The first film with Leo the Lion roaring in MGM's logo was "He Who Gets Slapped" in 1924. That makes Leo almost 100 years old!

The First Female War Correspondent

Margaret Full was a well-educated native of Massachusetts in the early 1800s. Born in 1810, she joined the New York Tribune as its literary critic in her early 30s and quickly amassed a following. She became something of a celebrity in her native New England, and was popular enough that she became the first woman allowed access to the library at Harvard College! (Which says more about Harvard than about Full, unfortunately.) She argued for equal access to education for women, prison reform, and the abolition of slavery.  Her views ended up in a book, "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" in 1845.

One year later, the New York Times sent Fuller to Europe as its first female correspondent, for her to cover the democratic revolution in Italy led by Giuseppe Mazzini. There, she fell in love with revolutionary Giovanni Ossoli, giving birth to their child -- scandalously without marrying Ossoli. The three were en route back to America in 1850 when their ship foundered off Fire Island, New York, drowning all three. Her friend, writer Henry David Thoreau, searched the beach for Fuller's personal effects but none were ever found.

That's A New Level Of Famous

Victor Hugo was a star in his own lifetime. To such a degree that they renamed a street in Paris for him -- while he still lived there. Such idolatry was usually reserved for those who had already died. Instead, many fans took great delight in writing letters to the author, addressed "Victor Hugo, en son avenue, Paris." So, in English: "Victor Hugo, His Avenue, Paris."

Where are Witches?

A belief in witches -- and consequently witch-hunts -- have been found in every single inhabited continent of the world, and most of the peoples who have lived on it. But belief in witches is not entirely universal: the largest witch-free area is Siberia, covering about a third of the northern hemisphere, and the ancient Egyptians were notable for their lack of belief of witchcraft and embracing magic, instead of fearing magic.

The Bixby Letter's Complicated History

The Bixby letter is a brief, consoling message sent by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1864 to Lydia Parker Bixby, a widow living in Boston, Massachusetts, who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the American Civil War. That might sound familiar - this letter was the inspiration for the movie Saving Private Ryan. Except the letter might be a forgery.

Here's a few more facts about the Bixby Letter. Lydia Bixby, the grieving Boston widow, was likely a Confederate sympathizer. At least two of her five sons survived the war, and it is possible that a third survived as well. By deserting to the Confederate Army. Finally, the letter itself is suspicious, and may have been written by Lincoln's private secretary John Hay.

Shoemaker, late 1900s. With an unimpressed customer, an empty birdcage, and an assistant/fellow shoemaker wearing an eyepatch. I could not find much on this photograph -- so I am asking for your help! If anyone has more information, please send me a message (via "contact us" at the top or bottom of the page)

According to ancient Chinese belief, a tiger's body parts have magical powers to cure disease. Tiger bones supposedly cure weakness. Whiskers are used for toothaches. And tiger tails are used for skin diseases.  These beliefs are paying for catastrophic poaching, as tiger's body parts can be sold at high prices to a Chinese market hungry for "medicine."

Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have found a 5,000-year-old door. The door was part of a settlement of "stilt houses" which have been frequently found near lakes, and started appearing about a thousand years after agriculture and animal husbandry were first introduced to the pre-Alpine region. The solidly constructed door was likely to keep out much of the cold wind blowing across Lake Zurich. Made of poplar wood, with well-preserved hinges, the rings in the boards date the door to about 3,063 B.C.E. That might make it the oldest door in Europe!

In British English, raisins are also called "sultanas." That's because they were originally a foreign import, from the Ottoman Empire. In the UK and Australia, "Raisin Bran" cereal is "Sultana Bran."

No one actually knows where the Koh-i-Noor diamond came from. Who first discovered it, how big it was before being cut -- all unknown. The famous diamond can concretely be placed only starting in 1739, as one of many jewels seized and shipped from Delhi to Iran by an upstart invader named Nader Shah. He was one of many local rulers who were taking advantage of the collapsing Mughal Empire. With a couple tons of loot being sent back to Nader Shah's capital in Iran, historians are lucky anyone thought to note the Koh-i-Noor!

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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