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1800s

The Moulin Rouge: A Famous French Theater That Held The...

October 6, 2020

Moulin Rouge, Paris, April 2011. (Christine Zenino/Wikimedia Commons) Whether you're a lover of art, dance, or pop musicals, you've probably heard of the famo...

The Orient Express: A Famous Train Ride Across Europe T...

October 4, 2020

The Orient Express at the Salzburg station. (Culture Club/Getty Images) Perhaps the best-known train in the world, the Orient Express conjures images of luxur...

What Happened To Aaron Burr After He Shot Alexander Ham...

September 1, 2020

Even if you haven't seen the smash Broadway musical Hamilton, you probably know that Alexander Hamilton, one of America's founding fathers and the first secr...

The Invention Of Potato Chips In 1853 By A Half-Black, ...

August 24, 2020

Potato chips. (Urbano Delvalle/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images) If there's anything people love more than sweet, sweet fried potatoes...

Ugly Laws: A 1867 San Francisco Attempt At Making Ugly ...

August 14, 2020

Can you imagine walking down the street and being stopped by a police officer for public unattractiveness? It sounds like a bad comedy sketch, but it was som...

Lizzie Borden: 1892's Unsolved Axe Murder Mystery Case

August 4, 2020

We probably all remember the morbid schoolyard ditty about Lizzie Borden, in which we learned that she gave her parents 40–41 whacks with an ax. Officially, howe...

Frederick Douglass's "What To The Slave Is The Fourth O...

July 4, 2020

American orator, abolitionist, writer, and escaped slave, Frederick Douglass (1817–1895). (MPI/Getty Images) "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me t...

The White Declaration Of Independence: When White Supre...

July 3, 2020

In 1898, white supremacists permanently scarred the community of Wilmington, North Carolina by stoking anger and resentment among the white citizens of this ...

Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch: The Father Of Masochism, Exp...

June 28, 2020

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Fanny Pistor Bogdanoff, c. 1870-1880 (note the whip). (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons) Human sexuality is a vastly complicated...

King Leopold II Of Belgium: The Criminal Who Brutally K...

June 25, 2020

Portrait of the future king Leopold II, king of the Belgians. (Nicaise de Keyser/Wikimedia Commons) Having only gained its independence from the Netherlands i...

Samuel Morse: Inventor Of The Telegraph, Failed Painter...

May 24, 2020

You may only know Samuel Morse for that code he invented, but there was much more to the man than dots and dashes. He was also a mediocre student who dreamed...

The First Bicycle Is Introduced In New York City, 1819:...

May 21, 2020

In 1819, the bicycle rolled across the Atlantic into the Big Apple all the way from Europe. Known as "velocipedes" or "swift walkers," these strange contrapt...

History Of The Hot Dog: Why Do We Call Them Dogs? Where...

May 13, 2020

Hot dogs were a favorite of street vendors. (Wikimedia Commons/Public domain) There's nothing more America than a hot dog. You can find them being sold at str...

1891: What It Was Like When Carnegie Hall Opened In New...

May 5, 2020

1895: View of Carnegie Hall on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, New York City. (Photo by Museum of the City of New York/Byron Collection/Getty Imag...

1878: The First White House Easter Egg Roll And The Lon...

April 22, 2020

Easter is an important holiday to many Americans, but there's a special tradition in Washington, D.C. that's been occurring on and off for more than 100 year...

Okay Etymology: Why Do We Say "Okay" And Where Did It C...

March 23, 2020

As one of our most commonly used colloquialisms, "okay" is so much a part of our language and culture that it is hard to imagine a time when it wasn't used. ...

The Weird History Of Babies In Advertising

March 10, 2020

It's no secret that babies are popular. As a species, we have about 258 of them every minute, so if we weren't designed to find their squishy little faces adorable enough to...

Ladies' Ordinaries: Women-Only Restaurants That Shielde...

March 8, 2020

The Gloppe patisserie on the Champs-Elysees, two women eating pastries, 1889, Jean Beraud. (M. Seemuller / De Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images) A gir...

Aspirin: The History Behind The Heroin Addict Who Inven...

March 6, 2020

Not to alarm you, but those little white pills that make your headaches dissolve and soothe inflamed muscles have more in common with heroin than you think, i.e. ...

Zwarte Piet, The Controversial Black Servant Of The Dut...

