Articles by April White

The headline of the San Francisco Call details the ouster of police chief George Wittman

The Courtroom That Literally Relitigated History

For San Francisco’s Court of Historical Opinion, no case was too frivolous or too controversial

A device circa 1970, when it was still strange for people to talk to machines.

How the Spread of the Answering Machine Got Put on Hold

A telephone monopoly and a fear of wiretapping kept the invention out of homes for decades

Top, the Navy’s short-lived USS Macon in 1933; above, a commercial passenger airship in 2014.

Why Zeppelins Are on the Rise Again

A world in a hurry turns to a lumbering early 20th-century technology for a lesson in efficiency

Since the 1940s, years spent dating and living together before marriage has increased, while meeting online has become the dominant real-life "meet-cute" story.

New Research Offers Insights Into How American Couples Meet

A history of getting hitched reveals the only thing that people are not in a hurry to do

Men feed blocks of ice into a snow machine in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1938.

How Artificial Snow Was Invented

You don't have to ski on cornflakes because Hollywood's quest for authenticity on-screen triggered an avalanche of frozen innovation

U.S. Army Pvt. John McGrath survived the bullet that scarred this letter he penned during the liberation of Italy.

The Unprecedented Effort to Preserve a Million Letters Written by U.S. Soldiers During Wartime

A tragedy at home led one intrepid historian to find and catalog precious correspondence for future generations to study

In 1969, the New York Times described Joe Cocker’s air guitar as “unusual gesturing.”

Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

An Electrifying History of Air Guitar

How the world's most popular invisible instrument became such a hit

"Super tomatoes" or regular tomatoes?

How Scientists Are Recapturing the Magic of a Beloved, Long-Lost Tomato

Wiped out by disease and market demands, the Rutgers tomato may be making a comeback

In 1963, Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patent for “a safe and harmless means for and method of smoking.”

Plans for the First E-cigarette Went Up in Smoke 50 Years Ago

Herbert A. Gilbert invented his "Smokeless" in 1963, but he couldn't convince any companies to bring the device to market

How the History of Merit Badges Is Also a Cultural History of the United States

Over the years, scouting has encouraged boys and girls to be prepared for the world around them

When Was the Earliest Internet Search?

Years before the birth of the Google, a forgotten experiment laid the groundwork for the ubiquitous search engine

The House Intelligence Committee looked into illegal wiretapping in 1975 as part of its investigation of risks of U.S. intelligence operations.

A Brief History of Surveillance in America

With wiretapping in the headlines and smart speakers in millions of homes, historian Brian Hochman takes us back to the early days of eavesdropping