The 12 Best History Podcasts for Every Type of History Buff
You're going to wish you had a longer commute.
If you’re looking to spice up your commute, or you simply love to learn, one thing is for certain: Now is the perfect time to get hooked on a new history podcast. After all, there’s so much to learn from the past—and in the age of podcasts, there are unlimited ways to get your fix.
Whether you’re a political junkie, a museum geek, or the kind of person who wants to spend literally hours exploring one topic, there’s a history podcast out there for you. Because as every history buff knows, the more we learn about history, the better equipped we are to understand the present. Here are the best history podcasts that will help you do just that.
1. Stuff You Missed In History Class
From the folks at HowStuffWorks, Stuff You Missed in History Class zeroes in on the “greatest and strangest” bits of world history that probably didn’t appear on your high-school curriculum. That includes everything from profiles on obscure historical figures and stories of lesser-known wars to odd events that actually made a huge difference. And unlike your high-school history teacher, hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey will have you glued to your headphones.
2. Slow Burn
What was it like to live through Watergate? In Slow Burn, host Leon Neyfakh dives into the details of past political scandals, finding all kinds of connections to our current political tangles. Season 1 covers the Watergate scandal, while Season 2 dives into the Bill Clinton impeachment. This is one of the best history podcasts out there—and you’re probably going to wind up marathoning it.
3. Historically Black
Historically Black is an eight-episode series from AMPM and The Washington Post that was created as part of the coverage of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum invited people to send in the objects and stories that make up their own lived experience of black history.
Each episode focuses on one of these objects, from a slave’s bill of sale to a recording of a celebrated fiddler to a picture of one woman’s grandmother who was a human computer during World War II. The result is an amazing “people’s museum” that you can access right through your headphones. Plus, the podcast features some stellar hosts—including Roxane Gay, Keegan-Michael Key, Issa Rae, Heben Nigatu, and Tracy Clayton.
4. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
If the idea of a history podcast where each episode is more than four hours long sounds like heaven to you, buckle up for Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Using masterful narration, sound effects, and some intriguing thought experiments, Dan Carlin will absolutely immerse you in the wild and fascinating stories of our past. Hardcore History has long been considered one of the best history podcasts out there, which means history buffs are going to want to dig into this intense podcast ASAP.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something short and sweet to add a blast of history to your day, Witness, from the BBC, features episodes that are each about 10 minutes long. The short-format podcast explores a range of historical topics through first-hand accounts from the people who actually lived them, and covers everything from animals who have gone to war to what it was like at Judy Garland‘s final shows. This is the perfect podcast to listen to on your break at work.
6. The British History Podcast
British history is long, complicated, and compelling. The British History Podcast seeks to tell the history of England, Scotland, and Wales chronologically, focusing on the stories of the people who made up the United Kingdom. It starts all the way back in the Ice Age and is meant to be listened to in order, so definitely start from Episode 1 so you can get the full experience.
7. The History Chicks
“Who run the world? Girls.” The History Chicks takes a dive into the women who made history, from monarchs (like Elizabeth I) to television personalities (like Lucille Ball). Hosts Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider will both inform and delight you as they delve into all the fascinating facts of our foremothers.
Every week on BackStory, historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Joanne Freeman, and Nathan Connolly pick a current topic and examine it through the lens of American history. With topics ranging from political scandals to the “history of solitude in America,” this history podcast will give you a whole new perspective on today’s world.
9. Making Gay History
Making Gay History tells the (often never-before-told) stories of the artists, activists, and figures that have defined queer history. Featuring interviews with LGBTQ champions, this podcast is doing some truly important work by pulling out stories that have been largely ignored or forgotten by mainstream history texts.
10. The China History Podcast
In The China History Podcast, host Laszlo Montgomery explores China’s vibrant, 5,000-year history, zeroing in on a different topic in each episode. From the history of martial arts in China to the country’s relationship with the rest of the world, this podcast never ceases to deliver captivating and thorough episodes.
11. You Must Remember This
Hollywood, dahling—it’s always been as wild as it is glamorous. In You Must Remember This, host Karina Longworth details the secret histories of Hollywood stars. That includes all the secrets and scandals you’ll wish you knew earlier. And don’t worry that you’re getting any low-level gossip, either—this podcast is extremely well-researched.
12. Our Fake History
Endlessly engrossing, Our Fake History seeks to untangle fact from fiction, exploring the parts of our history that are actually myths and pulling historical truth out of them. Hosted and produced by Sebastian Major, this podcast will give you plenty to talk about at your next dinner party.