Step Back in Time with These Top 10 Underrated History Podcast Picks

History Book

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” Now this classic school subject certainly delves into some of the more famous moments in history, such as World War II, the Boston Tea Party, and the American Revolutionary War, but sometimes, history is more fun when it unveils the lesser-known events. Some of these include the Heron Road Bridge Collapse in 1966 and the Hartford Circus Fire in 1944 but don’t worry, there’s plenty more where these came from. So take a look at our top 10 underrated history podcast gems below, because you may dig up a piece of knowledge along the way!

100 Proof History

#1 Hundred Proof History

Love history with a side of whiskey? If so, then you’re going to love the hilarious Hundred Proof History podcast (did you notice the hidden alcohol joke in there)? Hosted by Greg and “sexy” Chris, Hundred Proof History dives into historical events and people that aren’t widely known, like Typhoid Mary, who (apparently) brought Typhoid Fever into the US.

The Hosts: Greg and Chris are the best friends that you’ve always wanted (because who doesn’t want to be friends with a brainiac duo with a gigantic whiskey collection)? Though they’re both similar in personality, Greg has a more humorous vibe while Chris would be the intellectual nerd.

Why You Have to Listen: Ever heard of Vlad the Impaler? Or Ned Kelly? What about Theodore Morell, who was Hitler’s doctor? These are some of the people that your history class should’ve taught you about, and Greg and Chris won’t rest until you score a 100% in their Hundred Proof History podcast. (Just kidding, no tests are involved, but just make sure your ears are ready for lots of NSFW language and material.)

Listen to Hundred Proof History

Must Listen Episodes:

Hundred Proof Hangover 1: Theodore Morell

Hundred Proof Hangover 9: 1904 Olympic Marathon

Ep. 30 – Nazi Hunters: Ich Bin Argentinian

Rating: 18+

This Is A Disaster

#2 This Is A Disaster

If explosions, zombie vampires, and plane crashes are your thing, then you’re going to love the This Is A Disaster podcast. As the name implies, this podcast focuses solely on the major disasters throughout history. These include both man-made and natural events, but the hosts also discuss fictional disasters in stories like I Am Legend.

The Hosts: Sit back and relax with Peter and Leigh as they discuss all the good stuff that history has to offer, like deaths, destructions, and disasters. While both cite music as their primary source of inspiration, they soon found themselves exploring some of the darker elements of history, such as serial killers and suicides.

The Guests: Past guests have included Craig Baird (from Canadian History Ehx), Nuclear Norm (the “science guy” of This Is A Disaster), and Gerri (the psychology expert behind This Is A Disaster).

Why You Have to Listen: Granted, this podcast does cater to those who are fascinated by these so-called “dark elements of life,” but rest assured, Peter and Leigh do occasionally tap into that hidden sense of optimism within them. This is evidenced by their discussion of the oxford comma (or rather, the death of it). So if dark humor is your second language, then make this podcast your #1 pick.

Listen to This Is A Disaster

Must Listen Episodes:

Episode 15: Roanoke: The Lost Colony

Episode 17: We Are Alone

Episode 22: Great Blizzard of 1888

Rating: PG-13

Burnt Toast

#3 Burnt Toast

Yes, this is a “history podcast” article, but how come the history of food never gets any love? Well, if you’re hungry for Italian spritzes, James Beard awards, and wedding toasts, then check out the Burnt Toast podcast. Hosted by Michael Harlan Turkell, this food-filled podcast dives into the history behind famous recipes, snacks, and fun food myths.

The Host: Turkell is an author and a food photographer who teaches at New York University. He’s best known for his vibrant photographs in cookbooks like Flour Too, The Soda Fountain, and Clinton Street Baking Company.

The Guests: Turkell loves talking to fellow food fanatics like Bee Wilson, Kyle MacLachlan, and Professor Charles Spence.

Why You Have to Listen: You might be thinking that this sounds like some sort of “Food Network” type podcast, but it’s so much more than that. Turkell talks about seasoning food with sound (yes, sound), the lack of pie emojis, and the history behind the world’s hottest foods. Most episodes are also under 30 minutes, so think of it like a quick audio snack for the day.