December 21, 2019

A Sinterklaas celebration, which takes place on December 5. (Photo by John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images) Every winter, the people of the Netherlands an...

Baron Haussmann: How Architecture Ended The French Revo...

December 7, 2019

Today, the romance of Paris monopolizes all other aspects of the original City of Love. Whether couples intertwine beneath the Eiffel Tower's famed arch or e...

Robert Smalls's Great Escape: How A Slave Stole A Confe...

December 4, 2019

Born into slavery and forced to work as a ship's captain without any of the respect usually afforded to a ship's captain, Robert Smalls was a man who refused to ...

Billy The Kid Stories You've Never Heard Before

November 23, 2019

Youthful Old West outlaw Billy the Kid would be celebrating his 160th birthday today, November 23, if he had not been killed at the tender age of 21 (and, you know, if ...

Gettysburg Address: Facts & Stories You've Never Heard

November 19, 2019

The brief yet powerful speech that President Abraham Lincoln delivered on November 19, 1863, has become one of the most revered speeches in U.S. history. Most pe...

What You Didn't Know About Susan B. Anthony

November 18, 2019

Photograph of Susan B. Anthony. Source: (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images) The name Susan B. Anthony is nearly synonymous with women's suffrage, but ...

How Telling Ghost Stories Around A Fire Used To Be A Ch...

October 20, 2019

With the nights growing longer and a chill filling the air, is there a better way to stay warm than curling up around the hearth to tell a ghost story? Halloween...

Ragamuffin Day: The Precursor To Halloween That The NYT...

October 18, 2019

Kids dressed in crazy costumes going door to door begging for treats---it sounds a lot like Halloween, doesn't it? It could be, except for a few notable diff...

Charles Henry Dow: The Man Who Created Modern Economics

October 8, 2019

The day's numbers for the Dow Jones Industrial Average are displayed on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square. Source: (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Ima...

Fairy Tales Are Over 6,000 Years Old

October 5, 2019

The Brothers Grimm are often credited with writing some of the earliest and best-loved fairy tales, but the truth is, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were cultural researchers and lexicog...

Olive Oatman: The Girl With The Blue Tattoo

October 2, 2019

The frontier story of Olive Oatman enthralled the country when it happened in the mid-1800s, and it's still a source of fascination today. It's not the kidnapping of the te...

Montparnasse Derailment: When A Train Went Through A St...

September 29, 2019

A dramatic snapshot photograph of a derailed steam locomotive at Montparnasse Station, Paris, taken by an unknown photographer. Source: (Photo by SSPL/Getty Ima...

Steinert Hall: The Secret Antique Symphonic Theater Hid...

September 28, 2019

Cue The Phantom of the Opera: This is the story of a real-life hidden concert hall, tucked deep underground and forgotten beneath the bustling street above. ...

The Surprisingly Ongoing Global Women's Suffrage Moveme...

September 23, 2019

Three women vote at a polling station in New York City, New York, USA. Source: (Photo by National Photo Company/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)...

The Spy Who Hung Her Laundry

August 8, 2019

The most effective spies are the ones that don't appear to be doing anything suspicious at all. They look as though they are going about their normal lives. During the Revolutionary War, ...

The Great Plains' Largest Natural Disaster: A Plague Of...

August 7, 2019

A large swarm of locust can eat 100,000 metric tons of vegetation per day. AFP PHOTO/BILAL TARABEY. Source: (Photo credit should read BILAL TARABEY/AFP/Getty Im...

The Mowing Devil: England's First Crop Circle

July 30, 2019

In the 1970s, strange geometric shapes began to pop up overnight in some of the wheat fields of rural England. The designs, at first, were simple circles, giving rise to ...

Central Park, Elitism, and the Destruction of Seneca Vi...

July 28, 2019

Aerial view of Manhattan looking south over Central Park July 2007 in New York City. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA. Source: (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Gett...

Staggering Facts That Show Why Krakatoa Was A Monster V...

July 20, 2019

Mother Nature often shows us her power and strength, and in August 1883, she was feeling particularly boastful. The eruption of Krakatoa, which you may remem...

Meet the Katzies: The Katzenjammer Kids, One of the Ear...

July 18, 2019

The 'Katzenjammer Kids' cartoon children are the subject of this coloring book issued circa 1915 in New York City. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Image...

