Skip to main content

A Pick Of Rags

March 2023
1min read

That Demon Rag! American Popular Music from the Ragtime Era

Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Dorian Discovery #DIS80107 (one CD)

For nearly a decade now, the twelvemember Paragon Ragtime Orchestra has been touring the country in the ghostly footsteps of the thousands of “theater orchestras” that once played in every hotel, vaudeville hall, and fair-sized restaurant. Few of them can have played with more bite and sparkle than the Paragon. Ragtime has been called the folk music of the American city (although, unlike the jazz that supplanted it, it was always a written music), and indeed, there is a sense of urban hurry to these numbers; the bright clamor of, say, “That Hindu Rag,” is full of that confident turnof-the-century energy that is usually characterized as “—optimistic.” One can sense our modern cities rising to the canny swagger of these tunes, just as one hears our own era taking shape in the years that pass between Arthur Pryor’s ebullient “Cakewalk Contest” of 1899 and Jerome Kern’s ravishing 1914 “They Didn’t Believe Me.” And it’s a pleasant surprise to discover the ubiquitous “Melancholy Baby” scrubbed clean of sixty years of nightclub smoke, making her debut in a winsome 1912 two-step.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April 1994"

Authored by: James W. Wensyel

Alone among all American battlefields, the scene of the Civil War’s costliest encounter is patrolled by government-licensed historians who keep alive for visitors the memory of what happened there

Authored by: The Editors

The American Gas Station: History and Folklore of the Gas Station in American Car Culture

Authored by: The Editors

The New Roadside America

Authored by: The Editors

Henry James: Collected Travel Writings

Authored by: The Editors

Crossing & Cruising

Authored by: The Editors

Kings in Disguise

Authored by: The Editors

Key West Tales

Authored by: The Editors

Viva Las Vegas: After-Hours Architecture

Authored by: The Editors

Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America

Authored by: The Editors

The Atomic Cafe

Featured Articles

Famous writers including Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts turned Sleepy Hollow Cemetery into our country’s first conservation project.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.

Roast pig, boiled rockfish, and apple pie were among the dishes George and Martha enjoyed during the holiday in 1797. Here are some actual recipes.

Born during Jim Crow, Belle da Costa Greene perfected the art of "passing" while working for one of the most powerful men in America.