Skip to content

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.

Großer Garten in Dresden

Regrowing Germany’s Trees After WWII

The cities of Dresden and Hamburg saw their green spaces decimated by WWII, but each city grew back its trees in a very different way.
television personality Garry Moore and Kellogg's cereal character Tony the Tiger from a 1955 Kellogg's ad.

Blame Your Inner Child For Your Brand Affinities

Research shows that the advertising we see in childhood stays with us for a very, very long time.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cover_of_Strange_Affair_by_Edwin_West_-_Illustration_by_Harry_Schaare_-_Monarch_Book_1962.jpg

Pulp Fiction Helped Define American Lesbianism

Between 1950 and 1965, steamy novels about lesbian relationships, marketed to men, inadvertently offered closeted women much-needed representation.
A disabled war veteran in Berlin, 1923

When Germany Called its Soldiers Hysterical

After WWI, German psychiatrists diagnosed traumatized soldiers as having "hysteria," othering the men to somewhat disastrous effect.
Lon Chaney and Richard Arlen lead vigilante committee in a scene from the film 'The Town Tamer', 1965.

The Civilian Solution to Bank Robberies

The surprising story of the vigilantes who took it upon themselves to catch bank robbers in the 1920s and 30s.
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield

Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, “The Black Swan”

Born into slavery, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield broke barriers with every note she sang.
Ruth Page and Harald Kreutuzberg in Bacchanale, 1934

Ruth Page, the Ballerina Who Danced Poems

In the 1940s, American dancer Ruth Page combined poetry, performance, and personal reflection to create a new type of dance.
A yellow ribbon on a red background

The Many Meanings of Yellow Ribbons

The strange and convoluted history of why yellow ribbons became a symbol of the Gulf War in the 1990s.
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.