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Nadezhda von Meck

Tchaikovsky’s Patroness

Madame von Meck offered Tchaikovsky her generous patronage, but spoke to him only through letters.

Take Two

From a movie ad for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1917

The Shark-Fighting Brothers behind 20,000 Leagues under the Sea

In 1916, the Williamson brothers used their father's underwater photography device to film a fight with a shark, piquing Universal Pictures' interest.

Annotations

A print based on David Gilmour Blythe's fanciful painting of Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation: Annotated

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in America on January 1, 1863. Today, we've annotated the Emancipation Proclamation for readers.

Pasts Present

Holiday Supply Chain Issues of Ancient Rome

Hey, at least we’re not trying to track down frankincense and myrrh.

American Prison Newspapers 1880-2020

Sing Sing prison, with warden T. M. Osborne and two other men, c. 1915

Were Early American Prisons Similar to Today’s?

A correctional officer’s history of 19th century prisons and modern-day parallels. From Sing Sing to suicide watch, torture treads a fine line.

Most Recent

Plant of the Month: Cassava

Cassava can grow in hot climates with little rainfall. It may be the "root crop of the century."
Animal magnetism

Mesmerizing Labor

The man who introduced mesmerism to the US was a slave-owner from Guadeloupe, where planters were experimenting with “magnetizing” their enslaved people.
A bowl of soup

Uselessness, Fake Soup, and That One Song

Well-researched stories from Psyche, Atlas Obscura, and other great publications that bridge the gap between news and scholarship.
An ice core extracted at Talos Dome showing an ash layer corresponding to the Toba supervolcano eruption in Indonesia about 75k years ago

What is in an Ice Core?

Climate science frequently references ice cores, but it's what is in the cores that matters to science and history.

More Stories

Take Two

From a movie ad for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1917

The Shark-Fighting Brothers behind 20,000 Leagues under the Sea

In 1916, the Williamson brothers used their father's underwater photography device to film a fight with a shark, piquing Universal Pictures' interest.

Annotations

A print based on David Gilmour Blythe's fanciful painting of Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation: Annotated

Abraham Lincoln proclaimed freedom for enslaved people in America on January 1, 1863. Today, we've annotated the Emancipation Proclamation for readers.

Pasts Present

Holiday Supply Chain Issues of Ancient Rome

Hey, at least we’re not trying to track down frankincense and myrrh.

American Prison Newspapers 1880-2020

Sing Sing prison, with warden T. M. Osborne and two other men, c. 1915

Were Early American Prisons Similar to Today’s?

A correctional officer’s history of 19th century prisons and modern-day parallels. From Sing Sing to suicide watch, torture treads a fine line.

Long Reads

Eight Women Astronomers You Should Know

A guided tour of selected luminaries of astronomy, from Ancient Greece to today.
The Actor Arashi Wakano as a wakashu in a kappa (raincoat)

The Disappearance of Japan’s “Third Gender”

Gender roles in Edo Japan recognized an in-between position for young men, called Wakashu, that was erased as Japan westernized.
Vintage engraving of The Bench, by William Hogarth. 1758, depicts four judges listening to a case in the Court of Common Pleas.

Does Law Exist to Provide Moral Order?

Is social cohesion possible in plural societies? Philosopher H. L. A. Hart weighed in amid debates on abortion and same-sex relationships.

What If We’ve Been Misunderstanding Monsters?

Fictional evil creatures might be more nuanced—and have more to teach us—than has long seemed.

MLK’s popular image—transmitted in elementary school lessons for the holiday—has been drained of its radical social critiques and has instead become a generic symbol of equality and kindness to all.

Ronald Reagan and the Rewriting of Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Ghostface from Scream

We All “Scream” for the Metatextual

Do you like scary movies? How about movies that scare you while satirizing and paying homage to their genre?
A screenshot from Squid Game

The Gruesome Truth at the Heart of Squid Game

Would you be willing to play games to get out of debt? Would you sell your organs?
From the Spring 1972 cover of Ms. Magazine

Ms. Magazine’s Tricky Relationship with Advertising

On the fiftieth anniversary of Ms. Magazine, a look back at how the publication managed advertising demands while maintaining its founding ethos.