Fabric of History

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From the Bill of Rights Institute, Fabric of History weaves together U.S. history, Founding Principles, and what all of this means to us today. Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn every other Tuesday as they delve into the most controversial, inspirational, and hilarious moments of history and strive to find the common thread between them. The Bill of Rights Institute engages, educates, and empowers individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society. Check out our educational resources and programs on our website mybri.org. Don't forget to visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay connected.

Bill of Rights Institute


    • Dec 2, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 30m AVG DURATION
    • 32 EPISODES


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    Latest episodes from Fabric of History

    Take Me Out to the Ball Game! How Does Baseball Mirror History?

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 25:45

    Baseball has always been a central part of American culture, but did you know that it has an integral part in American history as well? From civil rights to globalization, elements of baseball have mirrored and even led these movements through time. Today, Mary is joined by Adam Cushing, BRI's COO and self-proclaimed baseball aficionado, and Dr. Vincent Cannato, professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, to discuss some of the most important movements reflected in baseball and America's love of the game.

    What's the Significance of the First Thanksgiving Today?

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 29:07

    How much of the Pilgrims' story is a myth, and what exactly is important to remember about the meal they shared with local Native Americans? Mary is joined by Tony and Kirk to delve into the Pilgrims' harrowing journey to Plymouth and first winter to understand and appreciate the larger themes of what we commemorate as Thanksgiving today.

    How Do the Freemasons Fit into U.S. History?

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 39:00

    We keep hearing about the Freemasons in pop culture movies and books, but how much do we actually know about how they fit into U.S. history? This episode, Gary and Haley are joined by Brad Kohanke, Freemason historian and author, to discuss insights on the Free Mason's beliefs and values up through the present. Where do we see Masonic symbols around us, and what do they mean?

    Hero to Traitor: Benedict Arnold & Vice

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 34:15

    They always say “learn from the past,” but looking at the vastness of history, this is a daunting task. This week, Gary is joined by guest Kirk Higgins, Director of Content, to look at the decisions of Benedict Arnold, a prominent American Revolutionary military hero who defected to the British side in 1780. How can looking at Arnold's own virtues and vices teach us how we can make good decisions?  

    Ghost Stories in American History

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 27:41

     Do you believe in ghosts? To kick off season four with spirit, Mary and Gary examine some of America's most haunting tales—both fiction and nonfiction—to discover larger revelations about our own humanity. Ghosts, spirits, phantoms, and apparitions: why do they have such a prominent role in our past and present?BRI's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BillofRightsInst

    School, Students, & Speech: A Constitution Day Special w/ Civics 101's Nick Capodice

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2021 27:33

    Do your rights end at the schoolhouse door? In a special episode of Fabric of History, Mary and Gary are joined by Nick Capodice, co-host and Education Outreach Producer for Civics 101, the podcast refresher course on the basics of how democracy works. What do the decisions of cases like Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. teach us about the relationship between students' rights and schools' ability to enforce protocol? And what exactly is the difference between on-campus and off-campus speech?Listening Guide:https://billofrightsinstitute.org/resources/school-students-and-speech-a-constitution-day-special-with-civics-101s-nick-capodice-viewing-guide/

    Why Is Leisure Time So Important?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2021 42:00

    They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and they are probably right. Join Gary, Eryn, and guest Kirk as they explore the many varieties of amusement Americans have enjoyed throughout the centuries, from Vaudeville to sports. What role does leisure time have in our everyday lives? Does amusement serve a grander purpose that affects other areas of our lives?BRI's YouTube Channel: https://bit.ly/3xmvV1O

    Journalism: The First Draft of History

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 1, 2021 29:19

    Is yesterday history? What about last week? At some point, the past eventually becomes history, but where exactly do we draw the line? Join Mary, Gary, Eryn, and special guest Matthew Housiaux, Reporter on the White House and State and Local Governments at The Kiplinger Letter, as they discuss the complex relationship between history and journalism. What does "good journalism" mean, and how does a diligent approach to consuming and recording current events help future historians?Kiplinger: https://www.kiplinger.com/

    Spies: Good, Bad, or In-Between?

    Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2021 45:56

    From James Bond to Jason Bourne, we are culturally obsessed with spies. But are our perceptions of American spies and intelligence agencies true to life? Join Mary, Eryn, and special guest Vince Houghton, Director of the National Cryptologic Museum and former Historian and Curator at the International Spy Museum, as they explore spying's evolution through American history. How do we ensure the intelligence community is responsible while also having the autonomy to do its job effectively?

    Ye Olde Publick House & Dialogue

    Play Episode Listen Later May 4, 2021 23:34

    If you lived around the time of the Revolutionary War, where would you  go to stay informed? Odds are it would have been the local pub. Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they discuss the impacts pubs and other public gathering places had on American discourse. Why were these places so pivotal for the discussion of ideas? Where do Americans gather today for their discussions?

