A scene from the film Orphans of the Storm depicting a group carrying a sign bearing the slogan “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité,” 1921.

The History of Equality: It’s Complicated

The strange and contradicting development of the liberal version of egalitarianism.
Actress Bobby Bradshaw is tempted by a pearl necklace, 1925.

Pearl Jam

In the twentieth century, the mollusk-produced gem was a must have for members of WASP gentility. In the twenty-first century, its appeal is far more inclusive.
Collage of women's rights symbolism. Woman outline waving flag.

Who Lost the Sex Wars?

Fissures in the feminist movement should not be buried as signs of failure but worked through as opportunities for insight.

"Though Declared to be American Citizens"

The Colored Convention Movement, black citizenship, and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Citizens: 150 Years of the 14th Amendment

In 1868, black activists had already been promoting birthright as the basis of their national belonging for nearly half a century.

How Do We Explain This National Tragedy? This Trump?

On 400 Years of Tribalism, Genocide, Expulsion, and Imprisonment.

Trump’s View of America as a White Nation Is as American as Apple Pie

But it’s seriously dated. And there's another tradition he could draw on.

The Nationalist's Delusion

Trumpism emerged from a haze of delusion, denial, pride, and cruelty—not as a historical anomaly, but as a profoundly American phenomenon.

Growing Up in the Shadow of the Confederacy

Memorials to the Lost Cause have always meant something sinister for the descendants of enslaved people.

The Military, Minorities, and Social Engineering

Trump’s transgender ban restarts the debate about the relation between military service and social policy.

The Captive Aliens Who Remain Our Shame

A review of Robert Parkinson’s book “The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution”.

Who Tells America's Story? 'Hamilton,' Hip-Hop, and Me

How the hit musical allows those who have been left out of the story to claim the narrative of America as their own.
Runners on a track and crowds in the stands at the All Africa Games, 1973.

Afraid of an Inspiring Olympics Story

How Europe reacted when Ethiopia tried to join the famed global sporting tradition at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
A man tacks applications to Princeton University on a bulletin board

The Rise of the College Application Essay

The essay component of American college applications has a long history, but its purpose has changed over time.
President Calvin Coolidge raising his hand behind a podium to be sworn into office.

Behind America’s First Comprehensive Federal Immigration Law

Even as the primary targets of immigration restrictionism have shifted, the consequences for immigrants remain profoundly shaped by the system created in 1924.
Human figures colored either blue or green.

Mortality Wars

Estimating life and death in Iraq and Gaza.
A man in uniform holding an honorable discharge certificate from the U.S. Air Force.

How The U.S. Military Built San Francisco's LBGTQ+ Legacy

Many LGBTQ+ veterans settled in the city as it was a common point of disembarkation and a place of gender nonconformity.
A photograph of saxophonist Dexter Gordon at Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen in 1964.

Why the Nordic Countries Emerged as a Haven for 20th-Century African American Expatriates

An exhibition in Seattle spotlights the Black artists and performers who called Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden home between the 1930s and the 1980s.
A photograph of the author's brother, Steve, playing pool.


Her brother’s disease leads a writer to challenge how we conceive of human abnormality in the emerging era of gene editing.
Silhouette of baseball player swinging bat.

Negro-League Players Don’t Belong in the MLB Record Books

And neither do white players from the segregation era.