By Alexis Coe

Alexis Coe is The Toast's history correspondent. She holds a master's degree in American women's political history, and was a research curator at the New York Public Library. Alexis is also a columnist at The Awl, and has contributed to The Atlantic, Slate, the Paris Review Daily, and many others. Her first book, Alice+Freda Forever, will be published on October 7th. Follow her @alexis_coe.

  1. Alexis Coe’s past essays on history for The Toast can be found here. Alexis’ column is brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane Addams. Her first book, which started as an installment of “Archival Mix,” is now available!

    This will be a multi-part series on Lee Miller. Read

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  2. Karen Abbott is a New York Times bestselling author and, full disclosure, a dear friend. We discussed her gripping new narrative nonfiction book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War, but first we’ll have to speak to the tiresome subject of men, and the dismissive opinions they so casually dole out. 

    I was prepared to ask you questions about your new book, but then

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  3. Alexis Coe’s past essays on history for The Toast can be found here. Alexis’ column is brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane

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  4. Alexis Coe’s past essays on history for The Toast can be found here. Alexis’ column is brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane Addams. Her first book, which started as an installment of "Archival Mix," is now available for pre-order!

    This will be a multi-part series on Lee Miller. 

    A couple of years

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  5. Alexis Coe’s past essays on history for The Toast can be found here. This, and all subsequent editions of Alexis’ columnn (!) are brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane Addams. How carefully did the Army surgeons in St. Louis, Missouri assess new recruits? The examination of William Cathay on November 15, 1866, suggests it was superficial, at best. If…

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  6. Let me tell you a little story. Last May, I sent Nicole the craziest “professional” email my fingers have ever typed. I may have suggested that I was waiting outside of her home, but that’s neither here nor there, because she and Mallory promptly responded with an offer of employ. There’s plenty of good history on the Internet, but like the content we’re given in classrooms, women make rare appearances, and when they do, they’re…

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  7. Alexis Coe’s past essays on history for The Toast can be found here. Most recently: Ellen and William Craft. This, and all subsequent editions of Alexis’ columnn (!) are brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane Addams. Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory was a sixteenth century sadist. When the life drained out of her victims’ bodies (over six hundred of them), she…

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  8. Alexis Coe’s past essays on history for The Toast (newly christened "Archival Mix") can be found here. Most recently: Rita Levi-Montalcini: Kicking Ass and Doing Science. This, and all subsequent editions of Alexis’ columnn (!) are brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane Addams.

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    "My wife’s first master was her father, and her mother his slave, and…

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  9. Alexis Coe’s past essays on women’s history for The Toast can be found here. Most recently: Ada Yonath: The Birth of a Scientist. This, and all subsequent editions of Alexis' columnn (!) are brought to you courtesy of a sweet and generous sponsor who wishes to be known as The Ghost of Jane Addams. Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) loved her father, but had she obeyed him, she would have never won the…

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  10. Alexis Coe’s past essays on women’s history for The Toast can be found here. Most recently: Zinaida Portnova: Young Avenger. As Nancy Hopkins, one of the professors who initiated the study, put it in an online forum: “I have found that even when women win the Nobel Prize, someone is bound to tell me they did not deserve it, or the discovery was really made by a man, or the important result was…

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  11. Alexis Coe’s past essays on women’s history for The Toast can be found here. Most recently: A Very Unnatural Crime. Zinaida Portnova was visiting her grandmother’s farm when she first spotted the uniformed men approaching the barn. It was 1941, and they had come for the family’s cattle. Herbert Black, a German minister, planned to starve Russia in order to feed Germany, and it was starting to work. If the Nazi soldiers confiscated…

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  12. Alexis Coe’s past essays on women’s history for The Toast can be found here. Most recently: The Rise and Fall of Vivian Davis. At first, the intimacy between Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward seemed unremarkable. The well-to do young ladies met at the Higbee School for Girls in Memphis, Tennessee, at a time when romantic friendship was well-known and accepted. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called the non-sexual relationships “a rehearsal in girlhood of the…

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  13. Alexis Coe’s past essays on women's history for The Toast can be found here. Most recently: Vera Atkins, Spymistress. There is no record for Vivian Davis before the 1920 United States Census. She first appears as a single, 18-year-old boarder in Kansas City, Missouri. The next record is a 1921 marriage certificate to George M. Chase, a well-known thief 30 years her senior. After that, there’s a steady trail of arrests…

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  14. Alexis Coe’s essays on history appear once a month. Past installments can be found here. Vera Atkins called the 39 female British spies she recruited, trained, and placed in the field her “girls,” but to the rest of the world, they didn’t exist. During World War II, the French Section of Special Operations Executive (SOE) depended on this secrecy. Considered the amateurs of the British Intelligence community, it was created when other agencies, including…

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  15. Mollie “The Lost Chicken” Wisner was one of the most well-known musical performers in Gold Rush-era San Francisco, but she only knew one song. In 1849, nearly forty thousand fortune-seeking men flooded the streets of San Francisco, up from 1,000 the year before. Given the transitory, perilous nature of boomtowns, women were scarce; some historians estimate a 50:1 male-to-female ratio at the time. The lonely miners, sailors, trappers, and pioneers who frequented the nine-block-long red-light…

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