A plate from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, by Maria Sibylla Merian

The Metamorphosis of a 17th-Century Insect Artist

Maria Sibylla Merian's work in the natural sciences was overlooked for centuries. Now a rare butterfly has been named in her honor.
Release, by Marco Cianfanelli and Jeremy Rose.

Nelson Mandela’s Lasting Image

Since his death in 2013, Nelson Mandela has achieved icon status. Why is his image so ubiquitous, reproduced everywhere from tourist kitsch to high art?
Front cover of "The Boys of New York" v.11 no.561

The Periodicals That Shaped American Boyhood

19th-century "story papers" gave boys stories they liked, while also encouraging readers to contribute their own material and tell their own stories.
Two deer in the woods at night

Photography Changed Americans’ Ideas about Nature

Many of our ideas about nature, wildlife, and conservation have their roots in the birth of nature photography.
duck billed platypus

Our Best Stories of 2018

Victorian librarians, Mister Rogers, queer time, and Jane Austen's subversive linguistics, oh my!
Cyclorama in South End Boston, 1964.

Cycloramas: The Virtual Reality of the 19th Century

Immersive displays brought 19th century spectators to far-off places and distant battles. The way they portrayed history, however, was often inaccurate.
Jarena Lee

Jarena Lee, The First Woman African American Autobiographer

Jarena Lee was the first female preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1836, she published her autobiography.
Illustration from "The Nights of Straparola" (1894)

The Invention of the Passive Fairy Tale Heroine

European fairy tales featured bold, independent female characters—until the Reformation forced shifts in cultural attitudes towards women.
Mr. Knightley and Emma Woodhouse, from Jane Austen's Emma

Jane Austen’s Subtly Subversive Linguistics

Why are Jane Austen books still so beloved? A linguist argues it has more to do with Austen's masterful use of language than with plot.
Charlotte Salomon, gouache from Life? or Theater?

The Mystery behind Charlotte Salomon’s Groundbreaking Art

Before she was killed by Nazis, Charlotte Salomon created a unique, genre-bending artwork that may have also been a confession to a murder.