African American graveyard

Grave Robbing, Black Cemeteries, and the American Medical School

In the 19th century, students at American medical schools stole the corpses of recently-buried African Americans to be used for dissection.
Alex Haley Roots

How Alex Haley Popularized Ancestral Searching

Today it's easy to have DNA tested. But before that technology was available, Alex Haley's Roots inspired generations to trace their families' histories.
Henrietta Lacks portrait

Henrietta Lacks, Immortalized

Henrietta Lacks's "immortal" cell line, called "HeLa," is used in everything from cancer treatments to vaccines. A new portrait memorializes her.
politics of women reading

When Reading Inspired Women to Change History

The "Friday Night" group was a cohort of prominent nineteenth century Baltimore women who met each week to read, write, and debate social issues.
Pioneer Mother sculpture

How to Memorialize Motherhood

Every statue tells a story, often long forgotten. San Francisco's Pioneer Mother Monument in Golden Gate Park was greeted with disappointed by the woman who originated it.
Kent State

What the Kent State Killings Did to the Student Protest Era

In retrospect, the violent events at Kent State on May 4, 1970 marked the ending of widespread campus protest left over from the turbulent 1960s.
Charles Knowlton portrait

Charles Knowlton, the Father of American Birth Control

Decades after Charles Knowlton died, his book would be credited with the reversal of population growth in England and the popularization of contraception in the United States. 
dental surgery ether painting

19th Century Anesthesia and the Politics of Pain

Many doctors embraced anesthesia, but critics in the medical community protested its use, giving rise to what's known as the “ether controversy.”
Women moonshiners bootleggers

How Prohibition Encouraged Women to Drink

During Prohibition, American women “made, sold, and drank liquor in unprecedented fashion,” writes historian Mary Murphy.
Antique illustration of seance session

When Women Channeled the Dead to be Heard

Spiritualism was one of the nineteenth-century's most successful religious innovations, a movement of individuals who yearned for a religion which united mysticism and science.