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Unsung History

Author: Kelly Therese Pollock

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A podcast about people and events in American history you may not know much about. Yet.

88 Episodes
The Green Book

The Green Book


In 1936, Victor Hugo Green published the first edition of what he called The Negro Motorist Green Book, a 16-page listing of businesses in the New York metropolitan area that would welcome African American customers. By its final printing in 1966, the Green Book had gone international, with a 100-page book that included not just friendly businesses throughout the United States but also hotels and resorts that would be safe for African American travelers in Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Africa, along with a list of currency exchange rates.  Joining me this week to help us learn more about why African American travelers needed the Green Book and how Victor Green and his family created such an important and long-lasting publication is award-winning television and radio broadcaster and financial educator Alvin Hall, author of the new book, Driving the Green Book: A Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The musical interlude and music under the outro is: "Whiskey on the Mississippi," by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 4.0 License. The image is "The Travelers' Green Book: 1961," Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. The New York Public Library Digital Collections. Additional Sources: “Navigating The Green Book,” Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. “How the Green Book Helped African-American Tourists Navigate a Segregated Nation,” by Jacinda Townsend, Smithsonian Magazine, April 2016. “The Green Book: The Black Travelers’ Guide to Jim Crow America,” by Evan Andews,, March 13, 2019. “Traveling While Black: The Green Book’s Black History,” by Brent Staples, The New York Times, January 25, 2019. “A look inside the Green Book, which guided Black travelers through a segregated and hostile America,” by George Petras and Janet Loehrke, USA Today, February 19, 2021. “The Movie Green Book Is Named for a Real Guide to Travel in a Segregated World. Its Real History Offers a Key Lesson for Today,” by Arica L. Coleman, Time Magazine, November 17, 2018. “The Long-Lasting Legacy of the Great Migration,” by Isabel Wilkerson, Smithsonian Magazine, September 2016. “Sundown Towns,” by Ross Coen, BlackPast, August 23, 2020. “Sundown Towns,” Tougaloo College. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The second half of the nineteenth century was a momentous time in Italian history, marked by the unification of the peninsula and the formation of the Kingdom of Italy. Three American women writers had a front-seat view of this history while they lived in Italy: Caroline Crane Marsh, the wife of the United States Minister; journalist Anne Hampton Brewster; and Emily Bliss Gould, founder of a vocational school for Italian children. Joining me to help us learn more about these American women in Italy in the late 19th Century is Dr. Etta Madden, the Clif & Gail Smart Professor of English at Missouri State University and author of several books, including Engaging Italy: American Women's Utopian Visions and Transnational Networks. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. Photo credits: Engraving of Emily Bliss Gould, by A.H. Ritchie, based on a portrait by Lorenzo Suszipj, in A Life Worth Living, by Leonard Woolsey Bacon, 1879, Public Domain; Anne Hampton Brewster, Albumen photograph, ca. 1874, McAllister Collection, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Caroline Crane Marsh, ca 1866, Fratelli Alinari, Florence, Special Collections Library, University of Vermont.  Additional Sources: “How Italy became a country, in one animated map,” by Zack Beauchamp, Vox, December 1, 2014. “Issues Relevant to U.S. Foreign Diplomacy: Unification of Italian States,” Office of the Historian, US Department of State. “The Italian Risorgimento: A timeline,” The Florentine, March 10, 2011. “About George Perkins Marsh,” The Marsh Collection, Smithsonian. “Ambasciatrice, Activist, Auntie, Author: Caroline Crane Marsh,” by Etta Madden, New York Public Library, December 19, 2018. “Traveling with Caroline Crane Marsh,” University of Vermont Special Collections, June 11, 2020. “Anne Hampton Brewster,” Archival Gossip Collection. “Anne Hampton Brewster: Nineteenth-Century News from Rome,” by Etta Madden, November 21, 2018. “Anne Hampton Brewster papers finding aid,” Library Company of Philadelphia. “Emily Bliss Gould: An American in Italy–A Guest Post,” by Etta Madden, History in the Margins, September 30, 2022. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and after months of increasing tension on campus, the students at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama occupied a building on campus where the Trustees were meeting, demanding a number of reforms, including a role for students in college governance, the end of mandatory ROTC participation, athletic scholarships, African American studies curriculum, and a higher quality of instruction in engineering courses.  