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Professor Buzzkill: History 101

Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.
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Professor Buzzkill: History 101
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Now displaying: Page 13
Feb 11, 2016

One of the most most popular history exercises in elementary schools these days is to have students learn about Quilt Codes and the Underground Railroad and make some designs themselves. Students are told that quilt patterns gave escaped slaves directions and warnings on their way to freedom. Alas, it’s a myth, Buzzkillers. But it’s a highly textured one. Geddit? Listen in!

Feb 5, 2016

Droit du Seigneur (French: “right of the lord”) refers to the “right” of a feudal lord to sleep with the bride of one of his vassals on their wedding night. While this “right” appears as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh (c 2100 BC), is an important plot device in The Marriage of Figaro (the play by Beaumarchais, written in 1788) and in Mel Gibson’s film Braveheart (1995), there’s no solid evidence that it ever existed in medieval European law or that it was ever practised then.

Feb 2, 2016

Hey you Buzzkillers and backfillers, you listeners and glisteners! Did you think The Sarah was the first whackadoodle presidential candidate? Distinguished historians join me to discuss "fringe" candidates from the glorious American past. Listen in and cast your vote!

Jan 28, 2016

We call them “Levis,” no matter what brand they are. But maybe we should call them “Jacobs.” Blue jeans weren’t invented by Levi Strauss, but by Jacob Davis, a fellow European immigrant and tailor. Was it a story of expropriation and exploitation? Thankfully, no, Buzzkillers. Both men worked together to bring “Jacobs” to the world, and we are all grateful.

Jan 15, 2016

Herr Hitler gets credit for an awful lot, Buzzkillers, including the invention of the Volkswagen. The story is that he demand a “people’s car” that the average German could afford. Alas, Buzzkillers, the story is much more complicated than that, and Adolph played only a small part in the invention of the cute, little VW Beetle.
Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/3/size/25#GPGDoXQ404ldFObh.99

Jan 12, 2016

This episode looks at the dramatic combination of advancing industrialization, and the dirty business of coal mining both from the miners’ side and from the operators’ side. Specifically we’re going to talk about what happened when poor industrial relations, bigoted immigrant relations, and distrust between workers and bosses ignited violence, murder, undercover police work, and crime and punishment in the late 19th century coal fields of industrial America. In short, the Molly Maguires!

Jan 7, 2016

Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball, and he didn’t do it in Cooperstown in 1839, Buzzkillers. Once again, a second- or third-hand story created a persistent myth. It was Alexander Cartwright in Manhattan in 1845. The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a great place to visit and I hope to run into you there sometime, Buzzkillers!

Jan 5, 2016

The Martians were invading! People went hysterical and ran for their lives! Some committed suicide. Farmers brought out their shotguns to protect their homesteads. Americans panicked, or did they? Find out on Professor Buzzkill!

Dec 31, 2015

How did New Year’s Day end up in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere (and the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere)? Wouldn’t a day in spring be more fitting? Find out how people celebrated New Years in past centuries and why things turned out the way they did.

Dec 30, 2015

How do you solve a problem like Sound of Music myths? When did The Captain and Maria get married? How anti-Nazi was he? How many dozens of kids did they have? How did the von Trapps escape the Nazis? Movie myths are always fund, Buzzkillers!
Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/#xoGQekcUwp2M307l.99

Dec 28, 2015


The Literary Churchill, Buzzkillers! We finally get to hear what was going on inside the old bulldog’s head. Prof Jonathan Rose schools us on how Churchill’s reading, writing, and acting affected his decisions and political career. We even play Churchill Quote or No Quote!

Dec 24, 2015

Who was Santa Claus, Buzzkillers? The jolly old man from Miracle on 34th Street? The round-bellied man wearing a red costume, driving a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer? Was there a Rudolph involved?

Dec 18, 2015

The rule of thumb about history myths is that they’re persistent. Ever hear the one about an ancient law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick as long as it was not thicker than his thumb? Well, it’s a myth, Buzzkillers. But how it became a myth is fascinating!

