Inventing the Environment

A review of two new books on the postwar origins of “the Environment.”

When “Peanuts” Went All-In on Vaccinations

Charles Schulz used his culturally monolithic comic strip to advocate for public health. But his approach had some serious shortcomings.
School bus, 2009.

The History of How School Buses Became Yellow

Rural educator Frank Cyr had the vision and pull to force the nation to standardize the color of the ubiquitous vehicle.

A Brief History of American Pharma: From Snake Oil to Big Money

The dark side of the medical industrial complex.
MRI of a frontal leukotomy (synonym for lobotomy), performed in the 1970s as a treatment for a man with OCD.

A Brief and Awful History of the Lobotomy

Groundbreaking discoveries... but at what cost?
Smoke rises around 20,000 feet above Hiroshima, Japan, after the first atomic bomb was dropped, Aug. 6, 1945.

America's Decades-Old Obsession With Nuking Hurricanes (and More)

If you think dropping a nuclear bomb into the eye of a hurricane is a bad idea, wait'll you see what they had in mind for the polar ice caps.

How Mosquitoes Changed Everything

They slaughtered our ancestors and derailed our history. And they’re not finished with us yet.
Dr. Granville N. Moore and Miss Florence Grant, volunteer nurses aide, attend a patient in the emergency operating room of Freedmen's Hospital, Washington, D.C. (1943)

Why Doesn’t America Have Universal Health Care?

The answer has everything to do with race.
John Brown, an enslaved man who endured a series of painful experiments by a Georgia doctor determined to prove that black skin was thicker than white skin.

How False Beliefs in Physical Racial Difference Still Live in Medicine Today

Biological fallacies were used to justify slavery. Why can’t doctors let them go?
Pigments from the Forbes Pigment Collection.

Treasures from the Color Archive

The historic pigments in the Forbes Collection include the esoteric, the expensive, and the toxic.
Bureau of Home Economics employees blindfold their taste testers so the sight of the turkey doesn't bias any responses (ca. 1930).

The Government Taste Testers Who Reshaped America’s Diet

In the 1930s, a forgotten federal bureau experimented with ways to make soy and other products more popular in the U.S.
Poppy Northcutt, 1969.

Inside Apollo Mission Control, From the Eyes of the First Woman on the Job

Poppy Northcutt planned the vital flight trajectories that got astronauts home from their missions to the moon.