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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.

biting dogs

The 19th Century War on Dogs

Dogs have always been a matter of debate in American cities. In 19th-century New York City, the debate involved paying impoverished children to participate in dog-murder.
Loggers slang

The Lost Language of American Loggers

Logger slang may have coined terms like "punk," "haywire," and "pie in the sky." One lexicographer attempted to catalogue the industry's slang in 1942.
Prison interior

Why Do We Have Prisons in the United States?

The Enlightenment brought the idea that punishments should be certain and mild, rather than harsh with lots of pardons and exceptions.
Guinness ad

Why We Drink Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day

Unlike shamrock pins and green beer, Guinness drinking really is a longstanding tradition in Ireland.
yoga class being led by instructor

How America Embraced Yoga

More than a century ago, a blend of exotic stereotypes, trendy health advice, and new ideas about religion and gender built the foundations of the American yoga movement.
School to tech pipeline

The Trouble with the School-to-Tech Pipeline

Anthropologist Elsa Davidson found at a Silicon Valley high school serving “at-risk” Latino and Southeast Asian kids that there are some complicated obstacles to careers in tech.
East LA Student protest

The Activist Students of 1960s East Los Angeles

Over a week and a half starting on March 1st, 1968, more than 10,000 students in mostly Chicano schools took part in what became known as the East Los Angeles School Blowouts.
pharmaceutical advertising

Should Drug Makers Advertise?

Drug advertising is a longstanding issue in the U.S, tangled with patients’ rights to make their own decisions, doctors’ professional status, and the ethics of profiting from powerful drugs.
Kids gaming in the library

The Grand Old Tradition of Gaming at the Library

Visit your local public library today and you may find rows of kids playing computer games, or even a couple of Xboxes. Gaming at the library is a tradition that goes back to the 1850s.
v

How Consumerism Sold Democracy to Postwar Germany

After World War II, the United States was battling the Soviet Union for cultural influence. In divided Berlin, the tactics included lavish consumer goods exhibitions.
Child poverty

Why Equality Matters More Than Income

Looking at children’s wellbeing in rich countries like the U.S. in 2007, scholars found that inequality may matter a lot more for kids’ lives than absolute income level.
Pope Sixtus V abortion ban

What a 16th-Century Abortion Ban Revealed

In 1588, Pope Sixtus V issued a papal bull officially classifying abortion, regardless of the stage of fetal development, as homicide.
I Am a Man

How the Memphis Sanitation Strike Changed History

How the Memphis Sanitation Strike, with its iconic “I AM A MAN” signs, helped deepen Martin Luther King, Jr.'s radicalism in the last months of his life.
Menstrual pads history

The Secret History of Menstruation

Menstruation is both a mundane fact of life and an oddly under-discussed subject. For many centuries, Western industrial societies have simply ignored it.
George Washington portrait

What Is President’s Day Actually About?

For most of American history, Washington's Birthday was a really big deal, but, as scholar Barry Schwartz explains, that's changed a lot since the middle of the twentieth century.
Shaker tree art

The Shaker Formula for Gender Equality

Shaker communities seem to have appealed to a lot of women because they offered a respite where their work was honored and respected.
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.