Author Archives: Sarah Handley-Cousins

The Whiskey Rebellion (Cross-over with Shots of History!)

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It’s a cross-over! This week we joined Cody Wheat from the Shots of History podcast to talk about that one time that George Washington sent the army to deal to force some country bumpkins to pay their taxes – in other words, the Whiskey Rebellion. How did we become a nation of whiskey-drinkers, why was whiskey taxed in the late 18th century, and what kind of legacy did the Rebellion leave? Join Marissa, Sarah, and Cody to learn all about it.

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Show Notes & Further Reading 

Lender, Mark Edward, and James Kirby Martin. Drinking in America: A History (New York: Free Press, 1987).

Slaughter, Thomas. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).

George Washington, Covenanter Squatters Historical Marker

Just for funsies: One Last Ride,” the song about the Whiskey Rebellion that was cut from Hamilton: The Musical

Black Athena Controversy: Battle of Historians


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In 1987, a historian of modern China wrote a book that was way outside of his field – a historiographical work about the classical world, which argued that argued a racist and imperialist Europe had written Egyptian and Phoenician origins out of Greek history — essentially whitewashing the African roots of Western civilization. The book caused a firestorm within the field of Classics, launching a series of rebuttals and re-rebuttals. Today’s episode is about the thesis that Bernal posed in his Black Athena, but it is also a peek behind the curtain of the academic world. It might get a little weird – because our discussion will be about the evidence Bernal used to support his assertion that Egyptian and Levantine civilizations significantly shaped ancient Greek civilization, but we will also dive into the backlash against Bernal’s work, and what that says about our profession, and how even historians are human and thus susceptible to the world in which we live. Join Averill and Sarah to learn more about Black Athena – and how the historical sausage gets made. 

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Show Notes & Further Reading 

“Antenor Firmin, The ‘Egyptian Question,’ and Afrocentric Imagination,” The Journal of Pan-African Studies 7 (August 2014).

Belucci, Nina, Sri Bellucci, Kevin Hofelmann, “The Black Athena Controversy: Introduction” 

Bernal, Martin. Black Athena: Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization Volume III. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987)

Bowersock, Glenn. Rescuing the Greeks. The New York Times, February 25, 1995.

Herodotus, The Histories. 

Kastor, Caroline. “African Athena: Discussions Surrounding Martin Bernal’s Black Athena,” PhD Dissertation, University of Kansas, 2016.

Keita, Meghan. “Blackness in Ancient History: Criticism and Critique,” Race and the Writing of History: Riddling the Sphinx (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2000)

Lefkowitz, Mary. Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became An Excuse to Teach Myth As History (New York: BasicBooks, 1996)

Martin Bernal: Historian Best Known for Hist Controversial ‘Black Athena” Books,” The Independent, August 28, 2013. 

Warren, Sam. “Martin Bernal Revisits ‘Black Athena’ Controversy in Lecture,” Cornell Chronicle, October 18, 2007.

Science, Reform, and Anti-Vivisection

Things have been pretty political around here lately, so we wanted to dig into something that’s just fascinating and, frankly, creepy: anti-vivisection, or the 19th century campaign to end scientific and medical experimentation on living animals. Join Averill and Sarah as they talk about the practice of vivisection and the efforts to stop it. Also, a word of warning: we use some nineteenth century language when reading quotes, and also describe some pretty graphic events. You might want to turn it down if you’re sensitive or listening with kids.

Sources & Further Reading 

A History of Anti-vivsection from 1800s to the Present: Part I (1800-1914).

Dissecting the Living: Vivisection in Early Modern England,” Chirurgeon’s Apprentice

Davis, Janet M. “The History of Animal Protection in the United States.” The American Historian. 

Johnson, Eric. “Charles Darwin and Vivisection Outrage,” Scientific American, October 6, 2011.

Frances Power Cobbe.

Markel, Howard. “Case Shined First Light on Abuse of Children,” New York Times, December 14, 2009.

McCurry, Justin. “Japan Revisits its darkest moments where American POWs became human experiments,” The Guardian, August 13, 2015.

McNeill, Leila. “Women, Animals, and the Poetry of Activism,” Nursing Clio. 

Prosecution at Norwich: Experiment on Animals,” The British Medical Journal, December 12, 1874.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

Renaissance Anatomy.

Forced Migration

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Immigration and migration have been pretty hot topics lately. This week a particularly interesting question has been bouncing around just about everywhere: were the people transported during the Atlantic Slave Trade immigrants? This got us thinking about forced migrations. In this episode, join Averill and Sarah as they talk about two particularly powerful examples of forced migration: the Atlantic Slave Trade, and Indian Removal. Also, a little chat at the end about the work we do, both as podcasters and as professional historians.

