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Black and white headshot of author Livia Gershon

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 4 Minute men poster, 1917

The US Propaganda Machine of World War I

As the United States prepared to enter World War I, the government created the first modern state propaganda office, the Committee on Public Information.
New York City, the beach street dumping barge, 1866

A History of Garbage

The history of garbage dumps is the history of America.
The cover image from Ghost stories and phantom fancies, 1858

Class and Superstition in Britain

Believing in ghosts wasn’t a class marker until the 1820s, when suddenly the educated classes tried to convince the masses that these apparitions were delusions.
Robert Englund in movie art for the film 'A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master', 1988.

Freddy Krueger, Folkloric Monster

Many aspects of Freddy Krueger's backstory and actions in A Nightmare on Elm Street echo portrayals of the folkloric bogeyman who targets children.
Coster-girl by H.G Hine and E. Whimpers, 1851

The Radical Street Sellers of London

Many considered street vendors dangerous, not just for their general skirting of the law but because they comprised an outspoken political force.
Bath Room Interior by the J.L. Mott Iron Works, 1888

Dawn of the Bathroom

The bathroom didn’t become a thing until the nineteenth century, and most working-class US homes added plumbed-in amenities in piecemeal fashion over time.
Fundraising card used by Anita Bryant to support Save Our Children

Parents’ Rights, Sex, and Race in 1970s Florida

Save Our Children is remembered as an effort to keep gay people out of public life. But it was also rooted in the movement against school integration.
Coal mining, Anthracite Region of Pa. Loaded cars being placed on cage to be raised to surface. Post card from between circa 1930 and circa 1945.

When Did Americans Start Using Fossil Fuel?

The nineteenth-century establishment of mid-Atlantic coal mines and canals gave America its first taste of abundant fossil fuel energy.
leaders of Kongo receiving the Portugeuse, ca. pre-1840

How Portuguese Slave Traders Changed Ethiopia and Congo

Portuguese trading of enslaved Africans affected two major African powers in very different ways.
An illustration of meat marbling

Why Eat Like a Caveman?

To people who follow the Paleo plan, it can mean anything from embracing meat-eating as a feminist choice to seeking a balanced life with room for leisure.
A group of women sit in the waiting room of the American Birth Control League Clinic, New York, 1921

Pro-Sex Feminists of the 1920s

In the early decades of the twentieth century, political and social activists saw separating sex from marriage and reproduction as an issue of freedom.
Thomas Jefferson

Making Malt Liquor at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson thought whiskey was harmful to the country. Together with enslaved brewer Peter Hemings, he experimented with making less potent drinks.
Cotton plantation

Understanding Capitalism Through Cotton

Looking at the development of cotton as a global commodity, explains historian Sven Beckert, helps us understand how capitalism emerged.
Prison Work Crew c. 1929

Race, Prison, and the Thirteenth Amendment

Critiques of the Thirteenth Amendment have roots in a long history of activists who understood the imprisonment of Black people as a type of slavery.
An Obeah figure brought to England in 1888, taken from a man arrested in Morant Bay, Jamaica, in 1887. The police had suspected him of being an Obeah-man, and thought his possession of this figure proved it.

Poison and Magic in Caribbean Uprisings

Witchcraft and poisoning were closely connected for both West Africans and the Europeans who enslaved them in the eighteenth-century Caribbean.
An illustration of a woman distilling, 1691

The Home Science Labs of English Noblewomen

In the eighteenth century, elite women with a scientific bent often turned to distilling medicines, a craft that helped them participate in experimentation.
William Henry West Betty by John Opie, 1804

A Teen Celebrity in 1804

When thirteen-year-old actor William Henry West Betty arrived in London from Ireland, crowds mobbed theaters and camped outside his home.
Illustration from 19th century of a family in the living room

The Rise of the Domestic Husband

In the late 1800s, advice writers targeting white, middle-class Americans began encouraging men to become more engaged in the emotional lives of their households.
Man Washing by Maximilien Luce

Bringing Personal Hygiene to France

France’s notorious disregard for washing gradually changed as military authorities and public schools promoted a modern regime of cleanliness.
The Griffin Sisters

The Griffin Sisters Helped Build Black Vaudeville

The sisters were not only a singing duo, they were successful businesswomen and advocates for Black-owned enterprises in the entertainment world.
A pork-butcher's shop

Meat and the Free Market

Significant political changes in three major global cities fueled experimentation with laissez-faire economics, which had peculiar effects on the meat market.
A couple in a Studebaker in Santa Barbara, CA, 1962 on a television screen

The Rise of the LA Suburb in 1960s TV

The shift from city centers to suburbs was reflected in post-World War II television programming.
Jesus in jail with Instruments of the Passion

Visiting Christ’s Prison Cell

After Christian crusaders captured Jerusalem, the Prison of Christ featured on pilgrims' itineraries. But was Christ actually ever imprisoned there?
Grand Canyon below rim, 1964

When the Government Tried to Flood the Grand Canyon

In the 1960s, the government proposed the construction of two dams in the Grand Canyon, potentially flooding much of Grand Canyon National Park.
1700, Craftsmen in the building industry, including timber felling, stonemasonry and roofing.

When Being an Unemployed Teenager was a Crime

Seventeenth-century teenagers faced criminalization for refusing to take on jobs as live-in farm workers, but many pursued their interests despite the threat.