Letter Perfect: The History of Varsity Jackets

July 15, 2019

If you played a sport in high school, you probably couldn’t wait to get your Varsity letter. That meant you could officially have a varsity jacket, or letterman jacket, ...

Mountain Dew’s Moonshine Past

July 5, 2019

That highly-caffeinated, artificially-yellow, sugary-sweet beverage that you chug when you’re thirsty or need an energy boost was never intended to be a soft drink. In fact, it has tie...

Victorian Buns: The Obsession with Enormous Bustles

July 4, 2019

Late Victorian flower show and garden party dresses with high bustles and fitted corset lines. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Long before the Kardash...

Lotta Crabtree, The Nation’s Darling

June 26, 2019

Portrait of Lotta Crabtree Smoking a Cigar. Source: (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images) Long before the title of America’s Sweetheart was bestowed on Mary ...

Who Were the Lowell Girls? A Force to Be Reckoned With

May 29, 2019

In the mid-1800s, textile mills were a big business in New England town, particularly the town of Lowell, Massachusetts. To keep the mills humming along and to k...

8 Things You Didn't Know About Real-Life Covered Wagons

May 24, 2019

Conestoga Wagon. Source: (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images) Every movie and television show about the old west and the pioneer days include...

The Story Behind 'The Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County...

May 22, 2019

A young boy encourages his frog to perform a long jump. AFP PHOTO Source: (Photo credit STR/AFP/Getty Images) American author Samuel Clemens, better known by ...

The Brothers Grimm: History Of More Than Just Fairytale...

May 20, 2019

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Source: (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images) We all know the Brothers Grimm from their collections of fairytales, ...

Are Tomatoes Fruits Or Vegetables?: The Supreme's Court...

May 15, 2019

A woman picks a tomato at a market. Source: (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) The tomato… is it a fruit or a vegetable? Ask a group of botanists and th...

American Dream: The Rise and Fall of Studebaker

May 7, 2019

A happy couple smiling behind a new 1940 Studebaker outdoors in a field. Source: (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Standing in a leaking, cold, and shuttered wareho...

Discovering the Venus de Milo

April 27, 2019

The Venus de Milo at the Louvre Museum. Source: (Photo by Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) One of the most-recognized sculptures in the world, Venus de Milo is an exquisite e...

Why The California Gold Rush Wasn’t A Boon For John Sut...

March 18, 2019

Sutter's saw mill where gold was found in 1848, precipitating the Californian Gold Rush. Engraving, 1853. Source: (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via...

Stephen Decatur And The Barbary Pirates

March 13, 2019

Painting by Rembrandt Peale depicts a portrait of US Naval Officer Stephen Decatur (1779-1820), 1817. Source: (Photo by The New York Historical Society/Getty Images) An exceptio...

When Texas Was Its Own Country

March 1, 2019

1839: The flag of the Republic of Texas, the 'Lone Star' state was admitted to the Union in 1845. Source: (Photo by MPI/Getty Images) Today, it seems strange to think that Texas could st...

Blazing The Oregon Trail

January 20, 2019

The Westward Trail circa 1840: A map showing the westward trail from Missouri to Oregon. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images) In 1971, Minnesota Education Computing Consortium released a computer game ...

Orchidelirium: The Obsession with Orchids

January 18, 2019

Orchids outside Audubon House & Tropical Gardens. Source: (Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images) The Victorian era, orchids were rare and elusive, but folks were smitten wit...

Judge Proctor’s Windmill Versus An Alien UFO: The 1897 ...

January 15, 2019

A windmill at dawn. Source: (Sharpshooters/VWPics/UIG via Getty Images) Forget Roswell and the UFO that reportedly crashed there in 1947. Fifty years earlie...

How 1885 Crowdsourcing Saved the Statue of Liberty

January 11, 2019

New York City had a big problem. France had gifted the United States with the Statue of Liberty to erect on an island in New York Harbor. It was a gracious gift and ...

Seward’s Folly: Who’s Laughing Now?

January 2, 2019

When then-Secretary of State, William Henry Seward under President Andrew Jackson approached Congress for approval to purchase Alaska from the Russians in 1867, he met with ple...

When Phrenology was a Legit Science

November 20, 2018

In the early 19th century, peaking between 1810 and 1840, the science of phrenology was considered to be fact-based, cutting-edge science. Phrenology was the study and measurement ...

