Show cover of The Exploress

The Exploress

Join us as we time travel back through history, exploring the lives and stories of ladies of the past, from the everyday to the extraordinary, imagining what it might have been like to be them.

Tracks

Havens in a Heartless World: Civil War Nurses (Season 1, Episode 2)
The soldiers called them angels, but they were warriors: They battled bullets, disease, terrible medical knowledge, and the belief that they didn't belong out in the public sphere. Join us as we explore the life, trials, and triumphs of a Civil War nurse.
61:51 7/19/18
Angel of the Battlefield: Clara Barton (Season 1, Episode 3)
She was many things: A celebrated teacher, a pioneering civil servant, a battlefield nurse, a public speaker, and a leader of many initiatives, including the American Red Cross. In a time when single, middle-class women didn't have all that many career options, Clara Barton went ahead and had, oh, let's call it five different careers. This dynamo was a woman of many contradictions: she was incredibly shy, but also brazen in her pursuit of her goals; she was anxious and insecure, but also sure and steady. This "Angel of the Battlefield" was a whole lot more dynamic, and more complicated, than you think. Let's reexamine the life of this fascinating character.
76:17 7/19/18
Public Women: Sex in 19th-century America (Season 1, Episode 4)
Look for the word 'prostitute' in 19th-century America and you'll find it everywhere. But it went far beyond a job description: It was a line in the sand, a punishment for women who dared to step across and act out of line in the public sphere. Let's step behind the velvet curtain of sex in the Victorian era and look at how 19th-century ladies related to it, their bodies, and themselves as sexual beings. We'll explore the lives of prostitutes as well as your everyday lady, from how to find mail-order contraception to steamy pieces of correspondence, and what happens to women's sex lives - for better and worse - during the war. Let's go traveling.
72:04 8/2/18
She Wore The Pants: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War (Season 1, Episode 5)
When we think of a Civil War soldier, it's a man we see. But there were women out there on the battlefield, too - hundreds of them - fighting and dying for their cause. Let's travel back into the life of a secret lady soldier to find out why they joined, how they hid their identities, what they faced out in the field, how they were caught and what happened when they were. We'll explore their legacy and impact in their era and how they were almost completely written out of our history books.
63:19 8/16/18
Sarah Emma Edmonds: Soldier, Nurse and Spy
Franklin Thompson did it all as a Civil War soldier: spied, rode, nursed, and fought. And during his service, almost no one knew his secret: that he was really Sarah Emma Edmonds in disguise. Emma left home in Canada at 17 to escape a life she didn't want, living as a man so she could make her own way in the world. When the American Civil War came, she felt called to join up and fight for the Union. She had many adventures as a soldier and spy, then went on to write a best-selling book about it all. Twenty years later, she fought another kind of battle: one for a soldier's pension, becoming one of the first women to be granted one. Let's explore the life and adventurous times of this fascinating unsung hero.
68:36 8/30/18
Dangerous Liaisons: Lady Spies of the American Civil War
19th-century women weren't supposed to be devious - and that's what made them such effective spies. Hundreds of women tied gun parts to their crinolines, baked quinine into bread loaves, hid generals in their attics, and made daring midnight rides for their cause. In this episode, we follow four of them: Union ladies Elizabeth Van Lew and Mary Jane Bowser and Confederate dames Rose O'Neal Greenhow and Bell Boyd. They flirted, tricked, and cajoled the men around them, using their prejudice about a woman's place to achieve outrageous feats of courage and ingenuity. You won't believe what they did, and what they risked, to do their part for the conflict raging all around them.
78:57 9/14/18
Spirits Move Me: 19th-century Mediums
Victorian America was a very haunted place, and by mid-century the Spiritualist movement was sweeping through it. People went in droves to see mediums - who were mostly women - to try and reach the spirits of their loved ones just beyond the veil. They made tables levitate, answered philosophical questions in front of huge crowds, and found a kind of fame and attention that suffragists would have killed for.
59:57 10/11/18
The Madams: The Steamy Lives of Mary Ann Hall and Madame Restell
I'm bringing one of my bonus episodes out of the Patreon vault and sharing it with everyone! Back by popular demand, this bonus gives a more in-depth glimpse into sex in 19th-century: specifically the fascinating lives and times of two very prominent madames. One was Washington's most renowned brothel owner, who opened up a gilded bawdy house just a stone's throw from the Capitol building. The other made quite a scandalous splash as the East Coast's most infamous lady doctor/abortionist. Let's talk about sex, scandal, contraception and abortion - about the lives of women of the evening, and the lengths 19th century women went to in order to find a little help in the realm of family planning. If you like this episode, go to www.patreon.com/theexploresspodcast, become a patron, and dive right into 2+ hours of bonus content (and counting). I'd love to see you there!