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Show Notes & Further Reading 

Ehle, John. The Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation (New York: Anchor Books, 1988).

Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African (London, 1789).

Inskeep, Steve. Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, And A Great American Land Grab (New York: Penguin Books, 2015).

Wheat, David.  The Iberian Roots of the Atlantic Slave Trade, from Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History 

Maiz, Jaime. The U. S. Government Imposes a “Civilization Plan,” National Parks Service

The Sequoyah Museum 

The Cherokee and the Trail of Tears, Learn NC

For more on the experience of the Atlantic Slave Trade, see this online roundtable of reactions to Sowande Muskateem’s Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage from Black Perspectives and the African American Intellectual History Society.

To see a digital representation of how land was seized from Native American peoples, see this interactive map.

And this map shows a time-lapse of the spread of cotton and the spread of slavery across the deep South. You’ll notice how it corresponds to the land seized from the Cherokee and other tribes.

For more on Cherokee culture, including lots of primary documents and information about the Cherokee people today, see the Cherokee Museum.

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Abortion and Birth Control before Roe v. Wade

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At the Women’s Marches across the U.S. on January 21st, there were hundreds–maybe thousands–of women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who held up signs that conveyed their frustration with still needing to fight for rights like birth control and abortion. This is a battle that has waged for so, so long. On this episode, Sarah and Elizabeth look back at the late 19th and early 20th century struggle for women’s rights. After our country finally granted women the right to vote in 1920, the emphasis of the women’s rights movement shifted to focus on another issue: access to methods of family limitation.



Show Notes & Further Reading

Jean H. Baker, Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion (New York: Hill and Wang, 2011).

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction (Random House Vintage Books Edition, 1980).

Linda Gordon, The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America (Chicago, 2002)

Regina Morantz-Sanchez, Conduct Unbecoming a Woman: Medicine on Trial in Turn of the Century Brooklyn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Diane Sands, “Using Oral History to Chart the Course of Illegal Abortion in Montana,” Frontiers: A Study of Women’s History, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1983)

Huddled Masses: Unwanted Immigrants in the Americas

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America prides itself on being a country of immigrants – after all, everyone in the United States is the descendant of an immigrant, whether forced and free, unless they are Native American. Americans believe that we offer a place of welcome so much that we emblazoned it onto the Statues of Liberty in the form of Emma Lazarus’s poem, The New Colossus, with those famous lines about the poor, tired, and huddled masses. But like most things in history, the real story is a lot more complicated. Join Averill, Marissa, and Sarah as they talk about the history of those who were turned away at the gates.

Show Notes & Further Reading: 

Baynton, Douglas. Defectives in the Land: Disability and Immigration in the Age of Eugenics. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Canaday, Margot. The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Canaday, Margot. “”Who is a Homosexual?”: The Consolidation of Sexual Identities in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Immigration Law.” Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003., pp. 351-386. 

Leavitt, Judith Walzer. Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.

Turner, Adam. “Paranoia on the Border: Immigration and Public Health.” Nursing Clio, July 2014.

Thanksgiving: Part II

Last year we came to you with a bit of the history of the first American Thanksgiving. This year, we’re casting our net a bit wider. Join Averill and Sarah as they talk about the complicated history of corn, some insights into Haudenosaunee food culture, and some regional perspectives on Thanksgiving.

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Show Notes and Further Reading

Bachmann, Karen. “Canadian origin to Thanksgiving?” The Daily Press. October 11, 2015. 

Warren,  Nathan B. The Holidays: Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide; together with the May-day, Midsummer, and Harvest-Home Festivals. Troy, N.Y., H. B. Nims and Company: 1876.

Mann, Barbara Alice. George Washington’s War on Native America. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

Moss, Robert. “How Thanksgiving, ‘The Yankee Abolitionist Holiday,’ Won Over the South.” 

Pleck, Elizabeth. “ The Making of the Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States.” Journal of Social History. 07/1999, Volume 32, Issue 4. 

Thanksgiving in Canada.” The Canadian Encyclopedia.

“The Harvest Home: An Old English Festival Akin to Thanksgiving.” New York Tribune. (Nov 27, 1895): 20.

Gandondagan Seneca Art & Culture Center 

Freida Jacques explains the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address 

Text of a version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address

Iroquois White Corn Project (Don’t forget to order some corn!)

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy 

Oren Lyons tells the story of The Peacemaker & The Tadadaho 

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