The Legend of the Leatherman
From 1857 to 1889, he could be found walking a 365-mile loop in western Connecticut and eastern New York. Everybody recognized him, but no one knew his name.
The National Vaccine Institute and Vaccination For All
The early US fight against smallpox was helped by the establishment of the National Vaccine Institute, an agency that wouldn't survive government mistrust.
Parker Pillsbury, Nineteenth-Century Male Feminist
Abolitionists like the New Hampshire native believed that masculinity required self-control, setting them against violent enslavers.
There Once Was a Poem Called a Limerick
Whose history, they say, isn't quick. It's all such a muddle, it can leave you befuddled, whether you like the clean or the sick.
This Forgotten Female Orator Broke Boundaries for Women
At a time when respectable women rarely spoke to the public, Anne Laura Clarke was a star lecturer.
“The Public Health” in 1840
A pamphlet published in 1840 advocates a four-pronged approach to public healthcare that sounds remarkably like our own.
Walt Whitman, America’s Phrenologist
The pseudoscience of phrenology included a notion of body as text that Whitman loved. But the craze of "bumpology" also had a darker side.
When Clairvoyants Searched for a Lost Expedition
When Captain Sir John Franklin's Arctic expedition went awry, clairvoyants claimed to be able to contact the crew members. Why did people believe them?
The Mystical Practice That Preceded Medical Anesthesia
For a brief period of time in the 19th century, doctors used "mesmerism" for pain-free surgery.
“Telling the Bees”
In nineteenth-century New England, it was held to be essential to whisper to beehives of a loved one’s death.