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I’m a big fan of the Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast. It was one of the first podcasts that I ever subscribed to, and my husband and I like to listen to it together.
I love to download history podcasts for travel days or road trips, and I even recommend SYMIHC in my post about the best podcasts for road trips.
That said, I don’t think it’s fair that SYMIHC gets the majority of the press and recommendations when it comes to the history podcasts genre.
New history podcasts are launching every month, if not every week. There’s a huge selection of interesting shows about American history, British history, and what I call “niche history”.
I like it when a history podcast meets at least two of the following three criteria:
- It’s fast-paced enough so I don’t get bored
- It’s told in an entertaining fashion or by a good storyteller
- It’s not too bogged down with dates, places, or names
If the hosts of a podcast can manage to hit the mark on two of those points, I will probably be hooked for an entire episode, or even hit “Subscribe”.
So here are my history podcast recommendations that make the cut.
7 Entertaining History Podcasts to Try
The Past and the Curious (kid-friendly!)
I’m recommending this show first because it’s kid-friendly and I don’t want parents to miss it.
The Concept: History. Stories. Music. Fun. This is the actual brief description of this podcast on my player. Each episode is approximately 20-30 minutes, and is focused on a specific person or event in history. Best-suited to kids ages 7-11 and parents of all ages.
Why It’s Good: The podcast has a host, but the actual history “lessons” are told by skilled storytellers, and there’s even music for effect. The show is well-paced, so your kids won’t get lost, and also so you can pause to explain things if necessary.
Episode to Try: #11 – Hittin’ the Road: Niagara
History of Witchcraft
The Concept: An exploration of the beliefs, people, and events related to witchcraft around the world. More than just a re-telling of famous witch trials. The host dives into the religious and societal influences that played a part in these persecutions.
Why It’s Good: The host does a great job of organizing the mountains of information and theories that exist about witchcraft. He’s interesting to listen to, and you can tell he’s both knowledgeable and passionate about the topic.
Try This Episode: A Century of Fire – Part 1 – Sparks and Kindling
The British History Podcast
The Concept: A chronological history of Britain that is told via telling stories of people. There is a conscious effort to avoid too many dates and facts, so you really get to understand how Britain became what it is today.
Why It’s Good: The host, who a) sounds American and b) probably conducts painstaking research to create each episode, is super enjoyable to listen to. He injects emotion and opinion in appropriate ways, and provides context when necessary.
Try This Episode: Episode 1! This podcast is intended to be listened to in chronological order. To understand references and context, it’s best not to approach it in an episodic manner; you should start from the beginning.
Confluence of Events
The Concept: Four guys attempt to uncover the details around people and (mostly tragic) events in American history. They drink and curse in moderation, joke a lot, and discuss seemingly random topics that are actually related to the episode’s theme.
Why It’s Good: These guys are like the Impractical Jokers of podcasting. I can’t tell them apart, but I don’t care. As a female listener, I often tire of the “two guys in a recording studio” pods, but the hosts of this show are entertaining. Most of their tangents stay on-topic, and through it all, I do actually learn something new!
Try This Episode: First Ladies
The Concept: Each episode explores a randomly chosen city or town in the USA. The hosts (a husband and wife team) dive deep into the most interesting event or well-known story about that place.
Why It’s Good: The conversational format keeps a good pace, and the hosts are fun. In addition to the “famous” stories from each location, each episode includes a short list of facts and points of interest for the location.
Try This Episode: Lincoln, NE: Gas-powered roller skates and the Great Sheedy Murder Trial
The Concept: Author and modern-day philosopher Malcolm Gladwell revisits people and events from history that have been overlooked or misunderstood. Then he asks the question: did we get it right the first time around?
Why It’s Good: Gladwell is a master storyteller. He’s entertaining, suspenseful, and intriguing. Besides learning something new or historic, each episode of this podcast will get you thinking, start your wheels turning. This is the type of podcast you’re looking to discuss with someone when it’s finished.
Try This Episode: The Road to Damascus
The Concept: To convey the strange and obscure stories from history. The host is solo, so he adds in background music to fit the mood as each episode progresses.
Why It’s Good: Host Jack Barton crafts great intros to each episode to get you hooked. The pacing and entertaining storytelling will make you feel like you’re listening to a short fiction podcast.
Try This Episode: #14 Lost and Found (The Prestige)
There you have it! Seven cool history podcasts and sample episodes to try. Be sure to check out 5 Fun Podcasts That Make You Smarter.
Do you have another history podcast that you recommend? Leave it in a comment below (you can even leave a link to it!)