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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.

JSTOR Daily Suggested Readings

Suggested Readings: Crucifixion, Distrusting Computers, and Trump Tower

Well-researched stories about the symbolism of the cross, AI you can trust, and the global gig economy.
Illustration: an eleventh century Byzantine depiction of King Solomon

Source: https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-380c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

How People Paid Their Taxes in Biblical Times

Think doing your taxes is annoying? Imagine trying it without a computer, a calculator… or even the Arabic numeral system.
NIH scientist

Scientists Have Always Been Political

Science has always been political, with questions about who pays for research, and who gets to do it, influencing the type of work that gets done.
Car junkyard

The Birth of Planned Obsolescence

Before WWII, American businesses began embracing “creative waste”—the idea that throwing things away and buying new ones could fuel a strong economy.
dance drug

What if We Acknowledged That People Use Drugs Because They’re Fun?

In the modern Western world, drug use fits well into economies that divide our days into disciplined, production-oriented “clock time,” and leisure time.
mens magazine

How Magazines Created a New Culture of Manhood

Middle-class American manhood changed in the mid-twentieth century. And the new ideal of masculine consumption was captured by men’s magazines.
wake up, America!

What Americans Thought of WWI

What did Americans think of World War I before the US entered the conflict 100 years ago? “Public opinion” was no more universal in 1917 than it is today.
babies healthcare

The First Health Insurance Policies Helped Reduce Infant Mortality

Some early healthcare history shows the effect of insurance plans: lower infant morality and better standards across the board.
Mansion of Happiness board game

Gamification, Then and Now

Nineteenth-century board games help to map public morality, from religious virtue to upward mobility.
Tiananmen Square

Will Engagement in the Middle East Change China?

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah visits China this month, marking China’s increasing involvement in the Middle East. China has long had a Muslim minority group.
Cotton gin

Automation in the 1940s Cotton Fields

Automation is a bit of a Rorschach test for anyone interested in workers’ rights. In the 1940s, the mechanization of cotton farming changed the US economy.
Michael Galinksy super tv mall

The Rise and Fall of the Shopping Mall

Is the shopping mall a thing of the past? A look at how the suburbs helped to create the mall--and what is now killing those same shopping centers.
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and Gloria Allred

The History of Outlawing Abortion in America

Abortion was first criminalized in the U.S. in the mid-19th century. A key argument was that too many white women were ending their pregnancies.
Department of Education headquarters, 2008

Does the U.S. Need a Department of Education?

The U.S. Department of Education has been controversial since President Jimmy Carter started it in 1979. Now many are wondering if it needs to exist.
The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777

Immigration and National Security in George Washington’s Day

Presuming that immigration was a boon to national security, U.S. borders remained mostly open for the first century of the nation’s existence.
corn harvest

Why Do We Have “Free Trade” For Televisions, But Not For Corn?

While the U.S. opens industries to market competition at home and abroad, we give our agricultural producers a lot of protection, including big subsidies.
Jordan Motor Car Company

How Car Ads Started Selling Sizzle

In the 1920s car ads began changing. Specialists began to craft auto manufacturer's images solely to please their customers.
Peterloo Massacre

Identity Politics and Popular Movements

Issues tied to gender have often been part of broad-based popular movements, like the Zetetic movement in early nineteenth-century England.
Springfield, Mass. High School

The High School of the Future (in 1917)

In 1917, a Progressive education reformer surveyed the high school landscape and looked to the future. His grand plans still haven’t come to fruition.
Rosalie Slaughter Morton and Anne Morgan, an American philanthropist, in 1918

The Forgotten Women Physicians of World War I

For women physicians, WWI was an opportunity for service that highlighted their deeply ambiguous position, as Ellen More explained in a 1989 paper.
President Ronald Reagan at his desk in the Oval Office.

Why Ronald Reagan Became the Great Deregulator

How did deregulation, and related ideas about how to run the economy, become so central to American politics? Look to Reagan for the answer.
charter school hallway

When School Choice Works

Betsy DeVos strongly supports charter schools operating within the public school framework, and vouchers that help students pay private school tuition.
WPA mural

Why Do We Take Pride in Working for a Paycheck?

In the modern imagination, work is a source of pride, but early labor unions regarded hourly toil in industry as "wage slavery."
Vagrant

The Hidden Subtext of Vagrancy

n recent years, activists in cities across the country have repeatedly clashed with municipal officials over anti-vagrancy laws.
The demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe houses in St. Louis, 1972

“Inner City” Myths and Realities

The history behind why urban black neighborhoods face much higher rates of poverty, crime, and overburdened schools than white suburban areas do.