The Rest Is History

Family trees, ancient sewers and canals, and Dear Abby.

By Jaime Fuller

Friday, February 08, 2019

Trees and Houses Near the Jas de Bouffan, by Paul Cézanne, c. 1885. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975.

• A story for those eager to learn about medieval poop: “Released into the air is an eye-watering aroma, a smell so concentrated and forceful it seems to take shape as a cloud. The excavators stagger back a step, turning their cheeks as though they’ve been slapped. Van Oosten peers down into the muck, and, with a lilt in her voice, says, ‘Jackpot!’ ” (Archaeology)

• Thanks to the British Library, you can now read the complete works of Roger Pheuquewell online. (The Guardian)

• A prehistory of coloring. (The Public Domain Review)

• On digging up your family’s history—and how to go about doing it. (The New York Times)

• Censorship at a history magazine: “ ‘100 Years Later, Dearborn Confronts the Hate of Hometown Hero Henry Ford’ was slated as the cover story of The Dearborn Historian, a quarterly published by a historical commission appointed by the mayor.” But it was never published. (Columbia Journalism Review)

• Archaeologists just found an ancient Native American canal in Alabama. (

• Analyzing thirty years of Dear Abby columns. (The Pudding)

• A short history of blackface. (

• How war affected the publication, reception, and writing of In Search of Lost Time. (Literary Hub)

• The early history—and future diluted meaning—of woke. (The Believer)

• This week in obituaries: Renaissance historian and Lapham’s Quarterly editorial board member Theodore Rabb; the lyricist who wrote “Charlie and the M.T.A.”; a prolific novelist; the man who made Tim Hortons ubiquitous; a pharmacist who helped invent ibuprofen; and, for Black History Month, black Americans who deserved obituaries many years before now.