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Puzzled by the Past Archive

There are 20 matching records, sorted by date of puzzle. Displaying matches 1 through 20 .


puzzled by the past
Testing History?
Standardized tests for history and social studies (among other subjects) have spread rapidly in the past few years. How well do they test student knowledge and understanding of the past? Most of these questions came from actual junior high school and high school standardized tests; at least one did not. As you read through the test questions below, answer “yes” if you think the question came from a state exam; “no” if you think the question did not come from a real exam.
Resources Available: TEXT.

puzzled by the past
Patently Absurd?
This puzzle challenges you to explore patents. All of these, with one exception, for succesful inventions, examples of things we find in everyday life. See if you can guess what they are.
Resources Available: TEXT.

puzzled by the past
Who’s the Queen?
American civic boosters have always made up in energy what they lacked in originality. Dozens of towns have called themselves the “Queen City” of this or that thing or region. A good knowledge of history will help you match the city to its queenly nickname.
Resources Available: TEXT.

puzzled by the past
What’s My Crime
At the turn of the century, many Americans believed that you could tell a criminal by the way he or she looked—that all murderers looked more or less alike, that all forgers had a typical appearance. In the most extreme cases, wrote one criminologist, “imprisonment in advance applies”—that is, some people’s appearance demonstrated that they simply were criminals, by their very nature. Try to identify the forger from these three pictures.
Resources Available: TEXT.

puzzled by the past
Did They Actually Say It?
Many of our most famous presidential quotations are misattributed or invented. Identify the three accurate quotes from the seven listed below and identify the president who said them.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
In Fashion
Match each piece of clothing with the era in which it was fashionable.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Disparaging Presidential Quotes
No one ever said being President of the United States was easy. In this puzzle, try to discern what’s political and what’s personal as you match the stinging criticism with the twentieth-century President who was its target.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Presidential Hobbies
From John Quincy Adams (1825–1829) to Richard Nixon (1969–1974), the hobbies of Presidents have represented the changing nature of leisure activities for Americans. Match the Presidents with their hobbies, and, by extension, the hobbies with their era. Even Presidents need to have a little fun sometimes.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Who Built the Railroad?
A famous photograph taken on May 10, 1869, commemorated the meeting of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads at Promontory Point, Utah, which marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad. This image was widely circulated yet is not an accurate representation of the event. This puzzle asks “What’s wrong with this photograph?”
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Barnum’s American Museum
From 1842 until its destruction in 1865, P. T. Barnum’s American Museum was one of New York City’s - and the nation’s - major attractions and helped define popular culture in the antebellum period. Contained within the museum’s five stories was a cornucopia of exhibitions offering visitors, in no particular order, information and entertainment, scientific knowledge and trumped-up fantasy, and moral lessons and cruel voyeurism. This puzzle presents examples of objects displayed asks which was not on exhibit at some time in Barnum’s American Museum.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
New Deal Public Art
New Deal arts projects were strongly infused with the distinctive nationalism of the 1930s: the Federal Art Project (FAP) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs self-consciously sought to identify and celebrate a specifically American art and culture. New Deal funding also expressed strong democratic commitments and worked to bring accessible art to new audiences. For this puzzle we have altered a 1942 mural called ’Security of the Family’ in the main entrance of the Health and Human Services Building (formerly the Social Security Building) in Washington, D.C. How can you tell that this is not an authentic New Deal mural?
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Women Garment Workers Strike
Women garment workers in the early 20th century became active organizers to improve sweatshop conditions. Many of those conditions continue in the garment industry in the 21st century. This image of a turn-of-the-century garment worker’s strike has been altered to include four anachronisms from the late 20th century. Can you find them?
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Words of War
When the U.S. entered World War One in 1918 many Americans believed it would be the “war to end all wars.” The Great War (as American veterans called it), of course, did not end war. But it did introduce many new words. Here are 4 words that entered the American vocabulary or were altered in meaning during World War One. Guess the derivation of the words’ meaning from the choices provided.
Resources Available: TEXT.

puzzled by the past
IQ Tests Go to War—Measuring Intelligence in the Army
The army’s use of intelligence tests during World War I lent new credibility to the emerging profession of psychology, even as it sparked public debate about the validity of the tests and their implications for American democracy. Intelligence testing influenced American society long after the war that had launched it. The tests were revised for use in schools and promoted the “tracking” systems of segregating students into ability groups according to test results. Intelligence testing fueled eugenics programs and were also widely invoked by those who pressed successfully to restrict immigration to the United States. Match your wits with World War I-era recruits with questions from actual army intelligence tests.
Resources Available: TEXT.

puzzled by the past
1902 Tuskegee Institute Photo Quiz
Sharpen your eyes to spot at least four of the seven alterations that have been made to this 1902 photo of a classroom at Tuskegee Institute, a training school for African Americans founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. Tuskegee symbolized Washington’s philosophy of racial uplift, which emphasized manual training over political or social protest, yet the school also represented the importance of education to newly emancipated African Americans in the late 19th century.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Illustrating News
In the 19th century, drawings were the public’s only visual representations of news events, since the technology to print photographs in newspapers was not yet available. Newspapers and magazine illustrations thus possessed great power to shape public opinion. This puzzle asks you to decide—without the assistance of captions or accompanying articles—what event is being depicted in three examples of such news illustrations.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Who Is This Man?
Many people are familiar with history’s most compelling figures and stories because of the way they are presented in popular illustrations, novels, films, and television shows. But every generation sees history a little differently. This puzzle presents a double challenge: identify the historical figure in three popular depictions and the different decades in which the images were created.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Presidential Mistresses
Bill Clinton wasn’t the only American President to be involved in an extramarital affair—he was just the only one to be exposed by the press. In this puzzle, match the President with the woman historians believe to have been his mistress.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Picture Perfect
Can you believe everything you see? Photographs from newspapers and magazines are a common source of evidence for historians. This puzzle asks you to determine what three apparently very different news photos have in common.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.

puzzled by the past
Who’s On Third?
While the Democratic and Republican parties seem to be the undisputed powerhouses of the American political system, in fact alternatives to these two major political parties have emerged in many presidential elections throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This puzzle, which asks you to match the third party candidate with the party he (or it!) represented, can be a fun starting point for further exploration of third parties in American political history.
Resources Available: TEXT, IMAGES.