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This category contains 188 posts

Historical Facebook

Ever wonder what the world would have been like if Facebook had been around hundreds of years ago? Me neither. But someone obviously has. Check out updates from God, Abraham Lincoln and the Titanic here.

How the Earth Got its Shape

Measure of the Earth by Larrie Ferreiro tells how an early eighteenth century band of European explorer set out to measure a degree of latitude at the equator in South America using the very latest astronomical and surveying equipment in order to settle a scientific dispute. Descartes said that the Earth was egg-shaped, whilst Isaac […]

Stanley Kubrick’s Chicago and Other Archive Images

In 1949 a 21-year-old Stanley Kubrick was sent on a photojournalism assignment to Chicago. The resulting photos are now in the Library of Congress, but you can see some of them on Chris Wild’s excellent website How to Be a Retronaut. As well as the Kubrick photos, the site is a veritable treasure trove of […]

Against All Odds by Paul Connolly

Paul Connolly was abandoned as a new born baby and grew up in care at the St. Leonards’ Children’s Home in London’s East End, where the children were regularly abused by their carers. Paul became a boxer and personal trainer, but six of the children he shared his 8-bed dorm with are dead. Against All […]

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle

In 1911, 146 mostly young Jewish and Italian women were killed in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in NYC, in what was then the worst workplace disaster in the history of America. Most of the victims were trapped behind a locked exit, in what was supposed to be a modern fireproof building, but […]

Top of The Pops LPs

BBC4 has started showing vintage episodes of Top of the Pops, which used to be required viewing in TVMole’s house (along with Coronation Street, Multicoloured Swapshop, The Krypton Factor, It’s a Knockout and The Great Egg Race). However, a recent overheard twitter conversation evoked an erstwhile forgotten memory: getting on the bus from Grandma’s to […]

2:46: Aftershocks, An Oral History of the Japanese Earthquake

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake is a fast response publication to Kindle that was created by a group of Twitter users to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross. The book contains photos, artwork and essays from people around the world, including Yoko Ono, and took just over one week to assemble. 100% […]

Classic Cars

Louwman Museum in The Hague, Netherlands houses a collection of 230 vintage and classic cars, from a 1875 horse-drawn steam fire engine to a 1914 Dodge Type 30 and 1949 Ferrari. See the cars and read more on Coolhunting.

Ancient Aboriginal Astronomers

Archaeologists have fond a type of stone circle 80km outside Melbourne that is aligned to a summer sunset and is dated to greater than 10,000 years, which is much earlier than Stonehenge or the Pyramids. It suggests that Aborigines were studying the stars much earlier than previously known. Read more on PSFK.  

Talent: Past Preservers

Are you looking for talent? Someone with a passion for history and archaeology? Past Preservers was founded by archaeologist Nigel J. Hetherington to provide historical and archaeological consultancy and professional support to the media industry, and their website has a (small) number of showreels of potential hosts partaking in derring-do. Rich Blundell from Past Preservers […]

The Not-Quite-Hidden But Too Often Ignored…

U.S. academic Minh-Ha T. Pham has put together “an alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color’, as a reaction against fashion exhibitions that concentrate solely on the fashions of wealthy white women.  Explore some of the photos on Of Another Fashion, such as the photo of […]

50 Things Internet is Killing Off…

According to The Telegraph the internet is killing off all manner of things, from polite disagreement (No.1) to the lunch-break (No.50) via wedding telegrams (No.23) and the the curiously adjacent dogging (No.24).  Read the full list here.

NGO’s ‘Fess Up to Failure

Engineers Without Borders Canada have done what many NGOs have failed to do and that is admit that help given to developing countries isn’t always helpful. In some cases a solution to a perceived problem just brings more problems. But no-one will admit it in case people stop donating their money to charity to help […]

The Father of Modern Fitness

Jack LaLanne was able to do fingertip push-ups well into his 90s.  Never heard of him? If you struggle to the gym before or after work you can thank him because he founded the modern fitness movement in the 1930s, when lifting weights was considered weird (some still do consider it weird…). In 1951 he […]

A Brief History of Product Placement

A timely reminder to UK  producers who are about to be allowed to place products in their TV shows (from 28th February) that it’s not a new thing…

The Nanny Photographs

Vivian Maier, was an eccentric, shy nanny who worked for wealthy families in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s  turns out to have been leading a double life as one of the most talented photographers of the 20th century. But nobody knew this until an author researching a book, John Maloof,  bought a job lot […]

Cass Pennant: Football Hooligan and Gentleman Publisher

A recent article in The Bookseller lamented the demise of a small publishing house, Pennant Books, driven out of business by the cold financial climate. John Blake wrote that the owner, Cass Pennant, paid his authors “decent advances. I heard he was meticulous in paying his royalties.”  But look into his back-story (already documented in […]

