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The Alley Cast
48 minutes | Aug 18, 2021
Episode 2.08: Laboring Philadelphians
In our Season 2 finale, we look at the people who have been there throughout all of the other episodes—the laborers! We also try to consider what types of labor today share the physical toll and the meager wages with laborers of the past.
32 minutes | Aug 11, 2021
Episode 2.07: The Servers
The ongoing pandemic has wreaked chaos on the restaurant industry, closing popular spots and leaving huge numbers of restaurant workers out of work. In this episode of The Alley Cast, we explore the long history of the transience of restaurant work in order to try to gain some perspective on the challenges of today.
47 minutes | Aug 4, 2021
Bonus Episode: Behind-the-Scenes Roundtable
Taking a week off from our regular schedule and having a conversation with some of the folks who make this podcast about how this season came about.
46 minutes | Jul 28, 2021
Episode 2.06: Cabinetmakers
Find a full transcript and sources at elfrethsalley.org/podcast/2021/7/14/episode-206-cabinetmakers
45 minutes | Jul 21, 2021
Episode 2.05: Boarding Houses
This week we are talking about boarding houses, and we got to interview Dr. Wendy Gamber, who is one of the leading scholars on the history of the American boarding house. We trace Elfreth’s Alley’s history of boarding houses through the 18th and 19th centuries to the era when, nationally, the institution came under fire. Yet even when the boarding house seemed to fade into the sands of time, we see emerging echoes of it in the 21st century. Find a full transcript and sources at elfrethsalley.org/podcast/2021/7/12/episode-205-boarding-houses
25 minutes | Jul 14, 2021
Episode 2.04: Working Children
Find a full transcript and list of sources at elfrethsalley.org/podcast/workingchildren
38 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
Episode 2.03: Building Houses, Part II
Find a full transcript and sources at elfrethsalley.org/podcast/buildinghousespartii.
35 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
Episode 2.02: Building Houses, Part I
Find a full transcript and list of sources at elfrethsalley.org/podcast/2021/6/29/episode-202-building-houses-part-i
21 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Episode 2:01: The Mechanics' Lecture
Find a transcript, sources, and links at the episode page: www.elfrethsalley.org/podcast/2021/6/23/episode-201-the-mechanics-lecture
1 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
Season 2 is Coming!
Check back on June 23rd, 2021 for the first episode of the new season!
21 minutes | Dec 22, 2020
Over the last few decades it seems lots of people have been concerned about how Christmas is changing. On one hand, there is the so-called “War on Christmas,” and people taking issue with Starbucks cups and the greeting “Happy Holidays.” On the other hand, there are those who complain about the way in which the Christmas season seems to creep earlier and earlier in the year. Both of these complaints bemoan changing traditions. But that “classic” tradition of Christmas--Christmas trees, cookies, and toys toys toys--where did that come from?
11 minutes | Nov 9, 2020
Bonus Episode: Fire
Hello! We're back with a quick episode about the history of fire (and fire insurance, fire fighting, and historically-clad fire safety demonstrations) on Elfreth's Alley and with some news about upcoming events!
29 minutes | Aug 20, 2020
Episode 8: Renewal
This season we have worked our way from dressmakers in 1762 through to 20th-century preservationists, with many other topics in between. We have explored how the neighborhood around Elfreth’s Alley was built and rebuilt, how economic and demographic changes in the city as a whole affected this little street, and how commemoration and preservation began to remake the street even as these efforts remained, in effect, racially segregated. Today we continue with the story of 20th century commemoration efforts on the Alley as well as at Independence Hall, and we will wrap up this first season of The Alley Cast.
30 minutes | Aug 13, 2020
Episode 7: When Elfreth's Alley Became Historic
Over the last few episodes, we have shown how Elfreth’s Alley went from a neighborhood of artisans in early Philadelphia to a rundown street in the shadow of factories and warehouses, with unsanitary conditions and rampant overcrowding by the 1930s. Today, Elfreth’s Alley is in nearly every guidebook to Philadelphia as a must-see attraction. During a typical summer Saturday, some thousand visitors walk down the length of the block, duck into Bladen’s Court, a small offshoot of the Alley, and retrace their steps back up the street, posing for photos in front of the Instagram-worthy houses and the historical flags waving above. How did this transformation happen? Why did it happen? Who made it happen? In this episode, we will examine the beginning of Elfreth’s Alley metamorphosis into a tourist spot.
29 minutes | Aug 6, 2020
Episode 6: Urban "Decay" and The City of Homes
In Episode 6 of The Alley Cast, we discuss housing in Philadelphia--how it changed in around the turn of the 20th century and how some parts of the city were neglected into such disrepair that a multitude of organizations were created to try to fix them. But we will also be exploring an idea that we touched on a little in episode 5 and which we will continue to engage with through the end of this season. That the ways in which city neighborhoods are labeled--as factory districts, or quote unquote “slums,” or even historic--are tied up in the priorities of those with power, privilege, and speculative financial investment in those neighborhoods. These labels often determine the options available to those without power and without privilege who live and work in these spaces. And sometimes the labels applied by city planners, reformers, investors, and preservationists can determine the future of a neighborhood--for good or bad, or simply for different--despite the wishes and actions of the people who live and work there.
38 minutes | Jul 30, 2020
Bonus Episode: Meet the Team
We're taking a week off from our usual format to introduce our team, talk through the origins of the podcast, and chat about some things that haven't made it into the podcast, at least not yet.
27 minutes | Jul 23, 2020
Episode 5: An Industrial Neighborhood
We often focus on the years when Elfreth's Alley was a center of artisan production, but this week we turn to the industrial age, which did just as much to shape the street. We learn about a few Alley residents who were part of the Great Migration, Black Southerners who came to Philadelphia and other Northern cities for work.
24 minutes | Jul 16, 2020
Episode 4: The Racial Politics of Domestic Labor
In previous episodes, we have primarily focused on women who were the heads of households on Elfreth's Alley. In this week's episode, Joe Makuc looks to the literal margins of the census records to learn about the experiences of free Black women working as domestic servants. Places to donate: - https://www.phillybailfund.org/donate - https://blmphilly.wedid.it/ - https://mutualaidphilly.com/
23 minutes | Jul 9, 2020
Episode 3: The Public Universal Friend in Philadelphia
This week we begin with one of the widows on Elfreth's Alley, who housed a nonbinary Quaker minister titled the Public Universal Friend and the Friend's group of followers. Along the way we will talk about Quakerism, gender norms and gender variance in Philadelphia, explore how the Public Universal Friend's gender ambiguity and religious ideas unsettled societal norms and learn how the Friend navigated a city whose inhabitants who felt threatened by this queer gender expression.
25 minutes | Jul 2, 2020
Episode 2: Spinsters, Runaway Wives, and Widows
Last week, we talked about three dressmakers who lived on Elfreth’s Alley from the mid-eighteenth century into the early nineteenth century. We learned that Mary Smith, Sarah Melton, and Elizabeth Carr were all examples of women who spent some or all of their adult lives in couples with other women, rather than with men, and we explored the possibilities of their professional and personal lives together. Today on the Alley Cast, we are going to explore the economic and social circumstances of the other female-headed households on Elfreth’s Alley from 1785 to 1820 and consider what brought these women here and how the Alley shaped their lives.
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