A cartoon by Frederick Opper of a hand extending from a window of the Puck building, writing the artist's signature (ca. 1881-1899).

The Digital Age Killed Cursive, But It Can't Kill the Signature

Signatures are a mark of authenticity.
Image from

Prison Cells and Pretty Walls

Gender coding and American schools.
A still from

“A Public Menace”

How the fight to ban "The Birth of a Nation" shaped the nascent civil rights movement.
A worker makes adjustments on a billboard stating 'Choose Happy Today,' along Interstate 77 in South Carolina.

The Call of the Billboard

The roadside battle for people’s attention has been raging for more than a century.
Part of an advertisement the American Federation of Musicians placed in the magazine The Nation, December 18, 1929.

The Invasion of Musical Robots, 1929

The rise of recorded music left many musicians fearful of a takeover by "canned music."
A microwave.

What’s in Your Microwave Oven?

Everything has a history - including the microwave oven.
An anti-semitic cartoon from Judge magazine, 1892.

Donald Trump, Jews and the Myth of Race

Until the 1940s, Jews in America were considered a separate race. Their journey to whiteness has important lessons.
A sample of a Dear Abby advice column, popularized by Pauline and Jeanne Phillips.

The Power of the Advice Columnist

From Benjamin Franklin to Quora, how advice has shaped Americans’ behavior and expectations of the world.
Rube Goldberg's

Joking Aside, Rube Goldberg Got Tech Right

Goldberg's ridiculous contraptions demonstrated his canny understanding of the limits of invention.

Google Before the Invention of Google

What started the Information Age?
Steve Reich setting up for a performance.

Organ Grinding

When the audience revolted at Carnegie Hall.
A concept drawing by Kay Nielson for The Little Mermaid.

The Original Little Mermaid

On Kay Nielsen, Disney, and the sanitization of the modern fairy tale.