Bread Farmers

history farming countryside


Subsistence farmers generally do not do this. Remember, the goal is not to maximize profit, but to avoid family destruction through starvation. If you only farm one crop (the best' one) and you get too little rain or too much, or the temperature is wrong that crop fails and the family starves. But if you farm several different crops, that mitigates the risk of any particular crop failing due to climate conditions, or blight (for the Romans, the standard combination seems to have been a mix of wheat, barley and beans, often with grapes or olives besides; there might also be a small garden space.

The London floor plan

uk housing cities history architecture


For a city that’s long been the repository of vast commercial, imperial, and industrial wealth, this might seem a very modest template. However, it is one that can be easily scaled up, points out Edward Denison, associate professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture and author of The Life of the British Home: An Architectural History. “What’s extraordinary, in London in particular, is that you can find very grand houses in places such as Carlton House Terrace, with vast rooms and very high ceilings, that are still essentially two-up, two-downs with extra floors added,” says Denison.

British Slave Businesses

race justice history uk


The history of Greene King gives a glimpse into some of these entanglements. Benjamin Greene started off as an apprentice to the leading brewing firm Whitbread in London, and would go on to inherit estates in the island of St Kitts, becoming one of many absentee slave owners living off their Caribbean property. Once emancipation happened he was one of the 4,000 people in Britain (20% of whom were women) who received compensation.

Off-Road Land Trains

engineering history


By 1954, with the Cold War well underway, the U.S. government realized the quickest way to get a nuclear bomber from Russia to America was to go right over the Arctic Circle. If we wanted any chance of preventing a nuclear apocalypse, we needed to know if Soviet bombers were crossing the North Pole as soon as possible. The Army planned to build 63 manned radar stations in the high Arctic around the 69th parallel (200 miles north of the Arctic circle) as a result.

Larry Kramer, Public Nuisance

history lgbtq


“I will never forget the day that article appeared in the Native,'' Tony Kushner told me not long ago. In 1993, Kushner received a Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America, which addressed the impact of AIDS on American society. “I was in graduate school at N.Y.U. in 1983, and I was in the second-floor lounge in the directing department. Stephen Spinella, who went on to perform the lead role of Prior Walter in Kushner’s dark epic, was sitting across from him on a sofa.

All the history I learned in my youth came from the American Girl doll books

education history


I have no recollection of the books' literary merits, but I still remember that Kirsten, whose family immigrated to Minnesota from Sweden, lost her best friend to cholera, had to ride out a snowstorm in a cave with the frozen body of a fur-trapper, and then saw her family’s house burned down by the baby raccoon she rescued (Changes for Kirsten, indeed!). — All the history I learned in my youth came from the American Girl doll books, Jessie Gaynor in LitHub

When Manhattan Was Mannahatta: A Stroll Through the Centuries

cities history


Q: Aside from Hudson’s ship, what do we see? A: Whales and porpoises. One of the earliest sketches we have of Manhattan shows a whale in the Hudson River. The charter of Trinity Church includes a provision specifically saying dead whales found on beaches in the province of New York are property of the church, which could use them to make oil and whale bone. So whales were clearly a meaningful part of the local economy and ecosystem.

When Oil Derricks Ruled the L.A. Landscape

cities history


Through much of the 20th century, oil derricks towered over homes, schools, golf courses, and even orange groves across the Los Angeles Basin, once among the nation’s top-oil producing regions. Beginning in 1892, when Edward L. Doheny and his associates opened the region’s first free-flowing well, each new strike would quickly attract a cluster of the wooden structures, which supported the drills that bored deep into the Southland’s sedimentary strata.

How a French Midwife Solved a Public Health Crisis

literature history


Du Coudray knew many of her students were illiterate, so she created her book in a way that could be understood whether or not you could read. The colorful images depict the mother’s pelvis and some associated soft tissues and the descending infant, presented as if you were looking through the skin and fat and seeing only the necessary bones and reproductive parts. Also illustrated are the midwife’s hands and how they should be positioned.