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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.

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.
Mother holding her newborn baby child after labor in a hospital.

Saving the Lives of Mothers and Babies

Between 1930 and 1950, advances in medicine also contributed to continuing, dramatic improvement in infants’ survival chances.
Artisan Sourdough Bread

The War on White Bread

In 1890, women baked more than 80 percent of the nation’s bread at home, and it was brown, non-standardized stuff. When did it become white?
Rum and Coke

What Rum and Cokes Have to do With War

What could be more American than a sugary soda mixed with a liquor made from sugar? The origins of rum and Coke is more problematic than you might expect.
Elaine Defendants

Black Organizing and White Violence

In 1919, armed posses and federal troops killed as many as one hundred African-Americans in one of the worst instances of mass violence in U.S. history.
Steamed dumplings Dim Sum

The Cookbook That Brought Chinese Food to American Kitchens

The groundbreaking 1945 cookbook, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, that introduced Chinese cooking to white American cooks.
Boys fishing in a bayou, Schriever, LA, 1940

Why Our Work Affects How Kids Play

The way we think about the skills kids need—and even how they should play—is deeply tied to the characteristics we expect them to need as adults.
Presidential facial hair

The Meaning of a Mustache

To shave or not to shave? At the start of the twentieth century, a trend away from facial hair reflected dramatic social and economic shifts.
Oneida community home building

Eroticism and Religion in Utopia

Some 19th-century utopian idealists took up deeply unconventional sexual arrangements based specifically on their religious beliefs.
uncomfortable chairs

Character-Building With Uncomfortable Chairs

Chairs were a subject of much debate as far back as the nineteenth century, pitting health and technology against propriety and aesthetics.