Cotton Mather, the Salem Witch Trials, and Our Miserable Present 

A few days after the election, I attended a panel on witch hunts. It felt appropriate—after all, this was the year of “Lock her up” and “Trump that bitch,” when a topless Hillary Clinton effigy was hung atop a crane in Oregon and individual members of the media were targeted and harassed. In the month following Donald…

How One Group of Progressive Era Women Fought (and Failed) to End Gratuitous Christmas Consumerism

Long before the days of Jingle All the Way and dads punching each other over Shopkins play sets, a group of New York socialites and philanthropists formed the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving—or SPUG—to quell the rampant consumerism that had claimed Christmas around the turn-of-the-century.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hidden Treasures of Charlotte Bronte

“In Memory of Charlotte Nicholls,” the plainly printed, black and white memorial card from 1855 reads. The card, which is included at the end of the Morgan Library and Museums’s exhibition, “Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will,” is almost startling to see, a simple reminder that the author of some of English…

Letter From Henry VIII Longing for Anne Boleyn's 'Pritty Duckys' Is Too Hot for the Vatican 

The Vatican archives are immense and mysterious and contain, along with one can only assume the real truth about aliens, letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. A BBC show has been granted unprecedented access to film those letters—as long as they didn’t include the one where he praises her “pritty Duckys.” By which…

People Will Keep Passing Marilyn Monroe's 'Happy Birthday Mr. President' Dress Until We're All Dead

The iconic garment worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang breathily to John F. Kennedy in 1962 has been in the possession of a hedge fund manager named Martin Zweig since 1999. He paid $1.26 million at the Christie’s auction for it, regarding the dress as an investment and storing it in a climate-controlled room on a…