Plus: Lady Astor and the Space Race |

December 05, 2019

By Lily Rothman

When Anne Boleyn was beheaded in 1536, she’d been found guilty of adultery, incest and treason. In her death, for many years, the second wife of King Henry VIII retained that bad reputation. But that’s not the whole story — and many modern historians suspect the adultery charges were entirely invented by a royal adviser threatened by Anne’s political influence.

This week, TIME’s Suyin Haynes spoke to the author of a new book about Anne Boleyn. She argues that what happened back in the 16th century matters more than ever: “We send out a dangerous message to the world when we tell readers and viewers that women only want power for selfish and frivolous reasons.” Click here to read more.

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

What Happened to Japanese Latin Americans After Pearl Harbor

The U.S. government orchestrated the roundup of people of Japanese descent in 12 Latin American countries, citing 'hemispheric security'

John Dean Remembers William Ruckelshaus

Watergate-era White House Counsel John Dean remembers a key player in the Saturday Night Massacre: William Ruckelshaus, who has died at 87.

How British Politics Has Changed for Women Since Lady Astor

The first woman to take her seat in Parliament did so a century ago

How Native American Women Fought Mass Sterilization

Over the six-year period that followed the passage of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, physicians sterilized perhaps 25% of Native American women of childbearing age

Rosa Parks Statue Unveiled in Alabama

The unveiling coincides with the anniversary of Parks’ historic Dec. 1, 1955 arrest


Dec. 6, 1968

This Week in 1968: Space Race

“From the moment when living organisms appeared in the seas billions of years ago, they seemed driven by an instinctive urge to move beyond their own environment. Out of the dark waters they groped across aeons, toward the light and land and air. Like those remote ancestors, man, too, has striven continually to seek what he has never known before. He has ranged restlessly across the surface of his world; he has traveled back into the primordial oceans; he has learned to fly through his now familiar skies. For the past seven years, he has probed the vacuum of space, soaring as high as 853 miles above the earth. Now, after billions of years of evolution—and, incredibly, within the present blink of history—he is ready to make the great escape from his own planet." (Dec. 6, 1968)

Read the full story

Dec. 5, 1938

Today in 1938: Clifford Odets

“Critics have spanked him. The public has often been exasperated and puzzled. But his position remains unchallenged. Critics, after filing their complaints, hastily add that Odets is his country's most promising playwright. Waiting for Lefty has circled the globe. Odets is still the White Hope, still Art, still News. The reason Odets has gained and held a public that, by & large, does not share his Leftish ideas is obviously not the ideas themselves but his rich, compassionate, angry feeling for people, his tremendous dramatic punch, his dialogue, bracing as ozone.” (Dec. 5, 1938)

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Dec. 5, 1949

Today in 1949: The New Germany

“Could good grow from the fresh, unquiet grave of evil? The U.S. and its postwar Allies had decided that the answer must be yes, if Europe (and all the West) was to have peace, prosperity and freedom. The German who more firmly than any other assured the U.S. that its decision had been wise, its hope not misplaced, was an aging, clear-eyed politician from the wine country along the Rhine: Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, without doubt the most important German since Hitler.” (Dec. 5, 1949)

Read the full story


Paper Chase In Physics Today, Alex Wellerstein has a deep dive on what happened in 1953 when a physicist lost a document containing secret details about thermonuclear weapons. 

Viking Rule The medieval history of Vikings in Russia is the subject of this overview from Becky Little at

What Comes Next David Keys at The Independent talks to historians about what they think Brexit could do to Europe, and the takeaway is not a happy one.

Long Time Coming With New York's Rep. Jerry Nadler playing a key role in the impeachment process, Slate’s Fred Kaplan looks back at the decades of contentious history between Nadler and President Donald Trump.

More Inclusive Art The cover story from the new issue of the New York Times Style Magazine, by Jesse Green, delves into the way a new generation of queer artists is playing with history.

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