28:55 10/26/18
We Shall Overcome: Elizabeth Keckley & Harriet Tubman, Part 1
Elizabeth Keckley and Harriet Tubman spent decades in bondage, suffering everything the "peculiar institution" promised before finding very different paths to freedom. What they did with that freedom is nothing short of extraordinary. In weaving together the lives of these two incredible women, a picture emerges: a window into what it might have been like to be an enslaved woman in 19th-century America. In Part 1 of this two-part episode, we'll dive into the world they were born into and their childhood struggles, exploring the trials of their lives in chains...and how they ultimately escaped them.
65:18 11/9/18
We Shall Overcome: Elizabeth Keckley & Harriet Tubman, Part 2
Harriet Tubman and Elizabeth Keckley took different paths to freedom, and navigating their new world. One because a famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, spending a decade liberating family and strangers alike. The other became a successful dressmaker in the nation's capitol, dressing the leading political ladies of the day. Both showed an incredible work ethic, a hunger for success, and a deep commitment to themselves and to helping others. Let's hear the rest of their incredible stories!
75:08 11/30/18
More Done With Pens Than Swords: How Harriet Beecher Stowe Rocked America (BONUS!)
The 19th century's best-selling novel was an incendiary story about the evils of slavery, written by a northern woman who wanted to change the world. Meet Harriet Beecher Stowe, the authoress who refused to sit down and be silent about the peculiar institution. In this bonus episode, let's find out how (and why) she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and what about it lit mid-19th century America on fire. We'll also explore what it took to be a lady writer in a time when "working mother" wasn't a thing genteel society wanted you to be. For more bonus episodes, become a patron of the show! Just go to https://www.patreon.com/theexploresspodcast. 
36:35 12/21/18
Wild Western Women: Ladies on the American Frontier (Season 1, Episode 11)
America's Wild West evokes images of grizzled men in fringed chaps, but women were also there to help shape the frontier: the pioneer women who fought through many hardships to carve out a life on the dusty plains and the Mexican and Native American women who were already there, trying to hold on to their way of life. What was life like for these women as they traveled by wagon train and set up houses on the prairie? How did women already living there deal with the threat pioneers posed? And what about the cowgirls and lady gunslingers of legend: were they real? Let's find out if the Wild West was a place of freedom for women or if the same Victorian-era rules still applied. Get ready for rough rides, loud bawdy houses, extreme weather, hard work and many, many snakes.
59:33 1/11/19
Walk Like An Egyptian: A Lady's Life in Ancient Egypt, Part 1
Of all the civilizations in the ancient world, Egypt was perhaps the most prone to the miraculous. They invented many wonders: the 365-day calendar, breath mints, paper, the ramp and lever. And then there’s this particular wonder: ancient Egyptian women had more freedom and power than anywhere else in the ancient world. Why was Egypt such an exception to the ancient rule? What did their lives really look like? Grab a linen sheath, your dangliest earrings, and a whole lotta sunscreen. Let’s go traveling. Music from this episode includes: “Hathor,” “Nefertiti,” and “Lost Tombs” from the album Ancient Egypt by Derek and Brandon Fiechter. “Journey of the Nile, “Festival Dance,” and “Jewel of the Desert” from the album Children of the Nile by Keith Zizza. To support the show and get access to exclusive content, become a Patron.  If you're keen to check out the map and timeline I created just for Season 2, plus a list of my sources and an episode transcript, head over to my website.
46:16 4/30/19
Walk Like An Egyptian: A Lady's Life in Ancient Egypt, Part 2
Let's continue our day as an everyday lady in ancient Egypt's New Kingdom during the 18th Dynasty. We'll talk about what we're doing for both work and pleasure, go to a feast, and explore medicine, contraception, mummification and the afterlife. Put on your best jewels and let's go traveling. For show notes, head over to my website. While you're there, become a patron of the show and receive bonus goodies by clicking on Become a Patron. (Most) music by Keith Zizza and Derek & Brandon Fiechter.  
