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 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.

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.

Bones Unearthed in 1940 Are Likely Amelia Earhart's, Says New Research

The latest research points to Amelia Earhart crash-landing and surviving on the island of Nikumaroro.

Who Started Haute Couture?

Haute couture, or personalized clothing created by fashion houses, began in the mid-1800s by an Englishman named Charles Frederick Worth.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Was the Voice of the Everglades

A pioneer in the environmental movement, Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a journalist and activist who fought to save these important Florida wetlands from development.

Five Times Young People Changed the World

Teenagers may be young, but they are also determined. And when they come together, they can spark change — as they did in these five instances.

Conspiracy Theories Reignite After Manson Death

Strange theories have sprung to life around the enigmatic cult leader. Is there truth behind any of them?

How Betsy Ross Worked

History tells us that Betsy Ross designed and sewed America's first flag. But is that really the truth or is it just legend?

Who Was Charles Manson?

Who was Charles Manson, and why was the public so fixated on this cult leader?

Meghan Markle Is Just the Latest of the British Royal Family's African Connections

Although there's been a lot of talk about Meghan Markle being the first mixed race person to marry into the British royal family, historians say that's not really true.

Meet Violet Jessop, Survivor of Three Shipwrecks

Violet Jessop survived not one, not two, but three disasters at sea.

Was Amelia Earhart Eaten by Giant Land Crabs?

One theory about the fate of everybody's favorite female aviator is that her remains ended up as food for coconut crabs on a remote island in the South Pacific. But why?

A City in South Dakota Boasts a Life-size Statue of Every US President

Unusual street art in Rapid City, the "City of Presidents," aims to personalize the presidency.

'More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters': Meet Lucy Parsons, Unsung Heroine of the Labor Movement

Women have long been instrumental in America's labor rights movement. One early leader was Lucy Parsons, a woman of color who agitated for the eight-hour workday.

Katharine Dexter McCormick: A Forgotten Trailblazer in the Birth Control Movement

Katharine McCormick's name may not be as famous as Margaret Sanger's, but McCormick played a major role in the development of "the pill" and the progression of the reproductive rights movement.