100 Incredible Lectures for History Lovers

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January 20th, 2010

By Pamelia Brown

Ironically, one of the best places to learn about the past is with the technologies of the future, as web lectures abound from renowned lecturers and college campuses around the world. Here you’ll find 100 of these lectures that will help you indulge your history enthusiasm by learning about everything from the fall of the Berlin wall to ancient Egyptian history and just about anything in between.

World History

Explore the history of civilizations around the world through these lectures.

  1. Modern Civilization from 1750 – Present: In this series of lectures, you’ll hear from Professor Lynn Hunt on the rise of Western civilization.
  2. Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age: Learn a little more about classic and infamous pirates like Blackbeard as well as a great deal about pirate culture and history in this lecture.
  3. Latin America: Two Hundred Years of Solitude: Ernesto Zedillo gives this lecture on the isolation of Latin America until recent years.
  4. Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story: This lecture will show you the true history of the country and explore the ways in which current foreign policy can handle its issues.
  5. Over the Edge: Magellan’s Terrifying Travels: Learn about one of the most epic and dangerous sea journeys ever undertaken in this lecture.
  6. Re-Membering Africa: This lecture will attempt to tell about African history from the African perspective, untainted by colonialist interests.
  7. Marco Polo: Silk Road to China: Through this lecture you’ll learn about the journey Marco Polo took to China using the silk trade routes.
  8. The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East: Learn what effect the Cold War had on the Middle East and the impact it is still having today through this lecture.
  9. Vladimir Putin and the Oligarchs: Professor Marshall Goldman explores some of the major changes that have happened in Russian leadership in the past few decades.
  10. Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present: Check out this lecture for an examination of China that addresses history, archaeology, language, and contemporary culture.
  11. Americas Before Columbus: This lecture offers an opportunity to learn about the large-scale cities and advanced civilization that occupied the Americas before the European’s arrival.
  12. Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Many may be unfamiliar with this chapter in Asian history, but this lecture will help make it crystal clear.
  13. A Voyage, Long and Strange: In this lecture you’ll get an explanation about what happened in the Americas in the years between Columbus’ arrival and the landing of the Mayflower.

European History

Take a look and listen to these lectures to learn about the history of European nations.

  1. Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World: From novelists to nuclear scientists, this lecture chronicles nine Hungarian Jews who were lucky enough to escape the Nazis during WWII.
  2. European Civilization, 1648-1945: Listen to this series of lectures from Yale to get a great overview of European civilization until the end of WWII.
  3. France Since 1871: This series of lectures touches on social, economic and political changes that have occurred in France over the past century.
  4. The Fall of the Wall: 20 Years Later: Here you’ll find a recorded discussion on the impact of the fall of the wall and the changes that have happened since.
  5. Lives and Landscapes of the French Monarchy: Listen to this lecture to learn about Kings Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI and their growing interest in art and landscape design.
  6. Milestone of the Revolution: Katie Carroll and the IRA: Learn more about Katie Carroll, a woman murdered by the IRA, and the era of violence the incident ushered in.
  7. Fall of the Berlin Wall: This series of lectures will take you through this tumultuous period in history.
  8. Verneys: Love, War and Madness in 17th Century England: In this lecture you can learn more about this amazing family through their records and correspondence.
  9. After the Victorians: The Decline of Britain in the World: Historian A.N. Wilson explores British history from the death of Queen Victoria to the present day in this thoughtful lecture.
  10. Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Helped Save England: Learn why the young men who battled to bring Churchill to power may have made all the difference in British history in this lecture.
  11. George III: A Life in Caricature: In this lecture you’ll learn more about one of England’s best known but least understood rulers.
  12. History of Paris: Learn how Paris went from being a crowded medieval city to one with sprawling boulevards and numerous cultural landmarks in this video series.

American History

These lectures will help you learn more about the history of the United States from the Revolutionary War to the tumultuous 60s.

  1. Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property: In this lecture you can learn more about the man and the slave rebellion of 1831.
  2. Abraham Lincoln’s Invention of Presidential War Powers: Check out this lecture to hear more about the creation of this important element of American politics.
  3. Race, Religion, and American Politics from Nat Turner to George W. Bush: This three-part series will take you through the early slave uprisings to modern day racial conflicts.
  4. The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877: In this series of lectures, you’ll hear about the history of the Civil War and the difficult years that followed.
  5. African American History: The Modern Freedom Struggle: Give this series of lectures a try to learn more about African American history and leaders.
  6. Boston’s Spectacle Island and It’s Native American Past: This lecture will teach you more about the Native American history of Spectacle Island, once inhabited by the Algonquin.
  7. French Ally in America’s War of Independence: Learn how French Colonel Armand Tuffin helped George Washington win some of the battles of the Revolutionary War.
  8. Slavery and the Making of America: This series will help you learn more about the history of slavery in the United States.
  9. Ken Burns on Thomas Jefferson: This link collects a series of lectures that will help you learn more about this amazing founding father.
  10. The Causes of the Great Depression: You can learn more about the reasons for the economic downturn of the 1930s in this informative lecture.
  11. 1963 March on Washington: Listen to this original broadcast on these historical marches through this link.
  12. Loyalists and the American War for Independence: In an interesting change of perspective, this lecture examines the War of Independence from the Loyalist point of view.

