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  • Shannon Honl

Liz Covart: An 18th Century Podcaster


Meet historian, early Americanist, and podcaster Liz Covart. Originally from Boston, Liz received an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Davis. While there, she was mentored by fellow New Englander and (then) UC-Davis professor Alan Taylor – a big flippin’ deal in the field of colonial history scholarship, ICYDK. Following graduation in 2011, Liz began her career as an independent scholar and contributing editor for the Journal of Early Americas. But her big debut came in 2014 when she launched Ben Franklin’s World, a podcast she created, hosts, and produces. With over 300 episodes and ten million downloads, Ben Franklin’s World introduces audiences to early American history.


This September 17 marks the 235th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Honoring the Constitution Day milestone, the show’s latest episode focuses on Article 1 of the Constitution and the history of the U.S. Senate. Covart hosts a panel of three historians from The Senate Historical Office. Listeners gain insight into the Senate’s history and the world of doing public history for the federal government.

Covart is an historian focused on an era of U.S. history far preceding the digital world. Yet she is leveraging digital tools creatively to enrich an otherwise two-dimensional account for new media audiences. Complementing the show is a vibrant and interactive community of followers dialoguing on Twitter and Facebook. In case you need further incentive to give it a listen, Ben Franklin’s World was awarded 2017 Best History Podcast by the Academy of Podcasters. You can also check out the current 2022 winner and runner-ups for what is now called The Ambies (Awards for Excellence in Audio).

Covart accepts the Best History Podcast award, 2017

In the wake of her podcast accolades, Covart joined the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (OI) as their Digital Projects Editor. The OI, sponsored by William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg, is notably the world’s “preeminent organization” for early American history (1450-1820).[1] In her new role with the OI, Covart not only continues her work on Ben Franklin’s World, but she edits a new podcast series titled Doing History. This new show highlights the methodologies and collaboration behind doing scholarly history – a must-listen for any nascent historian. In conversations with various historians, Covart explores how scholars conduct research, write, stay organized, locate and select sources, and engage with public audiences.


If one were to categorize Covart in terms of Kim Barbour’s and David Marshall’s online “persona,” she seems to fit neatly into the “Networked Self” label.[2] Like other millennials, she is careful to keep her history persona strictly professional. Yet she is committed to a rigorous multi-platform approach to interaction through Twitter, a professional website, LinkedIn, and (to a lesser extent) her blog.


Want to learn more about Liz, what inspired her to pursue a Ph.D., her interest in early American history, how she honed her podcast skills, and the way she built a network of historians? Kurt Manwaring’s 2019 interview with Liz, featured on the history and religion blog From the Desk, covers these answers and more.


 

Notes: [1] Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture. “A Message from Liz Covart,” May 30, 2017. https://blog.oieahc.wm.edu/message-liz-covart/.


[2] Barbour, Kim, and David Marshall. “The Academic Online: Constructing Persona through the World Wide Web.” First Monday, August 18, 2012. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v0i0.3969.

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