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Social History

  • American History Magazine

    Medal Diplomacy

    A collection of peace tokens given to American Indians sets a whopping new record at auction. In the field of American numismatics, collector and dealer John J. Ford Jr. was in a class by himself. By the time he died at age 81 on June 7,...

  • American History Magazine

    No Peace in the Hetch Hetchy Valley

    Flooding the Hetch Hetchy Valley was the answer to San Francisco’s drinking water problem—and the first cause célèbre of the modern environmental movement. San Francisco was still sleeping on a spring morning in 1906 when, somewhere...

  • American History Magazine

    Graceland

    When you think of important landmarks in American history, Elvis’ Graceland mansion might not be the first thing that comes to mind. The U.S. Capitol, the Empire State Building, Lexington Green where the shot heard ’round the world was...

  • American History Magazine

    What We Talk About When We Talk About Elvis

    Why we still love the poor white boy who turned race, class and sexual mores upside down— and then OD’d on the American Dream. He never held elective office, but that won’t matter to his legions of admirers. You watch—someday,...

  • American History Magazine

    American History Almanac- August 2007

    Slavery Still Haunts Legislatures, Universities, Politicians—and Descendants Slavery, that “peculiar institution” of old, continues to make headlines in 2007. As lawmakers in a number of statehouses introduced largely symbolic...

  • American History Magazine

    Harmonica Wizard DeFord Bailey

    One of the biggest stars of the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville’s iconic showcase of country music, was a 4-foot-11 black harmonica player named DeFord Bailey. Bailey grew up in a musical family in Smith County, Tenn., 40 miles east of...

  • American History Magazine

    American History Book Review: Shout, Sister, Shout

    Shout, Sister, Shout: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe By Gayle F. Wald, Beacon Press, 2007 It’s a truism about rock ’n’ roll—and about most other things: The more you know, the more you realize...

  • American History Magazine

    Little Rock at 50

    Michael K. Honey, author of Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign, reviews Elizabeth Jacoway’s Turn Away Thy Son and considers the implications of desegregation on the 50th anniversary of the...

  • American History Magazine

    Radioactive Cure-alls

    William J.A. Bailey grew rich from his radium-laced patent medicine Radithor, until it killed leading businessman, sportsman and socialite Eben M. Byers in March 1932. The scandal helped usher in the modern regulation of radioactive...

  • American History Magazine

    Glow in the Dark Tragedy

    Fatally poisoned by the glowing paint they used on the job, the ‘Radium Girls’ challenged workplace safety rules and helped shed light on the unseen dangers of radioactivity. When Grace Fryer landed a job at the United States Radium...

  • American History Magazine

    Dialogue: John Wilson and Chris Bryson on History Detectives

    Now in its fifth season, PBS’ History Detectives is touted as the show where Antiques Roadshow meets CSI. Each week, four “detectives”—Wes Cowan, founder of Cowan’s Auctions, Inc.; Elyse Luray, independent appraiser and historian...

  • American History Magazine

    Destinations: Raymond Chandler’s L.A.

    The blonde was tall and wore stiletto heals that could pin your chest to the sidewalk; you’d die, wriggling but smiling up at that smooth, cold face. She wore a black mesh of mourning cloth that hid blue eyes— one that wept over a dead...

  • American History Magazine

    American History Book Review: The Forgotten Man

    The Forgotten Man By Amity Shlaes; Harper Collins, 433 pages, $26.95 Tearing down icons is a tough job, and few figures in American history are as iconic as Franklin D. Roosevelt. He has mostly been the subject of both scholarly and...

  • American History Magazine

    The 20th Century’s Greatest Athlete

    While Jim Thorpe triumphed in the world of sports—from football to baseball to track—his fortunes off the field were laced with tragedy. Former Chicago Bears owner George Halas remembered September 17, 1920, as hot. Very hot. He and...

  • American History Magazine

    Q&A With Edward J. Larson

    What issues divided the Federalists and the Republicans in 1800? The biggest one was war with France. France and England were fighting each other all over the world, and both countries with their vast navies were attacking our...

  • American History Magazine

    Dialogue: Maythee Rojas on a Gold Rush Hanging

    On July 5, 1851, a Mexican woman became the only woman ever hanged for murder in the state of California. She was charged with killing Frederick Cannon, a white man, in the gold mining town of Downieville. The incident has become part of...