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Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution.Yet who gets remembered — and how — inherently involves judgment. To look back at the obituary archives can, therefore, be a stark lesson in how society valued various achievements and achievers.Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.
Charlotte Brontë wrote “Jane Eyre”; Emily Warren Roebling oversaw construction of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband fell ill; Madhubala transfixed Bollywood; Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching. Yet all of their deaths went unremarked in our pages, until now.Below you’ll find obituaries for these and others who left indelible marks but were nonetheless overlooked. We’ll be adding to this collection each week, as Overlooked becomes a regular feature in the obituaries section, and expanding our lens beyond women.
Trading in glass skyscrapers for century-old royal palaces and historic forts, the pair who have 130,000 Instagram followers between them said that the images they captured in Jaipur received an unprecedented response online. “The response [to our photographs of Jaipur] has been amazing, almost ridiculous,” Cheng said. For the photographers, one of the city’s most intriguing traits is the pastel pink coloring of its buildings. “The first gates you see when you enter are pink,” said Wong. “Once you’re through, everything around you varies in different shades of the color — from bright pinks to reddish browns.” One pink palace proved especially popular on social media.
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That immediately brought to mind one of my fondest memories, involving my daughter when she was just a toddler of one: taking her with me on the short walk to check the mail. I live in a small enclave of homes in which all the mailboxes are together in a central location, less than a minute’s walk from my front door…when I walk alone, that is. When I would take my daughter with me it was easily 20 minutes. Everything along the way, to and from, fascinated her: every pebble, ant, stick, leaf, blade of grass, and crack in the sidewalk was something to be picked up, looked at, tasted, smelled, and shaken. Everything was interesting to her. She knew nothing. I knew everything… been there, done that. She was in the moment, I was in the past. She was mindful. I was mindless.
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