Minnie Freeman: Hero of the Frontier Schoolhouse

November 16, 2018

A scene from TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” was inspired by Minnie Freeman and the Children’s Blizzard of 1888. -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images. The prairi...

Mary Anning: She Sells Seashells by the Seashore

October 11, 2018

The tongue-twister that none of us can say…did you know that it is more than just an impossible to pronounce sentence? The tongue-twister actually refers to a real pers...

The First College Football Game Looked Nothing Like Tod...

October 5, 2018

Not the 1869 Rutgers’ football team, this is a group portrait of the Rutgers College 1891 football team, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1891. (Photo by FJ Higgins/U...

America's Largest Home: Biltmore Estate By The Numbers

October 4, 2018

The Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned home in America, built by George Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895, is one of area's major tourist draws as viewed o...

A Charming History: Charm Bracelets Through the Years

September 17, 2018

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall shows off her charm bracelet while visiting Portugal on March 29, 2011. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images) One particular style of ...

Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death: The Year Without S...

September 14, 2018

(Photo by BSIP/UIG via Getty Images) Think our weather is wacky sometimes? It is nothing compared to 1816, also known as the Year Without a Summer in the Unit...

What We Should Know About the Shoot-Out at the O.K. Cor...

September 13, 2018

When you ask someone to think about the Old West and some of the key events that occurred during the days of cowboys, outlaws, and small-town sheriffs, one ev...

Medicine of the Past Was Almost As Bad As the Illness!

August 31, 2018

City dwellers walking past advertising signs for 'Orzone Olive Oil Emulsion, a delicious tonic beverage unequaled for chest and nerve troubles, sleeplessness and in...

‘Little Sure Shot’, Annie Oakley

August 30, 2018

When it comes to Old West heroines, one name often pops to mind – Annie Oakley. The eagle-eyed sharpshooting woman was so accomplished with her gun that she was invited to join Bu...

The Life and Death of Joseph Meister

August 23, 2018

Most people don’t recognize the name Joseph Meister, but it is partially thanks to him that we have the rabies vaccination today. As a child, Meister was the first person to be in...

The Strange Life of Edgar Allan Poe

August 22, 2018

Portrait of American author Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849) against a green background and under an embossed presentation of his last name, probably taken from a cigar box, 1900. (Photo...

Special Order No. 191: A Huge Chance-Discovery and a Wa...

August 21, 2018

One of history’s most serendipitous moments occurred on September 13, 1862, as the Civil War raged. Two Union soldiers stumbled upon a piece of paper detailin...

“Little Women” Author’s Sensational Early Works

August 1, 2018

Circa 1860: American author Louisa May Alcott (1832 - 1888). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Louisa May Alcott, the author of the beloved book, “Little Wome...

Pawnee Indians and the Night the Stars Fell to Earth

July 24, 2018

Engraving depicting the Leonids meteor shower, which was associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle, as seen over Niagara Falls in 1833. Dated 19th century. (Photo by: U...

Did Giant Birds Roam the American Plains?

July 19, 2018

A Thunderbird, mythical creator of Plain storms, swoops out of the sky, hurling lightning flashes at darting swallows on this graphic Pawnee ceremonial drum, USA. Plains Indian,...

How Barbed Wire Changed the American West

July 17, 2018

Barbed wire on May 23, 2018 (Photo by Wassilios Aswestopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Nothing did more to change the way cattle ranching was done on America’s western fronti...

Mysterious spiral staircase of Loretto Chapel in New Me...

July 12, 2018

Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The design may have been inspired by the Paris Sainte Chapel. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images) Back in...

The Orphan Trains Delivered Homeless Children to Rural ...

July 10, 2018

New York City in the mid-1800s had a real problem. There were too many homeless and orphaned children living in the streets. By some estimates, up to 30,000 ...

Don’t Blame the Cow: Did the Great Chicago Fire Have an...

July 6, 2018

Painting (by Julia Lemos) of people trying to escape burning buildings during the Great Chicago Fire, Chicago, Illinois, 1912. (Photo by Chicago History Muse...

Accidental Gunshot Wound Leads to Medical Advances

July 4, 2018

When a 1820s fur trapper was accidentally shot in the stomach, his gunshot wound provided doctors with a window into the mysterious inner-workings of the human body…...

Vintage Photos of Women Showing Their Tattoos from the ...

January 11, 2018

Check out some badass ladies of the Western world who used to walk around with tattoos on their bodies, long before it was cool.