The articles in this issue areabout many kinds of motion, from the sojourns of Cambodian dancers in 1906 France to the stuttering flicker of early silent film, and from the rise and fall of Brazilian hot air balloons to the travels of baby teeth earnestly dispatched by St. Louis schoolchildren in the name of Science.
Chapter 1: Humans in Motion
Editorial Letter: In Motion
Introducing nineteen original articles on how motion informs history.
The Man Who Was Buried Twice
By Mary Draper
The earthquake that swallowed up the “Sodom of the West Indies,” and the aftershock that regurgitated one lucky merchant.
The Peripatetic Life of Isabella Bird
By Cara Parks
Following the footsteps of the greatest female traveler of the nineteenth century.
Photographing the Guillotine
By Stassa Edwards
The guillotine and the photograph were deployed as tools in the spectacle of power: the guillotine terrorized while the photograph surveilled.
Shameless, Villainous, and Wicked: a Keller Family History
By Kevin Keller
A family history of hazing at West Point.
To Russia, With Love
By Lydia Pyne
The Soviet exhibit’s banner in Moscow read: “Ancient Humans: Production and Consumption Elevate Humans Above Other Animals.”
The Appearance of Being Earnest
By B.R. Cohen
The French confidence man who took credit for what one nineteenth-century paper called “the most gigantic swindle of our time.”
Don’t Cry for Me, Elanthia: An Archaeology of Gemstone III
By Benjamin Breen
The early Internet, multiplayer games, and the invention of a new kind of public life.
Chapter 2: Objects in Motion
An Art of Air and Fire: Brazil’s Renegade Balloonists
By Felipe Fernandes Cruz
Once symbols of national folk culture, the balloonists now became criminals. But that didn’t stop them.
Silent Film Killed the Clown: Recovering the Lost Life and Silent Film of Marceline Orbes, the Suicidal Clown of the New York Hippodrome, 1905-1915
By Darren Reid
The tragic fate of the Spanish comedian who inspired Chaplin.
Amazons, Pirates, and Turtles on the Island of California
By Michelle María Early Capistrán
Sea turtles were an important part of the buccaneer diet—and California’s history.
Thinking Outside the Archival Box
By Maura Elizabeth Cunningham
What’s possible when we look at those neat rows of archival boxes and ask, “What’s missing?”
The Rapid of Hope and the Life of an Amazonian Boom-Town
By Kathryn Lehman
A visit to a vanished Amazonian rubber empire.
Moved by Fire: History’s Promethean Moment
By Steve Pyne
“If all that changes slowly may be explained by life, all that changes quickly is explained by fire.”
Atomic Anxiety and the Tooth Fairy: Citizen Science in the Midcentury Midwest
By Caroline Jack and Stephanie Steinhardt
How the St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey reconciled the domestic ritual of childhood tooth loss with the geopolitics of nuclear annihilation.
Chapter 3: Ideas in Motion
Blurred Forms: An Unsteady History of Drunkenness
By Kristen D. Burton
With the invention of gin and the rise of temperance movements, the history of alcohol accelerated.
Cambodian Dancers, Auguste Rodin, and the Imperial Imagination
By Anna Blair
How Cambodian culture was hijacked by the French colonial project—and helped inspire Rodin.
A Satisfying View
By Elizabeth Weinberg
Original fiction about the Indonesian killings of 1965-6.
The Space Between
By Ernesto Bassi
What is left out of the history of early modern maritime voyages?
The Hawaiian Invasion
By David Lerer
Confronted by imperial aggression, Hawaiian musicians developed a distinctive playing style that had a profound impact on twentieth century musical culture.
How Victorian London Almost Ended Up with a Roman Sewer
By Caroline Wazer
“All smell is disease,” Chadwick famously proclaimed in front of Parliament in 1846.