Grave site of American botanist Asa Gray (1810-1888), in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

When Cemeteries Became Natural Sanctuaries

In the 19th century, bucolic, park-like cemeteries started cropping up on the outskirts of American cities.
Detail from an 1846 map of Nantucket

The Little-Known Nantucket-British Deal of 1814

Remembering a strange chapter of history when Nantucket allied itself with Great Britain.
Maria Mitchell

America’s First Woman Astronomer

Maria Mitchell became famous when she discovered a comet in 1847. She didn't stop there, fighting for education and equality for women in the sciences.
Mark Twain

Was Mark Twain a Con Man?

A man named Samuel Clemens received funds from the radical abolitionist Boston Vigilance Committee in 1854. It may have been Mark Twain, pulling a prank.
Obama commencement speeches

Who Gets to Make Commencement Speeches (and Why)?

Why are battles over just who gets the honor of toasting new graduates—and what they say—always so heated?
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. 
Horsepower

Why We Still Use “Horsepower”

Horses were omnipresent in the West until only a few generations ago, but then they were replaced by machines and disappeared from our streets as well as our consciousness.
Shaker tree art

The Shaker Formula for Gender Equality

Shaker communities seem to have appealed to a lot of women because they offered a respite where their work was honored and respected.
Julia Ward Howe

The Long, Winding History of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Julia Ward Howe wrote her most famous poem, the legendary Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” in a single burst of inspiration 156 years ago.
Clothing Rack full of T-Shirts at a Thrift Store

How Thrift Stores Were Born

According to the Association of Retail Professionals, about 16 to 18 percent of Americans shop at thrift stores in any given year.