Articles From This Author
Joe Namath spurns NFL to sign record deal with AFL's New York Jets
On January 2, 1965, quarterback Joe Namath spurns the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals to sign with the American Football League’s New York Jets. The contract, reportedly for $427,000, is the most lucrative signed by a rookie in any sport. The deal with Namath, a star at the University ...read more
Rutgers beats Princeton in first college football game
On November 6, 1869, Rutgers beats Princeton, 6-4, in the first college football game. The game, played with a soccer ball before roughly 100 fans in New Brunswick, New Jersey, resembles rugby instead of today's football. Even off the playing fields, the rivalry between the New ...read more
Bobby Fischer becomes the first American to win the World Chess Championship
On September 1, 1972, in what’s billed as the “Match of the Century,” American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer defeats Russian Boris Spassky during the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. In the world’s most publicized title match ever played, Fischer, a 29-year-old ...read more
UFO Investigations: Revealing Documents from HISTORY's 'Unidentified'
From Episode 1: Resignation letter of Luis Elizondo Why did Luis Elizondo, director of the Pentagon's hush-hush program investigation UAPs, or unidentified aerial phenomena, step down from his post? "It was because of my allegiance to the Department of Defense and the American ...read more
How Sexual Assault Has Been Portrayed—or Erased—Throughout History
Nearly as long as people have been recording history, they have documented sexual assaults. From the writings of ancient Greece to the Bible to the letters of early explorers, sexual violence has long been a brutal part of the human story. Some assaults have even changed the ...read more
Marie Curie: Facts About the Pioneering Chemist
• Curie was born Maria Sklodowska in Warsaw, Poland, to schoolteacher parents of modest means who encouraged their children’s educational aspirations. Determined to pursue a scientific career, Marie struck a deal with her sister Bronya, agreeing to fund Bronya’s medical degree in ...read more
Music Legends Who Lived Fast and Died at 27
The untimely deaths of famous musicians at age 27 may be coincidence, but it is tragic coincidence. The mythology of the 27 Club gained prominence with the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 since he died at the same age as iconic rock musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin ...read more
Outbreak of World War I
Europe by 1914 Almost exactly a century before, a meeting of the European states at the Congress of Vienna had established an international order and balance of power that lasted for almost a century. By 1914, however, a multitude of forces were threatening to tear it apart. The ...read more
Chinese Exclusion Act
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. Many Americans on the West Coast attributed declining wages and economic ills to Chinese workers. Although the Chinese composed only .002 percent of the ...read more
8 Times America’s War on Drugs Was Stranger Than Fiction
When the United States first launched the “War on Drugs” in the mid-20th century, not even the cleverest conspiracy theorists could have imagined the far-reaching consequences the campaign would have around the world. From the CIA allowing drug traffickers to flourish in exchange ...read more
Was King Arthur a real person?
We’ve all heard stories about King Arthur of Camelot, who according to medieval legend led British forces (including his trusted Knights of the Round Table) in battle against Saxon invaders in the early sixth century. But was King Arthur actually a real person, or simply a hero ...read more
9 FBI Fast Facts
1. Thanks to J. Edgar Hoover, FBI directors are now term-limited. Hoover landed his first job with the Department of Justice in 1917 at just 22 and by 1924 had become the head of the FBI’s forerunner, the Bureau of Investigation. When Hoover died at 77, he had spent 48 years—62 ...read more
The Biggest Snow Storms in US History
March 11-14, 1888 More than 120 winters have come and gone since the so-called “Great White Hurricane,” but this whopper of a storm still lives in infamy. After a stretch of rainy but unseasonably mild weather, temperatures plunged and vicious winds kicked up, blanketing the East ...read more
This Year in HISTORY: 2015
1. Seventy years after the end of World War II, we commemorated the Allies’ final push to Berlin and the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, explored Mussolini’s final hours, looked back at how the world celebrated V-E Day, met a Japanese engineer who survived two atomic bombs, and ...read more
8 Things You Should Know About the Bill of Rights
1. Why was the Bill of Rights tacked onto the Constitution just three years after its ratification in June 1788? Essentially, anti-Federalist delegates objected to the proposed draft, arguing that it provided a framework for a new centralized government but failed to safeguard ...read more
7 People Suspected of Being Jack the Ripper
Carl Feigenbaum According to one hypothesis, proposed by a retired English detective, Jack the Ripper was a German sailor named Carl Feigenbaum who was executed for murdering a New York woman in 1894. The detective, Trevor Marriott, a former member of the Bedfordshire homicide ...read more
Was Sherlock Holmes based on a real person?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective with the knack for solving crimes through observation and reason was modeled after Dr. Joseph Bell, one of Conan Doyle’s medical school professors. Conan Doyle, born in Scotland in 1859, studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh ...read more
Who invented basketball?
