Plus: Chocolate-chip cookies and Attica |

August 25, 2016

By Lily Rothman

It was exactly 100 years ago—on Aug. 25, 1916—that President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the U.S. National Park Service. That’s cause for celebration among outdoor enthusiasts across the nation, but one thing became clear when the TIME History team started working on commemorating that centennial: the “birthday” of the NPS is not the beginning of the story.

You could trace the roots to that primordial era when the United States was gifted with scenery worth saving. But somebody had to help citizens see what was out there. That somebody, experts believe, was a 19th-century photographer named Carleton Watkins. You can read his story here and see all 30 of the images that he created in 1861 and used to change the world.

We also took a look at how the idea of the Park Service was pitched to the public in 1916, and just how many more people are visiting the parks today than when the parks turned 50. In other words, there’s plenty to read—but if you want to save them for later and go for a hike instead, I won’t blame you.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Why the U.N. Marks Haiti's Role in Ending the Slave Trade

The nation was a beacon for the anti-slavery cause

An Inside Look at the 1971 Attica Prison Uprising

Read an excerpt from Heather Ann Thompson's new book 'Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy'

Why Bill Clinton Signed Welfare Reform, as Explained in 1996

The bill was signed on Aug. 22, 1996

A Brief History of the Clinton Family’s Chocolate-Chip Cookies

A bake-off between nominees' spouses began in 1992, after a Hillary Clinton gaffe

How Nat Turner Explained the Slave Rebellion He Led

The infamous rebellion took place 185 years ago


Aug. 25, 2014, cover of TIME

Remembering Robin Williams

“For all his serious film roles, which garnered him a Supporting Actor Oscar (for Good Will Hunting) and three Best Actor nominations, Williams at his purest was the id unleashed, geysering nonstop shtick of the highest order. ‘You're only given one little spark of madness,’ he said. ‘If you lose that, you're nothin'.’ His spark was a forest fire, a comic conflagration that warmed the world and damaged no one.” (Aug. 25, 2014)

Read the full story

TIME Cover Aug. 25, 1961

Today in 1961: The Berlin Wall

“The wall was illegal, immoral and strangely revealing—illegal because it violated the Communists' solemn contracts to permit free movement throughout the city; immoral because it virtually jailed millions of innocent people; revealing because it advertised to all the world the failure of East Germany's Communist system, and the abject misery of a people who could only be kept within its borders by bullets, bayonets and barricades.” (Aug. 25, 1961)

Read the full story

Aug. 26, 1996

20 Years Ago: Christopher Reeve

“Practically from the day he stopped moving, Reeve has not stopped moving. Thrown from his horse at the third jump during a riding competition in Culpeper, Virginia, on Memorial Day last year, he became a ‘C1-C2’; the designation refers to a paralyzing injury to the area between the first and second cervical vertebrae, between the neck and the brain stem. It's called the ‘hangman's injury’ because the C1-C2 break is what happens when the trapdoor opens and the noose snaps tight. He says, ‘It was as if I'd been hanged, cut down and sent to rehab.’” (Aug. 26, 1996)

Read the full story


Daddy Long History Following an online debate over the use of the word “daddy” in not-talking-to-your-father situations, Slate had the brilliant idea of reprinting a 1922 newspaper column about that era’s controversial love of the word in romantic situations.

No Fair I know the Olympics are over, but it’s still worth reading J. Weston Phippen’s Atlantic piece on the history of cheating at the world’s (supposedly) most sportsmanlike event.

On Paper CBS News uses the Great Paper Airplane Fly-Off as a reason to talk to Mark Kurlansky about the fascinating history of paper.

Meow Mix The New York Times’ Andy Newman adds one to the plus ça change column with his reporting on the Times’ coverage of funny cat news of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Trump and History This isn’t new, and it’s certainly not objective, and I can’t vouch for what you’ll think about it, but I first saw it this week and I simply have to share it: this person is tweeting in the character of Donald Trump commenting on history.

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