New series for public television premiering fall 2019

Join Ed Ayers — award-winning historian and co-host of the hit podcast BackStory — as he travels to places that define the most misunderstood parts of America’s past.

Visit sites Americans struggle to discuss, and learn from National Park Service interpreters, museum educators, artists, and activists how they engage a diverse public with the fullness of our nation’s history.


Episode 1
freedom’s fortress

At Virginia’s Fort Monroe, we discover a remarkable place: the spot where slavery began in British North America, and the site where it began to unravel during the Civil War. From one of the newest National Park Service sites to a historically-minded brewery and more, we learn from a diverse cast of people engaging visitors with defining moments in our national past.


episode 2
the fire of a movement

On March 25, 1911, New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burst into flames, and 146 workers — nearly all young women, many of them teenage immigrants — perished. We visit the building and learn how public outcry inspired workplace safety laws that revolutionized industrial work nationwide. Descendants and activists show us how that work reverberates today.



Texas has long been a place of contentious borders and cross-cultural exchange. Six national flags have flown over Texas since the 1500s, starting with European contests for the land that followed 10,000 years of Native American history there. From Spanish missions, to a French shipwreck, to a former sugarcane plantation, we visit to ask: How did Texas become Texas?



Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US military and the FBI arrested more than 110,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry. Taken to desert camps and confined for months or years, many of these Americans lost their homes and businesses. We visit the largest of these camps, now a National Park Service site — and meet those keeping memory alive.