Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stuff and Nonsense: Myths That Should by Now Be History

Stuff and Nonsense: "Every day, stories about people or objects are told in museums that are not true. Some are outright fabrications. Others contain a kernel of truth that the years have embellished. Still others could be true, but lack the proof of documentation. Because they are catchy, humorous, or shocking, the stories stick in our memories when information less sexy slips away."

This is a fun article from the Colonial Williamsburg Journal, an excellent popular history magazine from my friends at CW. Among the myths dissected are the idea that people were shorter in the past, that closets were taxed, and that women were forever bursting into flames because of their petticoats catching fire. This is a timely article for me, because last week I led a history tour along the Missouri River in Missouri, and we heard every one of these myths presented as fact somewhere along the way. (Plus the new myth of "Freedom Quilts" along the Underground Railroad--which is not true either.)

The CW Journal is full of other fine articles, such as Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip: Drinking in Colonial America, and Courtship, Sex, and the Single Colonist.

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