Backstory podcast: “Thar she blows – The history of whales and America”

Today, I would like to introduce you to the historical radio program and podcast “backstory”, which did run between 2008 and 2020. Ayers, Brian Balogh, Peter Onuf, Joanne Freeman and Nathan Connolly gathered a variety of topics from the news and “explored its roots through the American past”.1

Despite the fact that the podcast no longer produces any episodes, they maintained a detailed archive of all episodes and provided a wide variety of topics around the whaling industry. I would like to invite you to listen or to read some of them. The two podcasts episodes are accompanied by transcripts and are separated into different segments too. I have taken the liberty to show you my favourites.

Selected segments from part 1: Thar she blows – 31.July 2019

In segment two, “built on Greasy Luck”2, they interviewed Michael Dyer, who is the curator of the New Bedford whaling museum.

Segment four concerns the role of Native Americans in the whaling industry, and is accompanied by an interview of Prof. Dr. Nancy Shoemaker and Ramona Peters of the Mashepee Wampanoags.3

Selected segments from part 2: Thar she blows again – 2. August 2019

In segment two, “Paul Cuffee, Black whaler and self-made Man”4, they talk with Jeffrey Fortin about Paul Cuffee.

Segment five of the second part is devoted to the role of women onboard of whaling ships5 and invited Anita Duneer as well as Navine Khan-Dossos to talk about those women, who dressed as men in order to join a whaling ship.

Listening in particular to the last segment, reminded me strikingly of the research blog of PD Dr. Simon Karstens.6 His research blog is a great addition to the topics, covered in the podcast.

Enjoy listening, and you are welcome to listen to the others as well!

  1. About, in:, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  2. Built on greasy Luck, in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  3. ‘I killed Moby Dick’ in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  4. Paul Cuffee, Black whaler and self-made Man, in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  5. Sisters of the Sea, in: Backstory,, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []
  6. Identifying Maritime Women in the Age of Sail, in:, [Last Access: 30.03.2023] []

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Haureh Hussein (March 30, 2023). Backstory podcast: “Thar she blows – The history of whales and America” Transoceanic Voyages. Retrieved July 25, 2024 from

Author: Haureh Hussein

Haureh Hussein is Doctoral Researcher and Research Assistant in the DFG research project ‘Family Business: Creating a “Maritime Contact Zone” in the Colonial Anglo-World, 1790–1840’ at the Trier University. He studied history and political science at Trier and at the Catholic University Leuven in Belgium. He can be contacted via his blog:

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