Alternative Fourth of July Activities

In many parts of the United States, Fourth of July celebrations will be (or at least, should be) a little different this year: no large crowds gathered together to ooh and ahh over fireworks, no hamburgers and hotdogs grilled at neighborhood barbecues and definitely no regiments marching around in powdered wigs. Fortunately, history is full Read More

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You: The Many Lives of Phoebe Hessel

Some lives were made for the silver screen. Phoebe Hessel (née Smith) is one of them. Spoiler alert: Her adventures as a British soldier in the 18th century took her to the West Indies and battlefields across Europe. However, her story doesn’t end there. After incomprehensible tragedy as a wife and mother, she went from Read More

Even More Nuggets from Norfolk

Unless you literally live under a rock, you know there’s nothing remotely funny in the news these days. Fortunately, thanks to the digitization efforts of the fine folks at the Foxearth and District Local History Society, we can laugh at someone else’s. While no era has a monopoly on tragedy, the 18th century gives any Read More

Lost and Found

My terrible sense of direction reared its ugly head, and I got horribly lost. It’s hard to put into words how awful this makes me feel. It isn’t really that I’m afraid I’ll never find my way (although I suppose that’s a tiny, irrational part), but the sense of helplessness and frustration it evokes. I Read More

18th-Century Public Service Announcement

On December 31, 1790, Captain Clement Lemon signed an unusual agreement with Boston merchant Thomas Ramsden. As a condition of captaining the Mary Ann on an upcoming voyage, the Revolutionary War veteran and—I like to believe—ancestor of the illustrious Liz Lemon promised: Be it Known; I Clement Lemon do hereby Agree to, and with, Thomas Read More

A Sampler of Courage, Part 3

Before reading, fortify yourself with Part 1 and Part 2. Already read them? En garde! After three free samples, if you don’t buy something, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. . . . Just kidding. According to my website stats, you’re the only ones here. Don’t move a muscle unless you’re scrolling Read More

A Sampler of Courage, Part 2

Before reading, fortify yourself with Part 1. Already read it? Full speed ahead! Whether you’re a roaring lion or a scaredy cat, welcome back to our survey of courageous people we admire and/or hope we don’t have to emulate anytime soon. Allow me to introduce you to a man who checks both of the above Read More

Summer of ’69

. . . 1769, that is. Sorry, Bryan Adams. If the Enlightenment-era botanist Sir Joseph Banks had a LinkedIn profile, he’d be the connection we’d block from our newsfeeds.  This distinguished-looking Englishman served as president of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for over four decades, was an influential proponent of settlement in Australia, sailed the Read More

Nuggets from Norfolk

Back by unpopular demand! This week, in response to calls from absolutely no one, I present the long-awaited sequel to Insults from Ipswich: Nuggets from Norfolk. Like the Ipswich Journal, the Norfolk Chronicle covered daily life in eastern England, beginning in the late 18th century. And as in Ipswich, the city of Norwich had plenty Read More

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