Basketball is the only major American sport with a clearly identifiable inventor. James Naismith wrote the sport’s original 13 rules as part of a December 1891 class assignment at a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Born and ...read more
History’s Great Romantics
1. Sappho Much uncertainty surrounds the life story of the celebrated Greek lyric poet Sappho, a woman Plato called “the tenth Muse.” Born around 610 B.C. on the island of Lesbos, now part of Greece, she was said to have been married to Cercylas, a wealthy man. Many legends have ...read more
6 Secrets of King Tut
1. There is no curse of King Tut. When Carter first entered King Tut’s lost tomb in November 1922, his financial backer George Herbert—a wealthy lord with a passion for Egyptology—was at his side. Four months later, Herbert died of apparent blood poisoning from an infected ...read more
5 U.S. Presidents Who Taught School
1. John Adams When John Adams graduated from Harvard College in 1755, the 19-year-old Massachusetts native found himself at a crossroads. As a child, he’d considered formal education tiresome and yearned to be like his father, a farmer. Now, however, he was torn between the ...read more
Secret Agents in Hoop Skirts: Women Spies of the Civil War
1. Rose Greenhow Known from a young age as “Wild Rose,” Rose O’Neal Greenhow ascended the ranks of Washington, D.C., society as the wife of a wealthy and prominent doctor. Her charmed life took a tragic turn in the 1850s, when her husband and five of their eight children died. In ...read more
7 Unusual Myths and Theories About the Moon
1. Full moons make you crazy. Since ancient times, full moons have been associated with odd or insane behavior, including sleepwalking, suicide, illegal activity, fits of violence and, of course, transforming into werewolves. Indeed, the words “lunacy” and “lunatic” come from ...read more
10 Things You Didn’t Know About William Shakespeare
1. Shakespeare’s father held a lot of different jobs, and at one point got paid to drink beer. The son of a tenant farmer, John Shakespeare was nothing if not upwardly mobile. He arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1551 and began dabbling in various trades, selling leather goods, ...read more
How the Ancients Celebrated the Longest Day of the Year
Ancient Greeks According to certain iterations of the Greek calendar—they varied widely by region and era—the summer solstice was the first day of the year. Several festivals were held around this time, including Kronia, which celebrated the agriculture god Cronus. The strict ...read more
5 Great Mummy Discoveries
1. Ginger Nicknamed for its red hair, “Ginger” is the most famous of six naturally mummified bodies excavated in the late 19th century from shallow graves in the Egyptian desert. It went on display at the British Museum in 1901, becoming the first mummy to be exhibited in public, ...read more
Was Dracula a real person?
Published in 1897, Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel “Dracula” launched an entire genre of literature and film about vampires, those sinister figures who use their supernatural powers to hunt humans and drink their blood. To create his immortal antihero, Count Dracula, Stoker certainly ...read more
Where did poker originate?
The game we know as poker is believed to have ancient roots that go back nearly 1,000 years, crossing several continents and cultures. Some historians say poker’s origins can be traced to a domino-card game played by a 10th-century Chinese emperor; others claim it is a descendant ...read more
Who built the first automobile?
It’s hard to credit a single person with inventing the automobile. Not only did an estimated 100,000 patents lead to cars as we know them, but people also disagree on what qualifies as the first true automobile. For historians who think that early steam-powered road vehicles fit ...read more
Did Abraham Lincoln predict his own death?
Ward Hill Lamon—Abraham Lincoln’s former law partner, friend and sometime bodyguard—told a famous story about the 16th U.S. president’s premonition of his own death. According to the tale, just a few days before his assassination on April 14, 1865, Lincoln shared a recent dream ...read more
Did Marie-Antoinette really say “Let them eat cake”?
It’s one of the most famous quotes in history. At some point around 1789, when being told that her French subjects had no bread, Marie-Antoinette (bride of France’s King Louis XVI) supposedly sniffed, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.” With that callous remark, ...read more
The President’s Speech, From First Draft to Delivery
Why did you decide to undertake this project? Presidential speeches are direct communications between the nation’s chief executive and the people of the country. They articulate policy and distill the president’s beliefs, and as such they literally make history. Since the ...read more
What happened to the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke?
The origins of one of the America’s oldest unsolved mysteries can be traced to August 1587, when a group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White, governor of the new ...read more
Did any of the Romanovs survive?
