BackStory is a public radio show and podcast hosted by Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh. We take a topic and try to find the most interesting stories to help give that topic context through three centuries of American history.

The show is broadcast weekly. Check us out on iTunes, Facebook, or at backstoryradio.org.

World War I was sometimes called “the war to end all wars.” But one hundred years after the fighting began, it’s become a war that’s often forgotten in American history, or viewed as just a prelude to WWII. In our new episode, we’ll be exploring how the conflict affected Americans far beyond the battlefields of Europe — from debates about the meaning of free speech, to the fight over how the war would be remembered.  Stay tuned.


WWI recruitment posters from the U.S., France, the U.K., and Germany.

Images via the Library of Congress WWI Posters collection.

"…I will never forget that nighttime journeywhen none of us said a word
…three times, we stopped to change a flat tire…
And after passing that afternoonby Fountainebleuwe arrived in ParisAt the moment they posted the notices calling up soldiersWe understood, my friend and IThat the little car had driven us into a New eraAnd though we were both already grown men,Nevertheless - we had just been born.”
-Guillaume Apollinaire, La Petite Auto (The Little Car)French surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire’s work captured the tremendous social, moral, and artistic upheaval brought about by the First World War - not just in France, but in the U.S., as well. We’re looking at how WWI changed us here in the United States, for better and for worse, on this week’s show.Image above: A calligram of a car in Apollinaire’s poem.

"…I will never forget that nighttime journey
when none of us said a word

…three times, we stopped to change a flat tire…

And after passing that afternoon
by Fountainebleu
we arrived in Paris
At the moment they posted the notices calling up soldiers
We understood, my friend and I
That the little car had driven us into a 
New era
And though we were both already grown men,
Nevertheless - we had just been born.”

-Guillaume Apollinaire, La Petite Auto (The Little Car)

French surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire’s work captured the tremendous social, moral, and artistic upheaval brought about by the First World War - not just in France, but in the U.S., as well. We’re looking at how WWI changed us here in the United States, for better and for worse, on this week’s show.

Image above: A calligram of a car in Apollinaire’s poem.

Reblogged from todaysdocument  1,365 notes

todaysdocument:

This animation from Moonwalk One shows all the stages of the Apollo 11 mission, which launched 45 years ago on July 16, 1969.  As designed, the only component to return to Earth was the Command Module Columbia.

Moonwalk One, ca. 1970

From the series: Headquarters’ Films Relating to Aeronautics, 1962 - 1981. Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1903 - 2006

via Media Matters » Stepping Stones to the Moon

For more on the history of space exploration (it’s longer than you think!), check out our latest episode.

"We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth." 

-Astronaut William Anders, who flew on the Apollo 8 mission which orbited the moon in 1968. 

Learn more about the impact of Anders’ famous ‘Earthrise’ photograph - and Anders’ memories of his Apollo 8 flight - on our latest show.

Photographs: ‘Earthrise;’ astronauts Jim Lovell, William Anders, and Frank Borman prepare to leave Earth; Apollo 8’s orbit of the moon. Photos via NASA.

Astronauts bring a lot of things with them into space, from scientific equipment to guitars and freeze dried ice cream. And, of course, American two dollar bills.

It’s a little unclear how the practice of bringing two dollar bills into space started. A combination of old flying tradition and the bills’ portability as a keepsake or lucky charm seems the most likely, according to Richard Jurek, who collects and curates the bills at the online Jefferson Space Museum.

"Whatever the reason," notes Jurek, "they have made Thomas Jefferson a sort of honorary, accidental astronaut of manned spaceflight history."

First bill: Astronaut John Glenn and this two dollar bill became respectively the first American, and some of the first American currency, to orbit earth. Mercury 7, February 20, 1962.

Second bill: Astronaut and mission commander James McDivitt brought this bill on the Gemini 4 mission - the first American space walk. Among the first pieces of American currency exposed to space.

Third bill: Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko brought this bill on the ISS 7 mission, to symbolize the two-person crew on the flight. Bills flown on this mission have spent the longest in space.

All bills and information via the Jefferson Space Museum

Learn more about Americans’ relationship with the final frontier on our upcoming show.