Kidnapped Baby Reunited with Parents After 24 Years

When Carlina White, just 19-days old, was snatched by a bogus nurse from Harlem Hospital she disappeared without a trace. Twenty-four years on, her parents might be forgiven for not expecting to ever see her again. But they would have reckoned without Carlina’s tenacity at tracking down her biological family, after having suspicions about the […]

In Almost Every Picture

Every year, 88-year-old Dutch woman Ria van Dijk visits a fairground shooting gallery ad picks up a gun. And every time she scores a hit a camera flashes and her photo is taken. She’s been visiting the shooting gallery almost every year since 1936, and the series of pictures taken chronicle her life since she […]

Stop Motion Sculpture

Artist Nina Paley took her camera, and some volunteers, to the Met Museum in NYC and took photos of 914 statues and then combined them to make a moving, morphing, evolving sculpture. Her thesis is that all work is derivative – whether or not video manages to prove that it’s a mesmerizing watch. Read how […]

“It’s amazing how things have changed since 1994…”

Recently, two sisters were released from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility on condition that one donated her kidney to the other one who relies on dialysis. In their press conference speech one of them remarked on the changes to the world since they were convicted in 1994 of taking part in a $11 robbery. “It’s […]

Unconventional Autobiographies

Another literary list from Flavorwire: this time a list of inventive autobiographies that put bland celebrity offerings in the shade. Check out: The Box: Tales from the Darkroom by Gunter Grass, in which he fictionalizes accounts of his life from the perspectives of his eight children; My Prizes by Thomas Bernhard examines the life he […]

Poor Medieval Britons? Not So Much…

Economists at the University of Warwick have worked out that medieval Britons had a per capita income of around $1,000 (1270 – 1870). In 2009, countries such as Ghana, Cambodia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Burundi all had per capita incomes of less than $1,000. This medieval prosperity allowed people to live much more comfortable existences than […]

Exasperated Experts

Historian Margaret MacMillan is in despair at the apparent lack of initiative shown by students who approach her for quotes for their essays but who have clearly not done any research themselves. “What they want are snippets of information to save them the trouble of searching for themselves and handy quotes from their “expert” to […]

Secret Life of the Prison Library

Avi Steinberg describes life as a prison librarian at the Suffolk County House of Correction, Massachusetts. Prisoners would run to the library as soon as they were released from their cells, but the history of prison libraries is a troubled one. On one side they are thought to be a good thing – educating and […]

American Ruins

Photographer Arthur Drooker’s photos of N. American buildings make them look as if they’ve survived (or decayed) since ancient times. He uses infrared photography to infuse an other-worldliness in industrial landscapes and dilapidated mansions. See them here.

Ghosts of WWII Photos

Russian photographer Sergey Larenkov’s haunting photos on My Modern Met that mix archive photos with modern day cityscapes bring home what it was like to live in the great cities in the time of WWII better than reading dozens of history books about the subject. Even seeing undoctored photos or archive of the time is […]

Extreme Real Estate Feuds

If you’ve ever had trouble with your neighbours, here’s something to make you feel better (or get you all cross again). NY Magazine lists eight mega-property feuds,  ranging from a 40-yr court dispute (that continued even after the deaths of the main protagonists) to a doctor who blew up his 4-story home to stop his […]

How Big is It Really?

How Big Really offers useful visualizations of places, events and other important things, based on a map of your current location. For example, you can see how far the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch would stretch if centered on your neighbourhood (far) or the area covered by Chernobyl radiation (farther). Try it for yourself here.

A Veiw of 2000 From 1911

In 1911, Liza Morris’s great grandmother, Estella Jenny Bennett,  wrote an account of how she imagined the year 2000 would be. Liza only recently found the account, an excerpt of which has been published by Hub Culture. She imagines a world where people travel underground via something called The Tube and by fast-travelling airships. She […]

Murder Map: London

Make sure you’re too scared to ever leave your house by exploring the data on the MurderMap of London. It aims to log details of every homicide in the city from Jack the Ripper to today and is based on crime reports from the Old Bailey.  The site is easily navigable and data can be […]

Four Stages of Eureka!

Sudden Genius by Andrew Robinson explores Henri Poincaré’s four-stage model of sudden Eureka moments in creativity: conscious thought incubation illumination verification Robinson goes on to dismiss this theory, but the good folks at New Scientist believe it’s still the best model we’ve got.

Meet Mr Haynes – Manual Man

Ever wondered who the Mr Haynes behind the Haynes manuals is? Find out here.

