A Physicist Eyewitness Sketches the First Atomic Test
In this eyewitness account of the Trinity test, carried out at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, physicist Luis W. Alvarez documented the explosion from his perch between the pilot and co-pilot in a B-29 flying near the blast.
Those Funny 19th-Century “Reasons for Admission” to Mental Institutions
Ever since seeing this amazing list, which was billed as “reasons for admission” to a 19th-century mental institution in West Virginia, I've been wondering about its meaning. It seemed too funny to be true. Did 19th-century doctors really commit patients because they read novels?
Reconstruction-Era Marriage Certificates of the Recently Emancipated
Here are three marriage certificates for formerly enslaved people, out of the many in the records of the National Archives. In their tallies of children borne and notes about separations through sale and military service, such certificates tell small histories of families’ lives under slavery.
The Black List: Public Shaming of the “Lewd and Scandalous” in 18th-Century London
This “Black List,” printed in London in 1706, advertised a catalog of 830 “Lewd and Scandalous Persons” who had been prosecuted in the past year for crimes like prostitution, pick-pocketing, and keeping a “disorderly house.” The key at the bottom of the page attaches a crime to an initial; some offenders have numbers next to their initials, indicating repeat offenses.
Photos Show How Workers Crunched Census Data in 1940
The Nifty, Portable Copying Technology Used by Early-19th-Century Letter-Writers
A U.S. Intelligence Agency’s Map of German Concentration Camps, a Year Before Liberation
This map represents the knowledge that the Research and Analysis Branch of the United States Office of Strategic Services had about German concentration camps in the early summer of 1944. Red circles denote locations of camps, and the prisoner capacity of the camp (“where known”) follows each camp’s name in parentheses.
A Thank-You Note From the Amistad Rebels to One of Their Lawyers, John Quincy Adams
This month marks the 175th anniversary of the Amistad rebellion. On July 1, 1839, 53 Africans, kidnapped into slavery in Sierra Leone, rose up to challenge their Cuban captors. Discovered after the ship ran ashore in Long Island, the group was held in New England for two years, while the courts decided how to handle their case.
Deciphering Original Pages From the Voting Record of the Constitutional Convention
William Jackson, secretary to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, recorded the convention delegates’ votes in neat columns, alongside the “questions” (or resolutions) that prompted their votes. Here’s one page; the National Archives has digitized six other pages. (While it’s not part of this record, you can seethe page that records the final vote for ratification elsewhere on the NARA site.)
How "You Have the Right to Remain Silent" Became the Standard Miranda Warning
While the cadence of the Miranda warning that begins "You have the right to remain silent..." is now so familiar that most Americans can recite it by heart, the language, penned by California officials, only rooted itself in American culture when an enterprising D.A. sold these “Miranda warning cards” to law enforcement agencies across the U.S. in the late 1960s.