History can be a hard subject to make interesting, but I have discovered several channels on YouTube that are using the medium to teach the subject in a new and fresh way. Here are, in no particular order, my choices for the best YouTube channels for history nerds.
Alternate History Hub
Those who have been following me for a while shouldn’t be surprised I would lead with an alternate history channel, but there is no denying that Cody Franklin is the voice of alternate history on YouTube. There are certainly other channels out there (plug for mine here), but Cody’s use of Polandball-esque art makes learning about other timelines fun. Plus Cody doesn’t just assume you know the history he is trying to change and will spend time catching everyone up to the era of history in question.
Whether you ask what ifs all the time or are new to the genre, the Alternate History Hub is the place to start changing the past on YouTube.
We celebrate Mars being the only planet inhabited solely by robots, but we sometimes forget that at one time putting people into space was our #1 priority. Amy Shira Teitel reminds of this with her show Vintage Space, where she primarily covers pre-Shuttle era topics. This can range from the Apollo missions, the grandiose plans of early NASA and Nazi German bombers designed to strike the east coast. If you are an alternate historian like me, you will find a lot of fodder here for a space race that never was. If you just like history, you will learn about obscure space exploration facts that did not always make the history books.
And if you want more vintage space action, go check out Amy’s blog on Popular Science.
Its time to learn geography…NOW!
Sorry, but its a catchy tune and if you happen to watch an episode of Geography Now, hosted by Paul Barbato, you will catch yourself humming it too. Paul is going down the alphabet to profile every nation in the world (he just put out an episode on Comoros) from their flag, the people and, of course, their history, in a fun and fast paced matter. This is a great channel to learn about little known corners of the globe that don’t often make the nightly news.
I watch a lot of film reviewers on YouTube, but I have found none dedicated to reviewing historical films like History Buffs, hosted by the animated (in more ways then one) Nick Hodges. From 300 to Vikings, Nick discusses what he likes about these flicks and how close they come to actual history. The episodes also have one of the best openings I have seen for any of the channels I am going to talk about in this article so I recommend watching his videos just to see that.
If you ever wanted to see how close Hollywood gets to telling history right, Nick is the right person to ask.
We go from films now to video games with History Respawned. In this series, professors Bob Whitaker and John Harney interview other historians regarding the historical backgrounds of popular game franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Fallout. This is one of the more low key channels I am going to share and can be listened to as a podcast, although you will miss the gameplay they include with their discussions. They have also been experimenting with some Lets Play lately and who knows what we will see from them in the future.
As long as video game developers keep getting inspired by history, History Respawned will be there to dissect their work.
The Great War
Last, but certainly not least, is The Great War hosted by Indy “we named the dog Indiana” Neidell. Indy and crew are telling the history of World War I a week at a time. Every Thursday, Indy goes over the events of a week in the war, but he also publishes episodes on a variety of topics, including what famous individuals were doing during the war and answering questions he gets from fans. Watching these episodes you can tell that Indy has a passion for this subject, but he knows when he needs to remind us about the horrors of war, lest we forget and make the same mistakes our ancestors did.
Take some time away from WWII and dive into the war that helped define the 20th century.