In the early morning hours of July 17, 1918, Czar Nicholas II—the last monarch of the Romanov dynasty, which ruled Russia for 304 years—was reportedly executed along with his wife, Alexandra, and their five children by their Bolshevik captors in the basement of a house in ...read more
Why is the Liberty Bell cracked?
In 1751, the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly—part of the state’s colonial government—paid around 100 pounds for a large bell to hang in its new State House (later known as Independence Hall). Cast at London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the bell arrived in Philadelphia in August ...read more
Was Jack the Ripper a woman?
One of history’s oldest unsolved mysteries is the identity of Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who stalked and murdered at least five women in London’s East End in 1888. The brutality of the Ripper’s crimes—as well as Scotland Yard’s failure to solve the case—caused a ...read more
Did anyone ever escape from Alcatraz?
During its nearly 30 years of operation (from 1934 to 1963), the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay housed some of America’s most notorious felons, including gangsters Al “Scarface” Capone and murderer Robert Stroud, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz.” Dubbed ...read more
Remembering the First US Olympic Team
Fourteen athletes. Eleven Olympic championships. That’s an astounding performance, isn’t it? You said it. The American team left for Athens amid complete indifference from the U.S. public and without the support of either amateur athletic officials or even their colleges. Thrown ...read more
A Daredevil History of Niagara Falls
1678 Franciscan monk and explorer Louis Hennepin becomes the first European explorer to encounter Niagara Falls. Impressed, Hennepin estimates the falls to be an incredible 600 feet high—though in reality they rise 170 feet. Summer 1859 Jean François Gravelet-Blondin, known as ...read more
Organ Transplants: A Brief History
Early History Ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese myths feature fanciful accounts of transplants performed by gods and healers, often involving cadavers or animals. While these tales are considered apocryphal, by 800 B.C. Indian doctors had likely begun grafting skin—technically the ...read more
Groundhog Day: History and Facts
The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The annual ritual has roots in pre-Christian traditions and was brought to the U.S. by German immigrants. The Beginning of Spring and Candlemas Falling midway between the ...read more
The Tuskegee Airmen: 5 Fascinating Facts
1. The Tuskegee Airmen once shot down three German jets in a single day. On March 24, 1944, a fleet of P-51 Mustangs led by Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, commander of the Tuskegee airmen, set out on the longest escort mission their crews would fly during World War II. The 43 ...read more
Popcorn Was Popular in Ancient Peru, Discovery Suggests
People in what is now Peru were eating popcorn as early as 6,700 years ago, according to researchers. Telltale traces of their snacking habits—ancient cobs, husks, stalks and tassels—were recently unearthed at Paredones and Huaca Prieta, two coastal sites that were once home to ...read more
New Year’s History: Festive Facts
What does “Auld Lang Syne” mean, and why do we sing the song at midnight on New Year’s Eve? “Auld Lang Syne,” the title of a Scottish folk song that many English speakers sing at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, roughly translates to “days gone by.” The poet Robert Burns ...read more
Freddie Mercury & Other Celebrities Who Raised AIDS Awareness
Freddie Mercury Considered one of the greatest rock singers of all time, Freddie Mercury—born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar in 1946—fronted the influential British band Queen from 1970 until his death. He composed many of the group’s chart-topping hits, including “Bohemian ...read more
10 Famous Art Heists
Mona Lisa Leaves the Louvre (1911) On August 21, 1911, an amateur painter set up his easel near the spot where Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”—one of the most famous works of art in the world—hung in the Louvre. To his surprise, the mysterious woman with the haunting half-smile ...read more
People Rumored to Have Survived Their Deaths
1. Butch Cassidy According to the traditional narrative, the American train and bank robber Butch Cassidy, leader of the Old West gang known as the Wild Bunch, died in a hail of bullets in Bolivia in 1908. But rumors that the notorious bandit (who is seated on the far right in ...read more
The Music Video, Before Music Television
1895: The “first” music video is filmed at Thomas Edison’s studio The oldest known film with music was made for the Kinetophone, a device developed by Thomas Edison’s lab that showed moving pictures and was also fitted out with a phonograph. In the film, its inventor, William ...read more
The Best and Worst Dads of All Time
1. Charlemagne King of the Franks and emperor of the Romans in the late eight and early ninth centuries, Charlemagne had 20 children, some with wives and others with concubines. He insisted that they all receive a thorough education, including the girls. When one of his sons, ...read more
A Taste of Lobster History
• When the first European settlers reached North America, lobsters were so plentiful that they would reportedly wash ashore in piles up to 2 feet high. Their bounty made them a precious source of sustenance during hard times—and gave them a nasty reputation as the poor man’s ...read more