Design for Necklace with Brazilian Beetles, ca. 1900

Insect Jewelry of the Victorian Era

The wing-cases of gold-enameled weevils hung from necklaces; muslin gowns were embroidered with the iridescent green elytra of jewel beetles.
An unknown paleontologist, 1860

The Dinosaur Bone Wars

1877 was a banner year for American dinosaurs: three major finds in the West turned the region into a "paleontologist's El Dorado."
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Saint_John_the_Baptist_C2RMF_retouched.jpg

Where Do Finger Names Come From?

Our names for our fingers show a surprising depth of cultural variation—and similarity.
Scholars attending a lecture in the Ashmolean Museum

The Invention of the Archive

Seventeenth-century scholars were horrified by how much ancient knowledge had been lost when the monasteries dispersed.
Sultan Mehmed III of the Ottoman Empire

Why Ottoman Sultans Locked Away Their Brothers

Fratricide among rival princes was legal and widely practiced until 1603, so confinement to the palace was actually an improvement.
An illustration by James Gillray, 1807

Vulgarity: An Alternative Language of the People

Was Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue the font of all popular culture studies?
A moose skeleton

America, Where the Dogs Don’t Bark and the Birds Don’t Sing

The Comte de Buffon's thirty-six volume Natural History claimed that America was a land of degeneracy. That enraged Thomas Jefferson.
A family around a thanksgiving dinner table, colored red and blue

Talk about This, Not That

Looking to avoid politics at the holiday dinner table? Food trivia, ground-up mummy pigment, and snake jaws ought to do the trick.
Tofurkey

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dates Back to the 1900s

Tofu turkey was created in 1990, but some Americans celebrated Thanksgiving with veggie dishes over a century ago.
Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen looking into an X-ray screen placed in front of a man's body and seeing the ribs and the bones of the arm.

The X-ray Craze of 1896

For many science-obsessed Victorians, X-rays were not just a fun novelty, but a potential miracle cure.