Category Archives: History

The Story of “the Rock”

Alcatraz

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Everybody knows that Alcatraz (also known as “the Rock”) was a federal prison. But it wasn’t always just the dungeon of the notorious. GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES When gold was discovered near San Francisco in 1848, word spread like a virus. Seemingly overnight, the sleepy western town turned into a full-fledged city. […]

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That Time Jordan Anderson Sent His “Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master”

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During the 19th century, there were many freed slaves that went on to lead extremely noteworthy lives despite all the adversity they faced in their lifetime, such as the world famous Frederick Douglass, who not only played an important role in fighting for black people’s rights, but also championed women’s rights, particularly playing an important part in the fight for […]

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The Not-So-Holy Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe

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Established in West Wycombe by Sir Francis Dashwood in 1749, the Brotherhood of St. Francis of Wycombe was anything but saintly. Devoted to wicked fun and debauchery, for the next two decades, many notable individuals in England counted themselves members, such as the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, Baron George Dodington, member of Parliament Thomas Potter, and, while not […]

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The Mystery of One of the Strangest Natural Disasters of the 20th Century

Nyos_Lake

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Here’s the story of how scientists unlocked the secrets of the worst natural disaster in the history of the west African nation of Cameroon …and what they’re doing to try and stop it from happening again. THE DISCOVERY On the morning of August 22, 1986, a man hopped onto his […]

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Alexander III and the Story Behind the World’s Most Expensive Eggs

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Unless you happen to be a Russian history buff, you probably don’t know much about Czar Alexander III. But if you’re a fan of Fabergé eggs, you have him (and Carl Fabergé, of course) to thank for them. HOW EGGS-CITING In 1885 the emperor, or czar, of Russia, Alexander III, […]

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Damnatio Memoriae: When the Romans Purposely Erased People from History

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Damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) was a punishment reserved for certain people the Romans decided to dishonour for one reason or another. Rather impressively, it involved trying to get rid of all records that the person ever existed. Understandably, historians aren’t aware of any people to whom this dishonor was successfully applied, since if they did, it wouldn’t have been […]

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When Did People First Start Clapping to Show Appreciation?

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Mark D. asks: When did we start clapping to show that we like something? Clapping is the near-ubiquitous way we show our appreciation of something, particularly when we’re in large groups. But have you ever wondered why slapping our hands together has come to be so closely associated with approval and where the practise originated from? To begin with, the […]

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Dustbin of History: The Fascinating Saga of the Comstock Lode

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Practically everybody has daydreamed about prospecting for gold and striking it rich. But what happens after the big strike? Here’s the amazing tale of one of the biggest bonanzas in U.S. history. KILLING TIME In January 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, California, sparking the Gold Rush that brought […]

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That Time the Nazis Nearly Completed a Super-Cannon Capable of Hitting London from France

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WW2 saw the nations of the world investing massive amounts of manpower and money into the development of better ways to extinguish life in hopes of turning the tide of the war in their respective favors, sometimes including coming up with outlandish contraptions like (surprisingly effective) bat bombs and pigeon guided missiles, anti-tank dogs, flying jeeps and tanks, suicide torpedoes, […]

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The Origins of Mother’s Day and Its Inventor’s Campaign to Put a Stop to It

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Today, Mother’s Day is a holiday of joy, brunches, gifts, flowers and phone calls. In fact, phone traffic spikes more on Mother’s Day than any other holiday. This annual celebration of moms everywhere was first officially established in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation, which read that this is the day we “[publicly express] our love and […]

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That Time the British Developed a Chicken Heated Nuclear Bomb

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Imagine it’s 1957 and you’re a high-ranking official with the British Army, responsible for keeping the West free from Soviet aggression. At your disposal you have a great arsenal, both conventional and nuclear, as well as teams of brilliant scientists at the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment constantly proposing ideas for new, more effective weapons. One of your areas of […]

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Dustbin of History: The Lincoln Highway

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Like us, you probably can’t remember a world without highways—a time before there were gas stations, fast-food places, or shopping centers. Well, it all had to start somewhere…and this is where. WHERE’S THE HORSE? The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago was in full swing when a gentleman walked up to […]

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Why Determining Easter’s Date is So Confusing

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Kim M. asks: How do they decide when Easter is? The holiday of Easter is celebrated by over two billion Christians globally. Marking the day that Jesus rose from the dead, it’s always commemorated on a Sunday in the spring. Despite this, the exact date has consistently changed throughout the many centuries the holiday has been recognized. Additionally, various sects […]

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