A woman sitting on a fence, books in her left hand while thumbing a lift with her right hand, on a country road, United States, circa 1955.

When Hitchhiking was Wholesome

In the 1930s, hitchhiking was viewed as an opportunity for generosity on the part of the driver and a way to practice good manners on the part of the rider.
Asia Poppers, who portrays colonist Tryphosa Tracy, prepares fritters in her one-room house November 25, 2003 at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Countercultural History of Living Museums

In the 1960s and ’70s, guides began wearing period costumes and farming with historical techniques, a change that coincided with the back-to-the-land movement.
Giacomo Casanova by Francesco Narici

Casanova was Famous for Being Famous

Giacomo Casanova achieved celebrity not through any particular achievement but by mingling with famous people and making himself the subject of gossip.
Distribution of coal to the poor at Christmas by the Parish Beadle, c. 1888

Banning Christmas Dinner

Poor laws passed in Great Britain in the 1830s reversed a centuries-old tradition to forbid workhouses from serving roast beef and plum pudding at Christmas.
Bal Masqué by Charles Hermans, 1880

Paris’s Wild Costume Balls

As urban growth brought rich and poor Parisians closer together in the 1830s, masked balls encouraged class mixing and costumes that crossed gender lines.
Medieval coin, sixpence of Elizabeth I dating to AD 1596

The Magic of a Crooked Sixpence

Coins were used for centuries in many ritual contexts, but the English silver sixpence was a particularly common charm—for several reasons.
A photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gilbert Wells included in the front matter of Anthropology applied to the American white man and Negro

Passing Narratives That Pre-Date Black Like Me

In 1905, Robert Gilbert Wells used a fictional character to explore the experience of being a Black man in America.
Dr Spurzheim phrenology chart

What Skulls Told Us

The pseudoscience phrenology swept the popular imagination, and its practitioners made a mint preying on prejudices, gullibility, and misinformation.
Bath Room Interior by the J.L. Mott Iron Works, 1888

Dawn of the Bathroom

The bathroom didn’t become a thing until the nineteenth century, and most working-class US homes added plumbed-in amenities in piecemeal fashion over time.
Logging in the Oregon forests, c. 1917

Water Logs

Log drivers once steered loose timber on rivers across America before railroad expansion put such shepherds out of work.