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Matthew Wills

Matthew Wills has advanced degrees in library science and film studies and is lapsed in both fields. He has published in Poetry, Huffington Post, and Nature Conservancy Magazine, among other places, and blogs regularly about urban natural history at matthewwills.com.

A chef with the turtle he is going to use for a special soup for Independence day celebrations.

Turtle Soup: From Class to Mass to Aghast

During the days of the British Empire, soup made from sea turtles was a delicacy. Now it's almost unheard of. What explains the change?
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie (1921 - 2000) addresses a Drop The Debt rally in Trafalgar Square, 13th June 1999.

Debt Forgiveness and Jubilee 2000

Erasing student loans is a hot topic of conversation now. In the 1990s, debt forgiveness was an international movement.
An image of lettuce from 1926

The Lettuce Workers Strike of 1930

Uniting for better wages and working conditions, a remarkably diverse coalition of laborers faced off against agribusiness.
From a 1703 atlas of the world

Bringing France Back into American History

The current arrangement of nation-states in North America has made the role of the French in colonial history seem less important.
Captain America punching a Nazi

Captain America and Wonder Woman, Anti-Fascist Heroes

Who needs black clothing to fight fascism when red, white, and blue will do quite nicely?
A mosaic along the Surrey Diggers Trail, Cobham UK

What Did the Diggers Really Believe?

The early modern Protestant sect has been seen as a predecessor to radical political views. But is that how they saw themselves?
Harriet Taylor Mill

Harriet Taylor Mill, At Last

When you're married to John Stuart Mill, whatever you do or say may be held against you. And so it was.
Diane di Prima

Diane di Prima

The Italian American poet and artist's “willingness to speak” about what was culturally unspeakable was a liberation.
View of the West Front of Monticello and Garden by Jane Braddick, 1825

Building A Better Democracy?

Metaphors of construction have been popular in American history from the start. How come?
A historical marker for the Hawks Nest Tunnel disaster

Remembering the Disaster at Hawks Nest

Hundreds of miners, mostly African American men, died from an entirely preventable industrial catastrophe.
Visitors walk past the entrance gate to the Auschwitz death camp, the most notorious of the many Nazi concentration camps

Does Dark Tourism Exploit Tragedy for Profit?

Thanatourism, as one scholar calls it, has a long history. And some historic sites of mass death do offer thoughtful educational experiences.
Children enacting heteronormative gender roles

Bringing Up Baby Straight

Many parents just assume their kids will turn out heterosexual. That's part of heteronormativity.
Gouverneur Morris

Gouverneur Morris’s Secret Sex Diary

The author of the preamble to the Constitution spent years in Europe as a businessman, diplomat, and connoisseur of the pleasures of the flesh.
Birds flying past the windows of a building

Migrating Birds Face an Unexpected Danger: Glass Buildings

Research shows that building collisions take a staggering annual toll on North America's bird population.
From From canal boy to president by Horatio Alger, 1881

The Creepy Backstory to Horatio Alger’s Bootstrap Capitalism

In a famous essay, a scholar uncovered difficult truths about Alger, whose name has been associated with the "rags to riches" myth.
We-Wa

One Barrier to Two-Spirit History: Settler Archives

Historians need to know more about the roles of two-spirit Native Americans, but relying on written records isn't always productive.
A poster with the famous words 'Big Brother is Watching You' from a BBC TV production of George Orwell's classic novel '1984'.

Is the Authoritarian Personality a Legitimate Concept?

A group of thinkers who fled Europe wanted to explain the rise of Nazism, but their ideas haven't withstood scrutiny.
Christine Jorgenson

A History of Transphobia in the Medical Establishment

At a time when trans people who wanted surgery needed to trust doctors, transphobia made it difficult.
Convicts working at Reed Camp, South Carolina, 1934

How Mass Incarceration Has Shaped History

A historian argues that it's time to look at the consequences of locking up millions of people over several decades.
Mothers' Crusade for Victory over Communism

The Red Scare and Women in Government

In 1952, a government administrator named Mary Dublin Keyserling was accused of being a communist. The attack on her was also an attack on feminism.
A group of Puerto Ricans at Newark airport, who just arrived by plane from Puerto Rico waiting to be transported to New York, 1947

How Migrant Labor Policies Shaped a Latino Identity

When Puerto Rican and Mexican workers came to the U.S. in large numbers, they faced similar discrimination and bigotry.
Ellen and William Craft

Passing for White to Escape Slavery

Passing for white was an intentional strategy that enslaved people used to free themselves from bondage.
A person taking a photograph of a mushroom on their phone.

iNaturalist and Crowdsourcing Natural History

The citizen-science app iNaturalist lets you record observations of plants and animals. The data can be used to study biodiversity.
Photographs of criminals, with mask in the centre, from Cesare Lombroso's l'Uomo Delinquente, 1889

Criminal Minds? Try Criminal Bodies

Cesare Lombroso wanted to use science to understand who criminals were. But his ideas about biological "atavism" easily transferred to eugenics and nativism.
A hand holding a corn cob with a spray nozzle on its top

Corn Is Everywhere!

Two educators use the history of corn, from the domestication of maize 10,000 years ago to today's ubiquitous "commodity corn," to teach about biodiversity.