Cash in a Bag


Today we’re talking about corruption in American politics.  And honestly, is there a better time to talk about this topic than now?  Join Elizabeth and Katie as they discuss some scintillating political scandals in U.S. politics.

Speaking of politics, have you registered to vote yet?


A rational law, or – Tammany

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Featured image:  Harry F. Sinclair, multimillionaire oil magnate (left) and his counsel Martin W. Littleton. Teapot Dome hearing. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-hec-44031

Tammany Hall:  A rational law, or – Tammany // C.J. Taylor. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-7884

Women, War and Bananas


The combination doesn’t really seem to make much sense, we know – but you’ll see the connections soon! Join Katie and Sarah as they explore the fascinating, interconnected worlds of gender, war, colonialism and religion in Latin America.


Rigoberta Menchu, 2009 / Wikimedia Commons


Further Reading and Show Notes 

“Guerillas in Latin America: Domestic and International Roles.” Journal of Peace Research 43 (May 2006): 313-329.

Kampwirth, Karen. Women and Guerilla Movements. Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba. State College: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.

Menchu, Rigoberta. I, Rigoberta Menchu. (London: Verso, 1983).

Reif, Linda L. “Women in Latin American Guerilla Movements: A Comparative Perspective. Comparative Politics 18 (January 1986): 147-169.

Rigoberta Menchu Tum,


Insanity on Trial

Insanity feature

Alternatively, read the transcription of this episode here.

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The criminal culpability of people with mental illness has long been hotly debated. Recently, the “insanity defense” has received particular scrutiny as John W. Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan and members of his staff in 1981, has been released from the inpatient mental facility where he has lived since 1982. Many, including Reagan’s family members, think the insanity defense Hinckley used allowed him to get off without facing the consequences of his actions. This got us wondering: where did the insanity defense come from? Join Marissa, Sarah and Averill as they talk about crime, mental illness, and the law.


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Show Notes and Further Reading 

Asmar, Melanie. “What happens when accused killers plead insanity?” Westward, February 6, 2014. 

Data, Vivek. “When Homosexuality Came Out (of the DSM).” Mad in America 1 Dec 2014. 

Collins, Kimberly, Gabe Hinkebein, and Staci Schorgl (3Ls), “The John Hinckley Trial and Its Effects on the Insanity Defense.”

Ford, Dana. “Judge orders Texas teen Ethan Couch to rehab for driving drunk, killing 4,” CNN 6 Feb 2014. 

Greyhound Bus Killer Found Not Criminally Responsible,” CBC News. 

Hannah, Jim. “Teen won’t claim mental illness in murder trial.” Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, 11 Jan 2011

Jewett, Brandi. “Finley woman accused of murder claims mental illness.” Grand Forks Herald  May 7, 2014. 

Kenneally, Thomas. American Scoundrel: The Life of Notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles. New York: Anchor Books, 2003.

Lennard, Natasha.  “‘He is sane’: James Holmes’ trial showed that the insanity plea is a mess,  July 17, 2015. 

Lopez, Christina. “Mom Accused of Drowning Girl Wins With Insanity Defense; Now, Can She Re-Enter Society?”  ABC News  January 27, 2013.

Martin, John P. “The Insanity Defense: A Closer Look,” The Washington Post February 27, 1998. 

Matejkowski, Jason C. MSW, Sara W. Cullen, MSW, and Phyllis L. Solomon, PhD, “Characteristics of Persons With Severe Mental Illness Who Have Been Incarcerated for Murder,” J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 36:74 – 86, 2008

Parker, Sam. “Determination of Insanity in Criminal Cases,” Cornell Law Review Volume 26, Issue 3 April 1941. 

Rosenberg, Charles. The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau: Psychiatry and the Law in the Gilded Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Saxton, Martha. Being Good: Women’s Moral Values in Early America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003.

Utah law found excuses for homosexual institutionalization” 26 Oct 2012. 

U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Insanity Defense: Clark v. Arizona,” Treatment Advocacy Cente 


Feature Image: Modified by Averill Earls; Original image Harper’s Weekly engraving of the Dan Sickles murder trial in Washington, D.C., 1859.

