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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Jacques-Yves Cousteau inspired an entire generation to take an interest in the deep sea and was one of the first to warn of the peril of its destruction.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Forget the coonskin cap. Daniel Boone didn't wear one. But he did inspire a TV show, live with (and fight) Indians and help establish Kentucky as the 14th colony.

By John Donovan

Gambino crime boss John Gotti is remembered as the Teflon Don for beating the legal system. But Gotti died in prison, so did he really live up to that name?

By John Donovan

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The life and legacy of Apache warrior Geronimo is a tale that has been twisted over time. One thing that is certain is he spent much of his life avenging the death of his wife and children.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

Martha Jane Canary was a woman trying to make it in a man's world at a time when societal strictures held women tightly bound to norms of femininity. They called her Calamity Jane and here is her story.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was a ruthless man determined to force his way into the lucrative spice routes of India. But without any valuable gifts to trade for the spices, the whole trip took a horrible turn.

By Dave Roos

Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth takes the blame in the history books, but he was part of a larger cast of characters that hoped to decapitate the Union government after the South lost the Civil War.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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Butch Cassidy was a notorious train and bank robber who led a group of outlaws known as the Wild Bunch. He blazed his way through the Wild West, never killing a soul. Or did he?

By John Donovan

Sitting Bull is one of the most famous Native Americans in history. And he's way more than just the Lakota warrior he's known for.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

We see them in paintings of the day as a congregation of arthritic old men, drily deciding the terms of the new republic while complaining about their gout, when, in actuality, some of them were as young as 26.

By Katie Carman

Kamala Harris is the first woman in U.S. history (and first Black woman and first Asian American woman) to become vice president. But she's used to being a groundbreaker.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

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The story of Scottish resistance hero William Wallace has morphed into fiction over time, but the truth is actually far more fascinating than the one we see in popular retellings.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

In 1925, Adolf Hitler published the first volume of a semi-autobiographical book that laid out his racist policies. It is still in print today. But should anyone read it? And what would they find inside?

By Dave Roos

It pays to promote. That's how Amerigo Vespucci got a new continent named in his honor. That and a little historical misunderstanding.

By Dave Roos

Kate Warne was bold enough to walk into the Pinkerton Agency in 1856 and step into her role as the first female detective in U.S. history.

By Tara Yarlagadda

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Aaron Burr is perhaps best known as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, but he also served as an aide to George Washington, vice president to Thomas Jefferson and as U.S. senator from New York.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Madam C.J. Walker made her mark helping Black women feel pretty. And beauty products made her the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S.

By Maria C. Hunt

Before there was a Madonna, Bono or Beyoncé, the one-named Voltaire was Europe's first truly modern celebrity. And he didn't need the help of Twitter to keep his name in the public eye.

By Dave Roos

While Semmelweis wasn't the first doctor to advocate for hand-washing, he was certainly the most vocal proponent at the time. But his medical colleagues mostly ridiculed his belief.

By Nathan Chandler

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One was a former slave, turned best-selling writer; another was a wealthy pottery maker whose company is well-known even today. Here are five amazing stories of abolitionists.

By Dave Roos

Anne Boleyn is too often known only for her brief tumultuous marriage to King Henry VIII and her subsequent beheading. But there was a lot more to her life than that.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was first and foremost a gambler and gunfighter. But he was also friend of Wyatt Earp and is best known for his role the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

By John Donovan

As the commanding general of the Union Army, he helped save the United States during the Civil War. Grant was clearly a successful military man, but how was he as the 18th U.S. president?

By John Donovan

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Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is remembered today, not so much for his conquests and governance but for a short, profound book he wrote called 'Meditations.' We give you a peek inside this ancient wisdom.

By Dave Roos

History and the movie studios have twisted the story of Pocahontas into one of a mythical woman who saved John Smith, willingly converted to Christianity and married an Englishman. The truth, however, isn't so rosy.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.