I’m Joshua Kagavi and I write about history and culture for a variety of publications including The Guardian, The Washington Post, Atlas Obscura, Smithsonian and more. Some interests include sports across millennia, retro games and animation, the Space Age, slavery and inequality, the Wild West, vintage illustrations and so much more.

On my travels across the world, I’ve had many different experiences – and perhaps an unknown disease or two – that inspire my work. I recently wrote about an elderly Gullah Geechee woman living in the remote Lowcountry south of Savannah during the 1930s. She remembered an African song of forgotten origin passed down through the generations by her enslaved maternal ancestors. Many decades later, scholars were able to link the lyrics to a remote village in Sierra Leone.

I’ve spent many years exploring the intersection of early athletics history and racism. My original research into the life of Black pioneer Jack Trice, who suffered fatal injuries in his only major college football game in 1923, has revealed many unknown stories. Some of my rare archival items include the only known photo of Jack playing football for Iowa State University and a wool football jersey directly involved in the final game of his life.

I’m also a textile and game designer. One of my favorite projects was a licensed Pendleton Woolen Mills stadium blanket that I designed for the University of Southern California. The blanket was inspired by USC’s football uniforms and ephemera during the 1920s – an influential period that saw the opening of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and USC’s first Rose Bowl team.

My wife and I live in a small California beach town with our grumpy wire fox terrier.


I’m probably clinging to life in the distant badlands, but I would still love to talk with you.


  • josh (at) kagavi (dot) com

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