19th Century

Hurricane San Ciriaco

Hurricane San Ciriaco struck Puerto Rico at a precarious point in its history. The United States had just taken possession of the island, and the 40 or so years leading up to the Spanish-American War had also been particularly tumultuous. 

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett connects to a lot of episodes in our archive. She fought against lynching for decades, at a time when it wasn’t common at all for a woman, especially a woman of color, to become such a prominent journalist and a speaker.

Winsor McCay, Part 2

Even as his career in comics was at its zenith, Winsor McCay continued to explore other business ventures for his art. He added vaudeville performances to his busy schedule, and then became an animation pioneer. 

Winsor McCay, Part 1

McCay is credited as a pioneer in early animation. But before he made drawings come to life, he worked as a billboard artist, an artist-journalist, and then a comics creator for newspapers. 

Frank Lenz, the Cyclist Who Vanished

In the 1890s, Frank Lenz started a bicycle tour around the world. He never finished, and his ultimate fate remains uncertain, though there are pretty solid clues indicating how he met his end. 

The First Celebrity Chef: Marie-Antoine Carême

Today, there is an entire industry around celebrity chefs. But the first celebrity chef in the western world's history was born in late 18th-century France.

Elbridge Gerry’s Monstrous Salamander

Elbridge Gerry signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Gerrymandering is the drawing of political districts to give a particular party or group an advantage or disadvantage, and it's named after him.

The Life and Magic of Henry 'Box' Brown

Brown was born into slavery and escaped in an astonishing way. His story of gaining his freedom was so sensational that he basically spent the rest of his life making a living talking about it in one form or another.

The Highland Clearances

The Highland Clearances were a long, complicated, messy series of evictions in the Highlands and western Islands of Scotland, when tenant farmers were forced from their homes to make way for sheep pastures.

Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie was a child of poverty who became one of the richest men on Earth. But his life, while largely charmed, had a massive scar of bad judgment on it. He also decided that the most important thing he could do with his money was to give it away.