Germs were first understood at the turn of the 20th century and it turns out that the aesthetics of everyday life during this century—the way we dress, the way we groom ourselves, the way we make our homes—are all partly a response to this newfangled idea of germs.
The burden of keeping germs from hurting us in our everyday lives has fallen mostly on women, from the time science fully understood about the existence of germs. After all, women had to keep the home clean, had to prepare food safely.
Denis Wood talks with host Ira Glass about the maps he's made of his own neighborhood, Boylan Heights in Raleigh, North Carolina. They include a traditional street locator map, a map of all the sewer and power lines under the earth's surface, a map of how light falls on the ground through the leaves of trees, a map of where all the Halloween pumpkins are each year, and a map of all the graffiti in the neighborhood.
Camp Lake of the Woods holds a fake Indian powwow during the summer. This kind of fake Native American-ness has been a part of camping in America since organized camping began a century ago.
Host Ira Glass describes what thousands of people do all over America on our holiday weekends: we go to historic sites with our kids and stare at bricks and statues, trying to feel some connection with the past. It's not easy.
Sarah Vowell and her twin sister Amy re-trace the Trail of Tears. They visit the town in Georgia that was the capital of the Cherokee Nation before the Cherokee were expelled.
Sarah Vowell's story continues. She and Amy visit the home of President Andrew Jackson, the villain in the Trail of Tears drama.
The modern history of Niagara Falls can be divided roughly into three phases: Schemers who came in trying to exploit the Falls for tourism and failed; schemers who came in and tried to exploit the Falls for hydroelectric power, who've all gone; and the people who are left in Niagara today. Our show is about this last group: People who live in the aftermath.
Now in exile, Jose Ramos Horta spent two decades as the leading international spokesman against the invasion of his country by Indonesia. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Host Ira Glass with Jan Tomare, who spent three years in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Reporter Scott Carrier does a story about Harvey "Job" Matusow.
In Vietnam, Jeffrey Harris, with one year of grad school, judged which soldiers stayed and which went home.
Richard Klein of Cornell University explains that the way we view love really began with love poems in the 13th century — an illusion.
Host Ira Glass explains why some old answering machine messages from a decade ago have such power for him: there's a special power to recordings of phone conversations. The phone is intimate — more intimate than a photograph.
Jerry Davidson has been keeping a list of everything he's done since 1955 when he was ten years old. What makes it on the lists is very odd, and what isn't included is most of his feelings.
Host Ira Glass reads from a letter Benjamin Franklin wrote, and discusses it with Jack Hitt.
A look at the Chicago political machine in the days before our story begins.
Binjamin Wilkomirski and New York writer Blake Eskin try and figure out if they are related. NOTE: A few years after this interview aired, Binjamin Wilkomirski and his Holocaust memoir Fragments were shown to be fabrications. Blake Eskin chronicled this story in his 2002 book A Life In Pieces: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski.
Scott Carrier in Salt Lake City with the latest installment in his 12-year quest to chase down and catch an antelope. This story and others are included in his book Running After Antelope.
A communist, the filmmaker Marcel Ophuls, the band Camper Van Beethoven, and other people who may be stuck in the wrong decade.
This episode originally included a story by reporter Stephen Glass (no relation to Ira) about an internship at George Washington's former plantation, which we have removed because of questions about its truthfulness.
More than England, or Japan or Israel.... When we think of South Africa, it's a more interesting mirror of the United States than nearly any country, because we glimpse a distant echo of the most frightening parts of American society — and the most inspiring.
Host Ira Glass explains that today's show begins in 1865 and ends today. Ira reads briefly from Lincoln's Second Inaugural address, which describes slavery as America's Original Sin of sorts.
South Carolina native Jack Hitt discusses the Confederate Flag's prominent place over the statehouse.