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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.

A young man and woman eating ice cream.

Who Invented Weird Hipster Ice Cream Flavors?

From asparagus to pâté de fois gras, early modern ice cream was decidedly different from plain chocolate and vanilla.
A Fourth of July picnic, possibly in South Carolina, 1874, by J. A. Palmer

How Black Americans Co-opted the Fourth of July

After the Civil War, white southerners saw the Fourth of July as a celebration of Confederate defeat. Black southerners saw opportunities.
A Swedish couple c. 1850

How Churches Helped Make Scandinavians “White”

At a time when people from the "wrong" places were entering the U.S., missionaries tried to recruit immigrants they found acceptable.
The head of school security, and a Miami-Dade Police officer stand at the front entrance to the Kenwood K-8 Center on August 24, 2018 in Miami, Florida.

Why Do We Have Cops in Schools?

In the mid-1970s, police officers were in only about 1 percent of US schools. That changed since the late 1990s.
W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois Was #BlackintheIvory

#BlackintheIvory highlights reports of racism in academia, echoing the experiences of W.E.B. Du Bois in sociology.
Several hundred doctors, nurses and medical professionals come together to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd on June 5, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri.

Police Violence Is a Public Health Issue

Research makes the case that people who fear police violence are less likely to seek out health care.
Anita Louise chats on the telephone in a scene from The Gay Lady, 1935

When the Telephone Was Considered Feminine

Being difficult to understand on the other end of the line was a badge of masculinity.
A woman speaking on the phone

Calling the Police, without Trusting the Police

A scholar finds nuanced reasoning among poor Black women facing difficult choices about whether to call the cops.
Protesters march with three placards stating "BLACK Lives Matter" in the aftermath of widespread unrest following the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Healing, Spirituality, and Black Lives Matter

Spirituality has long infused and inspired social justice movements. Activists today expand that heritage.
Demonstration of Protest and Mourning for Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of March 25, 1911, 04/05/1911

The History of Mourning in Public

After a massive factory fire in 1911, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to stage a "symbolic funeral."
A massive American Elm tree sits backlit by the rising sun in Overlook Park in northern Portland, Oregon.

Why Learning the Names of Trees Is Good for You

Getting to know trees can lead to new ways of looking at the world.
Boy sitting at desk with book

The Surprising History of Homework Reform

Really, kids, there was a time when lots of grownups thought homework was bad for you.
Navy Anti-Malaria Unit, Guadalcanal, circa 1942

The Origins of the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began during World War II to prevent the spread of malaria to troops stationed in the South.
Medical staff taking blood from a blood donor at the Princeton Medical Center in New Jersey, USA, circa 1950.

The Weird Ways People Have Tied Blood Types to Identity

Scientific racism. Paternity tests. And mass tattooing, just in case of nuclear attack.
Bernarr MacFadden foundation, Third Avenue, New York, 1931. People could also buy a five course meal for a nickel and up to 3,000 can be served in a day.

One Parallel for the Coronavirus Crisis? The Great Depression

“The idea that the federal government would be providing emergency relief and emergency work was extraordinary,” one sociologist said. “And people liked it.”
Male teacher assisting student at desk in classroom

How Not to Teach Grammar

When people with opinions and a platform rant about bad grammar, they're not helping, write two English professors.
indian Mulligatawny soup in a brass bowl

The Soup of British Colonialism

Mulligatawny soup started as a simple South Indian broth but was changed to appeal to British palates.
A male doctor sitting down and looking pensive

How Doctors Make End-of-Life Choices

Many people facing the end of their life receive treatments that ultimately have no benefit. A team of researchers set out to find out why.
Men prepare bacon at a meat packing plant in Chicago, circa 1955

Why Does Meatpacking Have Such Bad Working Conditions?

In the long time between The Jungle and today, meatpacking has changed—first for the better, due to strong unions, then for the worse.
UK research organisation Mass-Observation conducts a survey at the Nuffield Centre, a Service Club in Soho, to find out the preferred 'pin-up girl' of a number of servicemen, September 1944.

Yes, Mass Observation Still Wants to Know about Your Life

The organization has collected interviews and diaries recording ordinary life in Britain over the course of decades. A pandemic won't stop it now.
WPA bookmobile

How Reading Got Farm Women Through the Depression

They worked over sixty hours a week but were also insatiable readers.
Two young children holding placard which reads "Are we men or mices? We won't pay these prices" at a demonstration in Harlem between the 116th and the 125th to protest against housing conditions and rent price, New York City, US, July 1946.

Rent Strikes Aren’t Just About Rent

A wave of rent strikes in the 1960s showed that poor residents of New York City had deep concerns about housing. The media, however, focused on big rats.
Panel from the Florentine Cortex depicting smallpox outbreaks in the Americas during the 16th century

European Colonization and Epidemics Among Native Peoples

What you learned about the diseases that decimated Native communities is probably wrong.
A man with binoculars

The Manly Birdwatchers of Ontario

Finding a hobby that doesn't undermine your 19th-century masculinity can be tough.
Irving Browne, Iconoclasm and Whitewash. New York, 1886. Illustrated by the author. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

“Grangerization” Made Beautiful Books Even Better

But the eighteenth-century readerly hobby angered critics, who saw it as a “monstrous practice.”