Ashley Rubin

The Invention of Incarceration

Prisons have been controversial since their beginnings in the late 1700s — why do they keep failing to live up to expectations?

St. Patrick’s Day in Prison

Offhand references to St. Patrick’s Day showcase broader humor, humanity, and history in the American Prison Newspapers collection.
Convicts working at Reed Camp, South Carolina, 1934

Mass Incarceration: A Syllabus

This selection of stories focuses on prison and mass incarceration in the US, which has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world.
A gold coin commemorating the assassination of Julius Caesar

Beware the Ides of March. (But Why?)

Everybody remembers that the Ides of March was the day Julius Caesar was assassinated. But what does it mean, and why that day?
the picket line outside Eaton’s during the 1984-85 strike

The Working Class Roots of Canadian Feminism

The increased participation of women in labor helped create the Canadian feminist movement.
A farmer in Louisiana, 1972

The USDA Versus Black Farmers

Current attempts to correct historical discrimination by local and regional offices of the USDA have been met with charges of "reverse discrimination."
Elizabeth Keckley

Elizabeth Keckley’s Memoir Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four in the White House

Keckley’s decision to write about her employers from the viewpoint of a household laborer--she was seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln--enraged audiences.
Louisa Jacobson in The Gilded Age

Philanthropy and the Gilded Age

As the HBO series The Gilded Age suggests, charity allowed wealthy women to play a visible role in public life. It was also a site of inter-class animosity.
Pancho Barnes and the Powder Puff Derby at Long Beach, California circa 1930-1931

1929 Women’s Air Derby Changed Views On Women Pilots

Women pilots were seen as oddities, opportunists, and "too scatterbrained" to fly. The 1929 All-Woman Air Race set out to change that.
Lviv, 1907

Lviv: Open to the World

The history of the Ukrainian city of Lviv is long, complex and mirrors some of the larger conflicts of the Eastern European region.