Woman recycling glass, Wallingford neighborhood, Seattle, Washington, 1990

You’ll Never Believe Who Invented Curbside Recycling

Far from ushering in a zero-waste world, the switch from returnables to recycling provided cover for the creation of ever more packaging trash.
Beachgoers at Myrtle Beach, SC

How the Beaches of the South Got There

The government funded beach construction for private developers, which displaced Black farmers from their coastal lands.
A bunch of flowering sweet peas

Boosters Used the Sweet Pea to Define California

In the late 19th century, Californians were eager to part with their reputation for wildness, so they adopted an "English" flower as their symbol.
1 Dollar, Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank of Rahway, New Jersey, 1850

Banks’ Own Private Currencies in 19th-Century America

Before the Civil War local banks issued their own money. It was totally legit, too.
A recumbent bicycle in 1935

Who Killed the Recumbent Bicycle?

How a dominant technology became viewed as the only option, with no need for better-designed competitors.
President Joe Biden holds a semiconductor during his remarks before signing an Executive Order on the economy

Semiconductor Shortages End an Era of Globalization

Our security studies columnist on leanness, supply chains, and resilience in a post-pandemic world.
A woman picking vegetables

How the Black Labor Movement Envisioned Liberty

To Reconstruction-era Black republicans, the key to preserving the country’s character was stopping the rise of a wage economy.
New Orleans, 1939

How St. Louis Domestic Workers Fought Exploitation

Without many legal protections under the New Deal, Black women organized through the local Urban League.
US Airmail stamp: Inverted Jenny Air Mail Issue of 1918

Stamp Collecting as Metaphor for the Free Market

The hobby was originally pursued by middle-class women and children. But its resemblance to capitalist values made it attractive to men.
Illustration: Branding Iron by Henry Rasmusen, c. 1937

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_Rasmusen,_Branding_Iron,_c._1937,_NGA_21119.jpg

A Fistful of Data: Information and the Cattle Industry

Beef barons needed cowboys less and bookkeepers more as the nineteenth century wore on.