Hidden Histories, At Length: Cowboys, Movie Stars, and Animators

The At Length series surfaces posts that are not only worth reading, but worth returning to again and again. We ask Substack writers to be guest curators for this series, recommending a few posts that speak to a central theme. The goal is to introduce readers to more independent writers who are hiding in plain sight.

This week we invited Florence H R Scott, a doctoral researcher at the Institute for Medieval Studies at University of Leeds, to be a guest curator for At Length.

Florence publishes Ælfgif-who? on Substack, where they write biographies of historical women who lived between the years 500 and 1100. Below, Florence shares a selection of their favorite hidden histories and what drew them to these posts. 



Cowboys loom large in the public imagination as glamorous chivalric figures, but what was the reality? This post explores the hidden history of the real cowboys – who were often freed slaves or Mexican vaqueros who endured unrewarding hard work – and the various ways that cowboys have cultural significance beyond their whitewashed Hollywood image. Read more.

Katie Gee Salisbury

The Magic that Happens When We Tell Our Own Stories

Half-Caste Woman is about the career of the first Asian-American movie star, Anna May Wong. This post looks at Wong’s unfulfilled potential and how she faced barriers in her attempts to tell her own story. It explores the value of representation behind the camera as well as in front of it, and it examines the growing Asian-American influence in modern media, of which Anna May Wong was a pioneer. Read more.

Animation Obsessive

Remembering Tee Collins, Animation Pioneer

Tee Collins was an animation trailblazer with a huge impact on his industry, but his legacy is not well-known today. This post by Animation Obsessive restores Collins to his rightful place in history, emphasizing the innovation in his creative work and his achievement in setting up one of the only Black-owned animation studios and inspiring a generation of African-American animators. Read more.

Daniel José Camacho

No More Dead White Men

In “No More Dead White Men,” we are reminded that ancient civilizations did not have the same ideas about race as our modern society, particularly when it comes to constructions of whiteness. This succinct post elegantly conveys the complexity of the history of race, while undermining modern racist conceptions about who history is really “about.” Read more.

Olivia Campbell

The Heroine of Harlem

Women of Science Biweekly highlights historical women who innovated in the field of science, often in defiance of the societies in which they lived. In “The Heroine of Harlem,” we learn about May Edward Chinn, an African-American and indigenous cancer researcher and musician, who opened her own private medical practice in Harlem in the 1920s. Read more.

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