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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.

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.
Amelie Mauresmo

The Sexual Politics of Wimbledon

At Wimbledon, tennis is about more than tennis. The story of Amélie Mauresmo illustrates the complex sexual politics of women athelete’s bodies.
Mt. Holyoke Balloon Day

How Women Crushed on One Another Back in the Day

Same-sex crushes and romantic friendships between college-age women were common throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Mary Delany flowers

An 18th-Century “Sapphist”’s Sexy Garden

The 18th-century "sapphist" gardens of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany were piquant places that expressed same-sex desires.
Dan Rather

Dan Rather on Dan Rather

Dan Rather's ruminations on politics and morality feel so 2017. This interview he gave in the '70s lends insight into how seriously he takes journalism.
Portland diner

The Making of the American Diner

Today's diners would surprise a 1940s patron. These restaurants were once vulgar boy’s clubs before becoming today's family-friendly establishments.
Howard square dance

The Slave Roots of Square Dancing

Square Dancing's lily-white reputation hides something unexpected: A deep African-American history that's rooted in a legacy of slavery. 
Woody Guthrie

How “This Land Is Your Land” Went From Protest Song to Singalong

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” has lost a bit of its protest oomph—in part because of a decades-long denial of its later verses.
Victorian dresses

Victorian England Had a Problem With Cloth Piracy

Calico took the newly industrial world by storm. But battles over bolts of fabric shook Britain during the nineteenth century.
Godey's Lady's Book

The Women’s Magazine That Tried to Stop the Civil War

Godey’s Lady’s Book, one of the most influential American publications of the nineteenth century, tried to halt the Civil War.
Waukesha Bethesda Springs

The Clash Over Water in Waukesha, Wisconsin

A town that once thrived on tourism around its famed natural springs is seeking water from faraway Lake Michigan.
Jack Barry, Charles Van Doren and Vivienne Nearing

How Academics Fell In and Out of Love with TV Quiz Shows

In the 1950s, the world went quiz-show crazy. But something was rotten inside Hollywood—the shows were packed with ringers.