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history

It’s no wonder The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks—Rebecca Skloot's non-fiction account of theft, disease, exploitation, and science—became a bestseller. This shocking text tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman incapable of telling it herself. [read more...]
The Titanic, completed in 1912, was an engineering accomplishment never before seen. But it pales in comparison to an even greater achievement completed in the same century on the other side of the planet: the Trans-Siberian railway. [read more...]
Scientists have found new evidence that indicates settlers in Jamestown, Virginia resorted to cannibalism to survive harsh droughts and severe famine in the early 1600s. [read more...]
When James Dean entered the spotlight in the 1950’s, he was not a run-of the-mill actor. His cool personality complemented his rebel ways that made him a very attractive and influential star. James Dean was an icon of his time. [read more...]
Evolution is the way an organism changes over time. This change ultimately produces a species that is distinct from an organism’s early ancestors. Many experts think that the species on Earth today have arose and formed from simple organisms that first appeared three billion years ago. [read more...]
Many people are aware of the recent wars in Afghanistan, but some might not know about this country's wildlife, people, and history. [read more...]
Have you ever heard of Malcolm X and wanted to learn more about him? A great African American leader, Malcolm Little was born into a hard life on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. Son of a Baptist minister, Malcolm and his family moved to Lansing, Michigan, in 1929 after racists burned down their home. Soon after this fire, Malcolm's father was murdered. After Malcolm's mother had a nervous breakdown, he and his seven siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. [read more...]
Those who frequent Vilas Park have likely noticed the Old-Woman-in-a-Shoe slide. For decades it has entertained young children, yet its history has mystfied the public. [read more...]
Many call Margaret Thatcher, the first female British Prime Minister, the “Iron Woman.” While some say she destroyed Great Britain, others insist she worked hard to help her country’s people succeed. [read more...]
The phrase “Houston, we have a problem” has been adopted into everyday life. It is a clever way of saying: “Uh-oh.” This phrase originated nearly 25 years ago on April 13th, 1970, when the Apollo 13 spacecraft experienced an accident. [read more...]
The East African Rift Valley is a beautiful but perilous place. Partially surrounding Lake Victoria, the Rift Valley extends from Tanzania to Ethiopia. The western arm of the rift is 1,900 miles long, while the eastern arm is about 1,600 miles long. This area, marked by constant earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, is also known as the Afar Triangle. [read more...]
Around 35 B.C.E., Roman soldiers used deadly weapons and armor to attack their enemies and to protect themselves. Examining their weapons and tactics can provide an insight into warfare at the time. [read more...]
Born on June 27, 1880, Helen Keller has touched the hearts of millions with her resilience and strength in confronting her disabilities. [read more...]
During the 1800's, women were typically confined to the roles of housekeeper, cook, cleaner, and child-care provider. Women's suffrage campaigner and political advocate Susan B. Anthony, however, challenged these gender norms. [read more...]
The Olympics have changed in many ways over its 200 year history. Today, it is no longer a religious event. For example, women can now compete. In ancient times, women used to be killed just for watching. [read more...]
We recently made a trip to downtown Madison. Simpson Street Free Press writers, Lucy Ji, Alex Lee, and Helen Zhang, visited the City-Council Building looking for another piece of local history. What we found was a little-known treasure that is both history and art. [read more...]
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening,” said Coco Chanel. [read more...]
According to the Sanskrit Rigveda, a series of ancient Hindu texts, Aryan invaders led by the god Indra, marched into India around 1500 BCE. Indra was known as the “fort destroyer.” The 90 forts and 100 ancient castles worked by Indra’s army were stuff of myth until archaeological excavations in the 1920’s and 1930’s proved otherwise. [read more...]
In the Black Hills of South Dakota, there is a curious looking mountain. [read more...]
Near the Black Sea, in the small town of Sozopol, Bulgaria, residents once practiced a method of vampire extermination, which involves skewering bodies of the deceased with sharp objects. [read more...]
The genetic samples of the human race's most recent common ancestors are biblically nicknamed. For years, scientists thought "Y chromosome Adam" and "Mitochondrial Eve" never lived in the same time or place. Now, recent evidence suggests these ancient ancestors may have in fact resided close to each other in the same era. [read more...]
In ancient Greece, the human lifespan was about half of what ours is today. People in ancient Greece believed spirits went to the underworld after death. During this time period, death was an everyday occurrence; men were killed in battle, women died during childbirth, and children would often die in infancy. The dead were cremated or buried. Greeks believed that after a body or its ashes were covered with earth, spirits could leave to the underworld. [read more...]