Listen to Burnt Toast

Must Listen Episodes:

Tapping Into the World of Maple

Food Swindle, or Absolute Genius? The Margarine Story

The Worst Food in White House History

Rating: All Ages

Our Fake History

#4 Our Fake History

How much of our history is based on truth? Can scholarly articles and textbooks really be trusted? Well, in Our Fake History, Sebastian Major discerns between fiction and reality with regards to time periods and events like the Renaissance, the bubonic plague, and the moon landing. It may leave you questioning your own beliefs, or it may make you wonder, “What really happened in the past?”

The Host: Major is a musician and a teacher who has an immense love for history. His style is informative and conversational, and it makes you feel like you’re chatting with a best friend over interesting historical events. He also creates these podcasts in Toronto with his wife Beth Lorimer.

Why You Have to Listen: There are dozens of history podcasts that simply talk about history, but how many of them actually discuss the truth behind such events? For example, was there really a fountain of youth? Did King Arthur actually exist? And what about the origins of your favorite foods? If these questions are keeping you up at night, Sebastian is here to put them to rest once and for all.

Listen to Our Fake History

Must Listen Episodes:

Episode #77- Was There a Real Pied Piper?

Episode #97- Who Built the Pyramids? (Part I)

Episode #101- Who is the Real Santa Claus?

Rating: PG-13

Letters from War

#5 Letters From War

It probably wouldn’t be very fun to be in the midst of a WWII battle, and as far as we know, time machines don’t exist (yet). So for now, the closest thing we have to feel like we’re back in the early 1940s is through the letters written between the Eyde brothers. It’s eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and necessary to listen to for a greater understanding of WWII. So grab a box of tissues with Dan Lamothe and listen to his Letters From War podcast series.

The Host: Lamothe got his master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park, and currently writes for The Washington Post. He’s also earned the prestigious Colonel Robert D. Heinl Jr. Award and the Major Megan McClung Award for his articles regarding national security in the United States.

The Guests: Dan is joined by voice actors Michael Ball, Jeff Chiang, and Brendan Wentz, among others, to read and discuss the letters between the Eyde brothers.

Why You Have to Listen: Sure, movies can transport you to the past or future, but letters between family members during times of war are about as real as it gets. So embark on this journey with Ralph, Frank, John, and Sanford Eyde as they live through the Great Depression, and face the hellish nightmares of WWII. 

Listen to Letters From War

Must Listen Episodes:

1942: The Start

1943-1944: Battles

1944-1945: The End

Rating: PG-13

Back Story

#6 BackStory

Four historians sit down and chat with you about famous news headlines and the history behind them in BackStory. Such topics include the feud between Iran and the US, American enlistment, and bison. Think of this podcast like a magnifying glass that explores our past, and how it has shaped the very present.

The Hosts: This podcast is hosted by Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Joanne Freeman, and Nathan Connolly. Ayers is a professor who was also the President of the University of Richmond, Balogh is the director of the National Fellowship Program, Freeman teaches history and American studies at Yale University, and Connolly teaches history at Johns Hopkins University.

The Guests: Sometimes, the hosts will answer questions from listeners. Or, they might sit down with Peter Onuf, who was one of the original founders of this podcast series. Most of the time though, the team chats with guest historians, writers, and other podcast hosts.

Why You Have to Listen: Why is the number 13 so unlucky? And how did Silicon Valley become the tech capital of our nation? These are some of the questions that are answered in BackStory, but the team also dives into more casual topics like gift-giving, the history of American food, and the wellness industry.

Listen to BackStory

Must Listen Episodes:

218: Close Encounters: UFOs in American History

300: Blasts from the Past: A History of Dynamite in the United States

303: Sunny Days: The History of Sesame Street in America and the World

Rating: PG-13

You Must Remember This

#7 You Must Remember This

Do you remember the famous Mexican stage and film actor Ramon Novarro? How about Madame Sylvia, who was known as Hollywood’s first weight loss expert? Well, in You Must Remember This, Karina Longworth explores the history behind classic Hollywood stars and the beauty gurus that made them famous.