The Sex Lives of Victorians

Dr. Clelia Duel Mosher conducted sex surveys of women between 1982 and 1920, during which time she profiled the thoughts and feelings of forty five women. The papers were stored in a library and only discovered by accident in 1973. The questionnaires were turned into a book, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America […]

Wifi Gravestones Tell a Story

An interesting twist to history: Personal Rosetta Stone makes micro-chipped gravestones that transmit the life story and genealogical information about the deceased person via wifi to mobile phones. The story is written by the person before their death or by their family. Get yours here.

Does Diversity Training Work?

The Boston Globe explores the history of diversity training in the workplace an asks if it is ever effective in changing attitudes and behaviours, or whether diversity training is just a way to tick boxes and ward off law suits. Read the full article.

Fifty Cars That Changed the World

Fifty Cars That Changed the World by Andrew Nahum, Principal Curator at London’s Design Museum explores the design impact of classic cars such as the 908 Ford Model T, the 1957 Lotus Elite, and the 1998 Smart Car. Also in the series are Fifty Dresses…, Fifty Chairs… and Fifty Shoes….

The Great British Breakfast

Cole Moreton, noting that only 1% of the British public starts the day with a traditional fry-up (as opposed to 50% in the 1950s), sets out to explore the modern British breakfast. It’s a landscape populated with chandeliers, black pudding, Hell’s Angels and “best pork catering sausages” (I’m guessing Jamie Oliver wouldn’t approve), via a […]

Out of Print Clothing

Out of Print “celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion”. In other words, they print out of print book covers onto T-shirts; featured books include such classics as On the Road, Catch 22, Slaughterhouse-Five and 1984. But buying a t-shirt isn’t just an expression of your literary taste, it’s an act of philanthropy, as each […]

My Last Polaroid

My Last Polaroid is a site that is attempting to gather images of the last ever Polaroid people take as a tribute to the format. There’s also a documentary in the making. Director and photographer Steve Glashier is filming people who have used Polaroid film in their work – artists, fashion photographers, forensic scientists and […]

The Architecture of Segregation

The old Montpelier railway depot in Virginia has recently been restored and opened to the public; what sets it apart from other similar buildings is that it has been restored with the segregated waiting areas and signs for ‘Coloreds’ and ‘Whites’ intact. A single ticket office served the two waiting rooms (the one for black […]

Modern Fossils

Christopher Locke looks forward to a time when people will look back at the technological advances that didn’t survive the evolutionary fight for survival, such as the audio cassette, Sony Walkman and the Atari joystick. He’s created a series of ‘modern fossils’ using concrete – see them here.

Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey, the Tudor queen who reigned for just nine days was cruelly beheaded at the age of sixteen; a victim of her mother’s ambition. Or was she?  Biographer Leanda de Lisle’s researches suggest that her mother was herself the victim. Read the full article in More Intelligent Life

Royal Mail

History Today charts the history of the Royal Mail, which dates back to the reign of King Henry VIII in the 16th century. Since then the post office has variously acted as censor and newsagent. The first post office was set up in London in 1635, where letters were sorted by a clerk and an […]

Last Supper Portions

A Cornell University professor and his brother, a religious studies professor, studied paintings of the Last Supper and discovered that artist’s through the centuries have gradually been increasing the amount of food being eaten by Jesus and his disciples, which they say mirrors socio-cultural changes through the ages. Read the full article on Reuters.

TED Talks: Long News

Ex-ad guy Kirk Citron’s “Long News” project aims to collate the news stories that will still matter centuries from today. He outlines the project in this TED Talk. Watch the video:

What the Butler Saw

Eugene Allen, who died in March 2010 aged 90, grew up under segregation in Virginia but went on to to work as a butler at the White House, where he served eight US presidents from 1952. His wife of 65 years died on the eve of Obama’s election, so he had to go to vote […]

How to Build a Medieval Castle

French landowner Michel Guyot has been conducting an unusual architectural experiment since 1998 – he’s building a medieval castle in the style of a design by 13th century French King Phillipe-August.  The ­Chateau de Guedelon is being painstakingly built using materials and techniques used in 1200s. Read more at BBC News

Starbucks Enters Its Middle Age

In 2011 Starbucks turns 40, and argues an article in Reason, it’s battling with a mid-life crisis as it tries to reestablish its authenticity and trailblazing credentials.  Read all about it.

Greenlit: Scaling Britain, BBC2

Scaling Britain (15×30′) – A new series celebrating the history of architecture and engineering in Britain. In each episode, presenter Dr Jonathan Foyle – an expert and broadcaster in architectural history – will climb the exterior of an iconic structure as he reveals its design, construction and role in the history of British architecture and […]