40:11 5/8/19
Who Runs The World: Ancient Egypt's Female Pharaohs, Part 1
In ancient Egyptian, the word "pharaoh" doesn’t mean king; it means “great house”. They had no word for queen at all. All royal women were defined by their relationship to that house: with titles like Great Royal Wife, Great Royal Daughter, Great Royal Mother. They were there to support, not to rule. And yet, in an ancient world where men ruled the day, Egypt saw a slew of influential females stalking the gilded royal halls. Some were royal wives and mothers, whispering in their pharaoh brother-husband’s ear, and some stepped in to rule for him when he was too young to do it himself. But then, others were pharaohs in their own right, beating the odds to rule alone. Who were these women? How and why did they get to be pharaohs, when so many of the ancient world’s major empires never suffered a woman to rule? What was life for a woman on top? And what did they have to do to stay there? Let's start with three amazing ladies: Merneith, Neferusobek (Sobekneferu), and Hatshepsut. For show notes, head over to my website. While you're there, become a patron of the show and receive bonus goodies by clicking on Become a Patron. (Most) music by Keith Zizza and Derek & Brandon Fiechter.
44:42 5/15/19
Who Runs The World: Ancient Egypt's Female Pharaohs, Part 2
Let's continue exploring the lives of ancient Egypt's female pharaohs. We'll start by talking about Hatshepsut's rise to fame and glory: how she stayed on top and what she did while she was there. Then we'll dive into the stories of Nefertiti, a savvy beauty queen with a fanatical boyfriend, and Tawosret, who wasn't afraid to get blood on her hands on her path to power. We'll travel through several eras, looking at the Egyptian language of power and what these women had to do to prove they were more than capable of ruling their world.  For show notes, head over to my website. While you're there, become a patron of the show and receive bonus goodies by clicking on Become a Patron. (Most) music by Keith Zizza and Derek & Brandon Fiechter.  
56:16 5/22/19
Pour Us Another: Women and Beer, from Ancient Past to Present
For millennia, brewing was overwhelmingly a woman’s game. You can’t research beer’s history without stumbling across female brewers. So why, when we conjure up an image of a brewer, is it a dude we always picture? How did beer, both the brewing and the drinking, become overwhelmingly a “man’s drink”? To find out, we’ll explore how beer was made in the ancient world, then hop forward through time up to the present, following a particular story through history: the relationship between women and beer. Their connection to one of the world’s oldest beverages will probably surprise you; it may even change your relationship with that IPA currently sitting in your fridge. Episode includes an interview with modern-day lady brewer Flora Ghisoni of Colonial Brewing Co. Selected music by Kevin Macleod and Keith Zizza. To become a patron of the show, check this out.
46:08 5/29/19
It's All Greek to Me: A Lady's Life in Ancient Greece, Part 1
Ancient Greece is notorious for keeping women silent, veiled, and firmly fixed beside the loom. But was life for the ladies in places like Athens really so restrictive? What did they get up to behind those veils and shaded screens? Let's time travel back to the Classical period to find out what it was like to be them. To check out the show notes, go here. If you'd like to give a one-off donation or become a patron of the show, check out my Patreon page. Music composed on replicated lyres of antiquity (cool!) by Michael Levy, licensed through AKM Productions. Show theme song by Paul Gablonski. Featuring the voiceover stylings of Katy and Nathan at Queens Podcast, Genn and Jenny from Ancient History Fangirl, and Shawn at Stories of Yore and Yours.
46:11 7/3/19
It's All Greek to Me: A Lady's Life in Ancient Greece, Part 2
Ancient Greece is notorious for keeping women silent, veiled, and firmly fixed at the loom. But was life for women in places like Athens really so restrictive? What did they get up to behind those veils and shaded screens? After exploring their houses, rights and duties in Part 1, we're going to talk about life as a matron: childbirth, Athenian nightlife (including the famous escorts who rule it), ritual and festivals. We'll even hop over to ancient Sparta to see what those hardcore ladies get up to. To check out the show notes, go here. If you'd like to give a one-off donation or become a patron of the show, check out my Patreon page. Music composed on replicated lyres of antiquity (cool!) by Michael Levy, licensed through AKM Productions. Show theme song by Paul Gablonski. Featuring the voiceover stylings of Katy and Nathan at Queens Podcast, Genn and Jenny from Ancient History Fangirl, and Shawn at Stories of Yore and Yours.
41:57 7/10/19
That Loosener of Limbs: Sappho and Sexuality in Ancient Greece
When it comes to the words that made it through time to us, ancient Greece is particularly loud with men’s voices. But if you listen, you can hear one woman through the crowd—we still hear her today. Heralded as a genius in her time, Sappho was called “The Poetess” and “The Tenth Muse.” People made coins with her face on them and created honorary statues of her all over Greece. In our century, she’s heralded as one of the earliest same-sex love advocates, boldly writing about lesbian desire. Who was this mysterious woman poet? What did it mean, in her time, to write about same-sex relationships? What did it mean to be in one? Check out the show notes for a transcript, images, and more. To support the show, become a patron or go and nab something from my brand-new Exploress Etsy shop. To hear the amazing music featured on this episode, all make on recreated lyres of antiquity, check out Michael Levy.
