‘With All Deliberate Speed’: Brown v. Board and the End of Racial School Segregation

White citizens in the South organized a “Massive Resistance” campaign against integration. A Segregated Society An 1896 Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, had declared “separate but equal” Jim Crow segregation legal. The Plessy ruling asserted that so long as purportedly “equal” accommodations were supplied for African Americans, the races could, legally, be separated. In[…]

A History of Racial Segregation in the United States

De facto segregation continues today because of both contemporary behavior and the historical legacy of de jure segregation. Introduction Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, refers to the segregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation in the United States along racial lines. The[…]

Caribbean Histories: Early Migration to Slavery to 20th-Century Transitions

Introduction From the start of European expansion into the Atlantic world, Britain fought other powers for territory in the Caribbean and many islands became part of the British Empire. The region experienced near eradication and expulsion of its indigenous populations by European powers. It was also on the receiving end of the largest enforced migration[…]

A History of Abolitionism in the Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

The worldwide movement against slavery (still not entirely eliminated) can be seen as a coming of age for humanity. Introduction Abolitionism (from “abolish”) was a political movement in late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that sought to end the practice of slavery and the worldwide slave trade. Its chief impetus came from Protestantism, as most abolitionists,[…]

Slavery before the Trans-Atlantic Trade

Almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders at some point in their histories. Introduction Various forms of slavery, servitude, or coerced human labor existed throughout the world before the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the sixteenth century. As historian David Eltis explains, “almost all peoples have been both slaves and slaveholders[…]

Algorithms Associating Criminality and Appearance Have a Dark Past

In some cases, the explicit goal of these technologies is to deny opportunities to those deemed unfit. ‘Phrenology’ has an old-fashioned ring to it. It sounds like it belongs in a history book, filed somewhere between bloodletting and velocipedes. We’d like to think that judging people’s worth based on the size and shape of their[…]

The Beast of Gévaudan: Hyperbole and Supernatural Hype in 18th-Century France

While the creature’s name remained simple, its reputation soon grew extremely complex. This article, The Beast of Gévaudan (1764–1767), was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ In the 1760s, nearly three hundred people were killed in a remote region of south-central[…]

Elizabeth I and the Power of Image

Elizabeth I engage in a memorable invention of herself as a legend in her own lifetime. Introduction Aware of the power of appearances, Elizabeth I of England (r. 1558-1603 CE) carefully controlled her image throughout her reign and through costume, hair, jewellery, and art, she presented herself as the great Virgin Queen. Like a goddess[…]

The Ancient Roman Republic’s Adoption of Rhetoric

In Cicero’s Rome, the government eventually came under the control of a well-trained ruling class. Introduction As Athens declined in power, a new force emerged, the Roman Republic. The Senate was the only permanent governing body and the only body where debate was possible. In order to debate, one had to know the persuasive art[…]

Block Party: The African-American Art of Archibald Motley

Archibald Motley painted African Americans having a good time. Archibald Motley (1891–1981) was born in New Orleans and lived and painted in Chicago most of his life. But because his subject was African-American life, he’s counted by scholars among the artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Many of Motley’s favorite scenes were inspired by good times[…]

Charles Darwin’s Effect on Charles Loring Brace and 19th-Century Social Reform

The evolution of a reformer. Sometimes a book can change a life. In December 1859, a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Speciesarrived from across the Atlantic and almost immediately began to change the lives of those who read it. The book was addressed to Asa Gray, the Harvard botanist who soon became Darwin’s most influential[…]

Sacred Street Theater in Medieval England

Doomsday, 1433. In York, after dark. A red curtain. Painted stars. Actors in hoses, wigs, and two-faced masks—some in angel wings, some with trumpets. Wooden clouds and pieces of rainbow, and an iron frame with pulleys meant to effect Christ’s movements between Heaven and Earth. a “hell mouth” billowing smoke and the smell of sulfur.[…]

Gender Roles in 19th-Century Victorian Patriarchy

From marriage and sexuality to education and rights, looking at attitudes towards gender in 19th-century Britain. Introduction During the Victorian period men and women’s roles became more sharply defined than at any time in history. In earlier centuries it had been usual for women to work alongside husbands and brothers in the family business. Living[…]

Masculine Ideals of Dress in the Nineteenth Century

During the nineteenth century, the dress of men differed markedly from that of the previous century. Introduction While the skill of a portrait artist is often judged by whether or not the work resembles the sitter, a portrait may also reveal something about the sitter as well as fashionable norms of the time. What does[…]

The Great Occidental Schism: Division in the Catholic Church, 1378-1417

The affair is sometimes referred to as the Great Schism, but this term is typically reserved for the more enduring East–West Schism of 1054. Introduction The Western Schism, also called Papal Schism, Great Occidental Schism and Schism of 1378, was a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417[1] in which two men[…]

Guelphs vs. Ghibellines: Medieval Division between Papal and Imperial Support

The division between the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy, fueled by the imperial Great Interregnum, persisted until the 15th century. Introduction The Guelphs and Ghibellines were factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in the Italian city-states of central and northern Italy. During the 12th and 13th centuries, rivalry between these two[…]

Missteps in Hamburg during the 1892 Cholera Outbreak

The German city-state was run by merchant families who put trade and economy above residents’ welfare. As British scholar Richard Evans researched the history of pandemics for a book more than 30 years ago, he was struck by the uniformity of how governments from different cultures and different historical periods responded. “Almost every epidemic you[…]

The First Cholera Epidemic in St. Petersburg, 1823

The wide dissemination of the disease was brought about by the poor sanitary conditions of the city. By Kseniya Barabanova In 1823, a new disease—cholera—visited the Russian Empire for the first time. It was initially discovered in the south of the Empire, in Astrakhan. In 1830, the epidemic broke out in Moscow, and it reached[…]

Visions of Paradise: Manuscripts and Gems from Medieval India and Europe

Empires in the Indian subcontinent shared intertwined histories with principalities to the west such as the Greeks and Romans. Introduction The word “paradise” often describes an idyllic place of unmatched beauty, but it can also refer to a mindset of harmony and bliss. Several world religions share these conceptions of paradise, but the paths for[…]