“Haunted Files: The Eugenics Record Office”

An article in the New York Times a few weeks ago detailed the re-creation of a 1920s “eugenics office” from New York’s Cold Spring Laboratory

“An old stucco house stands atop a grassy hill overlooking the Long Island Sound. Less than a mile down the road, the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory bustles with more than 600 researchers and technicians, regularly producing breakthroughs in genetics, cancer and neuroscience.

But that old house, now a private residence on the outskirts of town, once held a facility whose very name evokes dark memories: the Eugenics Record Office.

In its heyday, the office was the premier scientific enterprise at Cold Spring Harbor. There, bigoted scientists applied rudimentary genetics to singling out supposedly superior races and degrading minorities. By the mid-1920s, the office had become the center of the eugenics movement in America.

Today, all that remains of it are files and photographs — reams of discredited research that once shaped anti-immigration laws, spurred forced-sterilization campaigns and barred refugees from entering Ellis Island. Now, historians and artists at New York University are bringing the eugenics office back into the public eye.”

New World Trade Center


This article is about the opening of the first offices in the new World Trade Center. I find it interesting that the new World Trade Center is both a memorial to 9/11 and, as this article says, “a symbolic return to some sort of normalcy” for the site of the biggest tragedy on American soil.

cigarettes are soooo 1939


My best friend, Cassie, is a fitness professional. When she was at my house last week, we started talking about how and why people develop a cigarette addiction. As we took a detailed trip back in time, Cassie was aghast to learn that cigarette advertisements used to include doctors (who apparently LOVE “Viceroys!”), medical recommendations, and overt oppressive discourse. During the birth of Rosie the Riveter, the feminist flagship image, Lucky Strikes was also producing images like this gem. Beloved reader, your eyes do not deceive you, this message, clearly geared towards the insecurities of women reads, “Is this you five years from now? When tempted to over-indulge, reach for a Lucky instead.” Women, why would you eat and whale around in a swimsuit when you could be enjoying the effects of unfiltered, toasted tobacco? If you haven’t been convinced yet, the “toasted” apparently means that it ‘protects your throat against irritation and cough’. Get at em, you skinny minis.

What are some of your favorite, or rage-inducing vintage ads?


Barrel of Laughs!

October 25: Today, a senior Google Vice President broke the world record for an altitude jump by plummeting 135,890 feet. His bowels surely felt more at ease when his parachute did, in fact, open.

There is something about this day that creates more zeal in adventurous spirits. Or crazy people…you decide.

On this day in history, in 1901, a woman named Annie Edson Taylor was the first person (and not the last) to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

I’m just going to let that sink in.

A barrel.

Desperate for money, and with a penchant for fame, Ms. Taylor concocted her plan. Now, I am not one to judge, but perhaps I should be. Clearly, this is a very sane train of thought. I know when I find myself lacking bus fare, my mind immediately starts to think about ways I can use my barrel. Perhaps I can glide down the Mississippi river in January, or maybe get catapulted over the Wabasha Bridge during Fourth of July celebrations. My! That would be a hoot!

Fortunately, Ms. Taylor survived her fall. Unfortunately, no one really cared.

As I sit warm in my apartment drinking cocoa, covered in a blanky that my grandmother knitted me, I wonder: “who are these people?”

Share below any other fantastical stories and historical moments of people living la vida loca!


‘Nation to Nation,’ at Museum of the American Indian – NYTimes.com

An important review of an even more important exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian.


Edward Rothstein has been highly critical of history museums in general and this one in specific– he even links to his own review from 10 years ago of the opening of the museum, referring to the first exhibitions there as an “intellectual catastrophe.”  He has calmed down a bit for this review, but still has some critical things to say.

“In many respects, the exhibition, like the museum itself, is so focused on a broad account of injustice that it slights nuance, detail and qualification. But it also leaves hope that in time, the museum will make peace with the past so that past can be more fully explored.”



‘Nation to Nation,’ at Museum of the American Indian – NYTimes.com.




The History of the World in 10000 Things: New York Times article

A fascinating piece from the Times on the recent vogue for doing books and exhibits that are just assortments of things, collectively telling a certain story, sort of.


An object allows people to touch the past, but Hannah Rosefield, a cultural critic, identifies a chicken-and-egg question: “There’s a difference between the history of a thing and using a thing to tell the history of something else.” And while our infatuation with lists doesn’t necessarily trivialize history, the objects we validate are limited to those that somehow survived. Consider this caveat from Russell Baker, the former New York Times columnist: “Objects,” he once mused, “can be classified scientifically into three major categories: those that don’t work, those that break down and those that get lost.”