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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.

Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia’s Global Story

Native to Paraguay, Ka’a he’e followed a circuitous path through Indigenous medicine, Japanese food science, and American marketing to reach the US sweeteners market.
A sanitary-commission nurse and her patients at Fredericksburg, May 1864

The Post-Civil War Opioid Crisis

Many servicemen became addicted to opioids prescribed during the war. Society viewed their dependency as a lack of manliness.
The entrance of the National Association Opposed To Woman Suffrage's headquarters

Women Against Women’s Suffrage

The fight for women’s suffrage is often depicted as pitting women against men. But some women made it their life’s mission to campaign against it.
An illustration of pollen and dust in the atmosphere from Popular Science Monthly, 1883

The Mystery of Crime-Scene Dust

In the late nineteenth century, forensic investigators began using new technologies to study minute details—such as the arrangement and makeup of dust.
Saad Almontaser, 1, of Brooklyn, waves an American flag over his father Ali, from Yemen, as protesters hold a rally outside of Manhattan Federal Court on June 26, 2018 in New York City.

How Arab-Americans Stopped Being White

With the emergence of the US as a global superpower in the twentieth-century, anti-Palestinian stereotypes in the media bled over to stigmatize Arab Americans.
Vintage engraving of young girl pour her sick mother a cup of tea, 19th Century

The Dangers of Tea Drinking

In nineteenth century Ireland, tea could be a symbol of cultivation and respectability or ill health and chaos, depending on who was drinking it.
Illustration from Le Roman du Renard

What Makes Foxes So Fantastic?

In stories from around the world, foxes offer rewards or punishments to humans, play tricks on their fellow animals, and sometimes transform into foxy ladies.
Road travelling horses being accustomised to motor cars, c. 1904

An Uncertain Energy Transition a Century Ago

When it came to the transport of goods within local areas, it took decades for the competition among horses, electric vehicles, and gas trucks to shake out.
Lunchroom in Chicago, 1896

How Gender Got on the Menu

As women began to be welcomed into restaurants, some started catering to what they perceived as “female tastes,” largely meaning the sugary stuff
Exchange Coffee House, Boston

The First American Hotels

In the eighteenth century, if people in British North America had to travel, they stayed at public houses that were often just repurposed private homes.
La Rue Catinat, Saigon, Vietnam, 1920s

Neurasthenia, Vietnamese Style

To self-diagnose with neurasthenia was to identify with modernity and civilization while also recognizing the harms caused by colonial structures.
Young adults dance the Bossa Nova and the Twist during a dance contest with Ray Milan and the Quartet in Los Angeles,California, 1964

The Bossa Nova Craze

In the early 1960s, bossa nova was hugely popular in the US thanks to its reinvention as a social dance and its connections with upper-class culture.
An animation of a cat that shifts between the cat being alive and the cat being dead

Why Do We Love Thinking About Schrödinger’s Cat?

In physics, the whole point of the thought experiment is that it’s absurd. But in literature, it’s been used to explore all sorts of ideas and possibilities.
Vintage engraving of hunting moose in Alaska, 1886

Why Animals “Give Themselves” to Hunters

Many northern Indigenous cultures think about hunting in terms of literal “gifts” from animal to human, yet outsiders often dismiss the concept as a metaphor.
Image showing the sixty-four hexagrams from the King Wen sequence of the I Ching.

The I Ching in America

Europeans translated the Chinese Book of Changes in the nineteenth century, but the philosophy really took off in the West after 1924.
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the Victory celebration for the 1966 Governor's election at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles California

Ronald Reagan v. UC Berkeley

In the late 1960s, gubernatorial candidate Ronald Reagan made political hay by picking a fight with UC Berkeley over student protest and tenured “radicals.”
President Kennedy in the limousine in Dallas, Texas, on Main Street, minutes before the assassination

JFK’s Assassination and “Doing Your Own Research”

Revelations about secret government programs after Kennedy’s assassination increased the power of conspiracy theories and the fervor of those who set out to expose them.
A Trappist monk in the cloisters of a monastery in County Waterford, Ireland, 1935

The Irish Fasting Tradition

Particularly before the Second Vatican Council (a.k.a. Vatican II), fasting was part of the Catholic calendar. No one took it more seriously than the Irish.
1935: Nazi leader Adolf Hitler speaks in front of microphones and gestures with his hands. Original Publication: From the newsreel 'The March of Time'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A Cancelation in 1934

A writer for the Baltimore Sun compared Hitler to the sixteenth-century Catholic Saint Ignatius. Archbishop Curley had something to say about that.
A Victorian boy and girl excitedly welcoming their father home, while their mother stands and watches

How Government Helped Create the “Traditional” Family

Since the mid-nineteenth century, many labor regulations in the US have been crafted with the express purpose of strengthening the male-breadwinner family.
Basel Mission catechist William Timothy Evans raised his two daughters in the mission community in Accra and Akropong after his Ga wife, Emma Evans (née Reindorf), died during childbirth in 1900.

Exposing the Sexual Hypocrisy of European Colonists

In the early twentieth century, white colonizers’ exploitation of women in West Africa’s Gold Coast stoked anti-colonial politics.
Church above Vathy bay, Kalymnos island, Dodecanese archipelago, Greece

An Explosive Easter Celebration

The Orthodox Easter tradition of throwing dynamite on the island of Kalymnos echoes the Greek resistance to the Italian occupation of the 1940s.
Clemencia López

Clemencia López and the Philippine Struggle for Freedom

López’s gender and appearance helped her contribute to anti-imperial and suffrage movements in a way her male peers couldn’t.
Students in a music classroom

Tech in the Classroom in the 1910s

American music teacher Frances E. Clark helped the Victor Corporation bring recorded music into classrooms, overcoming educators’ distrust of the technology.
Fairy King and Queen, 1910

Building a Fairy Kingdom in Britain

Around the fourteenth century, folk and literary traditions concerning elves, demons, and other creatures coalesced into a unified fairy kingdom.