When Halloween Mischief Turned to Mayhem

Nineteenth-Century Urbanization Unleashed the Nation's Anarchic Spirits

Imagine. Pre-electricity, no moon. It’s late October, and the people whisper: This is the season for witchery, the night the spirits of the dead rise from their graves and hover behind the hedges.

The wind kicks up, and branches click like skeletal finger bones. You make it home, run inside, wedge a chair against the door, and strain to listen. There’s a sharp rap at the window and when you turn, terrified, it’s there leering at you—a glowing, disembodied head with a deep black hole where its mouth should be. …

Why Sheep Started So Many Wars in the American West

Each Year, an Idaho Festival Honors the Shepherds Who Sought to Keep the Peace

In early October, when the leaves turn golden and the shadows of the Sawtooth Mountains lengthen, the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival moves through south central Idaho. The festival, …

How the South Recast Defeat as Victory with an Army of Stone Soldiers

Confederate Monuments to Nameless Infantrymen Were Less About Celebrating History Than Reestablishing Social Order

Monuments to Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders have long been controversial, but monuments to nameless Confederate soldiers, those lone stone figures in public places, are far more …

The 1938 Hurricane That Revived New England’s Fall Colors

An Epic Natural Disaster Restored the Forest of an Earlier America

This morning, while driving in central Vermont, listening to the latest news about hurricanes in Florida and Texas, I caught up with my first leaf peeper of the season. …

How Recipe Cards and Cookbooks Fed a Mobile, Modernizing America

Scientific Methods and Rising Literacy Were Key Ingredients for a Culinary Revolution

The first edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book—now known as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook—reads like a road map for 20th-century American cuisine. Published in 1896, it was filled …

When the Idea of Home Was Key to American Identity

From Log Cabins to Gilded Age Mansions, How You Lived Determined Whether You Belonged

Like viewers using an old-fashioned stereoscope, historians look at the past from two slightly different angles—then and now. The past is its own country, different from today. But we …