Category: Cultural History

How The Great Depression and Walt Disney Made Haunted Houses a Cult Icon


Leaving your front porch light on for trick-or-treater’s has a more sinister history behind the tradition.

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Flu Masks and Onions: Wacky Cures and Remedies During the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic


Between 1918 and early 1919, Spanish influenza became the deadliest plague since the Black Death of the Middle Ages. 

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Folklife: The little wartime pamphlet that sold over 3 million copies in 1943


The best selling book of 1943 was a little pamphlet entitled “Victory Garden” published by the Department of Agriculture. With the recent events of “The Great Pause” of 2020, quarantined families are beginning to get back to gardening and growing their own food. With possible food shortages amid the COVID19 pandemic on the rise, this is nothing new for Americans.

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Folklife: The Forgotten Custom of Women Proposing to Men During Leap Year

The custom of women proposing to men during Leap Year is traced back to a legend of St. Patrick. So girls get out your scarlet flannel petticoats and make a date with your local justice of the peace!  No worries fellas! You can blame the Scots for declaring it open season on bachelors.

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Appalachian Legend: The Wild West Stagecoach Bandit Who Couldn’t Ride a Horse

An Appalachian legend in his own right and Kentucky native George Brittain Lyttle aka Dick Fellows aka Richard Perkins, turned out to be the most famous stagecoach bandit of the wild west that couldn’t ride a horse!   

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Vintage Christmas: Remembering the Sears Christmas Wish Book

The arrival of the Sears Christmas Wish Book began the start of the holiday season in our household.  As a child, I remember spending hours looking through the pages of the catalog plotting my Christmas wish list.  Having to share it with my four other siblings was another story. 

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“Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance: Tragedy of a Native American Hollywood Legend

“Chief Buffalo Child” Long Lance had a life that some people dream of having. He was a graduate of Carlisle Indian School and West Point Academy, best selling author, Hollywood actor, and life long friend of Jim Thorpe. But his past eventually caught up with him and he became a legend among one of the greatest imposters.

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People of the Dark Water: The Lumbee Controversy for Sovereignty

“They say we’re not real Indians!” For over 100 years, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has been fighting for federal recognition amidst the controversy surrounding their heritage.

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Civil Rights in Carolina: A Native American’s Story

When one thinks of the Civil Rights era, it’s usually a black and white issue. North Carolina, however, was one of the few states labeled tri-racial. There were three school systems, three seating areas, and three water fountains. Descended from the Tuscarora tribe and member of the North Carolina Coharie Tribe, Hughie Maynor’s family and ancestorial roots historically date back to before 1712. But during the years leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, he faced hardship and adversity, from extreme poverty to tri-segregated schools. When he was 13 years old, he helped organize and participate in North Carolina’s first Native American Sit-In protest in 1960 that took his fight all the way to the federal courts.

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Folklife: The Ghostly Legend of Wicked John and the Devil

Storytelling has been a long-standing deep-rooted tradition with Appalachian families.  The pioneers of Appalachia developed an elaborate structure of folklore combined with various tales that were passed on orally from one generation to the next.  These oral histories were told to ensure the preservation of their community.

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