From Brenna Ehrlich for Rolling Stone: "After Adele Mazzone died at age 74 of complications from a stroke, her remains had been handed over to Harvard as part of the Anatomical Gift Program, a donation-based initiative in which people can leave their bodies to the school for students to use during their studies. Harvard Medical School is among the top in the country, ranking number one for research in 2023, and Mazzone’s selfless last act would help to train the future of American medicine. Then Cedric Lodge, the manager of a morgue at Harvard Medical School, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pennsylvania on charges of conspiracy and interstate transport of stolen goods – namely, body parts from corpses donated to the Anatomical Gift Program."
After twenty years, America's first female lighthouse keeper hangs up her bonnet
From Diana Cervantes for Hakai: "For 20 years, Snowman has served as the keeper and historian of the 307-year-old Boston Light. Dressed either in a coast guard uniform or a costume inspired by what a lighthouse keeper’s wife wore in the 18th century, she’ll ascend the 76 spiraling stairs up the lighthouse to clean the windows and polish the lenses of the light that keeps mariners from smashing into rocks; mow the grass that, in the summer, can reach her knees; check for anything needing maintenance; and clean. For most of her tenure, she lived on the island, giving tours to visitors on Fridays through Sundays."
How Norway became obsessed with witch trials in the 17th-century
From Chelsea Iversen for LitHub: "Finnmark is a quiet, unassuming sprawl of natural splendor situated in the northeastern corner of Norway. And the region has a storied history with witches. The seventeenth century brought witch fever all the way up to this arctic region known for its codfish. Roughly 137 people were accused of Trolldom (witchcraft) in a span of less than one-hundred years. Of those accused, 92 were either killed by execution or died while in custody. This may not sound like a high number—after all, about 12,000 people were executed across Europe during those years. But in a region where the population was only about 3,200, almost five percent were accused of witchcraft."
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When Boston banned residents from celebrating Christmas
From Dan Lewis at Now I Know: "Boston was founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The colony existed until 1692, when it joined with neighboring colonies to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay. During the first six decades of the area, Puritan religious views dominated the culture, including the legal system. And on May 11, 1659, the legislature of the Colony outlawed the celebration of Christmas, and declared that "whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labour, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay five shillings."
Saving the abandoned mine horses of West Virginia
From Ashley Simpson for The Sunday Longread: "If anyone knew that West Virginia’s abandoned horses needed help, it was Tinia Creamer, who had been trying to get people to pay attention to the problem for years—in blog posts, presentations to politicians, and YouTube videos of her own. Creamer runs Heart of Phoenix, a horse rescue about two hours north of Ferris’s home in the area known as the Southern Coalfields, where decades of strip-mining – removing mountaintops to access the minerals beneath – have turned the topography into flat, grassy prairies ideal for grazing. The consolation prize: for years, locals took advantage of the newly available space. But when the economy tanked in 2008, many could no longer afford to feed their horses."
The Irish post office worker whose weather forecast changed D Day
From the Irish Met: "Maureen (née Flavin) was working in Blacksod post office at the time and took that vital hourly reading on her 21st birthday, 3rd June 1944. The readings at the weather station at the lighthouse showed a steady wind and increasing rain as the pressure continued to drop. This indicated unsettled, stormy weather that would affect the English Channel on 5th June, the planned date for the D-Day landings known as Operation Overlord. When the reports reached England, officials rang the post office at Blacksod to confirm the readings directly. Maureen did not learn of the importance of her readings until 1956. During an interview with RTÉ, Maureen noted that the US Army “could arrange everything, but they couldn’t pre-arrange the weather.”
Can you hear the difference between cold water and hot water?
Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, through RSS feeds etc. But I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipty engines," such as Rusty Foster's Today In Tabs, Clive Thompson's Linkfest, Maria Popova's website The Marginalian, The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin, Why Is This Interesting, Dan Lewis's Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton's The Browser, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something you think should be included here, feel free to email me.