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Articles on US history

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Numerous rap songs criticize the Reagan administration for its complicity in the illicit drug trade. Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Rap artists have penned plenty of lyrics about US presidents – this course examines what they say about Reagan and the 1980s

Ronald Reagan may have been known as ‘The Great Communicator,’ but rap artists don’t view his legacy through such rose-colored glasses. A professor of Black studies and history takes a closer look.
Scientists have used author Henry David Thoreau’s notes to inform studies of climate change in eastern Massachusetts. Tom Stohlman/Flickr

By fact-checking Thoreau’s observations at Walden Pond, we showed how old diaries and specimens can inform modern research

Journals, museum collections and other historical sources can provide valuable data for modern ecological studies. But just because a source is old doesn’t make it useful.
A woman holds a sign denouncing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, with syringes in the shape of a swastika, during a 2021 rally at the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Holocaust comparisons are frequent in US politics – and reflect a shallow understanding of the actual genocide and the US response

Many Americans know a simple version of Holocaust history, in which their country played the savior. The reality isn’t so comfortable, a historian writes.
Gilda Soosay, president of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Parish Council in Maskwacis, Canada, where Pope Francis visited the site of a state school for Indigenous children. Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Christianity was a major part of Indigenous boarding schools – a historian whose family survived them explains

A historian of the residential schools explains how religion played a key role in assimilationist systems for Indigenous children in Canada and the United States.
A couple rides on a float with a handcart during the parade for Pioneer Day, an annual Utah holiday, on July 24, 2019, in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Utah’s Pioneer Day celebrates Mormons’ trek west – but there’s a lot more to the history of Latter-day Saints and migration

The Utah holiday is a reflection of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ slowly changing identity, a historian of Mormonism and migration writes.
A 1973 photo shows an estimated 5,000 people, women and men, marching around the Minnesota Capitol building protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. AP Photo

Many anti-abortion activists before Roe were liberals who were inspired by 20th-century Catholic social teaching

A historian explains why the pre-Roe anti-abortion movement was filled with liberal Democrats who opposed the Vietnam War and supported the expansion of the welfare state.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School to pay their respects to the victims of last week’s mass shooting. Evan Vucci/AP

American exceptionalism: the poison that cannot protect its children from violent death

American institutions are seemingly powerless to enact gun reform because so many Americans believe – consciously or not – that any sacrifice is worth it to live in the best country in the world.

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