History

In the spring of 1900, twenty-four years after Alexander Graham Bell introduced the telephone, a Danish inventor named Valdemar Poulsen unveiled the “telegraphone” at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. It was an engineering marvel—Poulsen recorded sound on a wire using nothing but a magnet, similar to the principle that underlies computer hard drives—and it was
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Nina Allender saw herself as a painter. But after women’s rights activist Alice Paul visited her in 1913, she shifted focus, beginning a lengthy tenure as a cartoonist for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage’s flagship publication, The Suffragist. The painter-turned-cartoonist’s creations depicted suffragists as stylish young women patiently waiting for their rights—a portrayal starkly
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Archaeologists excavating a site in Salango, Ecuador, have discovered evidence of a burial ritual that might even make Indiana Jones shiver. As the researchers report in the journal Latin American Antiquity, excavations at a pair of 2,100-year-old funerary mounds revealed several unusual sets of remains: namely, the skeletons of two infants wearing what appear to
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Q: What purpose do mosquitoes serve? — Lana Carlton | Bradenton, Florida While they can seem pointless and purely irritating to us humans, mosquitoes do play a substantial role in the ecosystem. Mosquitoes form an important source of biomass in the food chain—serving as food for fish as larvae and for birds, bats and frogs
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In semi-darkness, I make my way down a tunnel-like corridor, treading barefoot on the cold stone floor. Fifty figurines of the Buddha, five feet tall and remarkably lifelike, flank one side of the vaulted chamber, eyes cast downward in contemplation, each painted face subtly individuated—broad or slender noses, smiles or frowns, chins pointed or rounded.
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Nov. 15, 2019, 3:45 p.m. Jeff Edwards’ primary school teacher had just started the day’s math lesson when an ominous rumble sounded in the distance. “The next thing I remember was waking up,” he later recalled. “My right foot was stuck in the radiator and there was water pouring out of it. My
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Historians remember September 1781 as the month the Continental Army began its last major land battle, bolstering the rebel Americans’ morale and breaking Britain’s will to fight. But something more prosaic happened that month when 13-year-old Betsy Bucklin sat down with needle and thread to work on her sampler. She was not alone: Countless girls
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Nov. 15, 2019, 11:29 a.m. A few weeks after her June 17, 1943, wedding, a young Jewish artist named Charlotte Salomon entrusted her friend and doctor, Georges Moridis, with a trove of carefully wrapped papers. “Keep these safe,” she said. “They are my whole life.” Salomon’s directive was far from an exaggeration. As
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Some ancient Egyptian tombs contain millions of mummified ibises, or hook-billed shorebirds sacrificed in honor of the ibis-headed god Thoth. The origins of these avian mummies have long been unclear, but now, a new genetic survey published in the journal PLoS ONE suggests the vast majority of sacrificial birds came from the wild. Archaeologists had
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SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Nov. 13, 2019, 4 p.m. Election Day in 2019 didn’t involve any high-profile House or Senate or Presidential seats up for the taking, but it could have historic consequences. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, voters handed Democrats control of both its statehouse chambers. As a result, the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) stands a
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Every art history student knows the names Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer. But today, these men’s female contemporaries—among others, Judith Leyster, Maria Sibylla Merian and Magdalena van de Passe—remain little-known, their contributions to the Golden Age of Dutch Painting overlooked in favor of presenting a male-dominated artistic canon. Now, an exhibition at the National
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