Been putting off your annual Christmas photo shoot? Richard and Anna Wagner never missed a year. The German newlyweds posed for their first Christmas tree portrait in 1900. They faithfully maintained the tradition until Richard passed away in 1943. Here are 6 of our favorites: All photos cour Read more
Way back in 1965, Peanuts creator Charles Schulz teamed up with producer Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez to hammer out a Christmas special in just a few months. The first of nearly 50 Peanuts movies, A Charlie Brown Christmas would go on to be the longest-running cartoon special in history Read more
It’s too bad that kings, princes, dukes, pharaohs, and more didn’t have birth control. Quite a few had multiple wives and dozens of kids….both of which were a drain on personal finances and parental attention span! 1. Robert I, Duke of Parma: This nineteenth-century Italian prince of French descent Read more
Looking for a (super!) last-minute Christmas present? We’ve got you covered: here are 10 nonfiction history books from 2015 that you shouldn’t miss. Some are academic, some are aimed at a general audience; some are traditional historical studies and some are biographies. But all ten made a splash in Read more
1. Jean, Count of Dunois, waged war while his brother wrote Valentines in prisons. Best known by the charming epithet “the Bastard of Orléans,” Jean helped win the Hundred Years’ War for France.  His father, Louis, Duke of Orléans, younger brother of the insane Charles VI, was most famous for his br Read more
You can only watch “Home Alone” so many times. Turn off the tube and immerse yourself in these 5 classic Christmas stories written by famous authors. Full disclosure: Some are more festive than others. 1. Pearl S. Buck: Pearl S. Buck’s “Christmas Day in the Morning“ was originally published in Colli Read more
As the Cambridge quartet—the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as George and new addition Charlotte—released its absolutely adorable Christmas card photo, let’s celebrate five queenly Charlottes who set the bar high for the newest little princess. 1. Charlotte of Wales:  This princess was the r Read more
As it becomes more and more likely that there is a secret chamber behind one of the walls of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, we’re getting a little taste of the excitement that surrounded the 1923 opening of the nearly intact tomb by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. Carter’s Read more
We can’t really fault these idealistic groups for trying to create a better world, but that doesn’t mean that these particular communities weren’t terrible ideas from start to finish. Octagon City, Kansas, 1856 – 1857 Octagon City was organized on the premise that all of mankind’s troubles would Read more
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National (FN) party in France, has been getting a lot of press lately. On Thursday, she made headlines when she deleted a tweet that “contained a photo of the decapitated body of James Foley, the American journalist who was killed by the Islamic State Read more
Martin Shkreli once tweeted that he “hates being in the news.” Unfortunately for him, being “the most hated man in America” tends to get you a lot of press coverage. The reviled “Pharma Bro” was arrested Thursday morning on fraud charges. He is accused of repeatedly losing money for investors and ly Read more
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir first became an item in October 1929. They were lifelong partners, but they didn’t give a fig about societal norms. They never married, never moved in together, and fell in love with other people. They were a powerful couple, writes Louis Menand in The New Yor Read more
Over 200 million Americans want to publish a book. Are you serving locavore brunch specials all day so you can toil away at your novel at night? Don’t throw in the towel yet. They may be regarded as literary titans now, but many of the world’s great writers struggled to make ends meet before they hi Read more
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution finally passed Congress in June 1919. On Election Day 1920, millions of American women headed to the polls for the first time. Here are 5 cartoons that prove how hard they had to fight for that right. Why? Because women’s suffrage clearly made a lot of peo Read more
The ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia, which was traditionally celebrated from December 17 through December 23, was, in some ways, very similar to the modern holiday season. People went to parties with friends and family, drank too much, and got a free pass to totally embarrass themselves. They al Read more
These historic figures didn’t spend Christmas Day opening presents on the couch. 1. Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor: On Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. The first title that Charlemagne is known to have used immediately after h Read more
1. King Henry IV of France: On July 1 1793, the National Convention issued a decree stating that all of the royal tombs in the Cathedral of Saint-Denis, the traditional burial place of French kings, were to be destroyed in honor of the anniversary of the French Republic. The first Bourbon king of Fr Read more
Are these laws still legal? That depends on whom you ask. We thought you should know about them anyway (just to be safe). 1. Don’t take home a sturgeon: The Royal Prerogative of 1324 clearly states: “The King shall have throughout the realm, whales and great sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere w Read more
We all know the phrase “history is written by the victors.” Until quite recently, history was also written almost exclusively by men, which means that women’s experiences in the past are often difficult to reconstruct. It’s no surprise, then, that many great historical novels are written from the pe Read more
Secrets are hard to keep, and secrets that require a lot of real estate are even harder to keep. Here are six examples of large-scale efforts that managed to maintain the utmost secrecy and wound up changing the course of history as a result: 1. The entire city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee Oak Ridge, T Read more

A Brief History of Labyrinths

Dec 10, 2015
Caroline Wazer - Staff Writer

You all know the myth of Athenian hero Theseus’ journey into the Labyrinth to kill the beastly Minotaur, right? Here’s a quick, beautifully animated version of the tale in case you need a refresher: But what exactly is a labyrinth in the first place? Below, we’ve compiled a whirlwind tour of the Read more
The Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Unfortunately, we haven’t always honored that promise. The Syrian refugee crisis may be dominating the headlines now, but there was a time when Americans were just as afraid of Irish, Italian, Read more
Historians have a lot in common with detectives: they have to have a keen eye for evidence, enough patience to avoid jumping to conclusions, and an obsession with getting to the bottom of things. It’s no mystery, then, that historical fiction featuring intrepid sleuths is perennially popular. The bo Read more
Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to find ridiculously awesome gifts for the history buffs in your life. Here are 10 must-have items your nearest and dearest never knew they needed. 1. Winston Churchill Toby Jug: Sometimes life calls for a Winston Churchill Toby Jug. This 1950s gem feat Read more
In a 1967 interview published in the Paris Review, Vladimir Nabokov was asked what he liked to do beside write. He answered without hesitation: Oh, hunting butterflies, of course, and studying them. The pleasures and rewards of literary inspiration are nothing beside the rapture of discovering a new Read more