The Host: Longworth is an author and journalist who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and a Master of Arts in Cinema Studios. She’s currently married to the Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

Why You Have to Listen: Names like Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino, and Marilyn Monroe might sound familiar, but how much do you really know about them? Longworth talks about their extensive backstory and life in the limelight, but she also discusses historical Hollywood events, such as Disney’s release of Song of the South and the Oscar nomination of Merle Oberon, a Eurasian actress who was known for Berlin Express and Of Love and Desire.

Listen to You Must Remember This

Must Listen Episodes:

139: Mary Astor’s Diary (Fake News: Fact-Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 13)

Clara Bow (Fake News: FactChecking Hollywood Babylon Episode 11)

98: Marilyn Monroe: The Beginning (Dead Blondes Part 6)

Rating: PG-13

MIke Rowe

#8 The Way I Heard It

Don’t you just hate it when podcasts go on and on and on forever? Well, if you have the attention span of a goldfish, then maybe it’s time to give The Way I Heard It a try. While this podcast isn’t really based on facts, listeners love to hear Mike Rowe’s perspective on certain cultural events and political figures.

The Host: Mike Rowe has done a lot with his life thus far. He’s an actor, TV host, and producer who helped to create the Discovery network show Dirty Jobs. The “dirtiest man on TV” is also a public speaker who operates the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

Why You Have to Listen: Most episodes are short. Really short. As in, around 10 minutes in length. Perfect for those who want to hear a quick historical snippet (from Rowe’s perspective), The Way I Heard It dives into penicillin, mysterious towns, and democratic machines.

Listen to The Way I Heard It

Must Listen Episodes:

Episode 123: Another Tortured Artist

Episode 137: A Bona Fide Sex Symbol

Episode 150: Dude Looks Like a Lady

Rating: PG-13

30 for 30

#9 30 For 30

Love baseball, football, and all things ESPN? If so, then you’re going to love 30 For 30, which dives into iconic sports moments throughout history. Hosted and produced by Jody Avirgan, this podcast has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, TIME, and The Atlantic, and contains audio snippets and stories from the 30 for 30 film series.

The Host: Avirgan is an editor and producer who previously worked at WNYC Radio. He’s best known for hosting shows like What’s The Point, Ask Roulette, and FiveThirtyEight Podcasts. He also speaks fluent Spanish and has an obsession with ultimate frisbee. 

Why You Have to Listen: There aren’t too many podcasts out there that cover the history of sports, and 30 For 30 takes this a step further by adding a documentary-style feel to it. Sports legends that are discussed in this podcast include Rickey Henderson, Hideo Nomo, and Bikram Choudhury.

Listen to 30 For 30

Must Listen Episodes:

Madden’s Game

Back Pass

The Spy Who Signed Me

Rating: PG-13

History of English

#10 The History of English

We speak one of the most popular languages on Earth, but where did it come from? Well, The History of English aims to find out with meal-time word associations, poetry origins, and early dialogues that were filled with regional dialects. It’s perfect for English majors, or anyone who is fascinated by the art of communication.

The Host: Kevin Stroud discusses the origins of common words and phrases through his informative and stoic personality. He also describes himself as a storyteller and English historian. 

Why You Have to Listen: Most schools probably don’t offer a class that combines two school subjects together, but Stroud manages to seamlessly blend English and history like a peanut butter and jelly combo. Each episode jumps around to different points in history, including the late 1200s and the early 1400s, and features interesting aspects of the English language. For instance, you could have a “zouthern” accent without realizing it!

Listen to The History of English

Must Listen Episodes:

Episode 117: What’s In a Name?

Episode 125: The First English Bible

Episode 133: Breaking Bread With Companions

Rating: PG-13

There’s so much more to history than just WWII, the founding fathers, and the Watergate scandal. With our top 10 underrated history picks, you’re sure to find an educational podcast that will stand the test of time.

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Talin went to school for mathematics, but decided to switch to an acting career halfway through. Against her parents wishes, she then moved to California to pursue this pipe dream, and is still, as some would say, "climbing through the trenches." She's also self-taught in photography, writing, and graphic design, since she believes that school is a financial sinkhole that society loves to promote.

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