A Boring Page of the Gilded Age

One who reads this book through will have as rough a mental journey as his physical nature would undergo in riding over a corduroy road in an old stage-coach. It makes no pretension to either scholarship or elegant diction. – Ward McAllister, Society as I Have Found It, 1890 No, dear readers, that is not Read More

5 Times Love Didn’t Conquer All

Here at Second Glance History, it’s tradition at this time of year to share stories of love overcoming insurmountable obstacles, again and again. But in the immortal words of Patty Smyth and Don Henley, sometimes, love just ain’t enough. I’m not alone in having learned that the hard way. Patty and Don may not have Read More

Florida Man

As longtime readers know, I like to do my research before I board the plane, and my upcoming visit to the Sunshine State is no different. However, instead of focusing on the sights and cuisine, this time around, I’m learning about the locals. Specifically, Florida Man. For the uninitiated, Wikipedia explains Florida Man as “an Read More

How to Break a World Record

With a little help from Second Glance History, anyone can travel, pickpocket, write, eat healthfully, break a lease, pull off a practical joke, be a Good Samaritan and even become a juvenile delinquent. But do you know what takes real talent? Breaking a world record. Happily, I’m here to help you with that as well. Read More

The Good Samaritan

Here at Second Glance History, I’m starting the year off with a celebration of strangers who help those in need—most especially an angelic lady named Ali, who was in the right place at the right time to rescue a certain silly blogger who got in over her head in the Pacific Ocean last month. As Read More

Home Alone

‘Tis the season for not only reindeer, grinches and magical snowmen but also fearless children, negligent parents and dumb thieves. “Home Alone” may not be the first Christmas movie that comes to mind, but it turns out there’s a long and storied tradition of children left alone around the holidays matching wits against would-be robbers. Read More

No Fairy Godmother, No Glass Slipper, No Problem

Once upon a time in a not-so-faraway land, there lived a young lady. . . “Pretty Anna” is the name by which everyone knew the beautiful Bohemian Anna Witkower, who for many months was a chambermaid at the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago. . . It’s not the most creative moniker, but it’s better than “Cinderella,” Read More

Count Your Blessings

After a whirlwind year, we’re fast approaching yet another holiday season that’s not quite normal. But one thing that hasn’t changed? Documents from the 19th and 20th centuries continue to be a cornucopia of 21st-century Thanksgiving blog post fodder. (Most especially those from Chicago’s renowned Newberry Library, to which I’m exceedingly grateful for digitizing, transcribing Read More

Corney Grain’s Refrains

When you’re born with the name “Richard Corney Grain,” you’re destined for either greatness or ridicule. In the case of the 19th-century British entertainer, he found a bit of both. My unfortunate name is likewise the subject of much controversy. My parents played a very bad practical joke on me when they gave me the Read More

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