Botanical manuscript of 450 watercolors of flowers and plants

Plant of the Month: Dittany

Did women in the premodern world have much agency over reproduction? Their use of plants like dittany suggests that they did.
Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Maria Sibylla Merian. Amsterdam: Apud Joannem Oosterwyk, 1719. Rare Book Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University. HOLLIS number 990013327990203941. Multimedia credit: Dumbarton Oaks/Elizabeth Muñoz Huber.

Plant of the Month: Guava

Often classified as an invasive species, guava ignites a longstanding, transnational battle over foreign invaders and local customs.
Kimberlé Crenshaw

Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Intersectional Feminism

Legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw broke new ground by showing how women of color were left out of feminist and anti-racist discourse.
from Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici by Antonio Franchi

Plant of the Month: Peony

Peony's effectiveness as an ancient cure translated into a tool of statecraft in the eighteenth century.
An Ancient Roman latrine

This Is How They Wiped Themselves in Ancient Rome

A very gross but extremely informative look at the archaeology of toilet hygiene.
Lady Montagu in Turkish dress, circa 1756

Before Vaccines, Variolation Was Seriously Trendy

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu is credited with popularizing variolation among the aristocracy in England.
Marie Lafarge, c. 1850

The Arsenic Cake of Madame Lafarge

The first trial to use forensic toxicology electrified France in 1840 with the tale of a bad marriage and poisoned innards.
A Victorian tea advertisement

The Victorian Tea “Infomercial”

By the 19th century, tea was the British national beverage, and "tea histories" were a form of imperial propaganda.
Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm: Sisterhood Is Complicated

A 1974 interview on feminism and politics with the first Black major-party candidate for president.
The Dragon tree (left) and Dragon tree fruit (right)

Plant of the Month: The Dragon Tree

Dragon's blood is all the rage now, but where does the scarlet resin come from?