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“Hen Fever”, as it became known during the Victorian Age, was an unprecedented obsession with owning, breeding, and showing the finest chickens in the world. The genesis of the poultry fancier owes much to Queen Victoria and her royal menagerie. In 1842, she acquired exotic chickens from China, and whatever the Queen did, the public would soon […]

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The Wreck of the Kite

Merchant sailor John Lee Scott was a shipwreck survivor of the Kite and endured a subsequent imprisonment by the Chinese during the Opium War. The Kite was a British brig providing supplies to the British fleet when it capsized near the Chusan islands. As survivors of the wreckage washed up near the port of Ningpo, they were captured by the […]

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For much of the early history the United States, wilderness was viewed as an adversary, something to tame and control for civilization to flourish. The evolutionary concept of wilderness as a cherished resource, something of great worth and benefit to citizens took many decades, only gaining momentum by the end of the 19th century. Some of the leading individuals who were […]

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The Comstock Act of 1873 inhibited publication, frank discussion, and dissenting attitudes toward sexuality, religion, marriage. One of its most outspoken adversaries was the physician and freethinker, Dr. Edward Bliss Foote, who challenged all obscenity legislation in Congress, state legislatures, and courts and also offered support to defendants in free speech cases. He campaigned against obscenity prosecutions, promoted […]

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Awnsham and John Churchill were influential and innovative early booksellers in England, providing the affluent with enhanced access to previously unavailable or untranslated works by some of the world’s most famous explorers, essayists, philosophers, and historians. One of their most successful publications was entitled, A collection of voyages and travels: some now first printed from original manuscripts, others now first published […]

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Knitting for Victory

While in England in 1915, awaiting her call to France as a nurse, Maud Churchill Nicoll was run over by an automobile. The serious accident left her an invalid, but she still devoted herself to the war effort in Europe through knitting, crocheting, and sewing clothing for the allied soldiers. With the help of her husband, Delancey Nicoll, a prominent New […]

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American interest in the Hawaiian islands began as early as the 1820s, when Christian missionaries from New England tried to spread their faith to the native inhabitants. By the 1850s, the booming sugar trade encouraged U.S. investment and territorial acquisition of sugar plantations on the islands. In 1890, the recently enacted U.S. tariffs greatly curtailed the sugar growers’ profit […]

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Engelbert Kaempfer (1651 – 1716) was a noted scientist, physician to the Dutch East India Company, and an enthusiastic traveler known for his tour of Russia, Persia, India, South-East Asia, and Japan between 1683 and 1693. He wrote two books about his travels, Amoenitatum Exoticarum, which was valued for his medical and botanical observations throughout Asia. His second, and more […]

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The Spanish-American War was the first U.S. war to implement still photography and motion picture film as essential media for recording the conflict. While the American Civil War was heavily photographed, the Spanish-American War saw an expansion of photographic formats to support a multitude of agendas, from primary documentation to systematic propaganda. Newspapers introduced provocative photojournalism as a way drum up […]

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For centuries, giving flowers or bouquets has always been a common way to convey sentiments, such as love, celebration, sorrow, etc. This practice seems to be universal and can be found in traditional cultures throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The application of this practice is often called floriography, where a particular meaning has been assigned to […]

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