Death by Petticoat

It’s here at last!


Every day, stories about people or objects are repeated in museums, schools, and historic sites that are not true. Some are outright fabrications. Others contain a kernel of truth that has been embellished over the years. Because they are catchy, humorous, or shocking, these stories often stick in our memories when less sexy information slips away. It’s hard to visit a historic site or read a text book today without encountering at least one of these myths. How many have you heard? How many do you believe?

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Some of the weird things we hear are actually true. Hat makers really were driven “mad”–or more accurately, they were poisoned–by the mercury they used in making hats from furs. The symptoms, hallucinations, tremors, and twitching, looked like insanity to people of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the phrase “mad as a hatter” came about. But many myths are utter nonsense and persist despite the best efforts of museum professionals to put them to rest.


 Blurbs and Reviews

“Theobald’s true stories are as entertaining as the folklore.” –Dennis Montgomery, Editor, CW Journal


“Your work is always engagingly written and chock full of good information. Death by Petticoats is no exception. Could the end be nigh for some of the very stubborn inaccuracies that continue to plague CW and other historical sites? If so, you have done your part!” –Linda Rowe, Historian, Colonial Williamsburg


“Theobald’s humorous approach makes the book a quick and entertaining read.” –American Spirit, DAR magazine


“Theobald’s delightful book contains 63 myths that somehow managed to weasel into the annals of history and mistakenly got accepted as fact along the way.” –Ben Swenson, Hampton Roads Magazine


Paul Clancy reviewed DEATH BY PETTICOAT in The Virginian-Pilot newspaper on Sunday Oct. 7. He also posted the review on his blog, so you can read it at Scroll down to his Oct. 7 post.