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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.

Punch bowl

Punch vs. Tea in the 18th Century

In the 18th century, whether a person drank punch or tea revealed a lot about gender, stereotypes, sociability, and domesticity.
Thoreau Sherlock Holmes

The Truth About Sherlock Holmes: He’s Actually Henry David Thoreau

A tongue in cheek comparison between the British fictional sleuth and the American Transcendentalist author, just because.
Colorful donuts with different decorations

The Delicious Democratic Symbolism of…Doughnuts?

Doughnuts became popular during World War I, when Salvation Army volunteers—most of them women—made and served the soldiers million of doughnuts.
Mommie Dearest

Are Mothers Monsters? Revisiting Mommie Dearest

On the surface, "Mommie Dearest" is a portrait of vanity and self-obsession. Dig deeper, and it reflects society’s discomfort with mothers and single women.
Winifred Bonfils

The “Sob Sisters” Who Dared to Cover the Trial of the Century

The term “sob sisters” was used in the early twentieth century to make fun of women journalists who dared cover the first trial of the century.
USPS Forever stamps featuring illustrations from Ezra Jack Keats' book "Snowy Day"

The Man Whose Snowy Day Helped Diversify Children’s Books

Jack Ezra Keats's 1962 book The Snowy Day featured an African-American protagonist, a first for a full-color children’s book.
kitchen of the future baby boomers

Did Better Household Technology Create the Baby Boomers?

The Baby Boomers have been blamed for everything from economic stagnation to America's current political situation. But where did they come from?
Leave It To Beaver family dad

When Ward Cleaver Caused Social Anxiety

In the early 1960s, an Illinois Children and Family Services worker tried to figure out how TV dads were impacting contemporary American fathers.
Lois Lowry Number the Stars

The Real-Life Story Behind Number the Stars

An interview with Lois Lowry reveals that the popular children's novel Number the Stars was based on a true story of resistance to the Nazis.
Clothing Rack full of T-Shirts at a Thrift Store

How Thrift Stores Were Born

According to the Association of Retail Professionals, about 16 to 18 percent of Americans shop at thrift stores in any given year.
Martin Shkreli

Is a Fair Trial Possible in the Age of Social Media?

Is it possible to have a fair trial or an impartial jury in an age when anyone is just a viral tweet or a Facebook search away?
Dance hall illustration

Jane Addams’s Crusade Against Victorian “Dancing Girls”

Jane Addams, a leading Victorian-era reformer, believed dance halls were “one of the great pitfalls of the city.”
Edith Stein

Edith Stein, the Jewish Woman Who Became a Catholic Saint

In 1998, Pope John Paul II made one of his most contentious canonizations, elevating a Jewish woman named Edith Stein to the status of saint.
Roosevelt Family 1903

Alice Roosevelt: The Original First Kid

Alice Roosevelt set the tone for a more public first kid and laid the foundation for post-White-House activism like Chelsea Clinton’s.
Choctaw woman

How 19th Century Women Were Taught to Think About Native Americans

In nineteenth-century American women's magazines, Native American women were depicted as attractive, desirable, and pious.
Old movie theater

Weirdly Enough, Movies about TV Prepared America for TV

Ironically, it was movies that helped accustom American viewers to television in the first place, writes Richard Koszarski.
1984 cover

America’s Unlikely Cold War Weapon

During the Cold War years, the distribution and selection of American books had to change with changing objectives overseas.
Filming make-up tutorial

Can Makeup Be Feminist?

Makeup has become a huge industry. Is it possible to enjoy the practice of beautification and be feminist at the same time?
Public Baths

Public Baths Were Meant to Uplift the Poor

In Progressive-Era New York, a now-forgotten trend of public bathhouses was introduced in order to cleanse the unwashed masses.
Victorian era dog

The Victorian Debate Over Rabies

Rabies began a contentious debate between Victorian pet owners and veterinary experts about how to regulate dog health. Rough.
Urania painting

Before the Civil War, Women Were Welcomed into the Sciences

You know how the story goes. Gender discrimination is baked into science, and women were barred from the ...
Chautauqua

The Forgotten Movement That Changed American Women’s Lives

Chatauquas changed the lives of Midwestern women between 1878 and 1900, setting the stage for new gender roles in the twentieth century.
Lizzie Borden

Why We’re So Obsessed With Lizzie Borden’s 40 Whacks

Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were brutally murdered, possibly by Lizzie herself, in August 1892. Why are we still dissecting the crime?
Couple Kissing

The Books that Taught the Seventies to Have Sex

What can 1970s sex manuals tell us about the height of the Sexual Revolution? The 1970s was a distinctive sexual decade that’s well worth studying today.
French bread

Pioneers Were America’s Original Artisanal Bakers

Why were cowboys and pioneers so obsessed with their baked goods? A look at the birth of sourdough culture (har har) in the United States.