Articles by Lorraine Boissoneault

A geoduck shell found scatted among other shells discarded by the Tseshaht peoples 500 to 1000 years ago suggests that the community had been harvesting and eating geoduck for centuries.

This Centuries-Old Geoduck Shell May Rewrite the Rules About Who Can Harvest the Fancy Clam

A remnant from a meal long gone, the find in British Columbia could give the region's indigenous communities an important legal claim

Original Caption: Firemen stand on a bridge over the Cuyahoga River to spray water on the tug Arizona, as a fire, started in an oil slick on the river, sweeps the docks at the Great Lakes Towing Company site in Cleveland Nov., 1st. The blaze destroyed three tugs, three buildings, and the ship repair yards.

The Cuyahoga River Caught Fire at Least a Dozen Times, but No One Cared Until 1969

Despite being much smaller than previous fires, the river blaze in Cleveland 50 years ago became a symbol for the nascent environmental movement

A German artillery shell hits the cathedral

History of Now

The Debate Over Rebuilding That Ensued When a Beloved French Cathedral Was Shelled During WWI

After the Notre-Dame de Reims sustained heavy damage, it took years for the country to decide how to repair the destruction

Exterior view of the entrance of Fa-Hien Lena cave in Sri Lanka, where archaeological evidence suggests humans lived about 45,000 years ago.

Ancient Monkey Bone Tools Shake Up the Narrative of Early Human Migration to the Rain Forest

New evidence pushes back the date for human settlement in jungles, challenging the idea that our ancestors preferred the savannas and plains

Authors and playwrights in 18th-century Europe helped make science accessible to the common reader.

How 18th-Century Writers Created the Genre of Popular Science

French writers such as Voltaire and Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle helped shape the Enlightenment with stories of science

Herschel Grynszpan in a photo from the German archives

History of Now

How a Jewish Teenager Went From Refugee to Assassin to Puppet of Nazi Propaganda

Herschel Grynszpan wanted to avenge the crimes committed against European Jews. Instead, his actions were used as a justification for Kristallnacht

The bony growths found in pre-Hispanic skulls in Panama suggest communities were diving for oysters and pearls thousands of years ago.

Skulls With 'Surfer's Ear' Suggest Ancient Pearl Divers in Panama

Thought to occur mainly in cold-water environments, a new study shows "surfer's ear" bone spurs can grow even in the tropics

Cartoonist Thomas Nast first drew Santa Claus in January 1863, for Harper's Weekly.

A Civil War Cartoonist Created the Modern Image of Santa Claus as Union Propaganda

Thomas Nast is legendary for his political cartoons, but he’s also responsible for the jolly St. Nick we know today

A police officer directs traffic in London in the 1890s.

When the Street Light First Came to London, Disaster Ensued

First introduced in 1868, the device was meant to prevent accidents—but then it caused one

A pipe from the Lower Yukon region of Alaska.

North America's Earliest Smokers May Have Helped Launch the Agricultural Revolution

As archaeologists push back the dates for the spread of tobacco use, new questions are emerging about trade networks and agriculture

It took thousands of years, but the pumpkin went from one squash among many to American icon.

How the Formerly Ubiquitous Pumpkin Became a Thanksgiving Treat

The history of Cucurbita pepo has a surprising connection to the abolitionist cause

A famous Enlightenment era writer and philosopher, Voltaire made a splash with his first play, Oedipe.

How Voltaire Went from Bastille Prisoner to Famous Playwright

Three hundred years ago this week, the French philosopher and writer began his career with a popular retelling of Sophocles' 'Oedipus'

Drawing inspiration from the myth of werewolves, the Nazis inspired real soldiers and civilians to fight at the end of the war.

The Nazi Werewolves Who Terrorized Allied Soldiers at the End of WWII

Though the guerrilla fighters didn’t succeed in slowing the Allied occupation of Germany, they did sow fear wherever they went

The Donora Smog of 1948 began on October 27 and lasted until October 31, when rain cleared the combined smoke, fog and pollution that had become trapped over the town.

The Deadly Donora Smog of 1948 Spurred Environmental Protection—But Have We Forgotten the Lesson?

Steel and zinc industries provided Donora residents with work, but also robbed them of their health, and for some, their lives

The beginning of excavations at Çatalhöyük.

Ancient Proteins From Unwashed Dishes Reveal the Diets of a Lost Civilization

Material pulled from ceramic sherds reveals the favored foodstuffs in the 8,000-year-old city of Çatalhöyük in Turkey

A cartoon from a U.S. newspaper from 1880 reads: 'Terrorism in the South. Citizens beaten and shot at."

The Deadliest Massacre in Reconstruction-Era Louisiana Happened 150 Years Ago

In September 1868, Southern white Democrats hunted down around 200 African-Americans in an effort to suppress voter turnout

The Cahokia Mounds along the Mississippi River in Illinois is the site of the largest pre-Colombian Native American city built in the United States.

How the Remnants of Human Poop Could Help Archaeologists Study Ancient Populations

Undigested molecules persist in soil for hundreds or even thousands of years, acting as biomarkers that show the ebbs and flows of bygone civilizations

Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman ever to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate—and the first senator to stand up against Joseph McCarthy's Red Scare.

Women Who Shaped History

The Senator Who Stood Up to Joseph McCarthy When No One Else Would

Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve both the House and the Senate and always defended her values, even when it meant opposing her party

Captain James Cook set out on a voyage across the Pacific 250 years ago, seemingly on a scientific voyage. But he carried secret instructions from the Navy with him as well.

Captain Cook’s 1768 Voyage to the South Pacific Included a Secret Mission

The explorer traveled to Tahiti under the auspices of science 250 years ago, but his secret orders were to continue Britain’s colonial project

Throughout the mid-1800s, improvements on the spectroscope allowed physicists to more accurately measure the wavelengths of light and identify new elements—like helium.

How Scientists Discovered Helium, the First Alien Element, 150 Years Ago

First found only on the sun, scientists doubted the mysterious element even existed for more than a decade

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