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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Herodotus was a natural-born storyteller, whom scholars revere as the first historian ever, and critics dismiss as just a teller of tall tales. What's the real story?

By Dave Roos

We'll be blunt: Mary Edwards deserves mad respect. She was a feminist and abolitionist; the first female Civil War surgeon in the U.S. Army; and a Civil War POW. Plus she wore pants!

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

The Founding Father was a prolific writer during his day. He wrote so much, in fact, he required a steady supply of quills.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

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Over 130 years after his passing, the story of Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man" can still teach us important lessons about acceptance and love.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Revolutionary War turncoat Benedict Arnold is one of the most reviled figures in American history. But what did he do to deserve this ignominious fate?

By Patrick J. Kiger

In a quest to build a socialist country that morphed into a communist society, Vladamir Lenin and the Bolsheviks executed and imprisoned hundreds of thousands, and starved millions more.

By John Donovan

History says Ivar the Boneless was a ruthless Viking warrior. But why the name boneless? Was he truly disabled, or was there a another more sinister reason for the nickname?

By Mark Mancini

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Lying in state beneath the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is an honor that has been bestowed on only a few people. Who decides which Americans are so honored?

By John Donovan

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore her heart on her sleeve — or her decision on her neck, to be more precise.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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