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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.

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.
Mr. Smith filibuster

“Filibuster” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

The term "filibuster" used to refer to Americans who went to foreign countries to fight in their wars without the government’s permission.
Avocado

The Illustrious History of the Avocado

Avocados had an important place in Mesoamerican peoples’ diet, mythology, and culture. It’s possible that they were eaten in Mexico 10,000 years ago.
Rita Hayworth

The Making of Rita Hayworth

To become a Hollywood star and icon, Rita Hayworth had to transcend not just her waistline or her hairline, but her own ethnicity.
Sanctuary of Fatima

Our Lady of Political Anxiety

From Our Lady of Fatima to the 1949 Virgin Mary sighting in Wisconsin, what do Marian sightings reveal about our political anxieties?
Wrigley's gum painting

How Wrigley Chewed Its Way to Gum Greatness

William Wrigley, Jr. started off as a soap salesman and became a prodigy of consumerism. He sold Americans chewing gum with claims of health benefits.
13 Reasons Why

Can Fiction Really Spark Suicide?

The Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why is so powerful—and so controversial—it's sparked a national debate about teenage suicide.
An outdoor film festival in Guadalajara, Mexico

Mexican-Americans Have Always Battled Movie Stereotypes

Stereotyping and discrimination in Hollywood has elicited different responses from Mexican-Americans and Mexicans in Mexico.
women pirates

Women Were Pirates, Too

Maybe you've never heard of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, but they were real-life women pirates who cross-dressed to get on ships.
Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyworld

Walt Disney, Urban Utopian

The Main Street of Disneyland and Disney World were Walt Disney's first attempts at creating the utopian city he could never quite manage.
Photograph: revelers in stylish Easter hats at the New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, 2015

Source: https://flic.kr/p/r2tGNN

The Religious Roots of the Easter Parade

The revival of Easter as a festival-type holiday coincided with a rise in Catholic immigration and relaxing religious standards in the 1880's.
jefferson davis inauguration

The Battle Over Confederate Heritage Month

A Southern governor has proclaimed April to be Confederate Heritage Month. But how can you celebrate the confederacy without mentioning slavery?
Sesame Street characters

Sesame Street’s Controversial Early Years

Sesame Street's original purpose was to use TV to deliver research-based educational techniques and prepare low-income kids for school.
The Handmaid's Tale

Lessons in Resistance from The Handmaid’s Tale

The seminal Margaret Atwood novel The Handmaid's Tale feels all too relevant in a time of dystopic “debate” over the worth of women.

How America Tried (and Failed) to Solve Its “Servant Problem”

In the early part of the twentieth century, most middle-class American homes had at least one servant. Then the "servant problem" arose.
Jeanette Rankin

The U.S. Representative Who Tried to Outlaw War

Jeanette Rankin was the first woman to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. And she once tried to outlaw war.
Little Women

Did Victorians Really Get Brain Fever?

The melodramatic descriptions of "fevers" in old novels reveal just how frightening the time before modern medicine must have been.
drive-in theater

Why Drive-Ins Were More Than Movie Theaters

Drive-ins embodied the suburbanization of middle class families -- and created an entirely new way of watching the movies.
Katy Perry DNC

Power, Resistance, and Katy Perry’s Hair

It's not just Katy Perry's "breakup haircut." A woman's hair is always symbolic of something, whether it's an attitude towards femininity or a power play.
Official program - Woman suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. March 3, 1913. Cover of program for the National American Women's Suffrage Association procession, showing woman, in elaborate attire, with cape, blowing long horn, from which is draped a "votes for women" banner, on decorated horse, with U.S. Capitol in background.

How World’s Fairs Helped Train Southern Suffragists

There’s no cultural touchstone quite like an exhibition or fair—think the Great Exhibition of 1851, which introduced the ...