Joining me to tell the story of the Tuskegee student uprising is Dr. Brian Jones, Director of New York Public Library’s Center for Educators and Schools and author of The Tuskegee Student Uprising: A History. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. Photo credit:  The photo used for this episode comes from: Additional Sources: “The Overlooked History of a Student Uprising That Helped Institutionalize Black Studies in the U.S.,” by Olivia B. Waxman, Time, October 4, 2022. “History of Tuskegee University,” Tuskegee University. “Tuskegee Institute's Founding,” National Park Service. “Tuskegee Institute--Training Leaders,” African American Odyssey, Library of Congress “Tuskegee University (1881-),” by Allison O’Connor, Blackpast, October 27, 2009. “Booker T. Washington,”, October 29, 2009. “The Tuskegee Student Uprising & Black education in America,” The Black Table, S1 E38. “Tuskegee Halts All its Classes; Tells Students to Go Home – Acts After Protests,” The New York Times, April 9, 1968. “The Moral Force of the Black University,” by Brian Jones, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2022. “Jan. 3, 1966: Sammy Younge Jr. Murdered,” Zinn Education Project. “Nov. 14, 1960: Gomillion v. Lightfoot,” Zinn Education Project. Sammy L. Younge, Jr.: The First Black College Student To Die In The Black Liberation Movement Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm


Throughout her life, Shirley Chisholm fought for coalitional change. She was the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress in 1968, the first Black woman to run for President of the United States in 1972, co-founder of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus, both in 1971, and co-founder of the National Congress of Black Women in 1984. Toward the end of her life, Chisholm told an interviewer: “I want history to remember me … as a Black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.”  Joining me in this episode is Dr. Anastasia Curwood, Professor of History and Director of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies at the University of Kentucky, and author of Shirley Chisholm: Champion of Black Feminist Power Politics.  Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is Shirley Chisholm speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, on July 12, 1972. The photographer was Warren K. Leffler, and the photograph is in the public domain and available via the Library of Congress.  The audio clip of Shirley Chisholm speaking is from her presidential campaign announcement on January 25, 1972, in Brooklyn; the audio is courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archive, via C-SPAN. The audio clip of Rep. Barbara Lee is from Two Broads Talking Politics, Episode 433: Barbara Lee, which originally aired on October 9, 2020; the episode was recorded, edited, and produced by Kelly Therese Pollock and is used with express permission. Additional Sources: “‘Unbought and Unbossed’: When a Black Woman Ran for the White House,” by Jackson Landers, Smithsonian Magazine, April 25, 2016. “‘Unbought and Unbossed’: How Shirley Chisholm Helped Paved the Path for Kamala Harris Nearly Five Decades Ago,” by Stuart Emmrich, Vogue, August 20, 2020. “Politicians reflect on Shirley Chisholm's legacy 50 years after her historic presidential run,” by Anna Lucente Sterling, NY1, February 17, 2022. “CHISHOLM, Shirley Anita,” “What You May Not Know About TC Alum Shirley Chisholm,” Teacher’s College, Columbia University, Published Wednesday, November 30, 2022. “Shirley Chisholm, 'Unbossed' Pioneer in Congress, Is Dead at 80,” by James Barron, The New York Times, January 3, 2005. “Congressional Black Caucus swears in its largest group in history,” by Cheyanne M. Daniels, The Hill, January 3, 2023. “Democratic women lawmakers who broke through in 2018 now step into leadership roles,” by Grace Panetta and Mel Leonor Barclay, The 19th, January 3, 2023. “Rep. Lauren Underwood elected to House Democratic leadership position,” by Lynn Sweet, Chicago SunTimes, December 1, 2022. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In the late 1960s, Air Force surgeon Dr. Kenneth Cooper was evaluating military fitness plans when he realized that aerobic activities, what we now call cardio, like running and cycling, was the key to overall physical health. His 1968 book Aerobics launched the aerobics revolution that followed, as he inspired women like Jacki Sorensen and Judi Sheppard Missett to combine dance with exercise, creating Dance Aerobics and Jazzercise in the process.   I’m joined on this episode by Dr. Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Associate Professor History at The New School and author of Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of America's Exercise Obsession. