Ballsy History

Ballsy History is a weekly-ish podcast about the big personalities and little-known stories that shape history.

About the show

Ballsy History is a weekly-ish podcast about big personalities and little-known stories. Join us for a tour of the outrageous acts, incredible stories, and outsized characters that shape history.

Your hosts are a four female family with a penchant for uncovering the quirky side of the past (and, sometimes, not so distant past). Ballsy History was born during stay-at-home orders during the COVID pandemic.

Episodes

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    Episode 6888: Episode 22: "No Mail, Low Morale"

    April 13th, 2021  |  11 mins 38 secs
    black history, history, women's history, wwii

    Today on our show we’ll learn about the “Six Triple Eight”; the only all-female, all-Black, Army battalion during WWII.

    Facing a manpower shortage as well as growing pressure to give Black women a more active role in the war, the Army and the Women’s Army Corps (the WACs) formed the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion.

    They had a specific mission: to sort a two-year backlog of mail for Americans stationed in Europe. It was a daunting task.

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    Episode 21: "The Psychologist in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood"

    April 5th, 2021  |  11 mins 55 secs
    children, history, mr. rogers, pbs

    Today on our show we’ll learn about child psychologist Margaret McFarland who served as a mentor to Fred Rogers of the PBS children’s television program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.

    Behind-the-scenes she worked as Roger’s chief consultant helping build a show that taught generations of children about kindness, make-believe, and love.

    In fact his book, “Mister Rogers Talks With Parents”, published in1983, was dedicated to McFarland.

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    Episode 20: "Operation Switcheroo 2021: The Brescia Church Explosion of 1769"

    April 1st, 2021  |  40 mins 23 secs
    disaster, fire, history

    If you Google “worst jobs” you’re going to see things like crime scene clean up and sewer diver, but compared to medieval bell ringer? At least sewer divers can be hosed down. Bell ringers had to be hosed off – like, every surface.

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    Episode 19: "The Great New England Vampire Panic"

    March 22nd, 2021  |  13 mins 4 secs
    dracula, history, new england, vampire, vampire panic

    Today on our show we’ll learn about The Great New England Vampire Panic which culminated in exhuming dead relatives in several rural towns and villages.

    Accusers, searching for vampires, rummaged around the bodies, removing hearts and generally dismantling the corpses, in the hopes of stopping their vampiric family members from draining another victim.

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    Episode 18: "Evil Tea Drinkers"

    March 15th, 2021  |  11 mins 4 secs
    england, history, ireland, tea

    Today on our show we’ll learn about a time when poor women drinking tea in Ireland was considered as terrible as if they were chugging down a bottle or whiskey.

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    Episode 17: "Dazzle Me, Red Windmill"

    March 12th, 2021  |  12 mins 22 secs
    can-can, history, monmartre, moulin rouge, paris, victorians

    Today on our show we’ll learn about the Moulin Rouge, a famous Parisian cabaret that opened in 1899. Eccentrics, artists, and performers frequented cabarets, music-halls and cafes, joined by members of the middle class, aristocrats, and socialites who were attracted to the night-time pleasures that could be found at the foot of Butte Montmarte.

    Balls at the Moulin Rouge were highly coveted events and their finales introduced Paris to a new dance, the Can-Can.

    Known for raunchy leg-kicking that caused offence when it first appeared, this scandalous dance offended Victorians and heralded the arrival of a new era in French society.

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    Episode 16: "Discovered In the Mud of the Thames"

    March 3rd, 2021  |  13 mins 8 secs
    citizen scientists, history, london, thames

    Today on our show we’ll learn about Mudlarking, which was first described in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original mudlarks were utterly poor, searching for anything they could dig up and sell from the mud of the Thames river, but today’s mudlarks are hobbyists, historians, and treasure hunters looking for clues from the past.

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    Episode 15: "Who's Spying Now?"

    February 23rd, 2021  |  13 mins 19 secs
    1920, black history, history, josephine baker, paris, women's history

    Today on our show we’ll learn about Josephine Baker, an American-born French entertainer, French Resistance agent, and civil rights activist, who symbolized the beauty and vitality of Black American culture, which took Paris by storm in the 1920s.

    She was a force of nature who pushed against racial barriers and was one of the most renowned celebrities of her time.

    While she is mostly remembered for her dancing and films, her efforts to fight the tyranny of Fascism and her civil rights work have not received anywhere near the same level of attention.

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    Episode 14: "Those Clean Vikings"

    February 15th, 2021  |  13 mins 45 secs
    history, teeth, vikings

    Today on our show we’ll learn about why those fearsome marauders, the Vikings, were actually some of the cleanest raiding seafarers around.

    Excavations of Viking sites have turned up razors, tweezers, combs and even ear cleaners— made from animal bones and antlers.

    In fact, if a man purposefully dirtied another he could be found to be an “outlaw” and receive a lifetime sentence.

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    Episode 13: The Lost Women of Science

    February 10th, 2021  |  11 mins 38 secs
    history, science, women, women's history

    Today on our show we’ll learn about “The Matilda Effect,” a term coined by science historian Margaret W. Rossiter, to describe how female scientists have been erased from history by being ignored, denied credit, or not listed for their work.

    With contributions attributed to their male colleagues or husbands, women in science have found their work demoted to footnotes at best or rendered invisible at worst.

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    Episode 12: Tiger, Tiger

    February 1st, 2021  |  11 mins 5 secs
    history, mabel stark, tiger, women's history

    Today on our show we’ll learn about Mabel Stark, one of the first female animal trainers. She was active for over sixty years and survived eighteen maulings during her career.

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    Episode 11: Born to Become...a Criminal?

    January 25th, 2021  |  10 mins 47 secs
    criminology, history, sociology

    Today on our show we’ll learn about Cesare Lombroso’s biological theories of crime and the ways "the father of criminology" was the first person to make crime and criminals a specific area of study.

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    Episode 10: “The Groundbreaking VP Candidate”

    January 18th, 2021  |  11 mins 12 secs
    black history, history, politics, presidential, women's history

    Today on our show we’ll learn about America’s first black female Vice Presidential candidate.
    Running on a platform of “peace and prosperity” Charlotta Bass and her running mate campaigned with the slogan: "Win or lose, we win by raising the issues."
    She was groundbreaking in many ways, yet isn’t even a household name. In fact, her name isn’t even on her gravestone, it only mentions her husband.

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    Episode 9: "The Bugs of Death" (Bonus Episode!)

    January 14th, 2021  |  10 mins 12 secs
    bugs, crime, entomology, forensics, history

    Learn where zoology and forensic science meet to help solve mysteries and murders.

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    "Spirits Callin': The Ouija Board"

    January 11th, 2021  |  11 mins 27 secs
    game, history, mystery, occult, ouija

    Do spirits want to communicate with the living? Today on our show we’ll learn more about Ouija boards and how people have tried to use them to communicate with those who have passed—as well as to reveal the past and show the future.

    When Spiritualists attempted to contact the deceased they sometimes used “talking Boards” the forerunner to the Parker Brothers’ toy you can purchase for only $19.99.

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    Ep. 7 "Bed of Roses"

    January 4th, 2021  |  9 mins 19 secs
    bed, england, game of thrones, henry vii, history, lancaster, tudors

    Today on our show we’ll learn about the bed that ended the War of the Roses by joining the houses of Lancaster and York.

    When King Henry VII married Elizabeth of York in 1486 he would never have suspected that his marriage bed would show up hundreds of years later in the honeymoon suite of a hotel in Chester, England.

    Shout out to fan Josh Frye for his excellent suggestion that we dig into this topic on our show! Thanks, Josh!