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Why the ‘Goldwater Rule’ Keeps Psychiatrists From Diagnosing at a Distance

As some mental-health professionals debate what to say about Donald Trump, here's what to know about the man behind the longstanding rule.

Entering Oz – Bringing Color to History

On a camping trip for the first time, a student in my mother’s fifth grade class exclaimed that he was surprised the great outdoors “wasn’t all black and white”. The student, raised on video games and smart phones, thought of nature as old-timey, flat. If the vibrant colors and sounds of nature seemed “black and […]

The Long, Painful History of Police Brutality in the U.S.

A 1963 protest placard in the Smithsonian collections could almost be mistaken for any of the Black Lives Matter marches of today

James Townsend, Lord Mayor with a Secret?

James Townsend (1737-1787) was a London alderman from 1769 to his death, sheriff of London in 1769-70 and Lord Mayor in 1772-73. He was also a Member of Parliament for two stints, in 1767-74 and 1782-87. Unlike his father, who allied with George Grenville, Townsend became part of Lord Shelburne’s wing of the Whigs. Show More Summary

Longhouse, Anglo-Saxon coin found at destroyed Pictish fort

Burghead Fort near the town of Lossiemouth in Moray, northeastern Scotland, was a major power center in the early Pictish kingdom of Fortriu. Between 6th and 9th centuries, the promontory fort at the site of the modern town of Burghead dominated the region. It was the largest of its time, three times larger than any […]

Making Something to Write Home About

Imagine holding the tear-stained letter from a loving wife to her husband, a Union soldier. Then, follow the soldier through news clippings to the bloody Battle of Antietam. Hold the wife’s letter in one hand and the soldier’s death notice in the other. When students leaf through facsimile documents, they connect with these emotional stories. […]

Social Networks in the House Divided Era

If you mention MySpace, you just dated yourself. Believe it or not, fads in social networking gave away their times just as easily 150 years ago. “Carte de visites” (CDV) were a mid-nineteenth century phenomenon like Facebook or Instagram. These portrait cards captured the nation in “cardomania”. Photography itself dates in the United States from […]

¡Salud! to the Mexican-American Wine Revolution

Ceja Vineyards breathes new life into Napa Valley’s wine industry

Understanding Detroit’s 1967 Upheaval 50 Years Later

For five days in July, the Motor City was under siege from looters and soldiers alike

The Lady Anatomist Who Brought Dead Bodies to Light

Anna Morandi was the brains and the skilled hand of an unusual husband-wife partnership

“With great zeal I went to Genl Washington”

Elias Boudinot (1740-1821) was a Continental Congress delegate from New Jersey, eventually president of that body, and later a U.S. Congressman and director of the U.S. Mint. He was brother-in-law of Richard Stockton twice over (i.e.,...Show More Summary

That Time the CIA Tried to Train Cats to Be Spies

On the 70th anniversary of the act creating the CIA, here's a look at one of the agency's odder moments

What Kind of Footage Do Historical Colorists Like Best?

According to the historians and art directors from Composite Films who worked meticulously on America in Color, these were some of their favorite subjects

New imaging approach reveals hidden text from two eras

In the Middle Ages, old manuscripts were recycled for their valuable vellum and parchment pages. The writing was washed or scrubbed off and the leaves filling with new content. Because so many ancient works have been lost, scholars have for centuries attempted to recover the original texts from these medieval palimpsests, often using caustic materials […]

Stereo Cards and the Science of Preserving History

A Piece of History   In February of 1862, the middle of the Civil War, a black janitor posed with his cleaning tools, waiting to have his photo taken. In a time when many African Americans were fighting to acquire their basic right to freedom, this janitor sat calmly in front of the camera.  In comparison […]

What happened to the French army after Dunkirk

The evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in May 1940 from Dunkirk by a flotilla of small ships has entered British folklore. Dunkirk, a new action film by director Christopher Nolan, depicts the events from land, sea and...Show More Summary

The History Behind President Trump’s Speech to the Boy Scouts

President Trump's speech at the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree put a twist on a long history that links Scouts to the White House.

Thomas Fleming: Four Pages a Day

The author Thomas Fleming died this week at the age of ninety. As I described back here, in 1960 Tom was a journalist putting out his first book. Now We Are Enemies was the first full-length narrative of the Battle of Bunker Hill published since the nineteenth century. Show More Summary

The Rise and Fall of Sears

How the retail store that taught America how to shop navigated more than a century of economic and cultural change

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