Feature

In Pursuit of Pith

Flowers formed from pith paper captured the imagination of British society in the 19th century, sparking a search for the elusive ‘rice paper’ plant.

The Death of an Emperor

With the US riven by civil war, Napoleon III seized the opportunity to install an emperor in Mexico. The new regime soon fell apart in a catastrophic manner.

Learning Japanese

Official secrecy and institutional rivalry obscured the achievements of two crash programmes hastily launched to teach Japanese during the Second World War. 

Fake Views

The 19th-century craze for spiritualism ‘resurrected’ the dead through manipulated photography, a practice that boomed with the trauma caused by war – though it was not without its sceptics.

Saving Face

The Renaissance face provided clues about the wealth and health of its owner. Those who had been disfigured were often mistreated, but to alter one’s appearance carried a stigma of its own. 

Crime in the City of Brotherly Love

At its founding, Pennsylvania had one of the most tolerant criminal law systems in the world, but by the middle of the 18th century its capital Philadelphia was a ‘hell of the officials and preachers’.

A Woman’s Place

Work was once deemed suitable for women only until they married. And it was not just men who thought that should be the case.

The French Connection

The aim of Charles I’s foreign policy was to restore his nephew’s lands in the Rhineland. France, he thought, was the key to success. 

A ‘Creative Microhistory’ of a Medieval Manor

The distant past is not often illustrated with plentiful descriptions of everyday life. Instead, the picture has to be put together from different sources, piece by piece, like a jigsaw. But there are often still gaps, which can be filled with historically informed creativity.