awards for her many contributions.

And she did it all with such style, sincerity, generosity, and gracious warmth that she was able to maintain her standing in society until her death on September 12, 1973, at 86 years old.

 

 

Time Travel With The History Chicks

Books!

By Nancy Rubin

 

 

By Stella Chung

 

By William Wright

To learn about Marjorie’s life through different lenses:

Kate Markert and Erik Kvalinsvik

 

By team from Hillwood Estate

By Stella Chung

 

By the fine folks at the Hillwood Estate

Web!

The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens in Northwest Washington, DC houses all things Marjorie from her maaaany art collections to her expansive gardens, Hillwood is an immersive Marjorie experience! Can’t get there? The museum has you covered not only with an exceptional online visit but also with an extraordinarily impressive app that will give you guided tours from wherever you are (or to walk you through the estate if you’re fortunate enough to be there.)

Travel on the Sea Cloud (the ship formerly known as Hussar V!) She’s part of a luxury yacht cruise fleet, although it’s advertised through two businesses– Sea Cloud Cruises and Lindblad Cruises. The ship formerly known as the Hussar IV was renamed the Mandalay and was also a cruise ship in the Caribbean, but that business close this year. Perhaps she will be put up for sail…we mean sale.

Moving Pictures!

The History Channel series, The Food That Built America, season one, is a multi-story documentary series. The first three episodes focus on from Henry Heinz to the McDonald brothers and Harland Sanders of KFC fame…within that are the stories of CW and Marjorie. You can watch it on the History Channel website or Hulu. You should watch it.

 

Break music: Oatmeal Cereal by The Park Street Trio; End Music: In The Hands of Money by The Spoons used with permission from iLicensemusic

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 178: Marjorie Merriweather Post, Part One

Posted 11 June 2021 by
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Marjorie, circa 1942

Marjorie Merriweather Post was not just a society hostess (although she was that, magnificently) she was also a woman raised in a business world who was excluded from the front lines of that business because, “that’s just not done, Young Lady.” But, when she gained power over her own life and her own (massive) fortune, she created change in both the world and in the packaged food industry. She did it all with such style and flair, we decided to let her have two episodes.

In Part One, we cover the life of Marjorie through her childhood as the only child of CW and Ella Merriweather Post (of the Battle Creek Posts, darling) up until her second marriage to a man who, when he spoke, people listened. (more…)

Episode 177: Loïe Fuller

Posted 25 May 2021 by
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Loïe Fuller is often remembered as a dancer, but that hardly covers her contributions to the arts. Sure, she was a dancer, but also an actress, a chemist, an artist, and a pioneer in stage lighting and choreography. She was inquisitive and energetic, full of creativity and drive. She was the belle of Paris and the Art Nouveau movement, and she was an art agent of sorts who matched up her artist friends with her art buying ones…but she is best referred to as La Loïe, THE Loïe, one of a kind.

Are you having an “oh! Her?” moment looking at this? by Jules Cheret, wikicommons

(more…)

Episode 176: Mary Seacole, Revisited

Posted 10 May 2021 by
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Mary circa 1871, with medals she didn’t earn, but it wasn’t illegal for her to wear and they really do spiff up her outfit, don’t they?

In honor of International Nurses Day on May 12, we decided to revisit the life of Mary Seacole. Sure, Florence Nightingale would have been a more obvious choice, but, well, she was too obvious. Mary was a contemporary of Florence, they even had an encounter during their lives, but Mary aided soldiers during the Crimean War a bit differently than Florence did and headed right down to the front lines to help make people comfortable (and sell some food.) Mary was beloved, brave, smart, ambitious, and enchanted most everyone she met.

 

Time Travel with The History Chicks

For the links of things we talked about in this episode, visit Mary’s original shownotes here: Mary Seacole

For information about the Local’s Meet-up dinner in London on August 7th, and to see if there are any spots for the tour, visit LIKE MINDS TOURS.

Women in Medicine Playlist

In order of Nurseyness:

Florence Nightingale, Episode 137

Clara Barton, Episode 111

Lydia Pinkham, Episode 126

Marie Curie, Episode 158

And then some turn-your-head-sideways-and-squint women of medicine:

Louisa May Alcott, Episode 142

Mary Mallon, Episode 149 (thanks to Sean A. in the Lounge for pointing this out)

 

 

Episode 175: Maya Angelou, Part Three

Posted 28 April 2021 by
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Maya at Elon University, 2012, Elon Universtiy via Flickr

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, director, producer, mom, friend…but she was most masterful at sharing her life with the perfect collections of words. We use the best ones we can muster to share her remarkable life story.

We wrap up our three-part series on Dr. Angelou beginning as Maya leaves Africa to headed back to the US and work for civil rights leader, and friend, Malcolm X ‘s Organization of African American Unity.  His assassination not long after her arrival sent her into both grief and a search for the next chapter in her life.

Writing. She felt led to be a writer, and the best place for that was back with her literary friends in New York. While there, she took an opportunity to work with her old friend, Martin Luther King, Jr…who was assassinated right before her first day.

But setbacks in life often lead to the perfect path. She threw herself into writing a 10-part PBS series, Blacks, Blues, Black! which lead, in 1969, the publication of her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

For the rest of her (long) life, she combined all of her life experiences, her gifts, her skills, and her wisdom and shared it with the world. She was a memoirist, a poet, a playwright, a songwriter, a performer, a lecturer, an educator…a grandmother…she loved and lost, and all along the way she captured her words in the perfect order projected by her strong personality (and often her unique voice) to leave her mark on our world.

