Drawing depicting Buckminster Fuller in front of a dome

Buckminster Fuller’s Greatest Invention

His vision of a tech-optimized future inspired a generation. But his true talent was for burnishing his own image.
Edit of Grammarly language change suggestions

Why Grammarly’s New Language Suggestions Miss the Mark

Slavery’s a sensitive subject, but so is the question of who gets to be an authority about language.
A protest from an anti-vaccination protest

The COVID Anti-Vax Movement Has History on Its Side

Today’s “medical freedom” warriors are drawing on a centuries-old American tradition.

The South’s Resistance to Vaccination Is Not As Incomprehensible As It Seems

The psychological forces driving “red COVID” have deep historical roots.
Tucker Carlson wearing a t-shirt with a photograph of Abraham Lincoln on it.

The Right May Be Giving Up the “Lost Cause,” but What’s Next Could Be Worse

The GOP’s new embrace of Lincoln, emancipation, and Juneteenth is no sign of progress.
Section of a page from Hannah Alspaugh’s fabric scrapbook.

This Fabric Scrapbook Offers a Surprisingly Emotional Portrait of 19th-Century Life

Back when most people made their clothes, one swatch could carry many stories.
Collage with a woman pointing to a midcentury modern chair

Instagram’s Favorite Furniture Style Has an Uncomfortable History

How we sit isn’t the only thing midcentury modernism sought to control.

Paper Products. Powder Rooms. What Past Pandemics Left Behind Forever.

Disease reshapes our lives in surprising ways.
Helen Keller, circa 1954.

Did Helen Keller Really “Do All That”?

A troubling TikTok conspiracy theory questions whether Keller was “real.”
Posters reading "Is your child vaccinated? Vaccination prevents smallpox"

The Smallpox-Fighting “Virus Squads” That Stormed Tenements in the Middle of the Night

In the 1800s, they helped lay the groundwork for the anti-vaccine movement.

Why Do American Presidential Transitions Take Such a Ridiculously Long Time?

Horseback travel time is only part of the story.
Harry S. Truman holding up a newspaper with the erroneous headline "Dewey Defeats Truman"

Why Americans Will Never Turn Against Polling

Failures inspire distrust of pollsters and calls for more shoe-leather reporting. But by the next election, we always come running back.
Drawing of Lincoln with his hand on a Bible during a swearing-in with two other people

The Presidential Transition That Shattered America

A Trump-Biden transition is sure to be scary. But it’d be hard to beat Buchanan-Lincoln.
Bill of Mortality from the plague, and New York Times list of Covid deaths.

When 194,000 Deaths Doesn’t Sound Like So Many

From plague times to the coronavirus, the history of our flawed ability to process mass casualty events.

Officer Friendly and the Invention of the “Good Cop”

If your childhood vision of police is all pet rescues and tinfoil badges, Friendly’s “copaganda” did its job.
William Lloyd Garrison

The Country That Was Built to Fall Apart

Why secession, separatism, and disunion are the most American of values.
Protesters, one holding a Black Lives Matter sign, stand under the Confederate monument carved into Stone Mountain.

Hatred Set in Stone

The Confederate memorial carving at Georgia’s Stone Mountain is etched with more than a century of racist history. But tearing it down won’t be so easy.

The Baby-Sitters Club Is Ready to Teach a New Generation About Work

Locked-down parents will need an army of tween child-minders. Let the Baby-Sitters Club show them the way.

The Real Story Behind “Because of Sex”

One of the most powerful phrases in the Civil Rights Act is often viewed as a malicious joke that backfired. But its entrance into law was far more savvy.

When Did Cheap Meat Become an “Essential” American Value?

Keeping meat production moving during the pandemic is dangerous. But history shows that there’s little Americans won’t sacrifice for a cheap steak.

The Thrill of the Chase

Why are Americans so obsessed with tornadoes? A brief tour of twister culture has the answer.
The Oakland Municipal Auditorium set up as a hospital, with Red Cross nurses tending to flu patients, 1918.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic Killed Millions. So Why Does Its Cultural Memory Feel So Faint?

A new book suggests that the plague’s horrors haunt modernist literature between the lines.

“Victory Gardens” Are Back in Vogue. But What Are We Fighting This Time?

“Growing your own vegetables is great; beating Nazis is great. I think we’re all nostalgic for a time when anything was that simple.”
Broadside with information about tuberculosis.

This Isn’t the First Time Liberals Thought Disease Would Make the Case for Universal Health Care

Lessons from a century ago.