How a Humble Stone Carries the Memory of an 1851 African American Uprising Against the Fugitive Slave Law

The Excavation of a Christiana, Pennsylvania Field Shows How Free Black People Used Mutual Aid Societies for Defense

The muse for this story is a humble piece of stone, no more than an inch square. Sometime in the mid-19th century, it had been fashioned into a gunflint—an object that, when triggered to strike a piece of steel, could spark a small explosion of black powder and propel a lead ball from the muzzle of a gun with mortal velocity.

Archaeologists often come across gunflints. That’s because during the 19th century firearms were considered mundane items, owned by rich and poor alike. Gunflints, like shell casings now, were their disposable …

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When the Government Decided the Spread on Your Toast Should Be Pink | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When the Government Decided the Spread on Your Toast Should Be Pink

The ‘Margarine Wars’ Explain the 19th-Century Struggle to Regulate Food

Tomatoes are red, margarine is yellow, and oranges, are, well, orange. We expect certain foods to be certain colors. What we don’t realize is that these colors are not necessarily …

The World War II “Wonder Drug” That Never Left Japan | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The World War II “Wonder Drug” That Never Left Japan

For Workers and Soldiers, Taking Methamphetamine Was a Patriotic Duty That Hooked a Generation

Amphetamines, the quintessential drug of the modern industrial age, arrived relatively late in the history of mind-altering substances—commercialized just in time for mass consumption during World War II. In fact, …

The Precarious Career of Hattie Caraway, America’s First Woman Senator | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Precarious Career of Hattie Caraway, America’s First Woman Senator

Elected to the ‘World's Most Exclusive Club’ From Arkansas in 1932, Caraway Was Ignored by Her Peers But Hounded by the Press

The first woman elected to the United States Senate is not a household name. That woman, Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas, kept a very low profile. She is not considered …

The Forgotten Legacy of Garbo’s Favorite Director | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Forgotten Legacy of Garbo’s Favorite Director

Clarence Brown Should Be Remembered for His Works of Subversive Empathy

Clarence Brown was a major figure in Hollywood’s Golden Age, directing Garbo and other glittering stars in films spread over five decades. He boasts the dubious—or is it admirable?—distinction of …