Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • History

Zenobia: Shooting Star of Palmyra

Zenobia: warrior queen or political tactician?

Popular culture often romanticizes Zenobia of Palmyra as a warrior queen. But the ancient evidence doesn’t support that she fought in battles. Instead, we should remember Zenobia as a skilled political tactician. She became ruler without being dominated by the men of her court.

Read More
Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the grid

There had been attempts to lay out streets in New York going back to its founding. It was a process that would go on for the next few centuries, and would only accelerate in the decades before and after the Great Fire of 1835.

Read More
The Silken Thread

History repeats—yellow fever and COVID-19

See if this sounds familiar: misinformation, disinformation, and incomplete information are applied to an epidemic, its causes, and treatments. I am not referring to COVID-19 but to 1878 and the yellow fever epidemic that decimated a wide swath of the southern reach of the Mississippi River.

Read More
Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the streams and waterways of Manhattan

We think of New York as an island packed with buildings, a place of concrete sidewalks and tarmacked avenues, a city that as Frank Sinatra sang, “doesn’t sleep.” But Manhattan at the turn of the 19th century—in the years before its street grid was laid out and decades before the Great Fire of 1835 which would accelerate the city’s northward growth—was a very different sort of place. New York City back then was a sleepy town just on the island of Manhattan.

Read More
When Money Talks: A History of Coins and Numismatics

A silver thread through history [video]

With a history spanning back over 2,000 years, coins are much more than just money. They are also a means of storing and communicating information, resembling tiny discs of information technology that convey images and text across vast swatches of time and territory. Coins are the first world wide web linking us together. While they […]

Read More
Dissenting Daughters: Reformed Women in the Dutch Republic, 1572-1725

Ten new books to read this Women’s History Month [reading list]

Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been observed in the US annually each March as an opportunity to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. This month, we’re sharing some of the latest history titles covering a range of eras and regions but all charting the lives of women and the impact they made, whether noticed at the time or from the shadows.

Read More
Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: the life and times of the Bowery Theater

In the mid 1820s, New York had three theaters:, the Park, the Chatham, and the Lafayette. Some citizens felt there should be more, and in October 1825, the New York Association started work on a new house. They chose a site between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street just south of Canal Street, and Mayor Philip Hone officiated at the laying of the cornerstone. “This spot which a few years since was surrounded by cultivated fields,” he told the gathered, “where the husbandman was employed in reaping the generous harvest, and cattle grazed for the use of the city, then afar off, has now become the centre of a compact population.”

Read More
Manhattan Phoenix: The Great Fire of 1835 and the Emergence of Modern New York by Daniel S. Levy

New York City: The Great Fire of 1835

In the 1830s, New York was a small city. While the island of Manhattan had a prosperous community at its southern end, its northern area contained farms, villages, streams, and woods. Then on the evening of 16 December 1835, a fire broke out near Wall Street.

Read More
The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast

The color line: race and education in the United States [podcast]

Black History Month celebrates the achievements of a globally marginalized community still fighting for equal representation and opportunity in all areas of life. This includes education. In 1954, the United States’ Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal” unconstitutional for American public schools in ‘Brown v. Board of Education’. While this ruling has been celebrated as a pivotal victory for civil rights, it has not endured without challenge.

Read More
Trust and Distrust: Corruption in Office in Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850

Britain’s long struggle with corruption

Corruption has risen to the top of the British political agenda. Even if we agree with Boris Johnson that the UK is “not remotely a corrupt country”, then Britain certainly did struggle with corruption in the past. Indeed it has had a long history of corruption and anti-corruption. This has some lessons for today.

Read More
OUPblog

The top 10 history blog posts of 2021

Travel back in time to the recent past and explore the OUPblog’s top 10 history blog posts of 2021. From dispelling Euro-centric myths of the Aztec empire to considering humanity’s future through the lens of environmental history, think outside the box with the latest research and expert insights from the Press’s history authors.

Read More
The neuroscience of consciousness by the Oxford Comment podcast

Holiday cheer [podcast]

As we approach the end of 2021, we can look back at the previous two years of restrictions, lockdowns, COVID tests and vaccination lines, not to mention all the political strife… or we can look to the unknown, ahead to the new year. But let us pause for a moment and enjoy the now: a holiday season that should be livelier than last year’s. After all that’s gone on, we could use some old-fashioned holiday cheer.

Read More
The Oxford Handbook of the Weimar Repulic

The ghosts of Weimar: is Weimar Germany a warning from history?

The ghosts of Weimar are back. Woken up by the rise of populist right-wing parties across Europe and beyond, they warn of danger for democracy. The historical reference point evoked by these warnings is the collapse of the Weimar Republic followed by the Nazi dictatorship. The connection between now and then seems indisputably obvious: democracy died in 1933, and it is under attack again today.

Read More
Charlie Brown's America

A Charlie Brown Christmas: the unlikely triumph of a holiday classic

A Charlie Brown Christmas was never supposed to be a success. It hit on all the wrong beats. The pacing was slow, the voice actors were amateurs, and the music was mostly laid back piano jazz (the opening theme, “Christmas Time is Here,” carried a strange, wintery melody built on unconventional modal chord progressions). It was almost like the program was constructed as a sort of anti-pop statement. In many ways, that’s exactly what it was. And that’s exactly why it so worried the media executives who had commissioned it.

Read More