Star-Herb Medicines and Teas for all Diseases, 1923

How Government Helped Birth the Advertising Industry

Advertising went from being an embarrassing activity to a legitimate part of every company’s business plans—despite scant evidence that it worked.
Grand Canyon below rim, 1964

When the Government Tried to Flood the Grand Canyon

In the 1960s, the government proposed the construction of two dams in the Grand Canyon, potentially flooding much of Grand Canyon National Park.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse

To the Lighthouses: A Path to Nationhood

Instilling confidence among merchants and ship captains was an area in which most agreed the new federal authority could and should act.
U.S. Weather Bureau Balloon, c. 1909-1920

Long Before Sputnik: An Explosion of Federal Science

The National Academy of Sciences was created by the United States Congress during the American Civil War. The timing wasn’t coincidental.
An illustration from the Bantam edition of Graham Greene's The Quiet American

When the CIA Was Everywhere—Except on Screen

Hollywood was just fine avoiding all portrayals of the Central Intelligence Agency for years after the agency's founding in 1947.
A large group of Native Americans stage a protest over land rights by occupying the Bureau of Indian Affairs building and steps in front, Washington DC, November 6, 1972.

Native Nations and the BIA: It’s Complicated

Historically, relations between Native Americans and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been contentious. Is that still the case?
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.
The CIA logo over a Jackson Pollock painting

Was Modern Art Really a CIA Psy-Op?

The number of MoMA-CIA crossovers is highly suspicious, to say the least.
A calculator

Why Are Tax Forms So Complicated?

When it comes to the U.S. tax system, benefits are often indirect, which makes them more politically palatable to many.
John Carl Warnecke and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy discuss plans for Lafayette Square and the New Executive Office Building in September 1962.

What Makes a “Beautiful” Federal Building?

A new draft executive order requiring classical architecture in government buildings negates principles established during the Kennedy administration.