Cultural History

Clothes as Historical Sources: What Bloomers Reveal about the Women Who Wore Them

By Laura J. Ping

My interest in textiles came from my grandmother and her collection of carefully preserved family heirloom quilts. My favorite was the crazy quilt; my grandmother and I would spend hours examining the fabrics used in the patchwork and guessing if each piece had once been a man’s shirt, a woman’s dress, or perhaps a set of sheets. This early lesson in the importance of textiles has inspired my research on fashion, a flourishing field of study.

February 13, 2017

Thanks, Prohibition! How the Eighteenth Amendment Fueled America’s Taste for Ice Cream

This past May, my classmates and I were discussing the latest fad in summer indulgences: wine ice cream. Ice cream and alcohol have been commonly paired in the past as a trendy treat, and wine ice cream is just the most recent innovation of the classic American dessert. In addition to being tasty, however, wine ice cream is perhaps the culmination of a coupling that has deep roots in history. In fact, it is clear that America’s favorite dessert—ice cream—must thank Prohibition for its variety and lasting popularity.

Cultural Encounters and Material Exchanges in the Venetian Archives

One of the strangest and most fascinating source encounters I have experienced so far while working in the Venetian archives concerns the role of food in the records of a set of diplomatic missions to Cairo. In one case, in the early morning of December 17, 1489, at the citadel of Cairo, Pietro Diedo, the Venetian ambassador to Egypt, delivered an assortment of gifts to the Mamluk sultan Qaytbay.