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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.

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.
Graceland facade

Was Graceland Elvis’ Greatest Aesthetic Masterpiece?

When you think of the aesthetic life of Elvis Presley, you probably think of the gaudy glitz of Graceland. But what did the tacky décor really mean?
Pregnant woman portrait

When C-Sections Were Performed to Save Dead Babies’ Souls

In 1804, Charles IV, King of Spain, issued a legal admonition telling officials not to bury any pregnant woman without giving her a C-section first.
New Designs in Menswear

This Short-Lived Political Party Embraced Socks With Sandals

The Men’s Dress Reform Party (MDRP) called for liberation from dark, tightly-knit textiles...and had some ties to the eugenics movement.
Woman sitting on chair, putting on stockings

Why Women Burned Their Stockings in the 1930s

The average 1930s American woman bought up to 15 pairs of silk stockings a year—until, that is, women boycotted the fabric behind an essential garment.
NYC Subway Sandhogs

The Sandhogs Who Built the New York Subway

Unlike other laborers, who toiled anonymously on bridges and buildings throughout the city, the sandhogs had an iconic status in New York City.
Hormel Girls

The Singing, Dancing Hormel Girls Who Sold America SPAM

SPAM was introduced 80 years, but it was a military-style corps of singing women that helped the canned meat skyrocket in the years after World War II.
Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart Taught America to Fly

Amelia Earhart taught America to fly. How Earhart and other women pilots of her day helped overcome Americans’ skepticism about flight.