Uncle Sam on ladder hanging up Postal Savings Bank sign

A People’s Bank at the Post Office

The Postal Savings System offered depositors a US government-backed guarantee of security, but it was undone by for-profit private banks.
Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Border Presidents and Civil Rights

Three US presidents from the South’s borders—Truman, Eisenhower, and Johnson—worked against Southern politicians to support civil and voting rights.
Tiburcio Parrott sitting holding cane

Birth of the Corporate Person

The defining of corporations as legal “persons” entitled to Fourteenth Amendment rights got a leg up from the fight over a California anti-Chinese immigrant law.

The Annotated Oppenheimer

Celebrated and damned as the “father of the atomic bomb,” theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer lived a complicated scientific and political life.
Robert Stroud in his prison cell, surrouded by books and bird cages.

Freeing Birdman of Alcatraz

Neither the Bureau of Prisons nor the Production Code Administration could stop the production of a movie about murderer and ornithologist Robert Stroud.
People walking around buildings destroyed by the Johnstown Flood.

A Flood of Tourism in Johnstown

Days after a failed dam led to the drowning deaths of more than 2,200 people, the Pennsylvania industrial town was flooded again—with tourists.
Illustration of immigrants on a boat looking at the Statue of Liberty

Birth of A National Immigration Policy

Until the Civil War, regulating immigration to the US was left to individual states. That changed with Emancipation and the legal end of slavery.
Ambrotype of African American Woman with Flag—believed to be a washerwoman for Union troops quartered outside Richmond, Virginia

Home Front: Black Women Unionists in the Confederacy

The resistance and unionism of enslaved and freed Black women in the midst of the Confederacy is an epic story of sacrifice for nation and citizenship.
Corn in a basket.

Translating Corn

To most of the world, “corn” is “maize,” a word that comes from the Taíno mahizwas. Not for British colonists in North America, though.
Map illustrating legal erasure of roads in Fort Reno Park in 1943, following the clearance of a neighborhood.

Segregation by Eminent Domain

The Fifth Amendment allows the government to buy private property for the public good. "Public good" being the expansion of white neighborhoods.
The cover of The Black Mask magazine, June 1, 1923, featuring a hooded Klan member.

The Gumshoes Who Took On the Klan

In the pages of "Black Mask" magazine, the Continental Op and Race Williams fought the KKK even as they shared its love of vigilante justice.
Baby Drew in a dress and sitting on a chair, 1913.

Boys in Dresses: The Tradition

It’s difficult to read the gender of children in many old photos. That’s because coding American children via clothing didn’t begin until the 1920s.
A Black soldier of the 12th Armored Division stands guard over a group of Nazi prisoners captured in the surrounding German forest, April 1945.

Prisoners Like Us: German POW and Black American Solidarity

During World War II, almost a half million POWs were interned in the United States, where they forged sympathetic relationships with Black American soldiers.
Police officers patrolling the streets at the start of the Birmingham Campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, May 1963. Frank Rockstroh/Getty

The Police Dog As Weapon of Racial Terror

Police K-9 units in the United States emerged during the Civil Rights era. This was not a coincidence.
An advertisement for Melbourne the "Ohio Rain Wizard."

Wanting to Believe In Rainmakers

A form of entertainment and outgrowth of desperation, self-styled rainmakers allowed the powerless people of the Great Plains to seemingly take action.
Four white men kidnapping Black man

Kidnappers of Color Versus the Cause of Antislavery

Thousands of free-born Black people in the North were kidnapped into slavery through networks that operated as a form of “Reverse Underground Railroad.”
Welder-trainee Josie Lucille Owens plies her trade on the SS George Washington Carver at the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, CA, 1943.

Toxic Legacies of WWII: Pollution and Segregation

Wartime production led to environmental and social injustices, polluting land and bodies in ways that continue to shape public policy and race relations.
Black and white photo of the young Mary Ellen next to an empty chair

Origins of Child Protection

Legend says that the campaign to save abused children in New York was driven by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The truth is more complicated.
Black and white picture of J. Edgar Hoover, sitting at a desk, 1932.

The FBI and the Madams

J. Edgar Hoover saw the political effectiveness of cracking down on elite brothel madams—but not their clients—in New York City.
Painting of the drafters if the U.S. Constitution

A Colorblind Compromise?

“Colorblindness,” an ideology that denies race as an organizing principle of the nation’s structural order, reaches back to the drafting of the US Constitution.
Black-and-white grainy photograph of Eugene Debs speaking and gesturing with his hands

In The Debs Archive

The papers of American labor activist and socialist Eugene V. Debs (1855–1926) offer a snapshot of early twentieth-century politics.
A climate change activist stands outside the home of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) on June 30, 2022 in Washington, DC.

A Return To Nineteenth-Century Style Regulation?

In an era of laissez-faire governance, a growing number of federal and state regulations were justified as necessary to protect public health and morality.
Eugene Sandow lifting a dumbell.

Buff Boys of America: Eugen Sandow and Jesus

Under the influence of Muscular Christianity, Jesus transformed into a muscle-bound Aryan, saving souls through strength and masculinity.

The Lesbian As Villain or Victim

In Oregon in the 1960s, the debate over capital punishment hinged on shifting interpretations of the gendered female body.