New BackStory episode features stories about Americana

BackStoryBackStory, an American history podcast produced by Virginia Humanities, releases “Finding Americana: The History of Four Unique Events and Places.”

What could be more American than . . . butter carving? Maybe miniature roadside towns or perhaps a dead whale on a train. On this episode of BackStory, Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh and Nathan Connolly explore the best of Americana, finding the unique and the kitschy in American culture. (This show features two segments from previous episodes.)

Joining Ayers, Balogh and Connolly are Ken RobisonJamie JonesSamantha Boardman,Dolores Heinsohn and Erika Janik.

  • Robison is an artist and Texas native. He has created the butter sculpture for The State Fair of Texas every year since 2016.
  • Jones is an assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current book project, “Rendered Obsolete: The Afterlife of U.S. Whaling in the Petroleum Age,” explores U.S. whaling culture, from its peak production through its obsolescence.
  • Boardman is a public historian and researcher. She is the project manager for research and community partnerships at Rutgers University.
  • Heinsohn is the granddaughter of Laurence T. Gieringer who founded Roadside America, a miniature model town and railroad, in the 1930s. Heinsohn and her family continue to operate the Pennsylvania tourist attraction.
  • Janik is a historian and freelance journalist. She is the executive producer of “Wisconsin Life,” an audio series that celebrates the unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of Wisconsin.

“Finding Americana: The History of Four Unique Events and Places,” is available at noon today. Find it and every episode of BackStory on the website ( or on popular podcatchers including iTunes, Spotify and Google. BackStory publishes every week at noon and is available for free.


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