Dec 10, 2015

The one thing that everyone knows about Marie Antoinette (Queen of France in the late 18th century) is that, when told that the peasant were starving because they had no bread, said, “then let them eat cake.” How cold is that, Buzzkillers? It’s Royal Arrogance of the First Order. She deserves some kind of medal for her sheer bravado. But did she actually say it? Listen and find out!

Dec 3, 2015

Walt Disney is one of the most famous names in entertainment. But have you ever heard of Ub Iwerks? Good old Ub was the real artistic genius behind many of Disney’s most beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse. Yet there is no IwerksWorld, no Iwerks animation empire. Tune in to find out why, Buzzkillers!

Nov 26, 2015

As the pilgrims pushed their chairs back from the first Thanksgiving table, their stomachs full of turkey and potatoes, Squanto appeared with bushels of popped corn and spilled it out on the tables for the Pilgrims to enjoy. That’s how Americans got popcorn, right Buzzkillers? Well, maybe not. but you’ll have to listen to find out!

Nov 19, 2015

The weather report for the morning of October 29, 1929, the day of the famous Wall Street Crash, called for falling stockbrokers. Ruined businessmen were supposed to be flinging themselves out of their high office windows in despair. Alas, Buzzkillers, forecast didn’t prove true. Stay tuned right here for the upd

Nov 12, 2015

Everyone was killed at the Alamo. Right, Buzzkillers? That’s why “Remember the Alamo” is such a famous rallying cry in American history. But was everyone killed inside the Alamo? Civilians? Women and children? Was Santa Anna essentially a murderer? Find out, Buzzkillers, by listening to our latest MiniMyth!

Nov 5, 2015

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,

The Gunpowder treason and plot….

Children’s rhymes make poor history. So do modern day movies, like V for Vendetta. Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators weren’t radicals fighting for the working people. So why do we all wear that mask?

Nov 3, 2015

It’s time to go over the top, Buzzkillers! We interview Professor Richard Grayson about the wildly popular BBC television series, BlackAdder, and how close it was to historical reality. There are probably more myths about war than any other part of history, and BlackAdder addressed many of them. Let’s “go forth!” and see if they got their history right.

Oct 29, 2015

Halloween is a demonic holiday chock full of sin and endangered by razor blades in trick or treat candy, right? Wrong. Nothing about the origins of Halloween can be called demonic, satanic, or anti-Christian. And the adulterated candy thing is an urban legend. Get the full story from the Buzzkill Institute.

Oct 22, 2015

“Give me liberty or give me death,” Virginia patriot Patrick Henry was supposed to have said in a stirring speech before the American Revolution. We Buzzkill this quote and show that, like most “quotes,” it was written decades after the event. Download Professor Buzzkill and download death to history myths!

Oct 20, 2015

The Cold War was about more than nuclear missles and bomb shelters, Buzzkillers. Literature and art were weapons in the Cultural Cold War, according to Professor Greg Barnhisel. He overturns decades-old myths about Cold War era writers and artists who were sponsored by the US government. Duck and cover, Buzzkillers, it's quite a bombardment!

Oct 15, 2015

He may have had a GPS system named after him, but Ferdinand Magellan wouldn’t have needed it during his trip around the globe back in the early 1500s. He only made it halfway, dying in the Phillipines at the hands of natives who got sick of him asking for directions. But since it was his ship that eventually got back to Europe, he gets the credit. Oh well, Buzzkillers. Who cares about the details anyway?

Oct 13, 2015

The Cuban Missile Crisis! Kennedy, Castro, Khrushchev, missiles, submarines, cigars! It was the closest we’ve gotten to World War III and nuclear annihilation. Professor Philip Nash joins us in the Buzzkill Bunker as we sweat the details and the minute by minute tension of the standoff. Wear your diapers, Buzzkillers, it’s intense!

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