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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.

Dr. Emile Coue, 1923

The Self-Help Mantra That Got Better and Better

Every day, in every way, the pop psychology of Emile Coué conquered 1920s Britain.
Lady Duff Gordon

World War I Austerity Couldn’t Stop the Fashion Show

To the designer Lucile, luxury consumerism was a virtue as wartime economies struggled.
City of Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium poster promoting testing for tuberculosis, 1939

What Happened to U.S. Public Health?

After the Civil War, support for public health measures was high. Now, some people blast them as part of the "nanny state."
A woman hiking in the Southwest

How Harassment Keeps Women off Hiking Trails

For many women, the pleasures of solitude in the outdoors must be weighed against the possibility of harassment.
Interior of a London Coffee-house, 17th century

The News Junkies of the Eighteenth Century

Hooked on viral news (or is it gossip?), today's Twitter hordes owe a lot to history's coffeehouses.
Bella Abzug for Mayor Button, New York City 1977

Bella Abzug Began Her Career as an Anti-Racist Lawyer

As an outspoken lawyer, the future congresswoman defended a Black man accused of raping a white woman.
Pro-police demonstrators argue across a temporary barricade during a protest outside the Governors Mansion on June 27, 2020 in St Paul, Minnesota.

Is Political Backlash Real?

Many people assume that strong movements for minority rights provoke backlash at the polls. But some scholars have doubts.
a baby uses the top of mother's skirt as a footrest and leans on her back for a comfortable ride home

Caregiving, Gender, and Power in Papua New Guinea

Among the Murik people, mothering isn't something that comes "naturally" to women who give birth; it's a form of power.
The workroom at St James's workhouse" from The Microcosm of London (1808)

The Trouble with Nursing Homes

From the almshouse to the nursing home, has long-term care for seniors been destined to fail?
Orange Buddish Monks Robe tied around a tree.

Why Some Buddhist Monks Ordain Trees

Buddhist monks in Thailand began tying trees with their traditional colored robes in the 1980s, as threats to ecology increased.
Raven Ziegler from Minneapolis protests the name of the Washington Redskins before a game on November 7, 2013

Playing Sports and “Playing Indian”

The use of Native American stereotypes for team mascots and nicknames is related to efforts to erase Indian identity and culture.
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.