Apple of My Eye: Lead Pesticide Use in 1920s Orchards

Over the Christmas holiday, I unearthed a small journal with a heavily damaged tooled vegetable-tanned leather cover. Within were pre-printed dated pages with intermittent journal entries by my great-grandfather Hugh Ross Stephens, the Orchardist (according to the 1940 census) at … Continue reading

Death By Green: Arsenic Poisoning

The Bata Shoe Museum’s current exhibition Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century exposes the dangers in the manufacture and wearing of many fashion trends of the past. One trend, a beautiful green dye used in the … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday: NYC Department of Records Photo Archive and the Williamsburg Bridge Streetcar

The incredible site that is the NYC Department of Records Photo Archive showcases the grit and mechanics of the 20th century city. Some of the photographs are iconic, such as If you go, use the classification tree on the left. … Continue reading

Museum Monday – Chester County Historical Society

In addition to Swarthmore College’s Friends Historical Library, Wednesday also took me to the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania. This is local history at its best – and very well-supported. CCHS has a complex in West Chester’s … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday – Humans in Pneumatic Tubes!

Dr. V sent me a link to a CNN article on Elon Musk’s new transportation adventure, supporting ET3 in creating the Hyperloop – a transcontinental pneumatic tube that will deliver you from New York to Los Angeles in 45 minutes. … Continue reading

Happy 150th Belated Birthday London Tube!

I never was any good at remembering birthdays. Yesterday was the London Underground’s 150th birthday. That’s right – the Tube began services on January 9, 1863 with a 3.5 mile steam-powered journey between Paddington and Farringdon. Read more about the … Continue reading

Should We Feel Sorry for Twinkies?

Twinkies. I’ve had a few. I’ve had more pink Snowballs and Suzy-Q’s than Twinkies. I was mildly horrified and fascinated to watch Anthony Bourdain eat embalmed fructose syrup used to make Twinkie filling out of the pipes of Zubal Books, … Continue reading

A Visit to the Drugstore, 1786

Halloween’s passed us by, but here’s a tale of horror from the late eighteenth century: a visit to the drugstore. This advertisement appeared in The Maryland Journal on August 11, 1786. Particularly note the “Calomel, and all other well-prepared Mercuries” … Continue reading

Wanderlust Wednesday: The Johnstown Inclined Plane

People generally know one thing about Johnstown, PA: the flood. The Johnstown Flood National Memorial is located on the rim of the former recreational lake that burst on May 31, 1899 and spilled 20 million tons of water into the town … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday: A Moment on the Baltimore and Ohio

I was inspired by this salted paper print from the 1850s of people posing for a photograph on a Baltimore and Ohio engine. I thought about the women in their stays and hoops, and wondered if they were boosted up … Continue reading