There are different types of money all over the world, each with its own distinct design and value. With so many types of currency today, it’s hard to believe that there was a time before paper bills or coins. Agricultural products; strings and beads; animals; other goods; and services were traded among people before the advent of money. [read more...]
The plateau of Giza near Cairo, features the famous pyramids of Egypt. They are considered the most extraordinary architecural structures in history. They also depict the story of Egypt 5,000 years ago. These mysterious pyramids and their sheer size draw visitors from around the world. [read more...]
The period of European history leading up to the Renaissance is known as the Middle Ages. Scholars generally agree that it began around A.D. 750 and ended in the 1400’s, lasting over 650 years. [read more...]
In 1974, outside the city of Xi’an, China, a group of well diggers came across one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of all time: a life-size clay soldier. Chinese authorities were later notified and dispatched to the site, where they uncovered thousands of these clay soldiers. [read more...]
Back in the 12th century, the Cambodian godking Suyarvarman II constructed an enormous temple he named as Angkor Wat. Today, the temple is still one of the world’s most stunning specimens of Hindu architecture. [read more...]
Mycenae was the most powerful kingdom developed in Greece between 1600 and 1200 B.C. This kingdom had a very advanced culture. Although the Mycenaeans did not keep records, they left an archaeological trail. Archaeologists know from discovered artifacts that Mycenaeans communicated in a written language and developed technology. [read more...]
The first public library in the state of Wisconsin, called the Free City Library, was opened in Madison on the date of June 1, 1875. Madison Mayor, Silas Pinney, who came up with the idea, is still honored through the amazing network of public libraries we have today, including the Pinney Branch Library. [read more...]
When myths and legends are passed verbally from generation to generation, we call that an oral tradition. [read more...]
The original model of the typewriter was finished in 1867. Christopher Latham Sholes and other inventors developed the typewriter in a small machine shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After a few years of improvements, the world’s first practical typewriter was introduced in 1874. [read more...]
The Egyptians were among the first to make paper. The word paper comes from papyrus, a reed that grows on the banks of the Nile River. [read more...]
Josephine Baker was the first physician to use preventive medicine, and revolutionized the field of midwifery. Her 1939 autobiography, “Fighting for Life,” was recently reissued. Dr. Abigail Zuger, a contribution to the New York Times said Bakers insights are “intensely relevant” today. [read more...]
Between 1929 and the late 1930’s, the Great Depression pulled America into one of its darkest ages. [read more...]
During the Middle Ages (400-1400 A.D.), art influenced the lives of the European people. Romanesque and Gothic art dominated Europe. Mainly displayed in the church, both styles significantly impacted European culture, in ways that are still evident today. [read more...]
Shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with The Stars, America’s Best Dance Crew and America’s Got Talent dominate our TV screens and feature talented dancers. Throughout history, dancing has been a way to express feelings and even a way to tell a story. For some people, it is a way to show off their strength. [read more...]
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation , or WARF, is UW-Madison’s nonprofit technology transfer office. WARF helps UW-Madison researchers by patenting their discoveries, then licensing the scientists’ findings to primary companies to make them more accessible to the market place. WARF was founded in 1925 during the Progressive Era by Harry Steenbock, a professor of Biochemistry at UW-Madison. [read more...]
Tucked on the west side of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is the Babcock Hall Dairy Store. While Babcock Hall is most famous for its ice cream, it also sells an assortment of dairy products, including a variety of award-winning cheeses and locally produced milk. Without the contribution of UW-Madison researcher Stephen Babcock, these products would not be as delicious as they are today. [read more...]
In 1631, Arjuman Banu Began died giving birth to her fourteenth child. Her husband, Shah Jehan, the Moghul Emperor in India, was devastated. He sought to build a tomb in her memory that was like nothing else in the world. “The Taj Mahal” would symbolize his great love for her. And after 22 years, with the help of 20,000 workers, his desire was realized. [read more...]
Scientists have confirmed the discovery of the oldest rock art in North America. Etched as long as 14,800 years ago, these carvings, or petroglyphs, were found at Winnemucca Lake in Nevada. [read more...]
Pickling is an interesting and ancient process. Pickles come in many different types, shapes and sizes. [read more...]
First oxen were wild beasts, but now they are tamed cattle. This phenomenon didn’t happen overnight. New research pinpoints when in history cows were domesticated. [read more...]
Six people died trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean before Charles Lindbergh made his solo, nonstop flight in 1927. Lindbergh, a former UW-Madison attendee survived his flight and made history. He also gained instant fame, and became an overnight legend. [read more...]
B.B. King, also known as the King of the Blues, started his career as a young boy in the 1940’s. He is still going strong to this day. [read more...]