The Travels of Cabeza de Vaca


Alternatively, read the transcription of this episode here.

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Join Averill and Sarah this week as they trace the journeys of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, an early Spanish explorer to the southern United States. His writings leave us with a rich picture of his travels, one that complicates the ruthless picture of the Spanish conquistadores that many of us have previously learned.

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Show Notes and Further Reading

The Treaty of Tordesillas

Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nunez. Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition. Penguin, 2002.

Gibson, Charles. The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians in the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810. Stanford University Press, 1964.

Varon Gabai, Rafael. Francisco Pizarro and His Brothers: The Illusion of Power in Sixteenth Century Peru. University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Jack of All Trades: Frederick Law Olmsted


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Frederick Law Olmsted is most well known for being the father of American landscape architecture, but he was also something of a jack-of-all-trades: a sailor, farmer, abolitionist, writer, reformer, public health worker, and conservationist. Join Elizabeth and Dan as they chat about Olmsted’s fascinating life and work!

Correction: Thanks to Zhi Ting Phua of the Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy for pointing out that while The Front does not exist in name, it is still a part of the park system, just now under the name of Front Park.


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Show Notes and Further Reading 
Guillet, Travis, Bruce Kelly, and Mary Ellen H. Hern, eds. Art of the Olmsted Landscape. New York: New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and The Arts Pulisher Inc., 1981.

Johnson, Paul S. Sam Patch, The Famous Jumper. New York: Hill & Wang, 2003.

Kowsky,  Francis R. The Best Planned City in the World: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013.

Martin, Justin. Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Cambridge: Da Capo Press,  2011.

Mintz, Steven. Moralists and Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.

ASGA: Utopianisms


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Seas of lemonade, four simultaneous lovers for every woman, and perfectly formulated communities of 810 men and 810 women. Charles Fourier was an idealist, who believed Perfect Harmony could be achieved, if only we better engineered our society. Join Averill, Sarah, and Marissa as they discuss the utopian movements of the 19th century in the U.S., the final installment of our American Second Great Awakening series.

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Show Notes and Further Reading

John Humphrey Noyes and the Oneida Perfectionists.”

The Amana Colonies.” Origin of the Amana

Benedict, Philip. Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: a Social History of Calvinism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

Burden, Tom. “Utopia.” The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought. Blackwell Publishing, 2002.

Delano, Sterling F. Brook Farm: The Dark Side of Utopia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.

French, David G and Elena French. Working Communally: Patterns and Possibilities. Russell Sage Foundation, 1975.

Gordon, Jessica. “Transcendental Idea: Social Reform.” American Transcendentalism Web 

Hansan, J. “The Amana Colonies: A Utopian Community.” The Social Welfare History Project

Hill, Christopher. The World Turned Upside Down; Radical Ideas During the English Revolution. New York: Viking Press, 1972.

Jennings, Chris. Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism. Random House Publishing, 2016.

Noyes, George Wallingford and Lawrence Foster. Free Love in Utopia: John Humphrey Noyes and the Origin of the Oneida Community. Urbana: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Weishaupt, Adam. The Illuminati Phalanx. Lulu Press, 2013.

Whitney, Terri. “Hawthorne at Brooke Farm.” Hawthorne in Salem


ASGA: Spiritualism in America


In the second part of our Second Great Awakening series, Sarah and Katie talk more about one of the most interesting new religious practices to come out of the Burned Over District – Spiritualism!

Show Notes and Further Reading:

Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth Century America. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2001.

Carlisle, Linda. Elizabeth Packard: A Noble Fight. Champaigne: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Cox, Robert S. Body and Soul: a Sympathetic History of American Spiritualism. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003.

Grogan, Susie. “A Solace to a Tortured World: The Growing Interest in Spiritualism During and after Wold War I.”

Hazelgrove, Jenny. Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars” amd Spiritualism After the Great War. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000.

Winter, Jay.  Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Wright, Ben and Zachary W. Dresser, eds. Apocalypse and the Millenium in the American Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2013.


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Some things we mentioned in the episode:

Stuff You Missed in History Class: The Sisters Fox

National Spiritualist Association of Churches

Lily Dale Assembly

The Zu Füß Podcast


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