John Donovan

Contributing Writer

John is a freelance writer based in the suburbs of Atlanta. A longtime sports scribe with too much time covering college sports, the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball, he now writes on science, health, history, current events and whatever other weird non-sports stories that he and the editors at HowStuffWorks dream up. He has a journalism degree from Arizona State, a wife, a son, a dog that sheds too much and a bad case of eyestrain.

Recent Contributions

Who Decides Which Americans Lie in State?

Lying in state beneath the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is an honor that has been bestowed on only a few people. Who decides which Americans are so honored?

Explorer Daniel Boone Blazed a Trail to the American West

Forget the coonskin cap. Daniel Boone didn't wear one. But he did inspire a TV show, live with (and fight) Indians and help establish Kentucky as the 14th colony.

How (and Why) Hurricanes Get Their Names

You probably recognize these right off the bat: Andrew, Katrina, Sandy and Sally. But when and why did we start giving hurricanes names?

5 Events in Hispanic History You Never Learned in School

Hispanics have contributed to American history since Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus stepped foot in the New World. These five events were turning points in Hispanic and American history.

Mob Boss John Gotti Never Lived Up to His 'Teflon Don' Nickname

Gambino crime boss John Gotti is remembered as the Teflon Don for beating the legal system. But Gotti died in prison, so did he really live up to that name?

Why Jim Thorpe Is Often Considered the Greatest Athlete of All Time

Jim Thorpe overcame almost insurmountable obstacles, from a rough childhood to racial discrimination, to become one of the world's greatest athletes of all time.

What Does Latinx Mean Anyway?

The term Latinx has emerged recently as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino and Latina, but not everyone is on board. In fact most Hispanics haven't even heard it before.

5 Facts About the Immortal Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy was a notorious train and bank robber who led a group of outlaws known as the Wild Bunch. He blazed his way through the Wild West, never killing a soul. Or did he?

What Are the Costs of Canceling College Football?

College football generates billions of dollars in revenue annually from ticket sales, media rights and donations. So who has the most to lose if the fall season is canceled?

How the Cowboy Saddled Up and Rode Into American History

Many might think of cowboys as quintessentially part of the American fabric. And they are. But cowboys aren't an American phenomenon and they certainly didn't get their start in the U.S.

Harpers Ferry Has a Complex and Dizzying History

Harpers Ferry is known as the spot where John Brown launched his disastrous slave rebellion. But why was this town also a transportation and ammunitions powerhouse?

What Fueled the Famous Feud Between the Hatfields and McCoys?

The Hatfield and McCoy family names are recognized for one thing: fighting for decades between them. But what were they so angry about and why so many years of feuding?

Black Men Were Cowboys Before It Was Cool

In the early 18th century, Black cowboys were the only cowboys in the West. That's because white men didn't want to do the work. So why hasn't their story been told?

Why Jane Elliott's Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Racism Exercise Is So Powerful

Jane Elliott has been exposing racist thinking for more than 50 years through her ground-breaking exercise using eye color. Some think her methodology is too harsh. She couldn't care less.

A Monumental Tribute to Crazy Horse Has Been Taking Shape for Decades

More than 70 years ago, Oglala Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear dedicated Thunderhead Mountain as the site of the Crazy Horse Memorial. The monument to honor North American Indians is still under construction.

How Buffalo Bill Became a Living, Breathing Personification of the American West

William "Buffalo Bill" Cody was an American soldier, bison hunter and frontiersman. But he's perhaps best-known for being a showman and running Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

What Was the Tulsa Race Massacre and Why Does it Still Haunt the City?

The Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, aka "Black Wall Street" was one of the wealthiest African American neighborhoods in the U.S. But in 1921 it was the site of the worst race massacre in U.S. history.

Shays' Rebellion: The Unsung Uprising That Helped Spark a New America

Daniel Shays was the reluctant leader of the Massachusetts insurrection that pit farmers against tax collectors just after the Revolutionary War. Its results led to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.

How Juneteenth Became Black Independence Day

Every year millions of Americans celebrate the emancipation of slavery on June 19. Why then? And why is it considered Black Independence Day?

5 Facts About the Wild West's Deadly 'Doc' Holliday

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was first and foremost a gambler and gunfighter. But he was also friend of Wyatt Earp and is best known for his role the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.