20th Century

Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute for Sexual Science

Magnus Hirschfeld was a groundbreaking researcher into gender and sexuality in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work was dedicated to scientific study with the hope of dispelling stigma around homosexuality. 




A Condensed History of Air Conditioning

From hand fans to today’s high-end air conditioning technology, people have always found ways to deal with heat and humidity. And as mechanical cooling became more ubiquitous, some of the cultural practices for keeping cool were made obsolete. 



The Battle of Ambos Nogales

Two cities, both named Nogales, were established, one on each side of the U.S.-Mexico border, after the Gadsden Purchase but before Arizona’s statehood. In the summer of 1918, ongoing tension led to a battle at the border between the two.

Interview: Mary Robinette Kowal on the 'Lady Astronaut' Duology

Mary Robinette Kowal’s work has inspired several episodes of the podcast. She has just written a pair of books that are called the Lady Astronaut duology, and Tracy got the chance to speak with Mary about her work and its historical settings.  

Zoot Suit Riots

The word “riot” here is really a misnomer. This conflict wasn’t so much about property damage as it was about attacking people. It also wasn’t really about the zoot suits – although they had come to symbolize A LOT in Los Angeles when this happened. 

Battle of Amiens

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, near the end of World War I. Amiens was the start of what came to be known as the 100 Days Offensive, which was the Allies’ final push to win the war. 




Annie Edson Taylor, Niagara Daredevil

Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor’s whole barrel trip was part of a much bigger story of daredevils at this natural wonder, which is tied to its industrialization and commercialization.







Great Train Wreck of 1918

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of one of the worst train wrecks in United States history. More than 100 people died. And even though it’s usually noted as the worst train wreck in American history, it was kind of a run-of-the-mill accident for the time. 

Six Impossible Episodes: Evacuating Children

All six of today’s topics are mass evacuations of children and youth because of a war or other unrest, and include Kindertransport, Operation Pedro Pan, and Operation Babylift. 

The Tunguska Event

On June 30, 1908 at approximately 7:15am, the sky over Siberia lit up with what was described by witnesses as a massive fireball, or the sky engulfed in fire. For the last century, scientists have been trying to figure out exactly what happened.