Lansquenets - mercenary soldiers under emperor Maximilian I, c. 1600. Lithograph, published in 1887.

Chivalric Romance, Meet Gunpowder Reality

The manly knight wouldn't have lasted a day in sixteenth-century combat. So why was he so popular as a literary figure at the time?
Thomas Mann

How Thomas Mann Turned against the German Right

The best-selling author supported the Kaiser during World War I. What made him change his mind about politics later?
Length of Brocaded Silk, Italy, 18th century

Eighteenth-Century Spies in the European Silk Industry

Curious about the advancing wonders of the age, savants traveled abroad to gather trade secrets for their homeland.
Two people walking towards Los Angeles, 1937

How the LAPD Guarded California’s Borders in the 1930s

Working well outside their jurisdiction, the officers patrolled their state's borders against white migrants.
Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, Cuba 1946

Ernest Hemingway and Gender Fluidity

Despite his reputation for hypermasculinity, the author was fascinated by different forms of gender expression.
An illustration from the Bantam edition of Graham Greene's The Quiet American

When the CIA Was Everywhere—Except on Screen

Hollywood was just fine avoiding all portrayals of the Central Intelligence Agency for years after the agency's founding in 1947.
Cover for A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear, c. 1875

There Once Was a Poem Called a Limerick

Whose history, they say, isn't quick. It's all such a muddle, it can leave you befuddled, whether you like the clean or the sick.
A mural in Paseo Boricua on Division Street in Chicago

Puerto Rican Domestic Workers and Citizenship in the 1940s

Recruited to work on the U.S. mainland for long hours at less than the prevailing rate, women migrants fought for dignity and recognition.
Pontiac, an Ottawa Indian, confronts Colonel Henry Bouquet who authorised his officers to spread smallpox amongst native Americans by deliberately infecting blankets after peace talks in 1764

How Commonly Was Smallpox Used as a Biological Weapon?

Once introduced into the Americas, smallpox spread everywhere. Is it possible to know how often that was done intentionally to kill people?
Rosie the Riveter

Does It Matter Who the Real Rosie the Riveter Was?

Many women have claimed to be the model behind the iconic poster.