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Peter Feuerherd

Peter Feuerherd is a professor of journalism at St. John’s University in New York and a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

ZIP code promotional sign with "Mr. ZIP" on a hotel letter drop.

Where Did Zip Codes Come From?

How a plan for getting the mail delivered faster allowed targeted marketing to grow.
Vintage image of a baseball game in the late 19th century.

Baseball History and Rural America

Baseball's creation myth is bunk, and historians have shown how important cities were to the game's development. But it was still a rural passion.
Boris Sidis

How Jewish Immigrants Changed American Psychology

Secular Jewish psychologists like Boris Sidis criticized the positive optimism of Protestant-centered psychology.
Harry Truman circa 1935

How Harry Truman Rose to Fame Curbing War Profiteers

Right when the U.S. needed supplies for World War II, military contractors started overcharging. An obscure senator from Missouri challenged them.
Ulysses S. Grant between 1860 and 1865

Why Ulysses S. Grant Was More Important Than You Think

Grant’s presidency is often overlooked, but his accomplishments around civil rights are getting more consideration from historians.
A personification of Acedia from between 1550 and 1625

Ancient Monks Got That Quarantine Feeling, Too

Listlessness, boredom, torpor, that "noonday demon" that tempts you away from spiritual connections—that's what was called acedia.
Carol Coslett is collated as the new Archdeacon of Chesterfield

Women Clergy and the Stained-Glass Ceiling

Christian and Jewish women leaders transformed the U.S. religious landscape during the 1970s, but subtle discrimination has limited their opportunities.
"On Decoration Day" Political cartoon c. 1900 by John T. McCutcheon

The Evolution of Memorial Day

What started as a solemn commemoration of dead Civil War soldiers has become a celebration of summer. Here's why that makes total sense.
Vice President Hubert Humphrey, circa 1965

Hubert Humphrey’s Vice Presidential Dilemma

Hubert Humphrey was well-respected as Lyndon B. Johnson's vice president--but he failed to capture the imagination of the young Democrats of the late 60s.
Frank Capra, 1937

Frank Capra’s Not-So-Sunny Vision of American Life

Capra's films are known for being upbeat and sometimes cheesy, but beneath the surface are rather dark stories of American corruption.
A drawing of the Astor Place Riot, 1849, by Charles M. Jenckes

When an Argument Over Macbeth Incited a Bloody Riot

On May 10th, 1849, protestors rioted at Astor Place Opera House, leading to the deadliest civic insurrection in American history up to that time.
The Columbine Memorial in Littleton, Colorado.

How Columbine Brought Religion into Public Life

In the aftermath of 1999's Columbine massacre, American media and politicians focused on the secret world of delinquent youth and how they might be saved.
President John F. Kennedy fields a question at a press conference on April 14, 1961, in Washington, DC. This press conference took place three days before the failed 'Bay of Pigs' invasion of Cuba and just three months into Kennedy's presidency.

How the Bay of Pigs Invasion Changed JFK

The disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, early in John F. Kennedy's presidency, led him to reconfigure his foreign policy decision-making process.
Private Jessica Lynch Meets With U.S. President George W. Bush in the Oval Office June 17, 2004

How American Soldier Jessica Lynch Became a Symbol

Jessica Lynch was the first woman American POW to be successfully rescued. She became symbolic in ways that had little to do with the facts of her story.

What Violent Acts Get Defined as Terrorism

Why was the Weather Underground group labelled as a terrorist organization, while the KKK was not? A brief look at the history of domestic terrorism.
Wendell Willkie

An Untested Businessman Almost Became President During WWII

In 1940, Wendell Willkie ran against FDR. The rumpled "man of the people" was a New York businessman with no political experience, but voters loved him.
W.E.B. DuBois, 1904

W.E.B. DuBois Fought “Scientific” Racism

Early 20th century intellectual W.E.B. DuBois countered the then-popular idea that African-Americans could be scientifically proven to be inferior.
Wedding rings on an American flag

How Love Transformed American Immigration Law

Love was a deciding factor in the expansion of Asian immigration to the United States, via laws that emerged from Congress in the 1960s.
Signing the marriage contract by George Sheridan Knowles, 1905

Why Covenant Marriage Failed to Take Off

Three states have legalized covenant marriage, which makes divorce difficult. Why didn't it stick among communities preoccupied with family values?
Walter Rauschenbusch

When Christian Evangelicals Loved Socialism

At the turn of the twentieth century, American Christian evangelicals, led by Pastor Walter Rauschenbusch, were at the forefront of socialism.
Truman Capote

How Truman Capote Advanced the New Journalism

In Cold Blood changed the face of journalism. And yet years after its publication, we are still asking: how much of it was factually true?
Newt Gingrich Bill Clinton

The Midterms That Changed America

In 1994, Republicans swept the midterms and Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House. His “Contract with America” was both polarizing and transformative.
Vietnam War television

How TV Transformed the News in 1968

In 1968 violent events at home and aboard were broadcast in color on the television news, creating impacts that may have swayed the presidential election.
Alex Haley Roots

How Alex Haley Popularized Ancestral Searching

Today it's easy to have DNA tested. But before that technology was available, Alex Haley's Roots inspired generations to trace their families' histories.
Ford Pinto

What Made the Pinto Such a Controversial Car

The Pinto became known as the subcompact car that Ford sold while ignoring major safety defects. But was that just a false narrative?