Tag: history

Students and teachers from the Eastwood School smile and laugh for their class photo.

Big Promises, Bigger Failures: When Public Education Makes You Sick

Promises, promises… We take it as a given that schooling is good for us, that overall population health increases with increased educational attainment. Indeed, from their founding, public schools have promised to improve population health as part of their basic mission. As a result, in the name of health concerns, schools have long held a… Read more →

(Benjamin Lehman/Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND)

A Pot of Herbs, A Plastic Sheet, and Thou: A Historian Goes for a “V-Steam”

The first time I walked into the women’s area of my local Korean spa a few years back, my nose and my medical-history Spidey Sense both twitched. The unmistakable herbal scents of mugwort and yarrow were in the air, pleasant but almost strong enough to make me cough. Clearly there was some sort of medicinal… Read more →

Photo of a large plaza with a large art installation depicting a woman's shadow

Being the Same and Different

This time last year, I’d just returned from three months at the University of Vienna being the Käthe Leichter visiting professor in Gender Studies and Women’s Studies. This position, much like Iris Andraschek’s installation Der Muse Reicht’s, which dominates the inner courtyard of the main campus there, indicates the strides that gender studies has made… Read more →

Confederate monument with flags Millen Georgia

Heritage is Not History: Historians, Charleston, and the Confederate Flag

It’s hard to be a historian these days without constantly hearing about the supposed irrelevance of your work. After all, it must seem to many observers like we exist in our own academic echo chambers, engaging in ivory tower intellectualism that has little bearing on “real life.” And then, as a nation, we have a week… Read more →

Photo of US Supreme Court building with History overlaid

Obergefell Made History, and History Made Obergefell

History matters. Sober and sophisticated historical research can make a difference in the world. I am proud to live in a nation that now, per the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, recognizes the rights of gay and lesbian Americans to marry their chosen partners. And I am proud to be a member of the historical profession,… Read more →

USDA poster to eat one of each food group daily

Don’t Eat That, Eat This: The Troubled History of Food Stamps and Nutrition

Lately, it seems like everywhere I turn I see discussions about how poor people use their money, how they should use their money better, and how we can force their hands to change those spending habits. In an attempt to crack down on welfare use, Missouri Republican Rock Brattin recently proposed that we “get the… Read more →

Portrait of Gwendolyn Brooks, smiling, next to the words "My Dreams, My Works," in blue handwriting.

Adventures in the Archives: The First Time

by Audrey Smith

The possibility of having an “adventure in the archives” always seemed a bit far-fetched. My perceptions of academia, particularly as related to notions of adventurousness, were dominated by images of Indiana Jones holding a dirty artifact and marking the X on the map. When Professor Carolyn Lewis (the adviser to whatever academic adventures loomed on the horizon for me) suggested that the archives were a time-warping place of magic and discovery, I conjured visions of swashbuckling conflicts amongst dueling historians, perhaps a diverting romantic intrigue amongst the dusty stacks – anything less than that couldn’t be an adventure, and to call it so seemed simply and woefully inaccurate.

Cover photo, by Harold M. Lambert, from the June 1950 issue of Hearthstone magazine. Shows a man holding his child on his shoulder. (Protestant Family, Divinity School Library/Duke University Digital Collections.)

Confessions of a Newborn Father: The Birth of the “Hands-on” Dad

By Ginny Engholm

A recent Vicks Nyquil commercial has a typical scenario for an advertisement set in a workplace. A clearly sick man — coughing, runny nose, the whole works — opens what looks like an office door a crack, pops his head in, and delivers the one line of the commercial: “Dave, I’m sorry to interrupt. I gotta take a sick day tomorrow.” While this might seem like a very traditional depiction of masculinity, a guy at the office asking his male boss for a day off, the ad subverts this narrative by revealing an adorable toddler standing up in his crib. The tagline of the ad — “Dads don’t take sick days. Dads take Nyquil” — makes the ad’s argument clear. A real man is one who is so dedicated to his real job — fatherhood — that he continues to parent through his colds and flus. While the idea of moms’ total and complete dedication to their roles as mothers has of course been part of our cultural understanding of motherhood for, well, forever, the shift in the past decade or so of depicting fathers as equal-opportunity martyrs, devoted to the care of their children, strikes many modern viewers as something new.

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Not Your (Old, White) Father’s History

If you haven’t already heard, the New York Times recently interviewed retired Princeton historian of the Civil War James McPherson for the newspaper’s “By the Book” feature. McPherson is a well-respected legend in the field, yet many historians were left scratching their collective heads over his responses to such questions as “Who are the best historians writing today?” and “What are the best books about African American history?” Suffice it to say, his answers seemed very white, very male, and well, very dated.

"Left: Patsy Simmers, holding ENIAC board Next: Mrs. Gail Taylor, holding EDVAC board Next: Mrs. Milly Beck, holding ORDVAC board Right: Mrs. Norma Stec, holding BRLESC-I board." (Source: US Army Photo, number 163-12-62, Public domain, via Historic Computers Images of the ARL Technical Library.)

Women in Tech from ENIAC to MOM

On September 24, as I enjoyed my second coffee of the morning and caught up on news, a photo caught my eye. In the image, women in colorful saris congratulated each other amidst massive computer monitors. The exuberance of the photo arrested me — as did the obvious techy setting, nerd that I am —… Read more →