The Last Archive is a show about the history of truth, and the historical context for our current fake news, post-truth moment. It’s a show about how we know what we know, and why it seems, these days, as if we don’t know anything at all anymore. The show is driven by host Jill Lepore’s work as a historian, uncovering the secrets of the past the way a detective might.
Here's the Latest Episode from The Last Archive – Pushkin Industries:
In 1945, Ralph Ellison went to a barn in Vermont and began to write Invisible Man. He wrote it in the voice of a black man from the south, a voice that changed American literature. Invisible Man is a novel made up of black voices that had been excluded from the historical record until, decades earlier, he’d helped record them with the WPA’s Federal Writers Project. What is the evidence of a voice? How can we truly know history without everyone’s voices? This episode traces those questions — from the quest to record oral histories of formerly enslaved people, to Black Lives Matter and the effort to record the evidence of police brutality.
In 1804, an Invisible Lady arrived in New York City.
She went on to become the most popular attraction in the country. But why? And who was she? In this episode, we chase her through time, finding invisible women everywhere, wondering: What is the relationship between keeping women invisible and the histories of privacy, and of knowledge?
When James Frye, a young black man, is charged with murder under unusual circumstances in 1922, he trusts his fate to a strange new machine: the lie detector. Why did the lie detector’s inventor, William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor and lawyer, think a machine could tell if a human being is lying better than a jury? And what does it all have to do with Wonder Woman?
On a spring day in 1919, a woman’s body was found bound, gagged, and strangled in a garden in Barre, Vermont. Who was she? Who killed her? In this episode, we try to solve a cold case - reopening a century-old murder investigation - as a way to uncover the history of evidence itself. What is a clue? What is a fact? What is a mystery? We put the pieces of the puzzle together: photographs, newspaper articles, a private eye’s notebook, the trial record and, last but not least, a trip to the scene of the crime.
The Last Archive: a new podcast about the history of evidence written and hosted by New Yorker writer, author, and celebrated historian Jill Lepore.