About Sarah Dowdey

Sarah Dowdey is an editor at HowStuffWorks.com, where she also co-hosts the "Stuff You Missed in History Class" podcast. She studied English and history at the University of Georgia. When she's not paging through a book or leafing through a magazine, she likes walking in her neighborhood's many parks and traveling when she gets the chance. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @MissedinHistory and on Facebook at the official Stuff You Missed in History Class page.

Most Recent: Sarah Dowdey Postings

Reading a play is always a vastly different experience from seeing one performed live. It’s not just the actors’ interpretation and delivery, or the costumes, setting and lighting. It’s the experience of being in a theatre, with an audience, that changes how you see what’s on the page.

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It might be obvious from the name, but “Clybourne Park” is as much about the house as it is about the characters struggling to communicate inside. The solid, middle-class bungalow connects the newer play to Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” since characters from that earlier play — the African-American Younger family — are about to move in when “Clybourne Park” opens.

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Listeners love a good history book recommendation, but it’s not every day we devote a whole podcast to one work — and interview the author while we’re at it! Last week, Deblina and I spoke with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough about his latest book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.”

The featured expats aren’t exactly your expected crowd: Mr. McCullough’s work starts long after the enlightened Franklin/Jefferson era and ends long before the post-war literary scene of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. It covers the middle years, 1830 to 1900, and focuses on men and women, who, as Mr. McCullough describes them, “were ambitious to excel in their chosen careers […] to be the best they could possibly be.”

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Since January, I’ve been brooding over a whole stable of Royal Geographic Society explorers — the result of reading David Grann’s “The Lost City of Z” over the Christmas holiday. Percy Fawcett, John Hanning Speke, Richard Francis Burton … all podcast-worthy adventurers with strange stories and interesting lives.

But I thought Stanley and Livingstone, arguably two of the most famous names in Victorian exploration, ought to come first. After Dr. David Livingstone, longtime missionary and celebrity explorer, dropped off the map in search the Nile’s source, journalist Henry Morton Stanley went looking. Their unlikely meeting made international news and stocked Stanley’s home paper the New York Herald with headlines for a year.

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While researching our episode on Caravaggio, I couldn’t help but think of Lady Caroline Lamb’s assessment of another tortured artist, Lord Byron, famously called “mad, bad and dangerous to know.” Caravaggio was dangerous to know; in fact, his rap sheet was long enough for us to toss the offenses back and forth like a ball on a pallacorda court.

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Remember the really, really old shoe Deblina and I discussed on our year-end discoveries podcast? The one that made doctoral student Diana Zardaryan, the woman who found it, utter what was also perhaps the best quote of 2010: “To find a shoe has always been my dream”?

Well now, from the same Armenian cave that contained the 5,500-year-old lace-up moccasin (the world’s oldest leather shoe) comes a new discovery: evidence of the world’s oldest winery.

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This week, Deblina and I continued our coverage of Black History Month with a story of rebellion, one that historian Junius P. Rodriguez called the “single most important African slave revolt in the history of what would become the United States.”

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The story of Ellen and William Craft had me hooked from the start. Daring, ingenuity and a 1,000-mile escape — compelling stuff indeed, especially when you throw in a top hat and green-colored glasses.

Tired of slavery in Macon, Ga., and unwilling to face the prospect of bringing children into a family that could be torn apart at any time, William Craft hatched a plan: his light-complexioned wife would disguise herself as a young, sickly, but well-off white man, and travel by train and steamer to freedom in Philadelphia. William would tag along as her solicitous slave, securing her medicine, making her comfortable and steaming the poultices that hid Ellen’s smooth cheeks.

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So we realize the Bourbons are one confusing family, and in our last episode on the French line, we threw out quite a few names, dates and revolutions. But it always helps to put a name to a face! Below: key events and characters from the latest podcast. Follow along as you listen, study up beforehand or consult after the fact to clear up any confusion!

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After hearing of Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes’ suspension, faculty members at the University of Georgia fired back: 300 of them petitioned for the students’ return. A second order from federal judge William Bootle revoked the suspension, and by Jan. 16, Holmes and Hunter were back to class, this time better protected by the volunteers of the Faculty Night Patrol.

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