What It Was Really Like to Be a White House Butler

In The Atlantic, Daphne Muse has a really terrific look at what it was like to be a black butler in mid-century Washington D.C.—"the 'invisible' men" who heard and saw the powers who shaped our country before and after the Civil Rights movement and are the subjects of the Lee Daniels film The Butler. Muse looks at the experiences of her father and uncle, who both worked as butlers, and what it said about race, class, and service work at the time.

When Garbage Filled the Streets

Collector's Weekly has a fascinating interview with Robin Nagle, an anthropologist who has spent much of her life studying trash (literal trash) and embedding herself with the New York City Department of Sanitation for a decade. She explains how New York was just the filthiest city with garbage and dead animals filling the streets for months at a time until a Civil War officer named George Waring took charge of sanitation in the 1890s.

How Shakespeare Did Money

About his prosecution, Ms Archer told the BBC: “It’s one of the things that we’ve forgotten about Shakespeare.

“As well as writing for people who were experiencing hunger, he was exploiting that need himself.

“He was using his role as a playwright and the public playhouses, gathering coin, in order to take advantage of the market when it’s at its most profitable, and selling food at inflated prices to secure the long-term future for his family.”

Over the course of 15 years, William Shakespeare bought and hoarded grain, malt, and barley so he could resell it at inflated prices to his neighbors, which researchers say he did to ensure that his family would not go hungry. [via]

Previously: Karl Marx

Why We Eat Chicken

How did an animal related to the dinosaurs become a food item commonly picked up at grocery stores and found on dinner tables around the world (KFC rules the fast food market in China)?

Welcome, Freshmen, to the 1495 Academic School Year

“Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen. Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water or urine, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation.” — Leipzig University Statute (1495) [via]

How F. Scott Fitzgerald Did Money

Fitzgerald, we also learn from this terrific American Scholar piece, was also paid no less than $1,000 per week during his Hollywood years and had an annual income of roughly $500,000 a year when adjusted for inflation.

How Karl Marx Did Money

Karl Marx, communism's founding father, famously had some problems with the way we all Do Money.

How to Find 1 Husband

Angela Serratore's latest essay in Smithsonian Mag has some matchmaking tips if you're looking to marry a British dude with a name and a big house (and aren't we all). 1. Have it be 100 years ago. 2. Be from new money in America so everyone here, with old money, thinks you're trash. 3. Have your father be willing to sell you to a British dude with a name and a big house. And that's it!

How Jane Austen Did Money

Jane Austen bore the financial risks of publishing her books, and insisted on remaining anonymous as she quietly wrote books in her cottage.

Two Cops (1981)

The Believer has unearthed a little-seen 1981 documentary called "Two Cops" that was made by filmmaker Nina Sinclair and produced by Sunset Television.