36:16 7/24/19
Armed and Dangerous: Amazons and the Real Warrior Women Who Intimidated Ancient Greece, Part 1
The ancient Greeks told lots of stories about the Amazons: the mythic bands of warrior women that Hellanikos of Lesbos described as “a host of golden-shielded, silver-axed, man-loving, boy-killing females.” They made up fantastic stories about both loving and subduing these women who were bold, violent, promiscuous, and independent: everything a good Greek wife wasn’t supposed to be. To many they were a fantasy, equal parts exciting and terrifying. And for a long time, scholars thought that was all they were: a figment of the Greek imagination. But the ancient world saw its fair share of warrior women, living on the move, hunting and fighting, living and dying on their own terms. It turns out the Amazons were very real. Who were these women the Greeks saw in their pleasant dreams and worst nightmares? Let’s go hunting beyond the myths and legends to try and find them. Check out the show notes for a transcript, images, and more. To support the show, become a patron or go and nab something from my brand-new Exploress Etsy shop. To hear the amazing music featured in this episode (The Sack of Troy, Ancient Lyre Strings, and Procession of the Olympians), all composed on recreated lyres of antiquity, check out Michael Levy.
46:03 8/1/19
Armed and Dangerous: Amazons and the Real Warrior Women Who Intimidated Ancient Greece, Part 2
The ancient Greeks told lots of stories about the Amazons: the mythic bands of warrior women that Hellanikos of Lesbos described as "golden-shielded, silver-axed, man-loving, boy-killing females.” They made up fantastic stories about both loving and subduing these women who were bold, violent, promiscuous, and independent: everything a good Greek wife wasn’t supposed to be. To many they were a fantasy, equal parts exciting and terrifying. And for a long time, scholars thought that was all they were: a figment of the Greek imagination. But now we understand that the ancient world saw its fair share of warrior women, living on the move, hunting and fighting, living and dying on their own terms. Who were these women the Greeks saw in their pleasant dreams and worst nightmares? Let’s join up with them in this second installment as we ride off into battle, have some sexual communion, enjoy ourselves around the fire, and meet up with some of the individual warrior women who terrified Greece: Fu Hao, Tomyris, and Artemisia I and II. Check out the show notes for a transcript, images, and more. To support the show, become a patron or go and nab something from my brand-new Exploress Etsy shop. To hear the amazing music featured in this episode (The Sack of Troy, Ancient Lyre Strings, and Procession of the Olympians), all composed on recreated lyres of antiquity, check out Michael Levy.
32:53 8/8/19
Alexander's Women: Olympias and the Ladies Who Helped Shape a Conquerer, Part 1
Ancient Greek queen Olympias went to epic lengths to ensure her son Alex ended up on the throne. In doing so, she helped make him worthy of his title: Alexander the Great. Alexander accomplished a lot all on his own, but there’s no doubt he got a lot of help from his momma. Despite what some people believed about women being meek and quiet, Olympias was one of the most influential people in his life. She was the ultimate momager, shaping his view of himself and the world, maneuvering through the complexities of the cutthroat Macedonian court to ensure her son became a conqueror, becoming one of the most powerful women in the ancient Greek world. But she wasn’t the only strong-willed woman in Alex’s orbit. There were others: a sister who broke hearts and helped ruled a kingdom; a half-sister and her daughter, who led armies and killed queens; even an Amazon who traveled quite a long way to demand some connubial communion with him in his tent. Get ready to enter Macedonia. We’ll face assassinations, intrigue, a little snake worship, warrior women, and an epic battle for an empire that would put Game of Thrones to shame. Check out the show notes for a transcript, images, and more. To support the show, become a patron or go and nab something from my brand-new Exploress Etsy shop.
49:01 8/15/19
Alexander's Women: Olympias and the Ladies Who Helped Shape a Conquerer, Part 2
In Part 1 we met Olympias, Alexander the Great's mother, and saw her navigate some savage drama to get her and her son to the top. Now let's see what she does when he goes off conquering. When he dies, she and several of Alex's women will battle with the men around them for power - often a battle to the death - in a war for an empire that would put Game of Thrones to shame. Get ready for a whole lot of stabbing. Check out the show notes for a transcript, images, a list of my research sources, and more. To support the show, become a patron or go and nab something from my brand-new Exploress Etsy shop.
42:54 8/22/19
The Hair Down There: The History of Our Relationship with Lady Jungles (BONUS!)