    Yellow Journalism, Sensationalism, and Media Tycoons

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2021 34:22

    While “fake news” has become a concern in recent years, America has seen its periods of untrustworthiness in media before. In this episode, Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore the agendas of media tycoons like Pulitzer and Hearst during the age of “yellow journalism.” Did these big players overstep their boundaries by reporting rumors over facts to drive sales? How should we as a culture balance the rights of the First Amendment while also being truthful, responsible agents?

    Prohibition and the Role of Government

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 6, 2021 35:51

    What does prohibition tell us about the balance between personal freedom and regulation?  Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they discuss how one of the Constitution's limited amendments led to prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors." What was it about the culmination of the temperance movement that allowed prohibition to become an amendment to the Constitution? Why was turning to policy the approach to address the problem?

    Remember the Ladies: Women's Right to Vote

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 23, 2021 38:12

    What was the seminal moment in the votes for women movement? Join Mary and special guest Dr. Emily Krichbaum, History Department Chair at the Columbus School for Girls and founder of Remember The Ladies, as they delve into women’s progression of rights, ultimately leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment. What many roles did women have in advancing their right to vote? What methods of protest made Alice Paul different from her contemporaries?

    Democracy and War Profiteering

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 10, 2021 29:04

    They say to “never let a crisis go to waste,” but does that include war? Embodied in characters like “Daddy Warbucks” from the musical Annie, war profiteering has been an integral part of American history since the Civil War. In this episode, Mary, Gary, and Eryn discuss the history of war profiteering and its implications today. What is the difference between supporting a war effort and profiting from it? What challenges does this age-old business pose to democracy?

    Boss Tweed, New York City, and the Political Machine

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 23, 2021 33:58

    Does democracy always foster moral success, or can the systems in place actually help those with devious intentions? To kick off our first episode of season three, Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore these questions by examining the life of Boss Tweed and why the backdrop of Gilded Age New York City was a perfect setup for the corrupt politician to seize power. How did Tweed manipulate each sector of society--from the police to groups of immigrants--to control an entire city?

    Disney: Walt's World

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2020 32:34

    Disney World, Disney+, Donald Duck. The legacy of Walt Disney is all around us, but what do we actually know about the creator of the multi-industry empire we have all grown up with? In our last episode of 2020, Mary, Gary, and Eryn, are joined by special guest Tracey Downey, teacher and long-time Disney World cast member, to examine the relationship between the entrepreneur Walt Disney and his company today. What can Tracy's unique insider perspective teach us about the thoughtfulness that goes into the Disney experience? How important is Walt's vision to the present-day company?Check Our Our YouTube Channel: https://rb.gy/7u4pxs

    Technology: Progress or Pain?

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2020 36:04

    In a world of Zoom, Netflix, and automation, technology is all around us. This week, Mary, Gary, and Eryn take a look at the most significant technological changes across history—from the wheel to the Dot-com era—to understand human reaction to change. Does technological change always equal progress, or does it present new challenges? What happens to those who don’t want to adapt?BRI's New, Free Digital Textbook:https://billofrightsinstitute.org/educate/educator-resources/free-us-history-resource/

    Remember the Lusitania

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2020 42:41

    Why do certain moments in time stand out to us? Today, Mary, Gary, Eryn, and special guest Joshua Schmid explore this question by tracing the sinking of the Lusitania and how it fit into the complicated state of foreign affairs in 1915. Was the German U-boat torpedo of the British ocean liner an act of evil or of defense? With two years separating the tragedy and America’s entrance into World War I, was this really a turning point in the war?Check Our Our YouTube Channel: https://rb.gy/7u4pxs

    Election Special Now Out on YouTube!

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2020 1:17

    Why do we still need an Electoral College, has America ever come close to not having a peaceful transition of power? Election 2020 has brought many constitutional and civic questions into public discussion. Gary and BRI Master teachers sat down with Dr. John Fortier, Director of Governmental Studies at Bipartisan Policy Center and author of “Absentee and Early Voting: Trends, Promises and Perils,” to explore our burning questions about the modern-day election process.Watch here: https://bit.ly/324590V

    Selma, Montgomery, and "Good Trouble"

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2020 31:58

    Gary, Mary, and Eryn reflect on a particularly important moment in the civil rights movement, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. They'll explore how the events of Selma fit into the bigger picture of the civil rights movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. What can this march teach us about the significance of turning points in a movement? And what lessons from it are still very relevant today?Check out our Fall Seminars and Events: https://billofrightsinstitute.arlo.co/w/upcoming/

    Why Educate?

