The Changing Face of Southern California

An expansive collection of postcards captures the evolving cultural landscape of Southern California—particularly greater Los Angeles—in the twentieth century.
Lightning rod hats fashion of circa 1778

Electrical Fashions

From the light-bulb dress to galvanic belts, electrified clothing offered a way to experience and conquer a mysterious and vigorous force.
An advertisement for steel

Making Steel All Shiny and New

When it seemed that steel had lost its gleam with American consumers, the industry turned to marketing to make it shine again.
A punk with a mohawk in a cottagecore painting

The Punk Rock Linguistics of Cottagecore

So you want to borrow a concept from another culture but don’t know what to call it? Try a morpheme!
A black light poster

The Forgotten Radicalism of Black Light Posters

Fluorescents have fascinated artists for millennia, but the 1960s and '70s saw a generation of revolutionaries experiment with black light.
A fallout shelter

The D-I-Y Fallout Shelter

In the 1950s and 1960s, families planning for the apocalypse often took a homespun approach.
A still from Betty Boop: Minnie The Moocher (1932)

Remaking Betty Boop in the Image of a Housewife

Betty Boop was literally designed to be a bombshell, but around 1935, her creators decided to change her appearance.
A variety of vintage orange plastic items

The Revolutionary Past of Plastics

When plastics were first invented, they seemed to promise a utopian future.
From a 1935 ad for Cutex nail polish and lipstick

Cutex Hooked Americans on Manicures

How a company that started off selling cuticle remover convinced American woman to paint their nails.
Plaster face casts by Anna Coleman Ladd

How Masks of Mutilated WWI Soldiers Haunted Postwar Culture

In the age before plastic surgery, masks were the best option for veterans with faces scarred by war. The end results, however, were somewhat uncanny.