September 30, 2011

September 30: Little Women Published, 1868

Little Women is one of the most beloved classics for young readers of all time.

Louisa May Alcott didn't want to write it.

Read article here.

Pictured: Photograph of Alcott at age 20.

September 29, 2011

September 29: Michaelmas

Today celebrates the Feast of St. Michael, the most militant of God's Archangels.

Of course, the holiday is also rich in pagan tradition.

Read article here.

Pictured: Michael defeating Satan. 17th century painting by Luca Giordano.

September 28, 2011

September 28: William I Invades England

To really understand the Norman Invasion, you have to go back about 50 years, to an early invasion.

It was 1016 when Cnut of Denmark took the English Throne.

Read article here.

Pictured: Illustration from the Bayeux Tapestry. Here, observers are pointing to the appearance of Halley's Comet, which coincided with the crowning of King Harold, and was believed to be an omen of bad luck.

September 27, 2011

September 27: Last Balinese Tiger Killed, 1937

The last Balinese Tiger was killed on September 27, 1937. It was the first subspecies of tiger to become extinct. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the last.

Read article here.

Pictured: Artist's depiction of the extinct Balinese tiger, by Eric Bajart.

September 26, 2011

September 26: August Mobius Dies, 1868

Augustus Mobius is best known for his discovery of the Mobius strip. As you can see in the picture above, a Mobius strip has only one side!

Read article here.

Pictured: Mobius strip. Illustration by David Benbennick, published on Wikimedia Commons under the GNU Free Documentation License.

September 25, 2011

September 25: National Chimney Safety Week

Chimney sweeping was a hazardous profession for little boys in Victorian England.

Read article here.

Pictured: Illustration of typical chimney flue system from 1834 edition of Mechanics Magazine, by Joseph Glass.

September 24, 2011

September 24: Faneuil Hall Opens, 1742

When Peter Faneuil offered to build Boston a marketplace, they weren't quite sure what to think. After debating it for days, the Town Council finally voted to approve it -- by a vote of 367 to 360.

Read article here.

Pictured: Grasshopper weather vane on the top of Faneuil Hall. It was installed on the first building in 1742. Photograph entered into the public domain by its creator, Sesmith, on Wikimedia Commons.

September 23, 2011

September 23: Typhoid Mary Born, 1869

Mary Mallon made dozens of people sick with typhoid and was responsible for three deaths. But she wasn't the only "healthy carrier" of the disease.

Why was Mary singled out?

Read article here.

Pictured: poster advocating healthy food preparation from the Otis Historical Archives National Museum of Health and Medicine.

September 22, 2011

September 22: Hobbit Day

As you may know, September 22nd is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. At the beginning of Lord of the Rings, Frodo was 33, and Bilbo was 111.

Read article here.

Pictured: Dust cover from the first edition of The Hobbit. Cover art was done by J. R. R. Tolkien.

September 21, 2011

September 21: Death of Chief Joseph, 1904

"I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." -- Chief Joseph, at surrender, 1877.

Read article here.

Pictured: photograph of Chief Joseph, by Frank Jay Haynes, published 1877.

September 20, 2011

September 20: Arthur Tudor Born, 1486

If he had lived to be King, things might have been quite different.

Read article here.

Pictured: portrait of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, c. 1500.

September 19, 2011

September 19: Giles Corey Pressed to Death, 1692

In Salem Village, 19 people were hanged during the witchcraft trials, and one was crushed to death. His name was Giles Corey.

Read his story here.

Pictured: Giles Corey's grave.

September 18, 2011

September 18: Charles Tiffany Opens an Emporium, 1837

Charles Tiffany borrowed $1,000 from his father and, in partnership with his friend, John Young, opened a store to sell stationery and gifts.

Who would have ever guessed it would become the foremost retail diamond establishment in the world?

Read article here.

Pictured: Charles Lewis Tiffany (on left) in the store's early days.

September 17, 2011

September 17: Joshua Norton Proclaimed U.S. Emperor, 1858

Every day he inspected the city streets, the sidewalks, and the street cars. The police saluted him. The restaurants fed him. San Francisco loved him.

Read article here.

Pictured: 19th century photograph of Emperor Norton, by either H. W. Bradley or William Rulofson. Posted on Wikimedia Commons.

September 16, 2011

September 16: Soviet Swimming Champion Saves Drowning Victims, 1976

Shavarsh Karapetyan had won 13 European Championships and 7 USSR Championships.

On September 16, 1976, he saved 20 people. He would never swim competitively again.

Read article here.

Pictured: the USSR Order of the Badge of Honor, one of the awards given to Shavarsh Karapetyan for his heroic act.

