Historical Documents

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

Massive Data Project Will Help People Identify Enslaved Ancestors

Michigan State's 'Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade' will combine available historical data on slavery into one searchable hub

The Top Ten Most Important Ancient Documents Lost to History

Either due to conquest or simply the ravages of time, these founding papers of civilizations around the world will remain mysteries forever

Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China, may not have discovered an elixir to life but he did achieve his own form of immortality through his teracotta army

2,000-Year-Old Texts Reveal the First Emperor of China’s Quest for Eternal Life

Qin Shihuang issued an executive order demanding that his subjects search for an immortality elixir

Engraving of the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814)

‘120 Days of Sodom', Marquis de Sade's Depraved Opus, Declared a French National Treasure

Officials sought to prevent the manuscript from being sold at an upcoming auction

An illustrated Greek medical text was found beneath the oldest Arabic translation of the Gospels.

Archaeologists Are Only Just Beginning to Reveal the Secrets Hidden in These Ancient Manuscripts

A project to scan documents found in the walls of a remote monastery is reshaping our view of the connections between East and West

Tibetan manuscripts

A Look Inside China’s Effort to Preserve Historical Mongolian Manuscripts

Various projects are attempting to digitize the more than 200,000 volumes of Mongolian books and documents in the country

This manuscript on astronomy by Issachar Ber Carmoly dates to 1751.

Hidden in a Basement for 70 Years, Newly Discovered Documents Shed Light on Jewish Life and Culture Before WWII

The 170,000 pages found might be “the most important collection of Jewish archives since the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

The cuneiform clay tablets discovered inside a ceramic pot.

Archaeologists Discover Trove of Cuneiform Tablets in Northern Iraq

Many of the 93 artifacts were unbaked and badly worn, making reading and translating the tablets a lengthy task

Stephen Hawking with Isaac Newton's annotated copy of Principia Mathematica

Stephen Hawking's PhD Thesis Goes Online, Crashing Internet Servers

After less than a day on the internet, it racked up 60,000 downloads

Songbook From the 16th-Century Spells Out Samurai Customs, Tactics and Baby Names

The newly translated Japanese text offers kernels of advice to warriors who had yet to face battle

In this Oct. 30, 1965, Associated Press file photo, members of the Youth Wing of the Indonesian Communist Party (Pemuda Rakjat) are watched by soldiers as they are taken to prison in Jakarta.

Declassified Records Show U.S. Knew About, Supported 1965 Massacre in Indonesia

One cable referred to the brutal transition of power as a "fantastic switch"

Footage Recalls the Night Madison Square Garden Filled With Nazis

A short documentary shows the 20,000-strong rally held by the Nazi-supporting German-American Bund in 1939

A residential school in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories.

Records of Residential School Abuse Can Be Destroyed, Canadian Supreme Court Rules

The federal government wanted to retain the documents, but survivors said they were promised confidentiality

The British Navy was a big deal in the 1700s.

Jane Squire and the Longitude Wars

The sixteenth-century debate over how to determine longitude had a lot of participants—and one woman

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