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “Jacki Sorensen at an Aerobic Dancing, Inc., event in New York,” photographed by an employee of Aerobic Dancing, Inc., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Additional Sources: “The Fitness Craze That Changed the Way Women Exercise,” by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, The Atlantic, June 16, 2019. “History of Aerobic Exercise.” “Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH,” CooperAerobics. “The 75-Year-Old Behind Jazzercise Keeps Dancing on Her Own,” by Samantha Leach, Glamour, June 21, 2019. “Jane Fonda’s 1982 Workout Routine Is Still the Best Exercise Class Out There,” by Patricia Garcia, Vogue, July 7, 2018. “Jane Fonda’s first workout video released,” “History: IDEA Health & Fitness Association. “Interview with Richard Simmons,” by Eric Spitznagel, Men’s Health, April 25, 2012. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Stede Bonnet lived a life of luxury in Barbados, inheriting from his father an over 400-acre sugarcane plantation, along with 94 slaves. But in late 1716, when he was 29 years old, Bonnet decided to leave behind his plantation, his wife, and his three surviving children, all under the age of 5, to become a pirate, despite having no experience even captaining a ship. As Captain Charles Johnson put it in A General History of the Pyrates: “He had the least Temptation of any Man to follow such a Course of Life, from the Condition of his Circumstances,” blaming it on a “Disorder in his Mind.” So why did Bonnet leave behind his privileged life, and would he have made the choice again if he knew how it would turn out? Joining me in this episode to help us understand more about Stede Bonnet and his possible motivations is freelance historian Jeremy R. Moss, author of The Life and Tryals of the Gentleman Pirate, Major Stede Bonnet. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode audio is “Oh, Better Far To Live And Die,” from The Pirates Of Penzance, written by Gilbert & Sullivan and performed by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1959, available via the Internet Archive. The episode image is: “Print engraving of Stede Bonnet in Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates,” Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.  The HBO Show loosely based on the life of Stede Bonnet that we reference in the episode is Our Flag Means Death, created by David Jenkins and starring Rhys Darby as Stede Bonnet and Taika Wititi as Blackbeard. Additional Sources: “The Gentleman Pirate: How Stede Bonnet went from wealthy landowner to villain on the sea,” by Amy Crawford, Smithsonian Magazine, July 31, 2007. “The Life Of Stede Bonnet, The Gentleman Who Became A Pirate On A Whim,” by Genevieve Carlton, All That’s Interesting, August 9, 2022. “A Pirate’s Life Was His, Stede Bonnet’s,” North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, September 27, 2016. “Top-Earning Pirates,” Forbes, September 19, 2008. “Stede Bonnet and the Golden Age of Piracy: Part One,” by Danielle Herring, Library of Congress, December 8, 2022. “Stede Bonnet, Gentleman Pirate: how a mid-life crisis created the 'worst pirate of all time',” by Jeremy R. Moss, History Extra, March 3, 2022. “A General History of the Pyrates: from their first rise and settlement in the island of Providence, to the present time,” by Captain Charles Johnson, 1724. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In 1775, a smallpox outbreak struck the Continental Northern Army. With many of the soldiers too sick to fight, their attempted capture of Quebec on December 31, 1775, was a devastating failure, the first major defeat of the Revolutionary War for the Americans, and cost General Richard Montgomery his life. Eventually, George Washington, the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, realized that the only way to avoid repeated outbreaks was to order mass inoculation of the amy, a controversial and risky decision that proved successful.  Joining me to help us learn more about smallpox inoculation during the American Revolution is Dr. Andrew M. Wehrman, Associate professor of history at Central Michigan University, and author of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775,” a painting by John Trumbull from 1786; photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery; public domain. Additional Sources: “How an Enslaved African Man in Boston Helped Save Generations from Smallpox,” by Erin Blakemore,, February 1, 2019. “The origins of inoculation,” by Arthur Boylston, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (2012), 105(7), 309–313.  “On This Day in 1721, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston Inoculates his Son Against Smallpox,”, June 26, 2017. “Smallpox, Inoculation, and the Revolutionary War,” Boston National Historical Park, National Park Service. “Letter from John Adams to Abigail Smith, 13 April 1764 [electronic edition],” Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.  “How a public health crisis nearly derailed the American Revolution,” by Andrew Lawler, National Geographic, April 16, 2020. “Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination.” by Stefan Riedel, Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center) 2005, 18(1), 21–25.  “History of the Smallpox Vaccine,” The World Health Organization. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On August 27, 1893, a massive hurricane struck the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, battering the Sea Islands and Lowcountry through the next morning. Around 2,000 people in the thriving African American community perished that night, and many more died in the coming days and weeks as the impacts of the storm continued to be felt. The Red Cross, led by Clara Barton, organized relief efforts in conjunction with the local communities but with little money, as  both the state legislature and the US Congress declined appeals to help. Joining me to help us understand more about this 1893 hurricane and how it affected the course of South Carolina politics is Dr. Caroline Grego, Assistant Professor of History at Queens University of Charlotte, and author of Hurricane Jim Crow: How the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893 Shaped the Lowcountry South. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “Black women prepare potatoes for planting, February 1894,” from Clara Barton, The Red Cross, 199; the image is in the public domain. Additional Sources: “Remembering the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893: Mermaids, culpability, and the postbellum Lowcountry,” by Caroline Grego, Erstwhile: A History Blog, September 21, 2016. “1893 Sea Islands Hurricane,” by Michele Nichole Johnson, New Georgia Encyclopedia. “The Sea Island Hurricane of 1893, 4th deadliest in U.S. history,” Eat Stay Play Beaufort. “The Great Sea Island Storm of 1893,” By Fran Heyward Bollin, Welcome to Beaufort. “The Sea Island Hurricane of 1893,” by Betty Joyce Nash, Economic History, Winter 2006. "Black Autonomy, Red Cross Recovery, and White Backlash after the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893," by Caroline Grego, Journal of Southern History, vol. 85 no. 4, 2019, p. 803-840.  “Sea Islands Hurricane,” Scribner’s Magazine, February 1894. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
After the Civil War, the simultaneous shift in the labor economy of the Southern United States and the second industrial revolution led to a growing interest in labor organizing. Newly formed labor organizations led a combined 23,000 strikes between 1881 and 1900. Employers noticed, and fought back, sometimes literally, employing Pinkerton agents to break strikes, rounding up and imprisoning or deporting union employees, and using various forms of intimidation against workers.  Joining me to help us learn much more about the story of employers and elites resisting labor rights is Dr. Chad. Pearson, a lecturer at the University of North Texas and author of Capital’s Terrorists: Klansmen, Lawmen, and Employers in the Long Nineteenth Century. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode audio is “Labor Day” by Dick Wright & The Wright Trio, in the Public domain and available via the Internet Archive. The episode image is: “The labor troubles at Homestead, Pa. - Attack of the strikers and their sympathizers on the surrendered Pinkerton men,” drawn by Miss G.A. Davis, from a sketch by C. Upham. Pennsylvania Homestead, 1892, available via the Library of Congress with no known restrictions on publication. Additional Sources: “Labor Movement,” “The Second Industrial Revolution, 1870-1914,” by Ryan Engelman, U.S. History Scene “Founding of the National Labor Union and the 1st National Call for a 8-Hour Work Day,” Library of Congress. “The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor (1869-1949),” by Michael Barga, Social Welfare History Project. “The Haymarket Affair,” Illinois Labor History Society. “Our Labor History Timeline,” AFL-CIO. “The Battle of Homestead Strike – July, 1892,” The Battle of Homestead Foundation. “Coeur d'Alene Mining Insurrection: Topics in Chronicling America,” Library of Congress. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As many as two million Irish people relocated to North America during the Great Hunger in the mid-19th Century. Even after the famine had ended, Irish families continued to send their teenaged and 20-something children to the United States to earn money to mail back to Ireland. In many immigrant groups, it was single men who immigrated to the US in search of work, but single Irish women, especially young women, came to the US in huge numbers. Between 1851 and 1910 the ratio of men to women arriving in New York from Ireland was roughly equal. Irish women often took jobs in domestic service, drawn by the provided housing, food, and clothing, which allowed them to send the bulk of their earnings back home to Ireland.   Joining me to discuss Irish immigrant women in the late 19th Century is Irish poet Vona Groarke, author of Hereafter: The Telling Life of Ellen O'Hara. