Biography Episodes

Biography American Revolution Early United States

154. Recovering the Founding Legacy of Dr. Benjamin Rush with Stephen Fried

April 16, 2020

In 1793, the dreaded Yellow Fever swept through Philadelphia. The deadly virus raced through the nation’s capital between August and November, killing at least 5,000 of the city’s inhabitants. Among the multi-racial group of…

Biography Presidency The Washingtons

144. Sizing Up the Thigh Men of Dad History with Alexis Coe

Feb. 6, 2020

The modern biography as we know it dates to the eighteenth century when Scottish author and lawyer James Boswell published The Life of Samuel Johnson . Boswell produced an account of the rascally Englishman, a friend of his …

Biography American Revolution Early United States Colonial America

135. Editing Early America with Nadine Zimmerli

Dec. 5, 2019

Dr. Nadine Zimmerli recently joined The University of Virginia Press as its editor of History and Social Sciences books. A former editor at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture , Zimmerli is a historia…


130. Writing the History of Early America for Children with David Bruce Smith

Oct. 31, 2019

Historians spend a lot of time thinking about audience. Whether speaking at academic meetings, talking with the general public, or teaching students, we consider how we can best communicate our ideas to different groups. So …

Biography American Revolution

126. Entering a World of Paine with Harlow Giles Unger

Oct. 3, 2019

On today’s show, veteran journalist and biographer Harlow Giles Unger talks to Jim Ambuske about revolutionary radical Thomas Paine , one of his predecessors in the newspaper business. He is the author of the new book, Thoma…

Biography Women Early United States

124. The Power Broker and the King Maker: The Life of Elizabeth Willing Powel with Samantha Snyder

Sept. 19, 2019

In this episode of Conversations at the Washington Library , Samantha Snyder speaks to Jim Ambuske about the life of Elizabeth Willing Powel . Powel was a prominent Philadelphian who became close to the Washington family. Al…

Biography American Revolution War Early United States

123. Tracing the Rise and Fall of Light-Horse Harry Lee with Ryan Cole

Sept. 12, 2019

You may know him as Robert E. Lee’s father, but Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee was so much more. Born into a Virginia dynasty, the man who would become one of George Washington ’s protégés came of age with the American Revolu…

Biography Early United States Washington Library Fellows

120. Meeting Alexander Hamilton, Attorney at Law, with Kate Brown: Explorations in Early American Law Part 2

Aug. 22, 2019

We all know Alexander Hamilton for his service during the Revolutionary War, his tenure as the first Secretary of the Treasury, and his death at the hands of Aaron Burr. But have you met Alexander Hamilton, Attorney at Law? …

Biography Politics

119. The Transatlantic Reach of Thomas Erskine and Law in the Age of Revolutions with Nicola Phillips: Explorations in Early American Law Part 1

Aug. 15, 2019

In what ways did the United States remain bound to Great Britain in the decades after American Independence? As it turns out, the law and legal ideas served as a connection between Americans and their former British brethren…