Episode 232: Barbie and Ruth Handler

This summer we’re all Barbie Girls, but the origin of this iconic doll stems from a very real woman, Ruth Handler. After seeing the movie, we thought that listening to Barbie and Ruth’s history really would enhance the experience–there are A LOT of Barbie history Easter Eggs in there, thanks Greta Gerwig!

This episode was recorded several years ago, and the entire shownotes can be found HERE! SHOWNOTES ARE HERE!

Episode 231: Dido Elizabeth Belle and Sarah Forbes Bonetta

Dido Elizabeth Belle and Sarah Forbes Bonetta

*The beginning section of part two of this episode, the story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, has the strongest Little Ears warning we’ve ever had. Adults, please preview this before kids (or really, anyone who is sensitive to violent content) listen. You can pick her story back up at the 48:00 minute mark.*

After our discussion about the heritage of Queen Charlotte, we decided to divide and conquer with two mini-episodes on aristocratic women of color in the Georgian and Victorian eras.

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Episode 230: Queen Charlotte of Great Britain, Part Two





How Charlotte looked at the beginning of this episode in 1782. Thomas Gainsborough, public domain.
A more mature Queen Charlotte seven years later by Sir Thomas Lawrence circa 1789

We left Charlotte in a very sweet place: her family was growing, she was able to indulge her love of botany and other sciences through her many homes, her husband, King George III, was on a high note on the favorable scale…life was pleasant and lacked (much) drama.

But all that is going to change. She does keep having children in this final episode of our series, 13 of them reach adulthood. Okay, so her boys–especially the heir, the Prince of Wales- were growing into rogues but in an almost cute way and when things went sideways they went sideways hard.

In this episode, we tracked the mental illness of King George III (which didn’t really strike until he was in his 50s) and the impact it had on Charlotte, the family and the country. Charlotte goes from a sweet shepherdess of a mother who has her stuff together to a frazzled, confused, suspicious, and ever-stressed-out queen.

Within the two episodes, we cover her entire life and try to make it easy for you to separate the fact from the fiction on Netflix’s limited series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.

Time Travel With The History Chicks

Books!

The new one by Catherine Curzon

Old one by Percy H. Fitzgerald
By Andrew Roberts
By Janice Hadlow
Lots of very short essays about a lot of royals by Alison Rattler and Allison Vale
By Adrian Tinniswood
Children’s book by Nancy Churnin and Luisa Uribe
by Constance Hill

Web!

Was Queen Charlotte black? How far back in her family tree did this ancestor live and what is the story behind why people think so? This Smithsonian article will give you a place to start you tumble down a rabbit hole. SMITHSONIAN

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

For the whole heartbreaking story of Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heir that never was, we covered her back when we were newbie podcasters, in 2011! Episode 13.

Historic Royal Palaces has a treasure trove of information on all things British Royal, here’s Kew Palace (well, the rebuilt one) you can see why it was a favorite of the family (and why we need to go there when we visit London this fall!)

Ways that the zebra became shorthand for greed and stupidity through political cartoons: PRINCETON

A perfectly titled essay, King George III, bipolar disorder, porphyria, and lessons for historians from the Royal College of Physicians

Moving Pictures!

Did you know there is a Netflix limited series by Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes? (That’s sarcasm, of course you do!) There is and we both enjoyed it a great deal ( just remember: it’s not a documentary!)

1994’s movie with Helen Mirren as Queen Charlotte (also not a documentary.)

There are many Horrible Histories (no Drunk History though) on Charlotte’s era that we’ll just put this one episode here as a lovely example.

Break song: Handel’s End Song: Lost by Mary Ellen Lynch

Come with us to visit the world of Queen Charlotte (and centuries of others) this September as we take a Field Trip to London! Almost full! If you would like to sign up or learn more, visit our friends at Like Minds Travel!

Episode 229: Queen Charlotte of Great Britain: A true story, Part One

Season Three of Netflix’s Bridgerton series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story begins:

Dearest Gentle Reader, This is the story of Queen Charlotte from Bridgerton. It is not a history lesson, it is fiction inspired by fact. All liberties taken by the authors are quite intentional.

Cool, cool…but what is the true story of this very real figure in history? How much truth did Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes let into the series, what is entirely fiction…and what is open for debate? While we’re no Lady Whistledowns, we can confirm those truths, and reveal the fictions for what they are.

This isn’t a media recap, having seen the series or not really doesn’t matter, although we do reference the show a few times, it’s basically our usual Not A History Lesson chat about this oft-misunderstood 18th Century queen.

Time Travel With The History Chicks

All media sources and recommendations will be on the shownotes for Part Two

Episode 227: Washington D.C. Field Trip Audio Postcard

In late April we set off on our first Field Trip of 2023 with a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C. with 40 of our newest friends. It’s hard to get away for the eight or nine days of our other Field Trips, so what can we see and do in half that time?

The answer: a lot.

All the Field Trippers at Mount Vernon on our last day.

We outlined the trip in the episode from the first night to the last final dinner together and gave our fellow travelers a chance to share their impressions, highlights, photos, and lessons that they learned from the trip.

