Excerpts

Curated stories from around the web.
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Charles Fort.

In Praise of the Paranormal Curiosity of Charles Fort, Patron Saint of Cranks

On the porous, ever-shifting boundaries between science and speculation.
Misery and Fortune of Women (1930).

The Lost Abortion Plot

Power and choice in the 1930s novel.
The recycling symbol.

How the Recycling Symbol Got America Addicted to Plastic

Corporations sold Americans on the chasing arrows — while stripping the logo of its worth.
Southern farmlands.

40 Acres and a Lie

A government program gave formerly enslaved people land after the Civil War, only to take nearly all of it back a year and a half later.
James Madison by Gilbert Stewart, 1821.

How the Constitution Unifies the Country

Yuval Levin urges us to take America’s greatest constitutional thinker, James Madison, as our lodestar.
Hubert Humphrey.

Votes for Humphrey [Biden]

On (not) voting.
National Guard members deploy near the White House as peaceful protests are scheduled against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 6, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

The Most Dangerous Law in America

The Insurrection Act is a nuclear bomb hidden in the United States code, giving presidents unimaginable emergency power. No President has abused it. Yet.
A colorized engraving depicts enslavers selling enslaved people in the 19th-century South.

American Slavery Wasn’t Just a White Man’s Business − Research Shows How White Women Profited, Too

Human bondage was big business in the antebellum US, and men weren’t the only ones cashing in.
Edward Blum superimposed on the Supreme Court building.

The People Who Dismantled Affirmative Action Have a New Strategy to Crush Racial Justice

In throwing up new roadblocks to the use of private money to redress racial and economic inequality, the Fearless Fund ruling is antihistorical.
Japanese American community leaders Tom Yamaski, Ted Okahashi, and Karl Yoneda, who holds his son, Tommy, at a meeting at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley, Calif. on May 5, 1942. Yoneda's wife, the activist Elaine Black Yoneda, who was not Japanese, also spent time in the camp.
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On Loving Day, Remember the Families Separated by the U.S.

During Japanese-American incarceration, what happened to mixed-race families and individuals?
Then-Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton speaks at the Human Rights Campaign forum in Washington, July 15, 2003.

Remembrance of Ratf**ks Past

As Cornel West is receiving ballot access help from Republicans, 20 years ago Al Sharpton’s campaign for president was largely orchestrated by Roger Stone.
A Walmart building.

War in the Aisles

Monopolies across the grocery supply chain squeeze consumers and small-business owners alike. Big Data will only entrench those dynamics further.
A Black female welder circa 1930s-1940s.

A Sweeping History of the Black Working Class

By focusing on the Black working class and its long history, Blair LM Kelley’s book, "Black Folk," helps tell the larger story of American democracy.
Hands manipulating the earth like a Rubik's cube.

When the C.I.A. Messes Up

Its agents are often depicted as malevolent puppet masters—or as bumbling idiots. The truth is even less comforting.
Samuel Pepys, by John Hayls, 1666.
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Peeping on Pepys

For more than two decades, a community of committed internet users has been chewing over the famous Londoner’s diary.
Éamon de Valera, shown between 1918 and 1920, around the time he escaped from prison. He later became prime minister and president of Ireland.

The New York-Born Politician Who Was Convicted, then Became President

Éamon de Valera was accused of attempting an armed uprising against the government. Then he made a daring jailbreak, and later became president of Ireland.
Ella Fitzgerald at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, 1970.

The Genius of Ella Fitzgerald

She remade the American songbook in her image, uprooting the very meaning of musical performance.
State troopers and deputies stand at the entrance to a University of Alabama building in Tuscaloosa on the day in 1963 that George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, said he would defy a Federal order making it mandatory to admit two African American students.
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We Must Remember Tuscaloosa's 'Bloody Tuesday'

Black citizens fought for justice and were met with violence. They persevered.
An 1863 illustration from “Le Monde illustré” of formerly enslaved people celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation.

What If Reconstruction Didn’t End Till 1920?

Historian Manisha Sinha argues that the Second Republic lasted decades longer than most histories state and achieved wider gains.
A soldier walking an old woman through a destroyed city.

D-Day’s Forgotten Victims Speak Out

Eighty years after D-Day, few know one of its darkest stories: the thousands of civilians killed by a carpet-bombing campaign of little military purpose.
No parking sign.

The No Symbol: The History Of The Red Circle-Slash

One of the best-known icons of modern society is a classic example of a symbol—it’s easy to spot, but hard to explain. Who came up with it?
Pennsylvania Hall in flames.
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Sordid Mercantile Souls

When labor found a common cause — and enemy — with the abolition movement.
Sailors singing a sea shanty.

There’s No Such Thing as “Just a Song”

What we can learn from the history of maritime folk music.
University of California President Clark Kerr giving speech to crowd
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What University Presidents Can Learn From Past Protests

Successes that came when presidents protected student protesters from outside meddling are worth remembering when students return to campus.
Toby Keith performing onstage with "Made in America" on screen behind him.
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How Country Music Became Patriotic

Country music boosters rebranded the genre and tied it to America's military mission as a way to build popularity.
A rider from the 9th US Cavalry, one of several segregated units called the Buffalo Soldiers.