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The transitional audio is “My Irish maid,” composed by Max Hoffmann and performed by Billy Murray; Inclusion of the recording in the National Jukebox, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment. The episode image is: “New York City, Irish depositors of the Emigrant Savings Bank withdrawing money to send to their suffering relatives in the old country,” Illustration  in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 50, no. 1275 (March 13, 1880), p. 29; courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; no known restrictions on publication. Additional Sources: “Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History: Irish,” Library of Congress. “The Great Hunger: What was the Irish potato famine? How was Queen Victoria involved, how many people died and when did it happen?” by Neal Baker, The Sun, August 25, 2017. “The Potato Famine and Irish Immigration to America,” Constitutional Rights Foundation, Winter 2020 (Volume 26, No. 2).   “Immigrant Irishwomen and maternity services in New York and Boston, 1860–1911,” by Ciara Breathnach, Med Hist. 2022 Jan;66(1):3–23. “‘Bridgets’: Irish Domestic Servants in New York,” by Rikki Schlott-Gibeaux, New York Genealogical & Biographical Society, September 25, 2020. “The Irish Girl and the American Letter: Irish immigrants in 19th Century America,” by Martin Ford, The Irish Story, November 17, 2018. “Who’s Your Granny: The Story of Irish Bridget,” by Lori Lander Murphy, Irish Philadelphia, June 26, 2020. “The Irish-American population is seven times larger than Ireland,” by Sarah Kliff, The Washington Post, March 17, 2013. “Irish Free State declared,” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Americans in the 1950s, yearning to return to normalcy after the Great Depression and World War II, got married, had lots of kids, and used their newly middle-class status to buy cookie-cutter houses in the suburbs. But not everyone conformed to the white middle class American Dream. Black Americans were largely excluded from suburban housing and the benefits of the GI Bill; girls who became pregnant out of wedlock were hidden from sight; children with developmental disabilities were sent to institutions; and gay men hid their homosexual attractions for fear of ostracization, harassment, and even legal consequences. The secrets they kept took a toll on the families who kept them. Joining me to discuss the secrets of the 1950s is Dr. Margaret K. Nelson, Hepburn Professor Emerita of Sociology at Middlebury College and author of Keeping Family Secrets: Shame and Silence in Memoirs from the 1950s. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The transition audio is “The Great American Dream,” by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra, 1950, available in the Public Domain via Archive. Org. The episode image is “1950s family Gloucester Massachusetts USA 5336436883,” via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0. Additional Sources: “The Lingering Legacy of America’s First Cookie-Cutter Suburb,” by Winnie Lee, Atlas Obscura, July 10, 2020. “The White Negro (Superficial Reflections on the Hipster),” by Norman Mailer, Dissent Magazine, Summer 1957. “1950s: Pop Culture Explodes In A Decade Of Conformity,” “These Rebels Fought Conformity in 1950s America—and Are Still Making a Difference Today,” by James R. Gaines, Time Magazine, February 3, 2022. “How the GI Bill's Promise Was Denied to a Million Black WWII Veterans,” by Erin Blakemore,, June 21, 2019. “An analysis of out-of-wedlock births in the United States,” by George A. Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen, Brookings, August 1, 1996. “The curious survival of the US Communist Party,” by Aidan Lewis, BBC News, Mary 1, 2014. “The Baby in the Suitcase: In 1950s America, unwed pregnancy was a sociological crime,” by Dale M. Brumfield, Lessons from History, December 6, 2019. “1950s - Explore a Decade in LGBTQ History,” Victory Institute. “The Rise of the Suburbs,” US History II (American Yawp) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Gordon Merrick

Gordon Merrick


In 1970, writer Gordon Merrick published The Lord Won’t Mind, advertised as “the first homosexual novel with a happy ending,” his fifth novel but first to focus on a gay romance story. The novel was a hit and stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 16 weeks. Critics dismissed the work as fantastical, but Merrick, who had been a Broadway actor, newspaper reporter, and American spy before turning novelist, was writing what he knew. Despite his commercial success and enduring fan base, Merrick’s contributions have been ignored and forgotten. Joining me to help us understand Gordon Merrick and his writing is Dr. Joseph Ortiz, an Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of the 2022 book, Gordon Merrick and the Great Gay American Novel. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is the original cover from the 1970 publication of The Lord Won’t Mind. Additional Sources: “Gordon Merrick, 71, Reporter and Novelist,” The New York Times, April 23, 1988. “Gordon Merrick (1916 - 1988),” The Legacy Project. “The Curious Case of Gordon Merrick,” by Andrew Holleran, The Gay & Lesbian Review. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Elsie Robinson

