Historical Figures

From Musketeers to Nazis, Archimedes to Harriet Tubman, these famous historical figures changed the course of history -- for better or worse.

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The Cold-blooded Assassination of Outlaw Jesse James

Well before he died, Jesse James was a legend. He was a hero even to the man who shot him in the back.

George P. Burdell: The Georgia Tech Student Who Never Existed

George P. Burdell has registered for classes, signed petitions and even lettered in football and basketball, but on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, he is the man who never was.

How Billy the Kid Really Died

Billy the Kid, whose legal name was Henry McCarty, was almost certainly killed by Lincoln County, New Mexico, Sheriff Pat Garrett, though questions have always lingered about what really happened.

Coconut Man: August Engelhardt Founded a Cult Based on His Favorite Fruit

In 1902, a young German set out for the South Seas, determined to live solely on coconuts and the sun. He even attracted a following. Then everything went to pieces.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes Saved Thousands From Holocaust, But Lost All

The story of the "Portuguese Oskar Schindler" who lost everything trying to save thousands during the Holocaust is finally being told by descendants of those he saved.

Mrs. Cheng: The Most Successful Pirate in History

She commanded as many as 70,000 other pirates, became fabulously wealthy and yet managed to retire without being captured or imprisoned. So how did she do it?

Why André the Giant Was Larger Than Life

André the Giant made his wrestling debut at New York City's Madison Square Garden. He went on to become one of WWE's biggest stars before his untimely death in 1993.

How Did Bonnie and Clyde Really Die?

We know they died in a hail of gunfire, but who set this criminal couple up and how many shots were fired?

Hedwig Kohn: The Physics of Determination

Meet this female German physicist who survived the Nazis and became a ground-breaker in combustion science and plasma physics.

How Onesimus, a Slave in Colonial Boston, Helped Stop a Smallpox Epidemic

He taught the colonists about the process of inoculation, helping to save countless lives.

From Slave to Millionaire Philanthropist: The Biddy Mason Story

Her owners nearly tricked her out of freedom in California but the cavalry rode to her rescue. She later became one of the wealthiest and most generous African-Americans in the state.

Where in the World Is Myspace Tom?

Myspace took the world by storm and Tom was everyone's first friend. But when we all left the platform, we all left Tom, too. So where did he go?

The Ballad of the Pickled Whaling Captain from Connecticut

This is the strange-but-true story of Capt. Sluman Gray, who died at sea and was preserved in barrel of rum. What would become of this soused specimen?

Did an Eye Deformity Affect da Vinci's Painting?

Do da Vinci's self-portrait paintings, such as "Salvator Mundi," betray the artist's condition?

How a Lone Sculptor Gave New Faces to Injured Soldiers of WWI

Anna Coleman Ladd's Studio for Portrait Masks created new faces for at least 185 disfigured soldiers and paved the way for modern facial prosthetic techniques.

The Family Feud That Spawned Adidas and Puma

Germany's Adolph and Rudolph Dassler fell out so badly, they had to start two separate shoe companies.

Gregor MacGregor's Swindle: The Country That Never Existed

Scotsman Gregor MacGregor was a world-class con man who convinced hundreds of people to invest in the mythical country of Poyais.

Who Decides Which Americans Lie in State?

Lying in state beneath the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is an honor that has been bestowed on only 32 people in history, but who decides which Americans are so honored?

The Scandal of the Cross-Dressing Men of Victorian England

When police in Victorian England arrested two popular male cross-dressers, it resulted in one of the more scandalous trials of the era.

This 'Enchantress of Numbers' Was the World's First Computer Programmer

Ada Lovelace was the daughter of famed poet Lord Byron. But she moved out of her father's shadow to make a name in numbers, not words.

How Genghis Khan Worked

Mongol ruler Genghis Khan built the largest empire in human history, reshaping national boundaries and forging new diplomatic and economic relationships that still exist today.

Royal Babies Quiz

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife, Meghan have had their first child. Royal watchers, test your knowledge of the bejeweled babies of the British royal family with this quiz.

Ernest Withers: Iconic Civil Rights Photographer — and FBI Informant?

Did famed photographer Ernest Withers betray the civil rights movement he so lovingly documented?

How Former Slave Elizabeth Keckly Shaped 19th-Century Fashion

Elizabeth Keckly, a former slave turned dress designer, was once the premiere dressmaker in Washington, D.C. She was also a close confidante of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln.

The Misunderstood Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, Martin Luther King is revered for his nonviolent struggle for civil rights in the United States. But most Americans didn't approve of him before his death, or many years after.