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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Biography & Autobiography Programs

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

His role as Union Army quartermaster general is well known, but Montgomery Meigs was also an engineer, architect, inventor, and patron of the arts who left an indelible impression on the face of the capital city. Historian Bill Keene offers a virtual tour of sites in the Washington area associated with Meigs in his role of engineer and architect.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

At the height of the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy saw outer space exploration as a race for survival—and America was losing to the Soviet Union. Author Jeff Shesol examines why John Glenn’s February 1962 mission into space had greater goals than circling the planet: It was to calm the fears of the free world and renew America’s sense of self-belief.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

In a conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham, Daniel Silva discusses his career as a best-selling author of 24 novels; the inspiration behind his thrilling storylines; and his writing process.

Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

The enormously popular Netflix series “Bridgerton” has brought Britain’s Queen Charlotte into the limelight, but how accurate are the show’s portrayals of this long-reigning queen consort? Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger explores the nonfictional Charlotte’s influence on social life, the arts, and politics during her 57 years on the throne, as well as her  lengthy and complicated relationship with her husband King George III.  

Thursday, July 29, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Few figures in history excite as passionately held and often-conflicting visions as Napoleon. Historian Alexander Mikaberidze discusses the many facets of Napoleon the man and his enormous influence on Europe and many parts of the world.

Monday, August 16, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

During the harsh winter of 1777 when the Continental Army was camped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Gen. George Washington initiated a new set of drills and regimental regulations that helped to turn a rag-tag collection of enlistees into a professional fighting force. Historian Richard Bell tells the Valley Forge story through the perspective of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, an immigrant who trained the troops as he dealt with anti-German sentiments and rumors about his sexuality.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. ET

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” With these words, Elizabeth Barrett Browning has come down to us as a romantic heroine, a recluse controlled by a domineering father and often overshadowed by her husband, Robert Browning. But she defied cultural constraints—a modern figure whose life is a study in self-invention. Writer and poet Fiona Sampson presents a nuanced, comprehensive portrait of Britain’s most famous female poet.

Thursday, September 9, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Historian Richard Bell examines Paine’s meteoric rise to celebrity status during the American Revolution and his equally dramatic fall from grace. Once lionized as our most relatable and revolutionary founding father, according to Bell, Paine died a pariah, too radical for the cautious new country he had helped call into being.