Historically Speaking Podcast

Rebecca Robbins & Kim Kimmel

Uncommon history with an unconventional pair. Join married hosts Rebecca Robbins (a Broadway actress) and Kim Kimmel (her college history instructor) as they delve into topics that run the historical gambit. A gifted storyteller, Kim taught history at the collegiate level for 29 years while as a student, Rebecca always sat in the front row of his Western Civilizations class soaking up every word he said. For the record, she made an A in his class. She went on to pursue a Broadway career (The Phantom of The Opera, A Tale of Two Cities) while he continued to teach at her alma mater (Curtis Institute of Music). Though you couldn't get more different than these two with their 23-year age difference, together they bring history to life with their unique perspectives, entertaining banter, and shared love of the past. Sometimes quirky, sometimes obscure, this is the kind of history you’ll actually want to remember. Now in our Second Season. New episodes bi-weekly on Wednesday mornings.

Caligula and The Julio-Claudian DynastySouth Africa: A Brief HistoryThe Counter ReformationMartin Luther & The Protestant ReformationThe Crimean WarLawrence of ArabiaThe Black DeathThe Scopes Monkey TrialNapoleon: Part IINapoleon: Part IStaying AliveHard to KillThe Restoration & Charles IIThe Salem Witch TrialsJack The RipperA Handful of Holiday Histories
Everyone has their favorite holiday, but do you know how your favorite holiday came into being? The answers may surprise you. For instance, in 12th century England, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25th, but the ancient Celts celebrated their New Year (Sumhain) on November 1st. So why do we now celebrate the New Year on January 1st? And why do we now use the Gregorian Calendar as opposed to the Julian Calendar? Also, did the Druids really use human sacrifices during their celebrations? And why would shepherds be tending their flocks in the middle of December? Did slavery still exist after June 19, 1865? Here in our 30th episode we answer every single one of those questions and much more!Episode Notes:King Numa Pompilius (c. 700 BC) is credited with adding January and February to the old 10-month Roman calendar, but March 1st remained New Year’s Day for Romans until the Julian calendar was developed around 45 BC.President Abraham Lincoln did not, in August of 1862, write to Horatio Seymour, former and future Governor of New York, about slavery and the Union, but rather to Horace Greeley, editor of The New York Tribune.  As promised, here is Rebecca’s Spotify playlist, “October Songs”. Books:A Brief History of the Calendar by David Harper, PhD, FRASNew Year’s Day Wikipedia articleThe Civil War Day by Day by E.B. LongLincoln by David Herbert DonaldHalloween by Ruth Edna KelleyA Brief History of the Druids by Peter Berresford EllisThe Christmas Encyclopedia by William CrumpHistorical Dictionary of Catholicism by William J. CollingeFilm:The Wicker Man (1973) – with Edward Woodward, Diane Cilento
Sep 22 2021
36 mins
Macbeth: Fact or Fiction?
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a fascinating figure- resourceful, brave, insightful, reflective, but it’s his inordinate ambition that leads to his downfall. Can the same be said of Scotland’s real Macbeth? Here in Episode 29, we unpack the characters in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth alongside their historical (or mythical) counterparts including Banquo, Malcolm, McDuff, even the witches. We also let you in on a few theatre traditions involving “The Scottish Play” as well as why you can never say the word Macbeth in a theatre. Episode Notes:The word Bard means poet and because William Shakespeare was from the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, he was known as the Bard of Avon. Even though the title was never officially bestowed, in 1769 the Shakespearean actor David Garrick is credited with organizing the Shakespeare Jubilee for which he wrote a song referring to Shakespeare as the Warwickshire Bard which seems to have eventually morphed into The Bard of Avon. Here is a link to Garrick's original song, https://www.bartleby.com/333/77.htmlSir Laurence Olivier played the title role in Macbeth at the Old Vic Theatre in London in 1937.Books:Macbeth by William ShakespeareHolinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland by Raphael HolinshedScotland: The Story of a Nation by Magnus MagnussonThe Reign of Elizabeth 1556-1603 by J.B. BlackThe History of Scotland by Sir Walter ScottFilm:Macbeth (1948) Directed by and starring Orson WellesThe Tragedy of Macbeth (1971) Directed by Roman Polanski, starring John FinchThe Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) Directed by Joel Cohen, starring Denzel Washington
Sep 8 2021
31 mins
Joan of Arc
Aug 25 2021
31 mins
Cuba: A Brief History
In October of 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on an island in the Caribbean Sea and christened it “Juana” in honor of Prince Don Juan, son of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. From there, Cuba would remain under Spanish rule for over 400 years. Eventually, the United States would help the Cuban people overthrow their colonial rulers just as America had done a century before. Thus began a long and contentious relationship between America and Cuba. Ironically, it was America who also assisted a young Cuban revolutionary named Fidel Castro to overthrow a corrupt government and set up his own government. That was 1959 and Castro would remain in power for over 50 years while surviving more than 600 assassination attempts and outlasting 11 American presidents. With his death in 2016 and the resignation of his brother, Raul, in April of 2021, there have been new rumblings in Cuba. Will the Cuban people finally demand freedom, or will they continue under Communist rule? Will America once again involve herself in Cuban affairs? It seems there is more Cuban history yet to be written.BOOKSCuba: A History by Hugh ThomasThe History of Cuba by Clifford StatenThirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert KennedyModern Times by Paul JohnsonAmerica: A Narrative History by George Tindall and David Shi FILMCuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go to War (2012) DocumentaryJFK: A President Betrayed (2013) Documentary with Morgan Freeman narratingFidel (1971) DocumentaryThe Fidel Castro Tapes (2014) Documentary
Aug 11 2021
43 mins
Famous Spies: The Male Edition
Spy: (noun) “A person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation.” When someone says the word spy, the image that pops into most people’s minds is James Bond (for us here at Historically Speaking that would be Sean Connery, the original,) but the father of modern-day espionage can be traced all the way back to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. But no matter what century you are playing your deadly game, spying often times isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Yes, you may be hobnobbing with the elites of society, but in order to not reveal your cover you have to be tough enough to survive some extraordinarily perilous circumstances, while at the same time being clever enough to convince your adversaries that you’re truly on their side. John le Carré, Ian Fleming and Frederick Forsyth had to base their novels on someone, could it possibly be one of these three gentlemen that we discuss here in Episode 26? We’ll let you decide.BOOKSSir Francis Walsingham:The Reign of Elizabeth: 1558-1603 by J. B. BlackQueen Elizabeth I by J.E. NealeElizabeth’s Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England by Robert Hutchinson Wilhelm Canaris:Canaris: The Life and Death of Hitler’s Spymaster by Michael MuellerThe Secret War: Spies, Ciphers and Guerrillas, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings  Richard Sorge:An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent by Owen MatthewsStalin’s Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring by Robert WhymantThe Oxford Companion to World War II FILMRichard Sorge: Master Spy (2019) – Russian miniseries 12 episodes
Jul 28 2021
48 mins