U.S. History

NORAD Tracking Santa: A Cold War History

The story that circulates about how NORAD started tracking Santa is pretty heart-warming, but doesn’t completely hold up. So there’s some myth-busting here, and maybe the tiniest bit of bah-humbug.

The Historical Roots of Holiday Treats

Tasty treats associated with winter holidays - candy canes, wassail and gingerbread - have some slightly hazy origins, because the evidence of their histories was eaten. What do we actually know about these foods and their place in the holiday menu?

Six Impossible Episodes by Request

This installation of Six Impossible Episodes is a bit of a hodge podge, with several oft-requested topics. Included are Olive Yang, the Silent Parade of 1917, Glencoe Massacre, Marion Downs, Lena Himmelstein and the Great Windham Frog Fight of 1754.

Carl Tanzler's Corpse Bride

Carl Tanzler loved a woman, and his love for her continued long after her death. But whether she loved him back is a matter of dispute. Just the same, he removed her from her tomb so she could 'live' with him.

Edward Gorey

Based just on his art, you might imagine Edward Gorey as a dour Englishman, with the peak of his career sometime in the 1920s or '30s, whose childhood was marked with a series of tragic deaths. But Gorey was none of these things.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston

Aaron Burr's daughter was incredibly smart and very well educated. She also vanished without a trace as an adult, and her ultimate fate is still a matter of debate.

U.S.S. Akron

The loss of the U.S.S. Akron was the biggest single tragedy in aviation history at the time that it happened. But unless you’re an aviation or U.S. Navy history buff, you may not know much about this airborne aircraft carrier.

Hernandez v. Texas

Hernandez v. Texas addressed civil rights for Mexican Americans, was the first case to be argued before the Supreme Court by Mexican American attorneys, and set a new precedent in how the 14th Amendment was interpreted in terms of race and ethnicity.

The Crash at Crush and Other Train Wreck Spectacles

For a brief window from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, people in the United States were watching train wrecks for fun. These staged spectacles would draw thousands and thousands of paying onlookers, but why exactly were they so popular?

The Sinking of the H.L. Hunley

The story of the H.L. Hunley really begins with the Union blockade of the Confederacy during the Civil War, which was ordered less than a week after the fall of Fort Sumter in South Carolina.