Elsie Robinson


As a girl born in 1883 to a family who couldn’t afford to send her to college, Elsie Robinson had limited options. To escape the drudgery of small-town life and then a stifling marriage, Elsie wrote. And wrote. And wrote. When her asthmatic son was home sick from school, she wrote and illustrated stories to entertain him. When she needed to make money to support herself and her son after her divorce, she wrote again. Eventually, her prolific writing caught the attention of the Hearst media empire, and Elsie became the most-read woman writer in America and the highest-paid woman writer in the Hearst organization. But today, few people remember Elsie Robinson or her writing. Joining me to help us learn more about Elsie Robinson is writer Allison Gilbert, co-author of Listen, World!: How the Intrepid Elsie Robinson Became America's Most-Read Woman. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is “Elsie Robinson, writer and columnist,” from the San Francisco Examiner, available via the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, and in the Public Domain. Additional Sources: Elsie Robinson “Elsie Robinson (1883-1956),” by Allison Gilbert, National Women’s HIstory Museum. “ELSIE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, DIES; Author of Syndicated 'Listen World' for King Features Succumbs at Age of 73,” The New York Times, September 9, 1956. “Listen, Benicia: Famed syndicated columnist and city native Elsie Robinson will be focus of Capitol event,” by Nick Sestanovich, Benicia Herald, September 7, 2017. “Pain,” by Elsie Robinson, Poetry Nook. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, much of the focus of reproductive rights organizing in the US was done in the states, and nowhere was that more effective than in New York, where leftist feminists in groups like Redstockings and more mainstream activists in groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW) together pushed the state legislature to enact the most liberal abortion law in the country by early 1970. The wide range of reproductive rights activism in New York also included the headquarters for both the Clergy Consultation Service, which helped women find safe abortion care, and the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA), which fought the often deceptive population control inflicted on women of color.  Joining me to help us understand more about the push for reproductive rights in New York in the 1960s and 1970s is Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, a Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Vermont, and the author of the upcoming book, A Woman's Life Is a Human Life: My Mother, Our Neighbor, and the Journey from Reproductive Rights to Reproductive Justice. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is “Betty Friedan, president of the National Organization for Women, tells reporters in the New York State Assembly lobby of the groups intention to ‘put sex into section I of the New York constitution,’” Albany New York, 1967, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-ppmsca-83073]. Additional Sources: “How Clergy Set the Standard for Abortion Care,” by Bridgette Dunlap, The Atlantic, May 29, 2016. “Clergymen Offer Abortion Advice,” by Edward B. Fiskethe, New York Times, May 22, 1967. “The 1960s provide a path for securing legal abortion in 2022,” by Felicia Kornbluh, Washington Post, June 25, 2022. “Harsh, then a haven: A look at New York abortion rights history,” b​By Tim Balk, New York Daily News, May 07, 2022. “Remembering an Era Before Roe, When New York Had the ‘Most Liberal’ Abortion Law,” by Julia Jacobs, The New York Times, June 19, 2018. “The First Time Women Shouted Their Abortions,” by Nona Willis Aronowitz, The New York Times, March 23, 2019.  “Karen Stamm collection of Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) records,” Sophia Smith Collection, SSC-MS-00811, Smith College Special Collections, Northampton, Massachusetts. “Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA) Statement of Purpose,” 1975. “Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias: A Warrior in the Struggle for Reproductive Rights,” by Kathryn Krase, National Women’s Health Network, January 5, 1996. