North America

Benevolent Diplomacy: Children’s Art and US Food Relief in Occupied Germany

By Kaete O’Connell 

Last winter while leafing through the Official File at the Truman Library for material on Herbert Hoover’s 1947 economic mission to Germany, I was struck by a vibrant burst of color. The monochrome of telegrams and correspondence was replaced by colorful sketches of chickens, Lifesaver candies, and a family of beans marching to a can for preservation. The drawings were bound together with thank-you notes penned by young recipients of US food relief. German children clearly appreciated the “gift” of food, pleasing occupation officials keen to capitalize on American charity.

America’s Front Yard: The National Mall through the Years

By Ethan Ehrenhaft

Even before its use as a hashtag during the most recent presidential campaign, the phrase “drain the swamp” had a much more literal meaning to the residents of the District of Columbia. DC’s origins date back to 1791 when Congress approved purchase of land for a federally controlled capital. The district initially encompassed 100 square miles—most of which was covered by thick forests and insect-infested bogs. Upon arriving in 1800, Abigail Adams described DC as “a city only in name” in a letter to her sister.

What Should We Do with Confederate Monuments?

The current controversy over Confederate monuments is about how we remember the past and interpret its meaning. These issues are the stock in trade of historians, and many have written op-eds and done interviews with reporters for national and local news outlets. Others have given talks to civic groups, testified to government agencies, and spoken at public forums. The American Historical Association has issued a widely endorsed statement on Confederate monuments. Last week, the National History Center brought the issue to Capitol Hill as a congressional briefing

October 30, 2017

“They Are Coming for Us”: Conversion Therapy, Now and Then

By Christopher M. Babits

On a warm autumn night, at an Olive Garden outside Dallas, I prayed with a psychiatric doctor and his wife. We had met a year earlier at the same conference we were at now—the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). This annual meeting brings together people who practice and support sexual orientation change and gender identity therapies, and me—a historian of religion, gender, and sexuality in modern America. In between bites of breadsticks and chicken parmigiana, I asked the couple about their support for what’s often called “conversion therapy.” 

Exploring the Brutality of Expansion: Tracking Changes in the 19th Century with American Panorama

Years ago, while preparing for a lecture, I ran across a GIF depicting the territorial expansion of the United States. While I am unsure of its origins, I’ve seen similar maps in textbooks, Wikipedia articles, and Google images. The GIF—a simple rotating set of maps of the contiguous 48 states—swiftly changes color as the United States expands its territorial claims throughout the 19th century. Behind this series of images lies tremendous suffering; the projection of one on top of the other makes this effect especially jarring.