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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.

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.
A cattle roundup in Nevada, 1973, with a photoshopped UFO in the sky

The 1970s Cow Mutilation Mystery

When ranchers began reporting incidents of mutilated cattle, the ensuing panic fed both conspiracy theories and a growing cynicism about the government.
Hijras (transgender) dance as they get ready backstage before the Hijra talent show, part of the first ever event called Hijra Pride 2014, on November 10, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Gender in the History Classroom

High school teachers sometimes struggle to teach about ways different societies have conceptualized gender. Here’s a look at a few practical approaches.
Dora Barrios, Frances Silva, and Lorena Encinas held in the Los Angeles County Jail during the 1943 Sleepy Lagoon Trial

Pachuca Rebels in 1940s Los Angeles

Like their zoot suit-wearing male counterparts, young Mexican American women rebelled against white, mainstream culture through bold fashion choices.
Edwin Boring

Gatekeeping Psychology

In the mid-twentieth century, psychologist Edwin Boring attributed the limited role of female psychologists to issues other than discrimination.
John Addington Symonds, 1889

Putting Gay Men Back Into History

In the late nineteenth century, historian John Addington Symonds fought back against his colleagues’ refusal to acknowledge historical same-sex relationships.
Postcard panorama of "Rex" parade on Canal Street, New Orleans Mardi Gras, 1904, via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RexPanorama04B.jpg

Why is New Orleans a City of Parades?

New Orleans’ ethnic diversity and lack of public welfare programs contributed to a culture of mutual aid organizations—and huge, festive parades.
Marcus Garvey, 1941

Marcus Garvey and the History of Black History

Long before the concept of multicultural education emerged, the United Negro Improvement Association pushed for the teaching of Black history and culture.
An illustration of Morning Glory flowers

Aphrodisiacs of the Aztec and Inca

Aztec and Inca societies used a huge number of aphrodisiacs, from peanuts to hallucinogenic mushrooms to insect larvae.
A man looks through his medicine cabinet in the bathroom, circa 1955.

The Long Life of the Nacirema

An article that turned an exoticizing anthropological lens on US citizens in 1956 began as an academic in-joke but turned into an indictment of the discipline.