Roberto Clemente Walker was a famous Major League baseball player. He was an all-star on the baseball field, and a hero off the field. For 18 seasons spanning from 1955 to 1972, Clemente contributed greatly to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a right fielder. He won the "Most Valuable Player" award in 1966. When Clemente wasn’t playing baseball, he was involved in public service. [read more...]
It was 1972 and President Richard Nixon was running for reelection. Late one evening an obscure, seemingly minor break in took place at Democratic party headquarters. Nobody at the time could have predicted that this incident would shake the foundations of the federal government. [read more...]
Blackbeard was the most fearsome pirate that ever to sail the seas, notorious for his daredevil tactics in battle. Blackbeard was known for his success in piracy and for his murderous ways. [read more...]
Ships are super-sized boats that weigh more than 1,000 tons. There are many different kinds of ships. The first were large wooden ships, powered by sails or oars. They were used as early as 300BC. [read more...]
At 9 AM sharp on a sunny August morning, staff writers Selin, Rosalinda, Nancy, Patricia and I met with our editors Adaeze and Aarushi at the Free Press office. We were ready to hit the road to tour historic southwestern Wisconsin. [read more...]
Recently, Simpson Street Free Press writers took a trip to southwestern Wisconsin to visit historic sights. We wanted to see Stonefield Village in Cassville. Once there, we met Dale Moore who has worked there for 12 years. Mr. Moore was the perfect tour guide. [read more...]
On a hot August day, a team of Free Press reporters and I decided to visit the Platteville Mining Museum. When we entered the museum, a very friendly staff person greeted us and gave us a brief introduction to the museum and its history. [read more...]
Recently, a group of Free Press reporters explored some of the historical sights in Southwestern Wisconsin. One notable historic site is Pleasant Ridge. Once an African-American settlement nestled in Grant County, it is now commemorated by a historical marker. Pleasant Ridge was not just any settlement; it was essential to the development of our state. [read more...]
Julius Caesar founded the leap day in 46 B.C., effective in 45 B.C. His leap day added ten days to the Roman calendar. Centuries later, when Pope Gregory XIII was elected in 1572, he felt that all the Christian holidays were being celebrated on the wrong dates due to Caesar’s leap day. To fix this, the Pope asked astronomers to produce a different calendar, known as the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar has 12 months and about 365 days, with a leap day once in a while. This is the calendar that the majority of the world uses today. [read more...]
On a clear fall day almost 80 years ago, an amateur fossil hunter was exploring the remote hills of eastern New Mexico. Near the small town of Clovis he found something very exciting. By the 1930s researchers from around the world were investigating human artifacts found at the site. [read more...]
A new discovery suggests that about 1.8 million years ago there were several pre-human species living in Africa. The species Homo Erectus is believed to be our direct ancestor. But now it seems possible humans had two additional relatives. [read more...]
The breakthrough hit, “That’ll Be the Day,” was recorded by the American singer and songwriter who produced some of the most influential work in rock music, Buddy Holly. [read more...]
The roots of blues music run deep. This rich history can be traced along major highways running south to north through the American heartland. US. Route 61 is one these roads. It is known as the “Blues Highway.” [read more...]
I recently read a biography of Muhammad Ali written by Randy Gordon. Ali is one of the most famous American boxers in history. [read more...]
A Mustang is a free roaming horse that lives in North America. The Spaniards originally brought these animals to North America when they conquered Mexico. [read more...]
A biopic based on the memoir of rock and roller Cherie Currie; The Runaways is a thrilling film directed by Floria Sigismondi about the rise and fall of Joan Jett’s teenage band. The Runaways stars Kristen Stewart as the legendary Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as the seductive Cherie Currie. The storyline takes place in California during the mid 1970s, when Joan was just 17. [read more...]
Despite tough obstacles throughout life, Billie Holiday managed to become one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. That’s quite the accomplishment, even if her career didn’t last long. [read more...]
Early on a Saturday Morning, fellow Free Press teen editor Annie Shao and I set out for the Milwaukee Public Museum. It was a nice day and this was a trip we were looking forward to very much. The exhibit we wanted to see is called, “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt.” We loved it. The exhibit transported us back to Cleopatra’s world to fully understand her life and death. [read more...]
Cleopatra VII, the last pharaoh of Egypt, ruled a land that was powerful, glamorous, and full of life. It’s no wonder that Roman emperor Octavian wanted to steal Egypt for himself. [read more...]
You know those simple, basic words that we use all the time but don’t think much about? Well, some of them have been around for over 10,000 years. [read more...]
