The Voodoo Priestess Whose Celebrity Foretold America’s Future

Marie Laveau, the Self-Invented New Orleans Prophetess, Blurred the Sacred and Profane While Presiding Over a Multiracial Following 

Any tourist who rolls into New Orleans’s French Quarter eventually finds themselves standing before a Bourbon Street botanica called Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. It’s a small shop, and the front window is cluttered with the materials of a spirit altar: candy, bones, saint figurines, jewelry, sugar skulls, and a small porcelain statuette of the woman in blue herself, wearing her signature orange tignon: Marie Laveau.

Wander inside the shop, and you’ll find every surface packed with totems, oils, potions, pendants, plastic souvenirs, herbs, and unmarked satchels of gris-gris; a …

The Women Who Built Mayo Clinic

After a Tornado Wrecked a Minnesota Town, Franciscan Nuns and Physicians, Anesthesiologists and Social Workers Helped Create a Pathbreaking Medical Center

Several years ago, a few colleagues and I discovered a well-kept secret about Mayo Clinic, where we all worked.

We had decided to create a Jeopardy game for Women’s History Month …

The Black Women Soldiers Who Demanded Opportunities

During World War II, Four African Americans at Fort Devens, Massachusetts Went on Strike to Do Skilled Jobs Instead of ‘Maid Work’

In late 1944, four African-American women—Mary Green, Anna Morrison, Johnnie Murphy and Alice Young—enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, or WAC, the newly established military branch for women. All …

The Wondrous Life of America’s First Male Impersonator

Annie Hindle Scandalized and Titillated Audiences, But Her Talent Won Them Over

On June 6, 1886, Kerr B. Tupper, a Baptist minister in Grand Rapids, Michigan, presided over the marriage of a young couple. The groom gave his name as Charles E. …

What the Gender Reveal Fad Says About Modern Pregnancy

A New Ritual Speaks to Anxieties Surrounding the Medicalization of Childbearing

My youngest daughter often asks me to tell her about the day when, pregnant with her, I was riding to work on the subway and wondering whether she would be …