Art History

See and hear about some of the artwork that has reflected distinctive periods in history through these lectures.

  1. Shifting Meaning: African Art in the World: Learn about the ways in which African art has been interpreted at home and in the global community in this lecture.
  2. Thomas Gainsbourogh: The Substance of Style: In 18th century England, Gainsbourogh’s portraits were the height of fashion. You can learn more about his techniques and the history of the period in this lecture.
  3. Marie Antoinette: Patron of the Arts: In this lecture you’ll hear about Marie Antoinette’s love of the arts, especially fine porcelain.
  4. Art, Gender and Politics in Egypt: Queen Hapshetsut: Through this lecture you’ll learn more about the woman who was the first to take on the title of pharaoh and the art created around her.
  5. Raphael and the Art of Portraiture: Learn more about some of the Renaissance’s most important works in this lecture.
  6. Role of the Academy in American Art: The academy played a big role in the European art world but this lecture addresses the impact of such a structure on arts created in the Americas.
  7. In Search of Culture: The Birth of the Museum of Fine Arts: Check out this lecture for information on the origins and need for the Museum of Fine Art in Boston.
  8. Castiglione: The Art of Being a Renaissance Man: In this lecture you can get some pointers on what it takes to be a true Renaissance man and how Castiglione embodied and encouraged these characteristics.
  9. Time for Tea: Women as Patrons of the Decorative Arts 1690-1850: Here you can learn how the introduction of tea to the Western world sparked an interest in the decorative arts, primarily supported by women.
  10. Hudson River School of American Landscape Painting: This lecture will teach you about the history and techniques involved with this school of landscape painting.
  11. Sensational Scandals on the Eve of the French Revolution: In this lecture you’ll hear about how theater, opera, and painting exhibitions played up the scandals of the months leading up to revolution.

U.S. Presidents

These lectures will let you take a closer look at individual American presidents.

  1. Revisiting President John F. Kennedy and the 1960s: Take a look back at the 1960s to learn more about the culture and politics of the time and the president who defined the era.
  2. Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founding Fathers Different: Learn what characteristics allowed the founding fathers to rebel and start a new nation with new rules.
  3. Rewriting the Founding: Theodore Roosevelt as Historian: Take a different look at Teddy Roosevelt in this compelling lecture.
  4. New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World: Here you’ll be able to learn more about this iconic president and his times.
  5. Presidency of Gerald Ford: Don’t know a thing about the presidency of Ford? Not to worry, this lecture will fill you in on the details.
  6. Jimmy Carter: Prophet from the Plains: While not a popular president in his time, Carter has gone on to make great strides in international relations. This lecture will help you learn more about his presidency and his persona.
  7. Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power: In this lecture you’ll hear about the battle between these two leaders to outdo each other and the friendship the two shared as well.
  8. Presidents at War: Take a look at this lecture to hear about the lasting legacies of wartime presidents.
  9. Presidency of LBJ: Hear from LBJ’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer in this lecture.
  10. The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President: In this lecture you’ll get a unique look into the White House, with excerpts from interviews done while Clinton was in office.

Ancient and Medieval History

Head back to the beginnings of civilization with these lectures.

  1. The City of Sardis: Approaches in Graphic Recording: In this lecture you’ll learn how new technologies are making it easier to take a new look at this ancient Roman city.
  2. Introduction to Ancient Greek History: Explore this series of lectures to learn more about this influential classical society.
  3. Roman Architecture: After listening to these lectures you’ll be able to pick out Roman-influenced architectural elements in your own city and understand the principles behind the construction of the monuments the Romans made.
  4. Eighth Wonder: The Library of Alexandria: This lecture explores the mythical Library and the wonders it was said to hold.
  5. Building Pharaoh’s Ship: This video series will let you see how the Ancient Egyptians went about building vessels for their Pharaohs.
  6. Alexander the Great: In this lecture you’ll see how this somewhat unusual man rose to power.
  7. The Dark Ages: Learn more about this period of European history when art and culture were said to stagnate.
  8. Ancient Olympics: Gods and Athletes: You’ll gain a new appreciation for the Olympics of today by learning about its historical origins in this lecture.
  9. What Mummies Tell Us: Take a look inside a mummy to learn about Egyptian burial practices, royalty and culture during that time.
  10. The Bible’s Buried Secrets: This NOVA special will explore some of the debated historical issues in the Bible.
  11. Medieval Judaism and Christianity: Daniel J. Lasker explains the nature of these two world religions during this somewhat uncouth period in history.