Our grooming habits are a contested issue, no more so than the question of what we do with our hair down below. This is especially true for women, for whom the question of whether or not to keep the hair down there has been always been charged with social and sexual meaning. How has our relationship with our pubic hair changed over time, from ancient past to present? What influences our feelings and grooming practice? Join me and Lyndsey Craig, a grad student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (who has conducted a study on this very issue), as we dive into this tangled and fascinating aspect of womanhood through the ages.
37:13 10/10/19
When In Rome: A Lady's Life in the Ancient Roman Empire, Part 1
Let's travel back to ancient Rome and meet the women who lived amid this ancient-world juggernaut. Many are Roman citizens: the wives and daughters and sisters of influential men who use every tool at their disposal to leave a lasting mark on their fast-changing world—and survive its cutthroat rules about what women were allowed to do and be. Others are "barbarians" who refuse to bow to the ever-expanding Empire, fighting against it with both cunning and spears. We will explore the events and laws they had to navigate, the intrigues and wars in which they had a hand. And as always, we’ll try to understand what life was like in ancient Rome for women: what did it look like through their eyes? Grab a really long sheet and a few vials of poison…just in case.  For a transcript, a list of my sources, and lots of images, check out my website. To support the show and get extra content and goodies, go to my Patreon page or explore my Etsy merchandise shop. Music featured comes courtesy of Michael Levy. Thanks to our Rome expert guests Dr. Rhiannon Evans, main guest on the podcast Emperors of Rome, and Dr. Rad and Dr. G of The Partial Historians.
61:25 11/14/19
When In Rome: A Lady's Life in the Ancient Roman Empire, Part 2
Welcome to a day in the life of an ancient Roman matrona. Now that we've learned a bit about Rome's overarching history, woken up, visited the bathroom, and gotten dressed and ready for the day in Part 1, let's explore our domus, meet our husband, and talk about some of our rights under the law. We'll find out what women are doing for work and take a trip to the House of Vesta to meet the Vestal Virgins, who are some of the most powerful women in Rome. For a transcript, a list of my sources, and lots of images, check out my website. To support the show and get extra content and goodies, go to my Patreon page or explore my Etsy merchandise shop. Music featured comes courtesy of Michael Levy. Thanks to our Rome expert guests Dr. Rhiannon Evans, main guest on the podcast Emperors of Rome, and Dr. Rad and Dr. G of The Partial Historians.
62:10 11/21/19
When In Rome: A Lady's Life in the Ancient Roman Empire, Part 3
Welcome to a day in the life of an ancient Roman matrona. In Part 3 of our exploration of a Roman woman's day, we go out into the streets, taking in the Coliseum, the Forum, and the famous Roman baths. We'll also go to a dinner party, then talk about sexuality in ancient Rome and what kinds of medical care we can expect to find.  For a transcript, a list of my sources, and lots of images, check out my website. To support the show and get extra content and goodies, go to my Patreon page or explore my Etsy merchandise shop. Music featured comes courtesy of Michael Levy. Thanks to our Rome expert guests Dr. Rhiannon Evans, main guest on the podcast Emperors of Rome, and Dr. Rad and Dr. G of The Partial Historians.
66:30 11/29/19
Domina: The Women Who Ran Ancient Rome, Part I
In ancient Rome, a woman was defined in relation to her family. Any fame she won was supposed to be confined to the private, domestic sphere. She wove such fine wool; she kept such a fine house; she was so very chaste and never made her father look bad! They weren’t welcome in the public sphere of governance. They couldn't vote or hold office. Theirs was a distinctly patriarchal world, true fame and public achievement was supposed to be reserved for men. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and in a society that coveted public glory, ambitious women found their way into the history books too. In this episode we dive into that shining beacon of female goodness: Cornelia Africana. What did she do and what did her world look like? Was she really as virtuous as our sources claim? For a transcript, a list of my research sources, and images, check out the show notes. To become a patron, explore my Patreon. Music comes courtesy of Michael Levy. Special guests Dr. Rad and Dr. G from The Partial Historians.
45:36 2/14/20
Domina: The Women Who Ran Ancient Rome, Part II
In ancient Rome, a woman was defined in relation to her family. Any fame she won was supposed to be confined to the private, domestic sphere. She wove such fine wool; she kept such a fine house; she was so very chaste and never made her father look bad! They weren’t welcome in the public sphere of governance. They couldn't vote or hold office. Theirs was a distinctly patriarchal world, true fame and public achievement was supposed to be reserved for men. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and in a society that coveted public glory, ambitious women found their way into the history books too. In this episode, we dive headlong into the years around 44 BCE, when Julius Caesar was assassinated, and into the life of Servilia, who was SO much more than his mistress on the side. Find out what we think we know about this mysterious and tantalizing Roman matron.
43:23 2/27/20

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