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Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance writer in Nashua, New Hampshire. Her writing has appeared in publications including Salon, Aeon Magazine and the Good Men Project. Contact her on Twitter @liviagershon.

Two children looking at artwork hung on the wall

Taking Children’s Art Seriously

Are children’s drawings meaningless scribbles or serious creative work? Western scholars and child psychologists have debated this topic for years.

A Sense of Place for Toddlers

Young children have a unique sense of the world that can be difficult for grown-up architects to grasp.
An opium den in London's East End

How Opium Use Became a Moral Issue

In the 19th century, England's working classes frequently used opium. But there weren't laws against the drug until the middle classes started using it.
The Oregon Civilian Conservation Corps

The First New Deal Was Green, Too

An integral part of FDR's New Deal was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which focused on environmental conservation work.
The Native American village of Secoton

Yes, Americans Owned Land Before Columbus

What you were taught in elementary school about Native Americans not owning land is a myth. The truth is much more complicated.
Brothel by Joachim Beuckelaer, 1562

Regulating Sex Work in Medieval Europe

When sex work was considered a "necessary evil," legal brothels provided certain protections for the women who worked there.
A county fair in Shelbyville, KY

Judging Families at the State Fair

"Better Baby Contests" began as part of the Progressive Era push to improve children’s health and reduce infant mortality. Then eugenicists got involved.
Rachel Carson Conducts Marine Biology Research with Bob Hines

Rachel Carson’s Critics Called Her a Witch

When Silent Spring was published, the response was overtly gendered. Rachel Carson's critics depicted her as hysterical, mystical, and witchy.
Two children playing in the snow

The Snow Day as Modern Festival

An unexpected day off work and school can take on the trappings of a religious ritual.
A group of slaves gathered outside a building at the Foller Plantation in Cumberland Landing, Pamunkey Run, Virginia, May, 1862.

Did Black Rebellion Win the Civil War?

Historians are giving credence to W.E.B. DuBois's assertion that enslaved workers coordinated a general strike, which helped end the Civil War.
An advertisement for Fry's Chocolate

How Chocolate Came to Europe

Pre-Colombian cultures valued chocolate highly as a drink, and often served it at important events. It wasn't made into a solid candy until 1847.
A trade card for Dilworth's Coffee, Philadelphia

The Racism of 19th-Century Advertisements

Illustrated advertising cards invoked ethnic stereotypes, using black women as foils in order to appeal to white consumers.
Group photo in front of Clark University: Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, C. G. Jung; Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

When Psychoanalysts Believed in Magic

Sigmund Freud told Carl Jung it was important to keep sexuality at the center of the human psyche, rather than anything spiritualist.
A map of lines and metallic circuit connections by the American Telephone and Telegraph Co., 1891

When the Weather Service Spied on Americans

The United States National Weather Service began as part of the military, with a mandate to serve the interests of federal officials and business owners.
Billy Sunday

Pop-Culture Preaching in the 1910s

Billy Sunday was a charismatic preacher who brought in thousands to his vaudeville-inspired church services.
Volunteer nurses tending to the sick and wounded.

When Death Was Women’s Business

In the 19th century, women called "watchers" tended to the dying and the dead.
Alan Watts

When Buddhism Came to America

Buddhism was embraced by the Beats of 1950s America. But some Buddhists felt these converts were engaging with the practice in a shallow way.
A classroom of white students in the 19th century

White Women’s Role in School Segregation

White American women have long played significant roles in maintaining racist practices. One sociologist calls the phenomenon "social mothering."
A tree with branches blown sideways by wind

When Europeans Feared the Wind

In early modern Europe, various sorts of winds were associated with illness and even death.
Greta Garbo

Makeup in the Technicolor Age

When Technicolor changed the face of the film industry, it also altered the cosmetics industry, sparking the great Hollywood Powder Puff War of the 1930s.
A woman dropping her tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water

What Does History Smell Like?

Scholars don't typically pay that much attention to smells, but odors have historically been quite significant.
A pile of pink and blue sponges

Finding the Value of Housework

Can housework be anything other than drudgery? Maybe part of the problem is that we consistently devalue unpaid work.
Two champagne glasses toasting

Why Champagne?

We use champagne to celebrate New Year's Eve and other major events. But how did the sparkling wine get such cultural cachet? (Hint: marketing helped.)
Interior with breastfeeding woman

Breast Milk as Medicine

Human breast milk has been recommended as a cure-all since the 17th century.
Two young people reading together.

Is Fan Fiction a Helpful Literacy Tool?

Some teachers are adapting to the internet age by trying to understand the "new literacies" of today's students.