Staff writer discusses the popular history podcast “The History Chicks”

By Abigail Dotterer || Staff Writer


Photo courtesy of The History Chicks Twitter page.

Over the summer, one of my goals was to listen to more podcasts. Not only that but to find and listen to ones that I really like. 

I looked over what seemed to be a ton of podcast descriptions on Spotify, especially in the history section. I wanted something interesting but at the same time, something that would appeal to my intended major. You guessed it––history. But I didn’t want a dry version of the events in the world. I wanted something interesting and dramatic but also light and cheerful enough that I could listen to it during long walks around the neighborhood.

That’s what happened when I landed on “The History Chicks”–– a podcast hosted by Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider discussing women in history. The two women started the show in 2011 after realizing that history podcasts with “interesting takes on historical characters didn’t exist,” as Graham told the Kansas City Star in 2014. She proposed the idea to Vollenweider and a month later the two were recording a discussion about their subject for the first episode, Marie Antoinette.  

According to Vollenweider’s website, the podcast has been reviewed as “historical girl talk,” which is fairly accurate as the show is packed with information but has lots of small talk between the two hosts about their lives. 

It’s a show that has everything I want––drama, historical facts, and a launching pad to learn more. It’s so fun to be able to listen to stories about Zelda Fitzgerald’s early love life while doing chores or other tasks. This is exactly what the hosts write their goal to be on their website: They want to “introduce you to female characters in history, factual or fictional via [their] podcast and shownotes. An introduction, an overview and a little push to explore and learn more on your own,” according to their website.

The episodes give a chronological overview of the subject’s life as the hosts try to “go into greater detail as [they] chat about the challenges, failures and successes, times, and all the juicy bits that [they] find interesting.” At the end of the show, the women give recommendations on how to learn more about the episode’s subject, including what they gathered from their research.

According to the Kansas City Star, the two hosts research the episode subjects independently and discuss their findings for the first time when recording the episode. 

“Any surprise exhibited is genuine surprise,” Graham told the Star. 

The overall library of episodes expands from historical women including Abigail Adams to Audrey Hepburn and the creation and impact of Barbie on today’s society. Since their start eight years ago, over 130 episodes have come out, released on a bi-weekly schedule. 

On thehistorychicks.com, they say that the foundation for the podcast is that “You want to know how the women are remembered, how their legacies live on and how you can learn more. We can do that!”

The podcast has been a finalist in the education category for the People’s Choice Podcast Award for seven years straight, from 2011 to 2017. 

Overall, the two hosts “think that women, females, dames…chicks in history is a perfect topic to sit down and chat about,” as quoted in Star.

Sophomore Abigail Dotterer is a Staff Writer. Her email is adottere@fandm.edu.

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