‘The Stuff You Missed in History Class’ makes history fun again

By Hillary Donnell
Staff Writer

Fact: the amount of history to be covered is immense compared to the amount of time you actually spend learning anything in class. One simply cannot learn everything that has ever happened, especially taking into account textbook and curriculum bias, unexpected tangents from professors, and time spent staring out the window dreaming of sweet, sweet freedom.

pic from missed in history
Photo: missedinhistory.com

For many, learning history is not easy, and it’s certainly not fun. Even the writer, who is a self-proclaimed history dork, can find reading all the long-winded sentences in old documents a little dry. It is unfortunate that history writing can be difficult to read, because there is no shortage of fascinating stories out there. Turns out, it’s always been a little strange out there in the world.

“The Stuff You Missed in History Class” podcast is a wonderful option for those who find history classes a bit dull. Current hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey take on a wide range of topics on the podcast, focusing especially on historical events and cultural practices that tend to be ignored in formal history education. Everything from the history of Spam to grisly murders and invading emus has been discussed on the podcast. And much more besides.

The podcast makes learning about historic topics fun and easy. Episodes usually run from around 20 minutes to a half an hour long, so it makes great listening for commuters. A lot is covered in the short run time, but the listener is not bombarded with indigestible chunks of raw information. Though the podcast is not too fact-heavy, it is also not too vague or undetailed. Each episode provides a good overview of the chosen topic.

The hosts are fun to listen to and stay on task fairly well, though that isn’t to say that it can’t be quite fun when podcasts go off the rails.

The episode choices are drawn from listener suggestions and are often seasonally appropriate. There are plenty of episodes focusing on Halloween history horrors, and, recently, the podcast did a wonderful series on issues surrounding the black experience in the U.S. for Black History Month.

This writer recommends starting with the episodes on the Emu War of 1932 and the history of the Sweeney Todd legend. These could both be loosely classified as “wild rides from start to finish.” Be prepared to struggle with the desire to tell every person within reach loads of fun facts. They might not appreciate it, but they will live their lives from then on being somewhat more informed. Possibly.

The hosts post links to all of their sources up on their website, missedinhistory.com, where listeners can fact-check or find a place to start out on their own quest for knowledge. The podcast itself can be found on iTunes, as well as on the aforementioned website.