Conflict History

Explore the history of world conflicts through these lectures.

  1. Women and War in the Twentieth Century: This collection of lectures from Harvard explores the roles women have played during wartime.
  2. Conversation with WWII PT Boat Veterans: In this discussion you’ll hear from veterans who served on PT boats in the Solomon Islands at the same time as JFK.
  3. Tuskegee Airmen of WWII: Learn what a big role the work of these brave airmen played in ending racial segregation in the military.
  4. Someone Must Survive to Tell the World: Tosia Schneider explains the horrors she endured during the Nazi occupation of Poland and the promise she made to her mother.
  5. Baptized in Blood: Moral Reflections on the American Civil War: This lecture takes a look back at some of the complex moral issues that surrounded the Civil War.
  6. Ken Burns on the Civil War: This collection of lectures will help give you a well-rounded and informative picture of the history of the Civil War.
  7. Baker Street Spies in Wartime Washington: Take a look into the seedy and often deceitful world of the British spies working in Washington before, during and after WWII.
  8. D-Day to Berlin: Using never before seen home footage, this lecture will take you through the war from the vantage point of a soldier who was there.
  9. Vietnam War and the Presidency: Big names like Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig participate in this discussion of the Vietnam War.
  10. Birth of the Modern Arms Race: This book recalls the history of the Cold War from the Oppenheimer trial to the era of McCarthyism.

Cultural History

In these lectures you will be able to learn more about cultural movements and more.

  1. Nonviolence: From Gandhi to Martin Luther King: This series of lectures will give you a thorough understanding of non-violence resistance movements.
  2. New Testament History and Literature: Check out this lecture to learn more about the history behind the New Testament.
  3. Cultural History of the Great Depression: With discussions of entertainment and contemporary culture, this lecture will show you what life was like during the Great Depression.
  4. Jews and Sufis: A Sacred Bridge: Here you can learn more about the relationship between these two Middle Eastern religious traditions.
  5. Native Americans: Living in Two Worlds: Learn more about the difficulties in reconciling two ways of viewing the world that many Native American groups have.
  6. Homosexuality and Civilization: This lecture will explore the acceptance or non-acceptance of homosexuality throughout history.
  7. Buttoned Up and Down: European Fashion in 1905: If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Victorian fashion, this lecture is a great free way to do so.
  8. Piecing Together Our History: In this lecture you can learn more about Asian-Pacific culture in the United States.
  9. Alan Turing’s Contribution to World History: Give this lecture a try to gain more knowledge about the scientific contributions of this often misunderstood man.
  10. History 2D: Science, Magic and Religion: Here you can learn more about the role of these cultural factors in pushing history forward.

Miscellaneous

These lectures touch on a wide range of historical subject matter.

  1. Brown v. Board: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Take a look at the impact of this historical court case in this series of lectures from Harvard.
  2. History of Information: This lecture from Berkeley will help you explore the history of the recording, transmittal and storage of information.
  3. History of Psychology: From Freud to the modern day, this lecture will show you the history of studying how the mind works.
  4. History and Future of Nuclear Weapons: Nuclear weapons have played a big role in modern history and you can learn more about this and where the technology is headed in the coming years from this lecture.
  5. History of Jazz: Get a cultural education with this great lecture series on the history of Jazz.
  6. A Romp Through the History of Philosophy: From ancient Rome to Existentialism, this lecture will help you learn the big names in philosophy.
  7. Crack in the Edge of the World: The 1906 CA Earthquake: Through this lecture you can revisit this deadly natural disaster.
  8. Maps and History: Constructing Images of the Past: Learn from this lecture how maps can help you explore not only locations but cultural ideas and ways of seeing the world.
  9. First Theorists of History: This lecture will explain the work and ideas of some of the world’s first historians.
  10. Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History: Check out this lecture for a funny look at some of the women who made names for themselves by defying cultural and social expectations.
  11. Chinese in America: A Narrative History: This lecture will help you understand the contributions of the Chinese to American history, and the ongoing lives of those who grew up here.

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