Sheet-music cover, circa 1836.

The Music I Love Is a Racial Minefield

How I learned to fiddle my way through America's deeply troubling history.
“Caught in the Act”: Santa sits atop a chimney (1900)

Naughty & Nice: A History of the Holiday Season

Tracing the evolution of Christmas from a drunken carnival to the peaceful, family-oriented, consumeristic ritual we celebrate today.
First commercially produced Christmas card, 1843.

A Brief History of the Holiday Card

Americans purchase approximately 1.6 billion holiday cards a year. Why is this tradition so popular?
R. H. Macy and Co. department store during the week before Christmas, New York, Dec. 1942.

In World War II America, Female Santas Took the Reins

Rosie the Riveter wasn’t the only woman who pitched in on the homefront.
Title page, first edition, Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. (1843)

A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories

Though the practice is now more associated with Halloween, spooking out your family is well within the Christmas spirit.
An original arrangement of

“Jingle Bells” History Takes Surprising Turn

A researcher in Boston discovers that the beloved Christmas favorite was first performed in a Boston minstrel hall.
The original letter from then eight-year-old Virginia Hanlon sent to the New York Sun asking about if there was a Santa Claus, 1897.

The Journalist Who Understood The True Meaning Of Christmas

“Yes, Virginia” is the most reprinted newspaper piece in American history, and this guy wrote it.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, circa 1885.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ and the Truth About the American West

How a homesteading failure was transformed into a parable about the failures of big government.
Wallis Simpson, the last individual American woman to be named Time's person of the year, in 1936.

#MeToo? In 80 years, No American Woman Has Won Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ by Herself

The history of Time's 'Person of the Year' exemplifies the problem that led to this year's winner.
The Checkered Game of Life board, originally released in 1860.

Board Games Were Indoctrination Tools for Christ, Then Capitalism

The very weird tale of how American board games used to teach you how to get to heaven, and later, how to make bank.
Members of

The Cruel Truth About Rock And Roll

A lifelong fan reflects on how sexual exploitation is part of rock's DNA.
Maria Monk holding her infant, from the

Nativism, Violence, and the Origins of the Paranoid Style

How a lurid 19th-century memoir of sexual abuse produced one of the ugliest features of American politics.