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 25, 2020 39:19

    The start of the school year prompts Mary, Gary, and Eryn to reflect on the broader concept of education and how schooling has evolved throughout history. They'll explore how educational structures reflected the times during which they were implemented and what modern-day schooling says about our values today. Has the purpose of education changed over time? And what should the future of education look like?Check out our Fall Seminars and Events: https://billofrightsinstitute.arlo.co/w/upcoming/

    The Pox and the Covenant

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 8, 2020 52:37

    For our first ever Fabric of History interview, Mary brings fellow BRI staff member Tony Williams on to discuss his book The Pox and the Covenant, a fascinating look at Boston’s 1721 smallpox epidemic and the far-reaching effects it had on colonial society and the relationship between science and religion. How did Puritan minister Cotton Mather and others employ new scientific methods to mitigate the epidemic? And what unlikely role did a young Benjamin Franklin have in response to them?Check out our Fall Seminars and Events: https://billofrightsinstitute.arlo.co/w/upcoming/

    The Two Marys

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 25, 2020 24:03


    To continue our celebration of the 19th Amendment's ratification, Mary, Gary, and Eryn discuss the seminal works of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley. They’ll explore how both women were icons in their own rights, as Wollstonecraft famously advocated for enhanced female education in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, while Shelley authored the sci-fi classic, Frankenstein. Learn how this mother-daughter pair proved to be an empowering force in the early struggle for women’s rights and equality!Check out our Fall Seminars and Events: https://billofrightsinstitute.arlo.co/w/upcoming/


    Caucuses to Conventions

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 11, 2020 25:24

    With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions fast approaching, Mary, Gary, and Eryn take a look at the history behind these pivotal electoral systems. From the elitist presidential nominating processes that defined much of the 19th and 20th centuries, to the more inclusive systems of the modern era, the roles of party caucuses, primaries, and conventions have shifted considerably over time. How have today’s elections come to represent the voice of the people?Check out our Fall Seminars and Events: https://billofrightsinstitute.arlo.co/w/upcoming/

    The Vanderbilts and the American Dream

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 28, 2020 21:05

    We hear the phrase "The American Dream" all the time, but what does it actually mean? In this episode of Fabric of History, Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore this question by tracing the origins of one of the most successful families in American history, the Vanderbilts. What do the legacies of some of its most prominent members teach us about integrity and human nature?Check out our Fall Seminars and Events: https://billofrightsinstitute.arlo.co/w/upcoming/

    Amelia Earhart: The Legend and the Person

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2020 28:55

    Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they celebrate and reflect on the fascinating life of Amelia Earhart, a true American trailblazer. They’ll delve into the famed aviator’s cultural influence as a pioneering female figure, as well as the mysterious—and still unresolved—circumstances surrounding her disappearance in 1937, in the midst of a daring effort to circumnavigate the globe.

    Why Do We Celebrate the Fourth of July?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 30, 2020 28:07

    The 4th has many different meanings for many different groups in America. Some see it as a time to celebrate with barbecues, others ask deep questions about the prevalence of slavery conflicting with the ideas of freedom for all presented in the Declaration of Independence, many do both! Mary, Gary, and Eryn explore these themes and more.

    1960s: Songs for a Generation

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 21, 2020 28:33

    In the final episode of season one, Mary, Gary, and Eryn travel back in time to the 1960s and listen to some of the most iconic songs from the period. They'll discuss how music and protest influenced each other during these pivotal years in American history, and how those involved in social change use music to convey their messages. What about this music made it so powerful back then and continues to inspire people today?

    Beyond the Beard

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 7, 2020 20:16

    Mary, Eryn, and guest Kirk will discuss who exactly the bearded presidents of the late 1800s were and why they are largely forgotten today. They'll tie facial hair to a broader question of how appearance in our leaders has changed throughout the years, and what it says about society.

    Space and Beyond

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 24, 2020 35:36

    Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn as they choose to go to the moon. They'll discuss the true motivations behind the famous "space race," the future of humans in space, and reveal which one of them would make a terrible lab partner in the process.View our episode page for additional details: https://billofrightsinstitute.org/educate/educator-resources/fabric-of-history/space-and-beyond/

    Malleus Maleficarum: The Salem Witch Trials

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 10, 2020 46:27

    In our first episode, Mary, Gary, and Eryn break down the frenzy in a colonial Massachusetts town that left nineteen people dead. Approaching the subject on both a micro and a macro level, they trace the origin story, discover motives of accusers and authority figures, and discuss the broader cultural implications. Visit our episode page for additional resources: https://billofrightsinstitute.org/educate/educator-resources/fabric-of-history/malleus-maleficarum-the-salem-witch-trials/

    Fabric of History Trailer

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 26, 2020 0:53

    Welcome to Fabric of History! Join Mary, Gary, and Eryn on Tuesday, March 10th, for our first episode and come back every two weeks for brand new content. Don't forget to visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay connected.

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