The date was February 1, 1960. The place was Woolworth’s restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina. It all started when four college freshmen, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, entered the “whites only” Greensboro Woolworth’s and sat down at the lunch counter. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into. [read more...]
A recent study conducted by Dr. Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, gives scientists new reasons to question which factors are most responsible for the population growth of early modern humans. Scientists previously believed that a long lifespan helped early modern humans thrive, and that Neanderthals went extinct due to a shorter life span. However, this study’s findings suggest that both groups had relatively similar life spans, which means other factors will need to be examined. [read more...]
Until recently most researchers believed that prehistoric humans ate a meat-centered diet. Now a new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal shows this view of the so-called Paleolithic diet might be false. [read more...]
In 1922, just as the archaeologist Howard Carter was about to give up his search, an undisturbed tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh was discovered. It was the tomb of King Tutankhamun, or King Tut for short, a young ruler from Egypt’s 18th dynasty. [read more...]
The dodo bird went extinct about 350 years ago. And for many years after that, people knew very little about this strange looking bird. By the 19th century, the descriptions of this bird were so unbelievable that its very existence was considered a myth. [read more...]
Imagine a species where individuals change their appearance so dramatically by adulthood that they appear to be an entirely different individual. The skull transformations of the great three-horned triceratops and the dome-headed pachycephalosaurs seem to have been just this dramatic. [read more...]
Some believe that the fabled dinosaurs dominated Earth until their untimely demise 65 million years ago. But many people do not know that other species may have been more prominent and had a huge evolutionary significance: the marine reptiles. [read more...]
Discovered in 1909, the Burgess Shale Outcrops in the Canadian Rockies display a menagerie of prehistoric marine fossils. These rock formations offer scientists a glimpse at the incredible expansion of complex multi-cellular life that occurred 550 million years ago, during what is known as the Cambrian Era. [read more...]
Satchel Paige was one of the greatest pitchers of the Negro Leagues. His impressive career spanned five decades. [read more...]
If you travel north of Madison on Highway 12 for about 25 minutes you will cross the Wisconsin River at Sauk City. Soon after crossing the Wisconsin River Bridge, Highway 12 begins its climb through an ancient mountain chain. This is Wisconsin’s famous Baraboo Range. [read more...]
My family and I moved to Madison from Nepal over five years ago. It took time to feel settled here, but we have finally become more accustomed to the life and culture of the United States. [read more...]
It is the staple food for half the world’s population, going almost unnoticed as a side to countless dishes. It’s a food that is incorporated into thousands of recipes, from simple dishes to culinary masterpieces. It is also the second most cultivated grain in the world, harvested on every continent, save for Antarctica. [read more...]
Rarely do scientists discover two unique dinosaur species on the same continent within the same month. But they accomplished just that in December of 2003—on Antarctica. [read more...]
The rise and fall of cities, cultures and civilizations are often surrounded by mystery. History is like a giant puzzle, with gaps we don’t completely understand. [read more...]
In the last issue of the Simpson Street Free Press, Helen Zhang wrote an article about new research suggesting Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thinking. Now, Spanish researchers have discovered that Neanderthals may have also been very aggressive hunters. [read more...]
There is an ethnic group that has successfully faced down the most powerful empires of modern times. For thousands of years the Pashtun people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have battled powerful foreign adversaries. Through it all they have maintained their independence and sovereignty. They have seen plenty of conflict, both foreign and domestic. [read more...]
Josh Gibson is said to be one of the greatest baseball players ever. He was known as the “Black Babe Ruth,” and played in the Negro Leagues. His impressive statistics’ his reputation, and his nickname all stand testament to his incredible skill. Some experts at the time even considered him to be better than Babe Ruth. [read more...]
Just Like Josh Gibson, is a wonderful little book by Angela Johnson, and is perfect for young girls aspiring to become baseball players, or just about any other career traditionally thought of as “man’s work.” In this book, a little girl tells the story of her grandmother’s love for baseball as a child growing up in the 1940s. [read more...]
John “Buck” O’Neil was a player and a coach that changed baseball forever. [read more...]
On June 5, 1989, a single man stood defiantly in front of several tanks that had been ordered to gun down protestors in Tiananmen Square. The unidentified protestor was pulled away by bystanders moments before death. [read more...]
John Muir is most famous for drawing up the plans that set boundaries for Yosemite National Park. He advocated the creation of the park, writing articles and co-founding the Sierra Club to protect its beauty. [read more...]
Louis Pasteur was the founder of stereochemistry, the savior of the silk industry of south France, and the developer of pasteurization. He was a man whose scientific genius led to many discoveries in science. [read more...]