Category Archives: History

How Hieroglyphics were Originally Translated


Today I found out about the history of the Rosetta Stone and how hieroglyphics were first translated. Hieroglyphics were elaborate, elegant symbols used prolifically in Ancient Egypt. The symbols decorated temples and tombs of pharaohs. However, being quite ornate, other scripts were usually used in day-to-day life, such as demotic, a precursor to Coptic, which was used in Egypt until […]

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“Big Ben” is Not the Famous Clock Tower, but Rather the Name of the Great Bell Inside the Tower


If you’ve ever been to London, or even seen a picture of London, you’ve probably seen the giant clock tower at the corner of the Palace of Westminster. This tower is one of London’s major icons, ranking right up there with red double-decker buses, the London Eye, and Platform 9 ¾. Contrary to popular belief, the clock tower itself is […]

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When the Canadian Government Used “Gay Detectors” to Try to Get Rid of Homosexual Government Employees


We are all familiar with the colloquialism “gaydar” which refers to a person’s intuitive, and often wildly inaccurate, ability to assess the sexual orientation of another person. In the 1960s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attempted to use a slightly more scientific, though equally flawed, approach- a machine to detect if a person was gay or not.  This was […]

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The Great Chicago Fire Wasn’t Started by a Cow

The Chicago Water Tower, the only public building in the burn area to survive the fire.

Myth: The Great Chicago Fire was started by a cow. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed 3.3 square miles of Chicago, Illinois, burning for two days in 1871—between October 8th and October 10th. It killed hundreds of people, left more than 100,000 homeless (nearly one third of Chicago’s residents at the time), destroyed roughly 17,000 buildings, and caused a couple hundred […]

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How the United Kingdom Flag Design Came to Be as It is Today


Today I found out the origin of the United Kingdom’s flag design. With Britain permeating many a nation’s history, even people who have never visited the place are familiar with the British flag peering out at them from their history textbooks. Red, white, and blue before America adopted the colour scheme, the current British flag has been flying above government […]

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The First African American Invited to Dinner at the White House


In the autumn of 1901, Booker T. Washington, the great educator, author, and orator, was on a speaking tour.  In Mississippi, he received a telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt.  (President William McKinley had been assassinated less than two months before, an event which led to Roosevelt being sworn in as President.) The telegram asked Washington to come to the capitol […]

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How Voltaire Made a Fortune Rigging the Lottery


While history knows him as a great Enlightenment thinker, Voltaire was once Francois-Marie Arouet, the charismatic and rebellious youngest son of a middle-class French family. In his early life, Voltaire fell consistently afoul of French authorities and was no stranger to controversy. Besides being exiled from Paris for a time in his early career, he was also imprisoned in the […]

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People in Columbus’ Time Did Not Think the World Was Flat


In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… with a whole lot of maps and information about the very round Earth. Contrary to popular belief, not only did Columbus realize the world was round, so did his contemporaries. In fact, it was so well accepted that daring seafarers had been exploring the Atlantic for hundreds of years before Columbus’ time. Without […]

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