Prison jobs are always low paid, often difficult, and produce many of the foodstuffs and services many Americans use every day.
Enslaved workers used to grow cotton and mill flour. Now prisoners grind beef and crate eggs. Here, a historian explores Americans' troubling habit of consuming the products of slave labor.
The 2016 Maple fire (photographed in July 2017) reburned young forests that had regenerated after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. More frequent high-severity fires are expected in the future as climate warms, which may change patterns of forest recovery.
Huge fires roared through Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988, scorching one-third of the park. Since then the park has been a valuable lab for studying how forests recover from fires.
A giant of the US political scene, John McCain had friends and enemies on all sides.
Water from an irrigation system sprays flowering cotton plants on the farm of Allen Entz in Hydro, Okla, Aug. 16, 2012.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
The Ogalalla Aquifer is a vast underground lake that irrigates farms across the US Great Plains. It took thousands of years to fill, but human use could drain it in roughly a century.
‘Early Days.’ Detail of Frank Happersberger’s pioneer monument, San Francisco, California, 1894. Photo by Lisa Allen.
Many cities are removing their Confederate statues. But pioneer monuments represent a racist past, too. There are at least 200 of them, and their future is now being debated.
Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon smiles for the cameras during a 1968 news conference.
Fifty years ago, an insurance agent named Paul Simpson was convinced of rampant bias on the evening news. So he embarked on a project to record each broadcast and store them at Vanderbilt University.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation seal.
An American pilot. A German aide on Capitol Hill. In the first and second world wars, the FBI effectively uprooted foreign influence campaigns. Today, the agency faces an uphill battle.
The 1947 and 1956 editions of the ‘Green Book,’ which was published to advise black motorists where they should – and shouldn’t – frequent during their travels.
Image on the left: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. Image on right: Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.
From the 1930s to the 1960s, 'The Negro Motorist's Green Book' and 'Travelguide: Vacation and Recreation Without Humiliation' offered African-American roadtrippers lists of black-friendly businesses.
‘Earthrise,’ which appeared on the cover of the second and third Whole Earth Catalog, was taken by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders during lunar orbit, Dec. 24, 1968.
The Whole Earth Catalog was a blueprint for sustainability that envisioned humans living in balance with nature. Its creative spirit was welcomed in a year riven by war, assassinations and riots.
A 1950s photograph of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till Mobley, during a visit to Jackson, Miss.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
A historian explains the significance of the Emmett Till murder for the civil rights movement.
A date with destiny: Donald Trump and Anthony Kennedy.
EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo
In 1987, Anthony Kennedy was nominated to end a titanic Supreme Court fight. Could his putative successor trigger another one?
Once lauded for their vision and promise, Silicon Valley giants have made life so hard for locals that residents regularly protest the companies, including their amenities like charter buses to save workers from the region’s terrible traffic.
AP Photo/Richard Jacobsen
Big technology firms are becoming known for mistreating workers, customers and society as a whole. Is an economic powerhouse about to collapse like Detroit did years go?
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., speaks about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the state of the EPA during a protest on April 25, 2018, in Washington.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
After two years of turmoil at the EPA in the 1980s, President Reagan hit the reset button, choosing a Republican who supported environmental protection to head the agency.
Not as awkward as it looks.
The alignment of Independence Day and a presidential visit to Britain makes more sense than you might think.
Haitian refugees at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba, Sept. 7, 1994.
AP Photo/Doug Mills
When thousands fled violence in Haiti, the US military set up a refugee camp at Guantanamo. Most were sent back to Haiti, while hundreds remained trapped on the base under terrible conditions.
Former President Bill Clinton promotes ‘The President is Missing,’ the new novel he wrote with James Patterson, in New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
What happens to motivated, determined and egotistical men when they are forced to abandon the White House? As John Quincy Adams once said, 'There is nothing more pathetic in life than a former president.'
Actress Nicolle Rochelle, who appeared on several episodes of ‘The Cosby Show.’
AP Photo/Corey Perrine, File
Any movement against sexual assault must take into account historical, state-sanctioned violence against black women in the US that goes back centuries.
An illustration called “British Burning Washington” depicting the White House on fire in 1814.
U.S. Library of Congress
Donald Trump was under the mistaken impression that Canadians once burned down the White House. But he's not the only one who has a fuzzy sense of the history of the War of 1812.
Pontus Edenberg via Shutterstock
Donald Trump’s recent comments about African-American voters reflect his historical ignorance, but also call attention to an overlooked chapter of US racial history.
SpongeBob Squarepants has become a cultural icon.
The cartoon-turned-Broadway sensation is set in a place named after the Bikini islands, which has a dark history of forced removal and exile of native people from their land.