Three costumed girls, Pauline, Barbara and Dorothy Luck surrounding Halloween pumpkin, 1940

Halloween: A Mystic and Eerie Significance

Despite the prevalence of tricks and spooky spirits in earlier years, the American commercial holiday didn’t develop until the middle of the twentieth century.
Kuda Bux

Kuda Bux: Fire-walking for Fame and Fortune

The Kashmiri American illusionist and mystic drew on his legendary powers of concentration to entertain and astound (in)credulous audiences.
Wilbur, left, and Orville Wright sit on the porch steps of their Dayton, Ohio, home in June 1909.

The Wright Brothers: Babysitters Extraordinaire

Wilbur and Orville Wright may not have been “first in flight,” but they were first in taking care of their nieces and nephews on the weekends.
Japanese double folio clock (Wadokei)

A Tale of Two Times: Edo Japan Encounters the European Clock

In country that followed a time-keeping system with variable hours, the fixed-hour clock of the Europeans had only symbolic value.
A poster advertising polio research

Before Long COVID Came Post-Polio Syndrome

While the rise of long COVID and its many symptoms may be surprising and difficult to diagnose, post-viral diseases are nothing new.
Maia Szalavits

On Drugs and Harm Reduction with Maia Szalavitz

Author of Undoing Drugs and NYT columnist Szalavitz talks history, science, media shifts, politics, and how the US might mitigate its overdose crisis.
A Cane Toad is exhibited at Taronga Zoo August 9, 2005 in Sydney, Australia

Cane Toads, Dung Beetles, and Cork Hats

Predicting the effects of introducing a species into an ecosystem is difficult. Mitigating those effects later is even more so. Just ask Australia.
From The Mountains of California, by John Muir (New York: The Century, 1898)

Plant of the Month: White Sage

An important part of Indigenous spirituality and identity, the aromatic evergreen shrub is being threatened by poachers and over-commercialization.
Actress Bobby Bradshaw is tempted by a pearl necklace, 1925 Getty

Pearl Jam

In the twentieth century, the mollusk-produced gem was a must have for members of WASP gentility. In the twenty-first century, its appeal is far more inclusive.
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.