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In 1966, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley declared that the first week of June would be known as “Puerto Rican Week,” culminating in the first Puerto Rican Parade, to honor the growing Puerto Rican population in the city. After the parade, while people were still celebrating, police shot a Puerto Rican man in the leg, following a pattern of police violence against the Puerto Rican community, which sparked a three-day uprising in the Humboldt Park neighborhood that changed Puerto Rican history in Chicago. Joining me to help us understand the Puerto Rican community in Chicago both before and after the Division Street uprising is Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez, an associate professor of education at the University of Oklahoma and author of Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The mid-episode audio is “Quiero Vivir en Puerto Rico,” performed by Marta Romero and Anibal Herrero y Su Orquesta, and written by Guillermo Venegas (Hijo). The audio is in the public domain and is available via the Internet Archive. The episode image is “June 12 1966: Smoke rises from burning squad car as a crowd surrounds it during riots in Humboldt Park,” from the 1960s: Days of Rage website. Additional Sources: “It Was a Rebellion: Chicago’s Puerto Rican Community in 1966,” Chicago History Museum, via Google Arts & Culture. “Chicago's 1966 Division Street Riot,” by Daniel Hautzinger, WTTW, September 2, 2020. "Recollections: 1966 Division Street Riot," by Mervin Méndez, Diálogo: Vol. 2 (1997): No. 1 , Article 6. “Puerto Ricans Riots: Chicago 1966,” Center for Puerto Rican Studies, CUNY Hunter. “Spanish-American War,” “1917: Jones-Shafroth Act,” Library of Congress. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Bert Corona

Bert Corona


Labor leader and immigrant rights activist Bert Corona viewed Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in the United States, both with and without documentation, as one people without borders, and he understood that their struggles were connected. While other Mexican American labor leaders were campaigning against undocumented workers, Corona fought to shift the opinions of Mexican Americans toward support for the undocumented and helped create a pro-immigrant consciousness among Latinos in the United States. Joining me to help us learn more about the life of Bert Corona is Dr. Eladio B. Bobadilla, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, whose 2019 dissertation looks at the roots of the Immigrants’ Rights Movement and who has written and taught about Bert Corona.  Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is “Bert Corona,” source unknown, believed to be available via Creative Commons. Sources: “‘One People without Borders’: The Lost Roots of the Immigrants’ Rights Movement, 1954-2006,” by Eladio B. Bobadilla, Duke University PhD Dissertation, 2019. “From the Archives: Bert Corona; Labor Activist Backed Rights for Undocumented Workers,” by George Ramos, Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2001. “The Legacy of Bert Corona," by Carlos Oretaga, The Progressive Magazine, August 1, 2001. “Remembering Immigrant Defender Bert Corona,” by Eladio Bobadilla, The Progressive Magazine, February 7, 2022. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Mexican Revolution in the early 20th Century was a pivotal moment in Mexican history, and it was also a pivotal moment in United States history, as huge numbers of Mexicans fled war-torn Mexico and headed to the US border. Many Mexican Americans in the US today are the descendants of refugees fleeing the Revolution. To understand more about the experience of immigrants who came to the United States during the Mexican Revolution, I’m speaking in this episode with writer Alda P. Dobbs, author of middle grade novels Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna and The Other Side of the River. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “Bridge - El Paso to Juarez,” Bain News Service, ca. 1910, Photograph retrieved from the Library of Congress, No known restrictions on publication. Additional Sources: “The Mexican Revolution: November 20th, 1910,” EDSITEment, National Endowment for the Humanities, March 19, 2012. “How the Mexican revolution of 1910 helped shape U.S. border policy,” audio interview of Kelly Lytle Hernández by Tonya Mosley, NPR Fresh Air, July 5, 2022 “Early Twentieth Century Mexican Immigration to the U.S.,” American Social History Productions, Inc “The History of Mexican Immigration to the U.S. in the Early 20th Century,” interview of Julia Young by Jason Steinhauer, Library of Congress, March 11, 2015. “The Demographic Impact of the Mexican Revolution in the United States,” B.J. Gratton, M.P. Gutmann, R. McCaa & R. Gutierrez-Montes, Texas Population Research Center Papers, 2000. “Mexican Immigration to the United States,” byRamón A. Gutiérrez, Oxford Research Encyclopedias, July 29, 2019. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Through the 19th Century, the US-Mexico border moved repeatedly, and the shifting borderlands were a space of cultural and economic transition that often gave rise to racialized gendered violence.   In this episode I speak with Dr. Bernadine Hernández, Associate Professor of American Literary Studies at the University of New Mexico, an activist with fronteristxs, and author of Border Bodies: Racialized Sexuality, Sexual Capital, and Violence in the Nineteenth-Century Borderlands. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “Mexican church at the smelter, El Paso, Texas, United States, ca. 1907,” Detroit Publishing Co. No known restrictions on publication, Accessed via the Library of Congress. Additional Sources: “A moving border, and the history of a difficult boundary,” by Ron Dungan, USA Today, The Wall, 2018.  “The Violent History of the U.S.-Mexico Border,” by Becky Little,, March 14, 2019. “Mexico's Independence Day marks the beginning of a decade-long revolution,” by Heather Brady, National Geographic, September 14, 2018. “The Republic of Texas - The Texas Revolution” The Treaties of Velasco,” Texas State Libraries and Archives Commission. “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848),” National Archives. “Refusing to Forget: The History of Racial Violence on the Mexico-Texas Border.” “Rodriguez, Josefa [Chipita] (unknown–1863),” by Marylyn Underwood, Texas State Historical Association. “Woman by the River: Chipita’s ghost lingers on in San Patricio on 156th anniversary of hanging,” by Paul Gonzales, News of San Patricio, November 15, 2019. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In mid-1930s, pregnant women in cities in California, Oregon, and Washington could obtain safe surgical abortions in clean facilities from professionals trained in the latest technique. The only catch? The abortions were illegal. The syndicate that provided these abortions was the Pacific Coast Abortion Ring, which  operated from 1934 to 1936 with clinic locations in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Diego, Long Beach, Hollywood, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, California. It employed more than thirty people, which included not just doctors but also receptionists, nurses, and steerers who referred women to the Pacific Coast Abortion clinics from doctors’ offices and pharmacies.  Joining me to help tell the story of the Pacific Coast Abortion Ring is Dr. Alicia Gutierrez-Romine, Assistant Professor of History at LaSierra University and author of From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920-1969, the source for much of this introduction. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is: “Jewel Inez Joseph, mother of Ruth Attaway who died after an abortion, in court, Los Angeles, 1935,” published in the Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1935, and is available via the UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Additional Sources: “Abortion and the Law in California: Lessons for Today,” by Alicia Gutierrez-Romine, California History, February 1, 2022; 99 (1): 10–29.  “How California created the nation’s easiest abortion access — and why it’s poised to go further” by Kristen Hwang, Cal Matters, April 21, 2022. “San Diego’s History as a Haven for Desperate Women” by Randy Dotinga, Voice of San Diego, July 3, 2022. “‘Criminal Operations’: The First Fifty Years of Abortion Trials in Portland, Oregon,” by Michael Helquist. Oregon Historical Quarterly, 2015; 116 (1), 6–39.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
For birth control advocate Mary Ware Dennett, the personal was political. After a difficult labor and delivery with her third child, a physician told Mary Ware Dennett she should not have any more children, but he told her nothing about how to prevent pregnancy. Dennett’s husband began an affair with a client of his architectural firm, destroying their marriage, and Dennett devoted her work to ensuring that other couples could receive information about birth control. A 1930 federal court case against her, United States v. Dennett, opened the door to widespread distribution of birth control information in the US. Joining me in this episode is Dr. Lauren MacIvor Thompson, Assistant Professor of History at Kennesaw State University and faculty research fellow at the Georgia State University College of Law’s Center for Law, Health & Society. She is writing a book called Battle for Birth Control: Mary Dennett, Margaret Sanger, and the Rivalry That Shaped a Movement, that will be published by Rutgers University Press. Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is a photo of Mary Ware Dennett from the New York Journal-American Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University Of Texas. Sources: “The Sex Side of Life: An Explanation for Young People,” by Mary Ware Dennett, 1919. Available via Project Gutenberg. “Papers of Mary Ware Dennett,” Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute “The Sex Education Pamphlet That Sparked a Landmark Censorship Case,” by Sharon Spaulding, Smithsonian Magazine, September 30, 2021. “A Birth-Control Crusader,” by Marjorie Heins, The Atlantic, October 1996. “Mary Coffin Ware Dennett,” by Lakshmeeramya Malladi,Embryo Project Encyclopedia, June 22, 2016. “Unsentimental Education: Mary Ware Dennett’s quest to make contraception—and knowledge about sex—available to all,” by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, The American Scholar, March 4, 2021. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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