Historical Documents

"Self-portrait" by Thomas Gainsborough

Did Murder Help Catalyze Thomas Gainsborough’s Early Career?

New documentary evidence suggests the famed artist’s uncle and cousin were victims of targeted killings

In 1776, the year she married, Julia Stockton Rush was painted by Charles Willson Peale.

Rediscovering a Founding Mother

Just-discovered letters herald the significance of an unsung Revolutionary woman, Julia Rush

Pocket-Sized Bible Returns to Canterbury Cathedral After 500 Years

The volume was lost after Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the cathedral’s monastery

Langston Hughes circa 1939

Researcher Finds Earlier Birth Date for Langston Hughes

It has long been believed that the famed poet was born in 1902, but his name appears in newspaper articles from 1901

Sold: A Rare Copy of Ada Lovelace’s Groundbreaking Computer Algorithm

The manuscript includes Lovelace’s translation of an Italian paper, her copious notes and a formula that is often recognized as the first computer program

Stanley Kubrick filming Spartacus four years after writing the screenplay for the novella Burning Secret. The screenplay of Stefan Zweig's work was believed to be missing until it was discovered earlier this year.

Professor Discovers ‘Lost’ Stanley Kubrick Screenplay

Kubrick wrote the script for <i>Burning Love</i> in 1956, but the film never made it to the big screen

A 1921 political cartoon portrays America’s new immigration quotas, influenced by popular anti-immigrant and nativist sentiment stemming from World War I conflict.

A 1911 Report Set America On a Path of Screening Out 'Undesirable' Immigrants

The Dillingham Commission conducted one of the most extensive investigations on immigration to the U.S. But in the end, bias hijacked its recommendations

The charred papyrus scroll recovered from Herculaneum is preserved in 12 trays mounted under glass. Here is PHerc.118 in tray 8. The scroll was physically unrolled in 1883-84, causing irreparable damage.

Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius, These Scrolls Are Being Read for the First Time in Millennia

A revolutionary American scientist is using subatomic physics to decipher 2,000-year-old texts from the early days of Western civilization

An authentic copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus as displayed at the Vatican. The United States is returning to the Vatican Library a letter written by Christopher Columbus in 1493 announcing his discovery of the New World that was stolen and replaced with a forgery.

Stolen Christopher Columbus Letter Returned to Vatican, But Mystery Persists

The letter, which had been printed in 1493, was replaced with a convincing fake—and investigators still don’t know who committed the crime

Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

Einstein’s Travel Diaries Reveal His Deeply Troubling Views on Race

“It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races,” the iconic scientist writes

Anne Frank in 1940

Researchers Decipher Two Hidden Pages of Anne Frank’s Diary

They contain her musings on sex education and four ‘dirty’ jokes

Cache of Benjamin Franklin's Original Manuscripts—Doodles and All—Gets Digitized

The Library of Congress recently released approximately 8,000 letters, drafts and documents from the founding father

North Dakota Makes a Push for a Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library

The towns of Dickinson and Medora are raising money in hopes of establishing a library and museum to the 26th president who once ranched in the area

The names of 50 victims of the 1887 Thibodaux massacre in Louisiana are among those inscribed on the new memorial.

A New Memorial Remembers the Thousands of African-Americans Who Were Lynched

Next month's opening of the monument in Alabama will be a necessary step in reckoning with America's deadly past

President Lyndon Johnson constituted the Kerner Commission to identify the genesis of the violent 1967 riots that killed 43 in Detroit and 26 in Newark (above, soldiers in a Newark storefront), while causing fewer casualties in 23 other cities.

The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened

Released 50 years ago, the infamous report found that poverty and institutional racism were driving inner-city violence

‘Frankenstein’ Manuscript Shows the Evolution of Mary Shelley’s Monster

A British publisher is releasing 1,000 facsimiles of the two notebooks in which Shelly scrawled her iconic novel

Restored Stone Declaration of Independence.

Copy of Declaration of Independence, Hidden Behind Wall Paper During the Civil War, Resurfaces in Texas

The document, which belonged to James Madison, is one of 200 facsimiles commissioned in the 19th century

A decline in women authors and named characters has subtly shaped our understanding of literary history, says study author Ted Underwood.

Women Were Better Represented in Victorian Novels Than Modern Ones

Big data shows that women used to be omnipresent in fiction. Then men got in the way

This copy of David Walker’s “Appeal”, held in the collections of Emory University's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, was owned and signed by W.E.B. Du Bois.

The Book That Spooked the South

David Walker’s “Appeal” laid bare the ethical bankruptcy of slavery moreso than any other book of its time

Scholars Decipher One of the Last Encrypted Dead Sea Scrolls

The text sheds light on an unusual Jewish calendar

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