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.)