How the dangerously powerful words of two of history’s original “nasty women,” Olympe de Gouges and Mary Wollstonecraft, were silenced, suppressed, and nearly lost to history.
“The prisoners could be forgiven for looking with fear upon the buses that arrived at the concentration camps in the … More
Junk history is embodied perfectly in a recent viral meme that portrays a nineteenth-century Persian princess with facial hair alongside the claim that 13 men killed themselves over their unrequited love for her. While it fails miserably at historical accuracy, the meme succeeds at demonstrating how easily viral clickbait obscures and overshadows rich and meaningful stories from the past.
More than a century after he received it, Karl Hultberg still wears his civil service medal with pride. In life, he only had a week to enjoy it, so someone decided that, in death, he should wear it in perpetuity.
In an episode that predated the Watergate break-in by 100 years, thieves broke into the New York City Comptroller’s office on September 10, 1871, and stole records that threatened to end the corrupt reign of Boss Tweed over the Tammany Hall political machine. Fittingly, the thieves used a symbol of the Tweed Ring – a diamond – to cut a hole in the glass office door. This is the story of Boss Tweed and the diamonds of Tammany Hall.
Joan of Arc, Countess Emilia Plater, Wonder Woman: Singular women placed on a pedestal, carefully arranged and served on a silver platter of inimitable exceptionalism, meant to be admired for their sacrifice, but not duplicated. These are the flawed foundations of the stories of “heroic” women that have helped insure that the concept of the women warrior remains an anomaly more akin to a fictional superhero than an accepted reality.
Tucked away in the church cemetery of a southern Swedish village is the gravestone of a civil servant who died in 1902. It would go unnoticed as the average grave of an ordinary man were it not for one remarkable feature: the shining silver medal embedded and encased in glass within the gravestone. All but forgotten and facing the scrap heap, the gravestone symbolizes the overlooked beauty and value of everyday history.
While the stories of history’s first female doctors of philosophy are inspiring, they also highlight the galling realities of women’s centuries-long struggle to obtain equal educational opportunities and professional and intellectual respect. Seen as a whole, they have the power to light a fire beneath armchair inspiration and provoke similarly bold and progressive action.
In an age when wealthy Americans visited Europe either to sell off their daughters in marriage to titled men or to buy up European culture and historical heritage, Edith Wharton and Natalie Clifford Barney went there in search of gender and intellectual equality. They found it in France.
In spring 1945, Sweden did something incredible. It voluntarily sent an expedition into Nazi Germany to rescue prisoners from concentration camps and bring them to Sweden. Not a single Swede was among the 31,000 individuals they rescued. This is the story of the White Buses.