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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.

Portrait of Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737) wikidata:Q28045249

How to Bathe Like a 18th-Century Queen

18th-century bathing was controversial. Some argued bathing was healthy, while others argued it could damage one's health.
Lincoln, Nebraska state capitol building

The Bitter Controversy Over Nebraska’s State Capital

Lincoln or Omaha or... Neapolis? The fight over where to put the capital of Nebraska was much more heated than you may have imagined.
blue and teal linoleum floor

Why People Once Loved Linoleum

Linoleum, which was created by pressing cotton scrim with oxidized linseed oil and adding cork dust and coloring, became instantly popular.
Buffalo Bill Cody

The Truth Behind Buffalo Bill’s Scalping Act

“Buffalo Bill” Cody was among history’s most intriguing showmen, fascinating a nation with a show that helped weave the modern myth of the Wild West.
Girl Scout camp

What the Girl Scouts’ Founder Wanted Girls to Know

Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world celebrate World Thinking Day, a holiday aimed at helping global scouts connect and reflect on their past.
Siege of Leningrad

The Nazis’ Nightmarish Plan to Starve the Soviet Union

Before the infamous Wannsee conference, Nazis had another meeting during which they planned the mass starvation of millions of Eastern Europeans.
Saturday Evening Girls Club

The Saturday Evening Girls’ Guide to Helping Immigrants Succeed

The “Saturday Evening Girls" was a Progressive-Era club that afforded urban, Jewish and Italian girls and women a chance at coveted social mobility.
Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allan Poe and the Power of a Portrait

Edgar Allan Poe knew that readers would add their visual image of the author to his work to create a personality that informed their reading.
Women's March

How Women’s Studies Erased Black Women

The founders of Women’s Studies were overwhelmingly white, and focused on the experiences of white, heterosexual women.
Stockton, California in 1886

The Important Civil Rights Activist You’ve Never Heard Of

Like other African-Americans, Jeremiah B. Sanderson was intrigued by the new state of California—a free state that promised economic and social opportunity.
Tiger Beat Magazine

The Sexual Lessons of 1980s Teen Magazines

Teen magazines put girls in charge by inverting the male gaze

How Mr. Coffee Made Coffee Manly

Mr. Coffee, the first electric-drip coffee machine for home use, debuted in 1972, forever changing the way Americans made coffee.
Twilight book

Fanfic As Academic Discipline

Fanfic is thought to have been in existence since at least the 1920s.
Showgirl

The Man Who Invented the Showgirl

Showgirl. Just the word calls to mind fabulous plumes, spangled sequins, and a distinctive strut. But where does ...
Berkeley mural

The Fight for People’s Park

Fifty years ago, tens of thousands of people converged on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the “Human ...
Thames Frost Fair

Magic and Meaning on the Frozen Thames

London's winters used to colder—and a bit more magical, thanks to chilly conditions on the Thames River. "Frost fairs" were popular public celebrations.
Jack London

Jack London’s Double

Catfishing, imposters, and mistaken identity are par for the course in the internet age. But it turns out ...
Anne Frank house bookcase

How the Netherlands Used Literature to Defy the Nazis

A new theory sheds light not only on the fate of the Franks, but on the extent of Dutch resistance to the Nazis.
Ballerinas

Can Ballet Be Feminist?

Ballerinas have long made feminists both uneasy and excited, embodying fulfillment and the shackles of feminine performance.
Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose

The Turn-of-the-Century Lesbians Who Founded The Field of Home Ec

Flora Rose and Martha Van Rensselaer lived in an open and acknowledged lesbian relationship. They also helped found the field of home economics.

A Brief History of Vice Presidential Inaugurations

On January 20, all eyes will turn toward Washington, D.C. as the 45th President of the United States ...
Harvard Observatory, 1899

How Women Finally Broke Into the Sciences

Women finally broke into the sciences in sex-segregated jobs in the years between 1880 and 1910.
Madame Bovary illustration

What Madame Bovary Revealed About the Freedom of the Press

Gustave Flaubert was put on trial for obscenity. Why didn't he fight government censorship harder?
Jane Austen sketch

Jane Austen and the Value of Flaws

Jane Austen is known for self-assured heroines and love stories. But she also wrote a lot about the importance of being wrong.
PMS

How PMS Became a Thing

“Is PMS Real?” It was the headline that launched a thousand hot takes—a bold statement by Frank Bures (a male author) ...