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September 29, 2016

By Lily Rothman

This past Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, an important reminder that many states’ registration deadlines are approaching. For me, it was also cause to wonder when registering to vote became a thing in the first place.

An answer traces to 1929, when a political science professor named Joseph P. Harris set out to assess the state of voter registration laws in the U.S., which by that point had been enacted in almost every state. As part of his research, he looked back at the history of registration, finding its beginnings in Massachusetts in 1800 as the new nation struggled to figure out how to hold elections in an orderly fashion. You can click here to read more about that.

But, though the laws have come a long way in more than 200 years, at least one thing hasn’t changed: voter registration has always been a balancing act between safeguards against fraud and the chance of disenfranchisement.

Not sure when your state’s deadline is? Find out here.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Look's Only Female Photographer Captured a Changing World

Charlotte Brooks went from shooting cheese displays to photographing critical moments of social upheaval

Trump's 1973 Discrimination Case Was Part of Something Larger

During the first Presidential debate on Monday night, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton asked viewers to remember that her opponent had "started his career" with a 1973 lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. Here's the backstory

Chicago’s History With Stop-and-Frisk Laws Is a Warning

Donald Trump has advocated stop-and-frisk policing in Chicago, but the city's history is a cautionary tale when it comes to that policy

What to Know About the British Royals' Visit to Canada

Why is the relationship between the U.K. and Canada special?

Preview the New Smithsonian's Collection

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture opened this week. Here, take a peek inside


May 2, 1960

Arnold Palmer’s Magic

“Coldly precise in his study of the game, Palmer is anything but stolid during a round: he mutters imprecations to himself, contorts his face, sometimes drops his club and wanders away in disgust at a botched shot. On the greens, bent into his knock-kneed stance, he tries to sink long putts when many pros would prudently try to lag up to the cup. Says Palmer: ‘I guess I putt past the pin more than most anybody. I always like to give it a chance. Never up, never in, you know.’” (May 2, 1960)

Read the full story

Sep. 29, 1941

75 Years Ago: Joe Louis Fights

“This time the challenger for Joe Louis' crown is a student of yoga, 26-year-old Lou Nova who has boasted that he is a Man of Destiny, that he will knock out the Champion with his 'cosmic punch' (straight from the seventh vertebra, center of balance), and the aid of his 'dynamic stance,' his controlled breathing. Probably about 50,000,000 radio-fight fans will listen in for good reason. Not only is Lou Nova about as likely to beat Joe Louis as any challenger now afoot, but even if Joe Louis wins—and the chances, as always, are better that he will than that he won't—it may be Joe's last fight. Recently reclassified 1-A by a Chicago draft board, the Brown Bomber will probably join the Army next month.” (Sept. 29, 1941)

Read the full story

Sep. 29, 1967

Today in 1967: “An Interracial Wedding”

“They posed indulgently for photographers, Guy bussing Peggy's cheek on demand. One cameraman complained that he had dropped his film. ‘Anyone else lose his film?’ asked Guy, as sprightly as the yellow rose in his lapel. He kissed Peggy three more times for retakes. As the wedding party took off for a reception at a friend's home, the pictures and wire stories raced across the country to land on front pages nearly everywhere. Family matter or no, the wedding was social history rather than society-page fare. Dean Rusk, Secretary of State of the U.S., native of Cherokee County, Ga., and grandson of two Confederate soldiers, had given his only daughter's hand to a Negro.” (Sept. 15, 1947)

Read the full story


Debts of History The question of what is owed for past crimes is always a fascinating, fraught topic for anyone who thinks about history. With a U.N.-affiliated group recommending that the U.S. owes reparations for slavery, the Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor examines the reasoning behind that recommendation.

Moving Ahead For USA Today, Harriet Baskas takes a ride through the history of the airport moving walkway, a concept that’s almost as old as flight.

Off-White On Topic From Kate Wagner and Atlas Obscura, an entry in the category “fascinating answers to questions you didn’t know you had”: Why are so many American homes furnished in beige?

Approach the Bench Mark Joseph Stern of Slate interviews Judge Damon Keith, 94, about what he’s seen in his decades in jurisprudence.

In a GIF One of my favorite finds of the week: the U.S. National Archives section of the GIF hub Giphy.

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