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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.

Medicaid work requirements

The Health Threats of Welfare Stigma

Researchers found that people with high levels of need were scared away from applying for Medicaid and welfare benefits by stigma.
Freedmen's School

Bringing Universal Education to the South

2018 marks the 150th anniversary of a number of constitutional conventions in Southern states during Reconstruction. One lasting achievement was creating universal education systems.
Nation of Islam prison reform

What the Prisoners’ Rights Movement Owes to the Black Muslims of the 1960s

Black Muslims have been an influential force in the prisoners' rights movement and criminal justice reform as early as the World War II era.
English tea time

The Extremely Un-British Origins of Tea

Tea is bound up in the nation's history of colonial expansion. British tea drinkers preferred Chinese tea at first, and had to be convinced on patriotic grounds to drink tea from India.
anti-crack poster

Rereading the Story of the Crack Epidemic

As policymakers seek solutions for the ongoing opioid epidemic, it's worth remembering how sensationalist reporting can lead to troubling responses.
Senior Couple on Road Trip

What Retirees Can Learn from the RV Community

A look at the RV community, where retirees support one another in the face of illness, mechanical breakdowns, or sudden financial shortfalls.
picture books

Why Picture Books Were Once Considered Dangerous for Children

For Puritan New England, picture books were dangerous. But the Enlightenment, by way of John Locke, made illustrations more acceptable in the classroom.

Why People Want to Be Fitness Instructors

Being a fitness instructor isn’t a very highly-paid job, but, researchers found that the job provides other rewards for the people who love it.
Fresh vegetables

Why Americans Love Diets

On a diet or cleanse in the new year? You're continuing in the very American tradition of self-perfection.
Monopoly board with dice

The Different Meanings of Monopoly

Monopoly's real inventor was Lizzie Magie, a progressive Georgist, who believed that land should be collectively owned by all.
classroom blackboard

How Blackboards Transformed American Education

Looking at the history of U.S. education, Steven D. Krause argues that that most transformative piece of technology in the classroom was the blackboard.
Teddy Roosevelt hunting

Democracy, Aristocracy, and the American Hunter

In our own new Gilded Age, it’s worth asking what the big game hunters have in common with people who hunt to put some extra meat on the table.
human trafficking cover

“White Slavery” and the Policing of Domestic Life

In the early 20th century, journalistic exposés, novels, and vice commission reports trumpeted fears about "white slavery" sweeping the country.
Monks in cloisters

When People Thought Charitable Donations Would Save Their Souls

As the middle ages progressed, monasteries became a major engine of economic activity in European communities.
Womens Home Companion ad

An Ad Campaign for Ads

Back in the 1920s and ‘30s, the magazine Women’s Home Companion tried explicitly appealing to its readers to take the ads seriously.
Settlement cookbook

The Cooking Classes that Americanized Jewish Immigrants

At the end of the 19th century, a Wisconsin woman named Elizabeth “Lizzie” Black Kander tried to help immigrants assimilate, through the food they ate.
Wooden retro radio

Before Net Neutrality, There Was Radio Regulation

Before today's fight over net neutrality, the US government debated commercial profitability & popular access in the context of a different medium: radio.
Etta Semple

The Godless Sex Radicals of the Kansas Plains

One of the biggest trends in American religious beliefs today is the rise of the “nones." In the 1880s, they might have called themselves freethinkers.
60s exchange floor

Are Free Markets Fictional?

Back in the 1940s, when America's post-war economic system was taking shape, many popular economists agreed that “free markets” were a fiction.
Christmas classroom

Are Classroom Holiday Parties Constitutional?

Can schools let students and teachers celebrate religions holidays without violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause?
green semi truck

The Populist Power of the American Trucker

How did truckers nudge the American economy toward deregulation?
sleeping

The Age of the Bed Changed the Way We Sleep

One historian reconstructs what nighttime was like in early modern Europe, and how the darkness affected people's sleep patterns.
Rev. Cotton Mather

A Puritan War on Wigs

In colonial New England, moral quandaries were everywhere. A surprisingly big one in the 17th and 18th century was whether it was okay to wear a wig.
empty plate fasting

The Joy of Fasting

Fasting was once a religious endeavor. The idea that skipping meals could lead to improved health emerged around the turn of the twentieth century.
Mulberry tree Cambridge

When America Went Crazy for Mulberry Trees

In the early 19th century, mulberry trees became associated with economic prosperity and morally upright productiveness, leading to a speculative bubble.