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Runaway wives and widows; a nonbinary Quaker minister; Black Southerners who came to Philadelphia for work; emerging community preservationists. If you lived or worked in Elfreth’s Alley between 1762 and 1967, these were some of the people in your neighborhood. And if you didn’t, you can get to know them—and others—by listening to The Alley Cast Podcast.
Right up your alley
With normal operations and tourism disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Elfreth’s Alley Museum has gone digital, dropping weekly episodes of a new podcast and hosting its annual Fete Day as a virtual video event. The Alley Cast Podcast brings the historical landmark to listeners who aren’t able to explore the nation's oldest continuously inhabited residential street in person.
Inspired by the book Your Museum Needs a Podcast, museum associate director Ted Maust and interns Isabel Steven and Joe Makuc, both graduate students in Temple University’s public history program, launched season one of the podcast at the end of June with a focus on women, gender, and racial politics, among other themes. “The podcast was a way to take the content we were already working with and make it more accessible,” Maust said.
History every day
Recording from closets and relying on their personal smartphones and laptops, the group launched the podcast with a minimal budget. Future interns will help create season two. The podcasters aim to tell visual stories—not to simply recreate the experience of walking down Elfreth’s Alley but to expand upon it through chronological episodes. “You get a sense of the sweep of history that Elfreth's Alley has been a part of,” Steven said.
While the podcast represents a change of plans, it stays true to the mission of Elfreth’s Alley. Makuc, who originally planned to spend his internship planting and creating a tour around a new garden, said he was drawn to intern with the museum because of its focus on everyday people. On The Alley Cast Podcast listeners can still learn about the vivid and varied lives of Elfreth’s Alley inhabitants—and, perhaps ultimately, visit with the historical characters a little longer than they might if they had simply dropped in to take a photograph after reading about the spot in a guidebook.
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