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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.

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) ...
Pierre and Marie Curie

How Marie Curie Claimed Credit for Her Scientific Work

Marie Curie was the first major woman scientist to get full credit for her scientific contributions.
Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott, Servant

She’s best known as the intrepid author of Little Women, but Louisa May Alcott was once a domestic servant.
Louisa Adams

Melania Trump Won’t Be America’s First Foreign-Born First Lady

Melania Trump, who reportedly will not immediately occupy the White House upon her husband’s inauguration, will not be your typical First Lady.
White House

How Do White House Transitions Actually Work?

How do presidential transitions really work? Political science scholarship on White House staffers provides some insight.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Black Lives

As historians continue to interrogate slavery’s lasting reverberations, narratives produced by slaves themselves have become a kind of ...
Laura Bridgman

Before Helen Keller, There Was Laura Bridgman

Before Helen Keller, there was Laura Bridgman, the first blind and deaf woman who learned to communicate through language.
Dorothy's ruby slippers

Consumerism and The Wizard of Oz

The Smithsonian Institution is running a Kickstarter campaign to restore and preserve Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. 
Gold Records

How Have Music Charts Stayed Relevant?

Music charts conferred status on performers and became an arbiter of popularity and a signifier of success.
Twilight Zone the Hitchhiker

This Creepy Radio Broadcast Played With the Power of the Medium

Radio dramas became a way for broadcasters to get into the minds of listeners…and to comment on the very influence of radio itself.
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

How A Gambling Duchess Changed British Politics

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, won and lost fortunes, giving into a compulsion that pitted her against some of society’s most notorious ne’er-do-wells.
Cars in 1920s LA

How the Women of Los Angeles Protected Their Rights to Drive

In the 1920s, women's love of driving in auto-obsessed Los Angeles created traffic jams and a battle over women’s rightful place.
Catherine Howard

Did Materialism Lead to the Death of a Tudor Queen?

The very things that made Catherine Howard's time as Henry VIII's queen so pleasant became a cudgel with which to beat her.
Bobby Seale and Cesar Chavez

The Black Panthers’ Unlikely Ally

Cesar Chavez's non-violent United Farm Workers and the militant Black Panthers aligned politically throughout the 60s and 70s.