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Black and white headshot of author Matthew Wills

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.

Vultures on tree

How The Near Extinction of Indian Vultures Led to Disaster

The populations of the nine species of Indian vultures began to plummet in the 1990s
British flag

The Anglo-American Relationship: Not Always So Special

The "special relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom followed a very long century of special enmity.
"I Have a Dream". engraved on a step of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Martin Luther King, Jr And The Paradox of Nonviolence

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize was controversial–and that the controversy had nothing to do with his age.
Title page of 1914's journal, The New Republic

The New Republic and the Idea of Progress

The recent shakeup at the The New Republic reminds us that journals of opinion have histories, too
Chains

The Modern History of Slavery

The Walk Free Foundation recently reported that 35 million people in the world today are trapped in different forms of slavery.
A troop of mushrooms

Mushrooms!

Mushrooms may seem like humble life forms, but they are very much wrapped up in the human experience.
Black and white illustration of men dueling from the 1899 bestseller, Richard Carvel

The Other Winston Churchill

Do you know about Winston Churchill, the American novelist? Now you do.
Let's Talk Turkey

Let’s Talk Turkey

First of all, why the name "turkey?"
A shelf of weathered leather bound books

The First English Books

In the rare book world, the earliest printed books are known as incunables or incunabula.
Pressed chestnut leaves

When Chestnuts Ruled Our Forests

Once plentiful, chestnuts were virtually extirpated from the forests of eastern North America by WWII.
An older black and white headshot of Nelly Bly beside the cover of Round the World with Nelly Bly

Nellie Bly, Girl Reporter

A look back on Nellie Bly and the era of "stunt-reporting."
City Hall Station in New York with a symmetrical tiled pattern on the arches and ceiling

Rediscovering the Guastavinos

Rediscovering the Gustavinos contributions to architecture.
Kurdistan

Kurds: In the Middle of the Middle East

A brief history of Kurds and Middle Eastern politics.
A small bird on a thin tree branch

Winter Coping Strategies for Animals – and for Us

The winter coping strategies of birds and humans are not so different.
Families walking beside the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Escapist Humor in East and West Berlin

Humor in East and West Berlin before the wall came down.
Black and white illustration of the Battle of Orleans

The Influence of Wars on American Politics

What does war do to domestic American politics?
A Gall Wasp on a horizontal stalk

Alfred C. Kinsey On Gall Wasps and Edible Plants

Alfred Kinsey was a professor of entomology before becoming a sexologist.
An open pack of graham crackers

A Hell of a Cracker

The unusual origin of the graham cracker
A skeleton-costumed child holding out a pumpkin bowl of Halloween candy

The Origins of Halloween

Halloween history and ethnography.
Close-up of a voting machine lever

The Early American Origins of Political Terms

What does stump speech and pork barrel mean? A short lexicon of American political terms.
A Polio Quarantine Card outlining the Act of Assembly Act from 1909

The Origin of Quarantine

Such forms of enforced isolation are referenced as far back as the Old Testament, while the word "quarantine" itself dates to the late medieval Plague.
A stamp depicted the first earthling in space, Laika, a dog.

Laika: The First Earthling in Space

The first Earthling was Laika, a Russian mongrel found on the streets of Moscow.
Slate statute of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park.

Remembering and Representing Alan Turing

A 1955 obituary of Turing from the Royal Society is fascinating for what it leaves out of the first draft of history.