Category Archives: History

When graphs are a matter of life and death

Hannah Fry writes: In “A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication” (Harvard), Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer, a psychologist and a statistician, argue that visual thinking, by revealing what would otherwise remain invisible, has had a profound effect on the way we approach problems. The book begins with what might be the first statistical… Read More »

Once again, America is becoming a nation of drunks

Kate Julian writes: Few things are more American than drinking heavily. But worrying about how heavily other Americans are drinking is one of them. The Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock because, the crew feared, the Pilgrims were going through the beer too quickly. The ship had been headed for the mouth of the Hudson River,… Read More »

The women who preserved the story of the Tulsa race massacre

Victor Luckerson writes: After teaching an evening typewriting class, Mary E. Jones Parrish was losing herself in a good book when her daughter Florence Mary noticed something strange outside. “Mother,” Florence said, “I see men with guns.” It was May 31, 1921, in Tulsa. A large group of armed Black men had congregated below Parrish’s… Read More »

Why Confederate lies live on

Clint Smith writes: Most of the people who come to Blandford Cemetery, in Petersburg, Virginia, come for the windows—masterpieces of Tiffany glass in the cemetery’s deconsecrated church. One morning before the pandemic, I took a tour of the church along with two other visitors and our tour guide, Ken. When my eyes adjusted to the… Read More »

Louisiana chemical plants thriving off slavery

Anya Groner writes: It’s not by chance that 158 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, rural Black communities bear the environmental consequences of Louisiana’s biggest industry. Overlay a map of southern Louisiana’s petrochemical and petroleum plants with archival maps of the area’s plantations, and you’ll find that in many cases the property lines… Read More »

Why Biden’s Armenian genocide declaration really is a big deal

Charles Mahtesian writes: President Joe Biden on Saturday issued the document Armenian Americans have pursued for decades: a declaration that the Ottoman Empire’s slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian civilians was genocide. It’s a deceptively simple action, carrying no force of law. Yet it’s a bold move for Biden, who has gone beyond what… Read More »

The spectacular originality of Coleridge’s theory of ideas

Peter Cheyne writes: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) stands tall in the cultural pantheon for his poetry. It’s less well known that in his own lifetime, and in the decades following his death, this canonical poet had an equal reputation as a philosopher. His published works containing much of his philosophical prose span from The Statesman’s… Read More »

The forgotten history of the western Klan

Kevin Waite writes: The Ku Klux Klan was on the rise in the spring of 1869. Vigilantes could measure their success that season by the carnage they left behind: marauded homesteads, assaulted politicians, a church burned to the ground. According to a local report, insurance companies considered canceling their policies, “owing to the Ku Klux… Read More »

The Nazi-fighting women of the Jewish resistance

Judy Batalion writes: In 1943, Niuta Teitelbaum strolled into a Gestapo apartment on Chmielna Street in central Warsaw and faced three Nazis. A 24-year-old Jewish woman who had studied history at Warsaw University, Niuta was likely now dressed in her characteristic guise as a Polish farm girl with a kerchief tied around her braided blond… Read More »

On British colonialism, antisemitism, and Palestinian rights

Avi Shlaim writes: In December 2016, then British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s working definition of antisemitism. It was the first government in the world to do so, marking yet another milestone in the 100-year history of British support for Zionism and callous disregard for Palestinian… Read More »