September 15, 2011

September 15: Arrest of Gilles de Rais, 1440

Gilles de Rais was a military hero, a compatriot of Joan of Arc, and a man of high repute.

Is it possible that he murdered 80 to 600 children on his estates?

Read article here.

Pictured: 19th century portrait of Gilles de Rais, by  Éloi Firmin Féron.

September 14, 2011

September 14: McKinley Dies of Assassin's Bullet, 1901

Leon Czolgosz was a self-proclaimed anarchist. He said he had killed the President for the sake of the people, and that he wasn't sorry for what he had done.

It didn't take long to convict him.

Read article here.

Pictured: artist's depiction of the McKinley shooting. Drawing by T. Dart Walker, 1905.

September 13, 2011

September 13: Phineas Gage Hurt on the Job

Phineas Gage was the foreman of a railway work crew when an accident threw a rod of steel completely through his skull.

That was nothing to what came afterwards.

Read article here.

Pictured: Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, from the photo collection of the Gage family of Texas. An identical image is owned by Phyllis Gage Hartley of New Jersey. Posted on Wikimedia Commons, as public domain image.

September 12, 2011

September 12: Braxton County Monster Sighted, 1952

Detractors said it was only a barn owl. But then there was the moving lights, the red glow, the awful smell....

Read story here.

Pictured: Photo of Barn Owl by Seraphimblade. Released into the public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

September 11, 2011

September 11: Santiago Saved by Conquistadora, 1541

Ines de Suarez had come to the New World to search for her husband. Instead she became the mistress of a conquistador, and a heroine to the  people of Santiago.

Read story here.

Pictured: 19th century painting by Jose Mercedes Ortega, of Ines de Suarez inspiring the troops.

September 10: Assassination of Elisabeth of Austria, 1898

She was one of the most beautiful women in Europe, but she certainly had an unhappy life.

Read story here.

Pictured: The Empress Elisabeth at the age of 30.

September 9, 2011

September 9: The Stono Slave Rebellion, 1739

The Security Act of 1739 would require all white males to take their weapons with them to church on Sundays. Unfortunately for them, that act would not go into effect until September 29th.

Read article here.

Photo by Benkos Bioho, published on Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.

September 8, 2011

September 8: The Galveston Hurricane of 1900

It was called the Storm of the Century, and with good reason. Even today, it's considered the most deadly natural disaster to have ever hit the United States.

Read article here.

Pictured: Galveston survivors searching for the dead. 1900 photograph by C. L. Wasson.

September 7, 2011

September 7: Grandma Moses Born, 1860

Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was 76, and her arthritis was too severe for her to continue her needlework.

Read article here.

Left: 1969 stamp honoring Grandma Moses.
Below: Photograph of Grandma Moses from 1953. Library of Congress.

September 6, 2011

September 6: Birth of Ivan V, 1666

He was the older brother of Peter the Great, but there were good reasons why he should never have been Tsar.

Read article here.

Pictured: Portrait of Ivan V.

September 5, 2011

September 5: Peter the Great Declares Tax on Beards, 1698

Peter the Great wanted to modernize Russian. But first he had to do something about all the scruffy types cluttering up his court.

Read article here.

Right: Peter the Great, portrait by Paul Delaroche, c. 1838.

Below: Old Style Boyar dress code. Portrait of Juan Carreno de Miranda, who lived about 1614-1685.

September 4, 2011

September 4: National Waffle Week

Waffles were invented by the Ancient Greeks, but it took the North Americans to add the maple syrup.

Read article here.

Pictured: Liege Waffles, a chewy, dense type of waffle. They contain pearl sugar, which caramelizes as they cook. Mmmmm, good.

September 3, 2011

September 3: Diane de Poitiers Born, 1499

She was the most beautiful woman in the world, and intelligent and cultured to boot. She maintained her beauty by drinking an elixir of gold -- which may well be what killed her.

Read article here.

Pictured: Portrait of Diane de Poitiers.

September 2, 2011

September 2: The Great Fire of London, 1666

The Great Fire of London burned for three days and destroyed most of the city. Many historians say that it only claimed four lives. Can that possibly be true?

Read article here.

Pictured: 17th century painting of the Great Fire, by unknown Dutch artist.

September 1, 2011

September 1: Last Passenger Pigeon Dies, 1914

Once flocks of passenger pigeons covered the skies of North America, darkening the skies for hours. By 1914 they were extinct.

How had we eradicated these birds from the earth -- and in less than 100 years?

Read article here.

Pictured: Watercolor by John James Audubon, c. 1838.