We began with cocktails and a trolly tour of the nation’s capital at night. All the monuments and buildings were lit and sparkling–it was a magical way to see the city as a whole.

Vietnam Women’s Memorial Photo: SFV

On our first full day, we toured the museum and estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, Hillwood, from the mansion to the gardens and a special visit to the archives. That afternoon we visited the former home and office of another previous subject, Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office, and followed that with afternoon tea at the historic Willard Hotel.

As a big gardening/plant enthusiast I loved seeing the stunning greenhouse at Hillwood Estate! I had never seen so many varieties of orchids and tropical plants.” Hillwood. Photo Delaney Schmidt

Diana Z looking as beautiful as the flowers at Hillwood Estate photo: Ellen Lynch
The view from the office window of Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office. Photo: S. Vetter
Our afternoon tea at the Willard Hotel (this tray is for two people!) photo: SFV

Day three brought us to two Smithsonian Museums: The National Museum of African American History and the National Museum of American History and ended with dinner, dancing, and meeting visiting listeners on a Potomac cruise.

I go to prepare a place for you by Bisa Butler. Read about it HERE (Susan LOVED this piece of art.)

Ann Lowe was one of the first African Americans to become a noted fashion designer. She designed Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress when she married John F. Kennedy (not this dress.) Photo: Ellen Lynch

“I snapped this in the NMAH suffragette exhibit! It just made me grin!” Photo: Theresa Hocking
Julia Child’s kitchen at the American History Museum photo: SFV
147 steps UP on a broken metro escalator. photo: SFV

Our amazing tour director, Laura Hart of Like Minds Travel making sure everyone got on the boat for the dinner cruise. Photo: Lori Bloom
This group met in London and almost half of them were not on this tour but came to see D.C. on their own (freestyle traveling) and came to the dinner cruise. Photo: Lori Bloom

Finally, on day four, we had a “Women That Changed America” walking tour, a trip through the National Portrait Gallery, and on to a private tour and dinner at Mount Vernon, the site we were just talking about on both the Martha Washington and Ona Judge episodes! That is a high point of all these trips: Standing where so many of our former subjects had been during their remarkable lives.

While facing The Capitol, the suffragette walking tour group view a copy of The Suffragist newspaper 106 years after the March 31, 1917 issue was first published in Washington, DC by the Congressional Union For Woman Suffrage. Photo: Sarah Alexander
“This is artist Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) in the exhibit I Dream A World: Selections from Brian Lanker’s Portraits of Remarkable Black Women at the National Portrait Gallery. I am deeply grateful for how much the field trip centered the lives of Black women, which I did not expect.” Photo: Michele Steinberg
Marian Wright Edelman by Ruven Afanador in the National Portrait Gallery (check out her locket! Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman!) photo SFV
Martha Washington’s widowhood bedroom on the third floor of Mount Vernon photo:SFV

Sheep on the farm at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Photo: Sandy Schmidt
The Enslaved People’s Memorial at Mount Vernon was a somber place that none of us wanted to miss. Photo:SFV
The original memorial is now surrounded by a larger space to sit and reflect

“The Dove of Peace, may it bring liberty and freedom to all…” Mount Vernon photo by Cathleen Wardly
Oh hey, that’s us at Mount Vernon! Photo: Cathleen Yardley

If you would like to join us on Field Trip, there are still (as of May 17, 2023) a few spots for London in September of this year. That trip is almost sold out (Paris is so sold out that the waitlist could fill two more tours) but there are still tickets for the dinner cruise in both London and Paris so head over to Like Minds Travel and take a gander at that itinerary and join us for dinner!

Episode 226: Ona Judge

The President’s house, Philadelphia, where Ona spent many years. William L. Breton, wikicommons

Ona Judge was born enslaved, grew up enslaved, and while she was legally enslaved, she lived free for the majority of her life. Ona Maria Judge was the daughter of an enslaved seamstress named Betty and an indentured servant, Andrew Judge. Both were working at George Washington’s home plantation, Mount Vernon when Ona was born. Andrew made a fast exit because he could once his four years of indenture were complete, and Ona was raised in the enslaved community of the Virginia plantation.

Ona was there when the Washingtons went to the Revolutionary War, and she was there when they came back home to stay, eight years later. Shortly after that, she was tapped to be trained as Martha’s personal “servant,” and it was in this capacity that she went on the road with the Washingtons when George was elected President of the United States.

We go through a lot of her life, her responsibilities, the people that were her community and family, and what life was like in the bustling world of Philadelphia where Ona was introduced to something that she had never seen: a free-Black population.

Since Ona’s story runs parallel to Martha Washington’s, we strongly suggest you listen to that episode (#225) to get a fuller picture of the setting, and challenges, of Ona’s life. What makes Ona’s story special is that she just walked away from enslavement when she was 22 and never went back. We talk about what she did for the next 52 years as a fugitive boldly living her life as a free woman.

***Shownotes are under construction, please come back later for our media recommendations, but here’s a couple to hold you over:***