Portland diner

The Making of the American Diner

Today's diners would surprise a 1940s patron. These restaurants were once vulgar boy’s clubs before becoming today's family-friendly establishments.
Eisenhower before D-Day

What Eisenhower’s Unsent Letter Reveals About True Leadership

Before the D-Day landing on June 6th, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the invasion force, wrote two letters for public consumption.
Public housing project

Why is the U.S. Losing Public Housing?

In much of the U.S., public housing is disappearing as governments fail to maintain the buildings or actively demolish them.
Wedding bands

Selling the Men’s Wedding Ring

How changing mores, cultural pressures, and, yes, the jewelry industry made two-ring wedding ceremonies the norm in America.
Rosie the Riveter

How Conflict Boosts the Economy

Historically speaking, we are living in unusually peaceful times. But does peacetime mean bad things for the economy, which is often boosted by war?
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.
JSTOR Daily Friday Reads

A New Novel Explores Art Theft, History, and Child Refugees

Ellen Umansky's novel The Fortunate Ones explores the psychological fallout of the World War II Kindertransport, which moved child refugees to England.
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.
Siege of Leningrad

The Nazis’ Nightmarish Plan to Starve the Soviet Union

Before the infamous Wannsee conference, Nazis had another meeting during which they planned the mass starvation of millions of Eastern Europeans.
Dresden Germany after firebombing

How Slaughterhouse-Five Made Us See the Dresden Bombing Differently

The bombing of Dresden, Germany, which began February 13, 1945, was once viewed as a historical footnote. Until Slaughterhouse-Five was published.