Meet The Black Cowboys Who Shaped Colorado History

The gunslingers, innovators, and explorers who carved their destinies from the sprawling promise of the West.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan toast each other in a pub in Ballyporeen, Ireland.

Ronald Reagan’s European Tour

A tour of Europe cemented Ronald Reagan’s reputation as an international statesman and helped secure his re-election.
Man and woman testing buttons on machine at Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory

Tomorrow People

For the entire 20th century, it had felt like telepathy was just around the corner. Why is that especially true now?
Baseball players for the Texas Rangers restraining fan from running onto field.

The Beer Night Riot, 50 Years Ago: What Was That America Like?

The melee, the mayhem, the metal chairs.
Border patrol agents in a physical training.

From Suspect to Perpetrato

How history shaped the modern U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Espresso by Sabrina Carpenter surrounded by African American artists' records.

The Song of the Summer Is Actually the Song of 1982

Sabrina Carpenter’s “Espresso” is one of several recent hits bringing back the genre that never got a name.
The White House.

How the Labor of Enslaved Black Men Built the White House

On the construction of America's new capital city.
SDS protestors parody the Columbia administration's suspension of students in 1968.

Kids These Days

Compared to their 1960s forerunners, today’s young radicals seem far less interested in moving towards responsible adulthood.
Person in a red veil.

Connecting with Trans History, Rebellion, and Joy, in “Compton’s 22”

Transgender people's reactions to watching oral histories of the legacy of a 1966 riot in the Tenderloin that was nearly lost to history.
Normandy American Cemetery.

Who Were the Americans Who Fought on D-Day?

A new exhibition seeks to understand the young soldiers who came ashore at Normandy.
A West Village, New York pizza restaurant.

What Should Econ 101 Courses Teach Students Today?

Why introductory economics courses continued to teach zombie ideas from before economics became an empirical discipline.
AI-generated image of the “shiny object ancestor” experience.

Shiny Object Ancestors: The Ones We Can’t Resist

Tracing the family history of some of today's most popular celebrities.
Senator Robert Menendez walking into court
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The Long, Sordid History of Foreign Government Lobbying

The many strategies foreign governments have used to shape American policy in their favor.
Victorian telegraph operator.

What Mark Zuckerberg Should Learn From 19th-Century Telegraph Operators

No, really.
Richard Nixon and Billy Graham at the podium at the University of Tennessee.
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The Leaders of Tomorrow

What happened in 1970 after Richard Nixon was told, “I doubt that there would be any problem of student demonstrations in Tennessee.”
Migrants being processed by the U.S. Border Patrol at a new makeshift camp after crossing the US-Mexico border.

America Turned Against Migrant Detention Before

Detaining migrants is pointless. American history proves it.
An 1890s advertising poster for Coca Cola featuring a well-to-do white woman.
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Who Took the Cocaine Out of Coca-Cola?

The medical profession saw nothing wrong with offering a cocaine-laced cola to white, middle-class consumers. Selling it to Black Americans was another matter.
Longshoremen on their lunch hour at the San Francisco docks.

Jack London, "Martin Eden" and The Liberal Education in US life

In Jack London’s novel, Martin Eden personifies debates still raging over the role and purpose of education in American life.
Book cover of "In the Shadow of Liberty," featuring city scenes and barbed wire.

Intended to Be Cruel

On Ana Raquel Minian’s “In the Shadow of Liberty.”
Alan Greenspan holding his right hand up to speak under oath, with an eagle seal on the wall behind him.

When Alan Met Ayn: "Atlas Shrugged" and Our Tanked Economy

We owe at least part of the 2008 financial crisis to Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism.
Paso del Norte International Bridge.

On the Edges of Fascism and Other Unsettling Possibilities

The legacy of the Immigration Act of 1924 and the launching of the Border Patrol, which inaugurated the most restrictive era of US immigration until our own.
Still from Pretty Poison (1968).

The All-American Crack-Up in 1960s Hollywood Cinema

Starting in the 1960s, more and more Hollywood films depicted an increasingly violent and alienated American society quickly losing its mind.
Montage of 1980s Yuppies and a Trump rally.

How 1980s Yuppies Gave Us Donald Trump

If it weren’t for the young urban professionals of the 1980s, we’d never have MAGA.
A line crew at work in the Manzanar camp.

A Portrait of Japanese America, in the Shadow of the Camps

An essential new volume collects accounts of Japanese incarceration by patriotic idealists, righteous firebrands, and downtrodden cynics alike.
American Indians outside of Fort Laramie.

“Invasion is a Structure Not an Event.” On Settler Colonialism and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

When he reflected on the consequences of empire, Conrad saw no logic or teleology. He saw mayhem. There is no surety in "Heart of Darkness."
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