I’ve always been a fan of history – not the facts/dates/who was king kind of history – more the ‘what did the man in the street have for breakfast/ what did people wear / how did they talk / what did they do for fun’ kind of history. I just discovered my new favorite history blog: Ask the Past: advice from old books, a witty, brilliantly edited and elegant (gorgeous art illustrations) blog by Elizabeth Archibald. She has chops: a PhD in history from Yale, and a specialty in medieval education. She is a professor at Johns Hopkins. (always wondered: why Johns, not John? Is that like ‘passers-by’?).

Not many of the entries are about music, but no matter. They are all fascinating and entertaining (and some of the comments following these short articles display delicious senses of humor as well – don’t miss those). For starters, check out:

How to Put People to Sleep with Music, 1661

How to Sing, 1650



Treatises On Natural Science, Philosophy, And ...

How to Treat the Freshmen, 1495

How to Wash Your Hair, 12th century

How to Succeed at University, c. 1316

How to Impress Girls at a Dance, 1530 (PG-13)

How to Cure a Headache, 9th century






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