1993 Clinton inauguration Courtesy Clinton Presidential Library

 

President Obama bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 Courtesy White House

Maya Angelou died on May 28th, 2014 at the age of 86. No one can tell her story like she did, so we’ll leave you with Maya herself sharing a little of her words and wisdom.

 

 

Time Travel With The History Chicks

 

Books!

Not technically a book, but Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies from BBC is a six-part, audio dramatization of some of her work. Susan got it for one credit on Audible and had an amazing experience. You can learn more at THIS LINK TO BBC.

You can read every one of her perfectly chosen words in this massive tome: 

Not technically a book, but Maya Angelou: The Autobiographies from BBC is a six-part, audio dramatization of some of her work. Susan got it for one credit on Audible and had an amazing experience. You can learn more at THIS LINK TO BBC

The only detailed biography Susan could find but written before her death by Marcia Anne Gillespie, Rosa Johnson Butler, and Richard A. Long; foreword by Oprah Winfrey

 

Maya’s essays about memorable food in her life and the recipes- delightful! (And her fried chicken recipe is in here!)

 

More autobiographical essays with recipes for international dishes all based around her weight loss through portion control.

 

By Editors of Essence Magazine, essays about her.

 

Great series for kids, by Ellen LaBrecque

Web!

Here is a whole lot of information (and pictures) about the Rosenwald Schools like the one a young Maya Johnson attended: The Rosenwald Schools.

Short NPR interview in the last year of her life, and one where she talks about her time with Porgy and Bess.

There was some discussion about the pronunciation of her name, we went with Maya’s which we found here: Maya Angelou Explains Her Name.

Brain Pickings article about the daily routines of famous writers.

An article on the Quote Investigator site discussing the phrase “Churchillian Drift” coined by radio host, Nigel Rees of the BBC show Quote Unquote (so QI is fact-checking something the OG quote fact-checker said.)

There is a Maya Barbie…do we know what to think about this? 

Her estate maintains a website, there is some information, pictures, and a link to the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation if you would like to get involved in her life’s work.

Some information (read: the opening of the hole Beckett fell down) the Hawaiian Jazz scene.

Maya’s obituary through a Caribbean lens.

Lift Every Voice and Sing lyrics and essay (from the Library of Congress, no less!)

“Summertime” from Porgy and Bess, Metropolitan Opera:

This makes sense if you listened to the episode, but we simply can not leave it out!

Caged Bird Songs, Maya’s own words with a beat, it may be an acquired taste.

 

Moving Pictures!

Maya’s first adventure in television occurred in 1968 when she wrote, produced, and hosted a 10-part PBS series Blacks, Blues, Black! The whole series is online HERE!

If you would like to learn about the incredible discovery that made our viewing (here in the future) possible, here’s an article about it: From The Archive

I know why the Caged Bird Sings with Diahann Carroll (movie)

There are so very many interviews with her, if you start with this one, with her dear friend, Oprah, YouTube will connect you with maaaaany more.

PBS has an American experience about Dr. Angelou, it’s streaming on Prime through the PBS Documentaries subscription, but you may be able to find it elsewhere, here’s more information about that Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.

And, finally, we want you to listen to Maya read and speak her own words, she left so many treasures for us.

 

We’re going to be in London in August and would love for you to join us for a Thames River Dinner cruise on August 7th, 2021! Get more info and sign-up here at Like Minds Travel

The first break song was A Fork Where a Fork Don’t Fit by James Harper, the second was Sonata Pathétique in C minor by Mario Ajero

End music: Press On by Loot

music used with permission by both iLicenseMusic and James Harper

 

 

Episode 174: Maya Angelou, Part Two

Posted 21 April 2021 by
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Russell Mondy, via Flikr

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, director, producer, mom, friend…but she was most masterful at sharing her life with the perfect collections of words. We use the best one we can muster to share her remarkable life story. (And a lot of them, this is going to take three episodes.)

In this, Part Two of Maya’s story, we begin with a teenage Marguerite/Maya giving birth to her son, Clyde Bailey Johnson (who later changed his name to “Guy” so we use that through the rest of the episode…one name change per subject is enough, don’t you think?)  We go through her tumultuous/exciting/brave/terrifying early adult years, her many jobs, her stage and singing career, her burgeoning civil rights activism, her life as a “wife” and journalist in Cairo, and, then, as a single mom and journalist in Ghana.

Aaaand then we stop. Why? Because we were so enthralled by her story that, after two full episodes, we had yet to get to the part where she starts writing books! In this episode we are still almost a decade out from her very first memoir, the thing she is most known for. Because there is so much left of Maya’s life to talk about, we decided not to race through it, but to break it into an unprecedented (for us) three-part series.

Part Three will be ready for your ears next week. All of the media recommendations will be in the shownotes for that episode.

Episode 173: Maya Angelou, Part One

Posted 31 March 2021 by
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Dave Allocca LIFE Photo Collection 1994

 

This episode includes non-graphic descriptions of assaults, including one of a child. We give a heads-up in the body of the episode.

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist, entertainer, teacher, director, producer, mom, and friend but she was most masterful at sharing her life and wisdom with the most perfect collections of words. We use the bests one we can muster up to share her remarkable life story.

This is going to take us two three episodes.

(more…)

Episode 173: The Bowery Boys and the Shirtwaist Strike of 1909

Posted 15 March 2021 by
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We have been talking with our friends Greg Young and Tom Meyers, The Bowery Boys, for years about doing a project together. This isn’t that, but it is a subject that a lot (A LOT) of people have requested of us. Because it’s a bit out of our focus, we thought there’s no one better than Greg and Tom, experts in New York City history, to tell you about the city’s early 1900s women’s protest movements and how they are tragically tied to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. (more…)