Category Archives: American History

The Die-In: A Short History

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By Daniel Ross On June 19th, City of Toronto officials on their way to work had to step over the bodies of hundreds of cyclists lying in front of the entrance to City Hall. A week later, the busy intersection in front of the Bank of England in central London was shut down by a similar spectacle. And in January,… Read more »

Starbucks: Welfare Capitalism, Public Education, and the History and Possibility of American Social Democracy

By Jason Ellis Welfare capitalism is back in vogue. Earlier this month Starbucks announced that it will expand an existing company benefit program that offers university tuition coverage to Starbucks workers. The expansion of the program, a plan to extend these benefits to 23,000 workers over the next decade at a cost of $250 million, will target “opportunity youth,” i.e…. Read more »

Rock Hudson, the Reagans, and HIV/AIDS Scholarship

By Lucas Richert In recent months, a gay rights group, the Mattachine Society, have helped provide a more expansive view of Rock Hudson’s final struggle with AIDS. In documents obtained from the Reagan Presidential Library and available on BuzzFeed, it is clear that Nancy Reagan refused to help the dying Hudson receive treatment. This matters. When he died in October… Read more »

The Home Archivist – Getting My Hands Dirty

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By Jessica Dunkin In the last Home Archivist post, I described how I came to be in possession of a box of nineteenth-century letters. In this post, I open the box again for the first time. When the MacKendrick letters arrived at my house in early August, they were quickly shuttled into the basement and I assumed that they would… Read more »

Vision in History a public lecture by Dr. Anne Kelly Knowles

Vision has influenced many important historical decisions, whether literally – what people could or could not see – or metaphorically, what people imagined or wanted to believe. This lecture examines the crucial role of vision at two junctures in American history. It reveals how antebellum entrepreneurs’ vision of industrial greatness fell afoul of geographical reality, and how General Robert E…. Read more »

Then and Now: Youth Labour and Tobacco Cultivation

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By Jonathan McQuarrie Tobacco is in the news again. Outlets from the New York Times to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart have reported how children–primarily Hispanic and as young as twelve–work in the tobacco fields of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The news reports drew on extensive research conducted by the organization Human Rights Watch, released as Tobacco’s… Read more »

Polls and the Crisis of Confidence

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By Jonathan McQuarrie Why do newspapers support the public-opinion polls?…Not only do the modern polls, based on a small, carefully selected cross section, provide more accurate measurements; they can be applied to give continuous and rapid measurements of public opinion at all times. -George Gallup and Saul Forbes Rae, The Pulse of Democracy, 1940, 119. So called ‘pollsters’ should hang… Read more »

Carpe Aqua: Asian Carp, Invasive Species, and the Great Lakes

By Daniel Macfarlane Invasive species in the Great Lakes have been a big problem for decades. From the alewife, which first appeared in the Great Lakes in the 1800s, to the zebra mussels in recent decades, the composition of the Great Lakes biomass has been constantly in flux. And the problem is about to get bigger – literally, as Asian… Read more »

As American As Apple Pie: The Lack of Paid Parental Benefits in the United States

By Elizabeth O’Gorek My husband and I recently moved to the United States. He accepted an good job offer in a nice city. The company arranged my work visa, and there is a good benefits package. So, in preparation for working and working on a family, I thought I’d research the legislation on paid maternity benefits. This is what I… Read more »

The War to End All Wars: A Look Back at World War One – A Video Series from the Department of History at York University

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914, it set off a chain of events that became one of the deadliest combats in human history, known as the First World War. To mark the centennial of the start of this war, York University’s Department of History has produced a documentary series,… Read more »