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Erin Blakemore

Erin Blakemore is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist Her debut book, The Heroine’s Bookshelf (Harper), won a Colorado Book Award for Nonfiction and has been translated into Italian, Korean and Portuguese. Erin has written about history and culture and other topics for Smithsonian.com, The Washington Post, TIME, mental_floss, NPR’s This I Believe, The Onion, Popular Science, Modern Farmer and other journals. You can find more of her work at erinblakemore.com.

A pair of pink high heels

The Inherent Drama of High Heels

How can a shoe communicate many different messages at once?
San Diego during the 1930s and the Canal Zone in Panama

A Glimpse at Women’s Periods in the Roaring Twenties 

A 1927 study by famed efficiency expert Lillian Moller Gilbreth revealed how American women dealt with menstruation -- and how they wished they could.
Pueblo Indian Eagle Dance, New Mexico

Why White Women Tried to Ban Native American Dances

In the early 1920s, reformers obsessed over the sexual nature of some Pueblo rituals, and attempted to control their performance.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Two_African_American_women,_three-quarter_length_portrait,_seated,_facing_each_other_LCCN99472087.tif

Searching for Black Queer History in Sensational Newspapers

Sometimes finding the stories of marginalized populations demands reading between the lines.
An unwrapped stick of butter

Women Made Butter a Behemoth

In the 19th century, butter production became a valuable way for women to profit off their farms-- and it soon became a major agricultural product.
Charlotte Bronte

Sorry, but Jane Eyre Isn’t the Romance You Want It to Be

Charlotte Brontë, a woman whose life was steeped in stifled near-romance, refused to write love as ruly, predictable, or safe.
An illustration from an 1897 edition of Persuasion

The Physical Pleasures of Jane Austen’s Persuasion

Smoldering glances? Romantic letters? Forbidden love? Why Persuasion may be the most seductive of Jane Austen's novels.
Felicitación de cumpleaños by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta

The Disappointing Reality of 19th-Century Courtship

For white, middle-class women in the 19th century U.S., courtship and marriage offered less emotional intimacy than their friendships with other women.
Two teenagers dancing the jitterbug, 1942

Germany’s Real-Life “Swing Kids” 

Rebellious teenagers thumbed their noses at Hitler with jazz music, wild dancing, and the greeting “Swing Heil.” But how serious was their resistance?
From a 1935 ad for Cutex nail polish and lipstick

Cutex Hooked Americans on Manicures

How a company that started off selling cuticle remover convinced American woman to paint their nails.
Martin Milner and Sally Field in Gidget

The Transgressive Subtext of Teen Surf Movies

Surf movies of the 1950s and 1960s only seemed squeaky-clean. Just beneath the surface was rebellion, rule-bending, and an embrace of the "other."
Artifacts from a 19th century American brothel

What Reformers Learned When They Visited 1830s Brothels

Middle class members of the New York Female Moral Reform Society visited brothels to save women from sin. What they actually encountered surprised them.
Student with practice baby at Cornell University

When Home Ec Classes Borrowed Babies

In the early-to-mid 20th century, foster children in Canada and elsewhere were placed in practice homes and cared for by home economics students.
Lick Observatory

The Women Who Made Male Astronomers’ Ambitions Possible

In the late 19th century, Elizabeth Campbell helped her astronomer husband run the Lick Observatory and lead scientific eclipse-viewing expeditions.
Emily Dickinson

Marketing Emily Dickinson as a Children’s Poet

Some of Emily Dickinson's poems were first published in children's magazines, in what one scholar calls a "marketing ploy gone awry."
An X-Men comic book cover

The Assimilationist Mythology of the X-Men

Stan Lee's X-Men comics explored themes of prejudice and bigotry. So why weren't the original comics that diverse?
Lakeport Plantation, c. 1859 and built south of Lake Village, is the only remaining antebellum plantation house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas.

How the Enslaved People of Arkansas Fought Back

Though there was never a unified uprising that made it into the history books, the enslaved people of Arkansas rebelled and resisted in significant ways.
Robert Reed who played Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch

The “Queer Innocence” of the Brady Bunch

The squeaky-clean Brady Bunch family symbolized the avoidance of the sexual revolution, feminism, and other social forces that were coming to the fore.
Vintage engraving from 1876 of a old victorian haunted house.

How Victorian Mansions Became the Default Haunted House

Quick: Picture a haunted house. It's probably a Victorian mansion, right? Here's how these structures became signifiers of horror, haunting, and death.
Boake Carter

Before Rush Limbaugh, There Was Boake Carter

When Boake Carter opened his mouth, he whipped up tempers and tempests. But who was he?
Oklahoma play

Oklahoma! Changed Musical Theater Forever. Or Did It?

Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical was revolutionary in the way it “integrated” music, dance, and dialogue. Or was that language just a marketing ploy?
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Yellow Wallpaper” and Women’s Pain

Charlotte Gilman wrote her famous short story in response to her own experience having her pain belittled and misunderstood by a male physician.
Jars of peach jam on table

The Nostalgic Pleasure of Preserves

Home canning was once a necessity, but even then the process was often defined by sensory pleasures and a deep sense of satisfaction.
Wheelmen

When Cyclists Made Up an Entire Political Bloc

The League of American Wheelmen was originally intended to spread bicycle appreciation. The 1896 presidential election changed all that.
Makeup Hazel Dawn

How Makeup Went Mainstream

Makeup was associated with prostitution and vice until the early 20th century, when movie actresses's cosmetics testimonials reached everyday women.