Plus: May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month |

May 23, 2019

By Lily Rothman

It might seem like a pretty safe bet to say that Aladdin isn’t based on a true story. However, as the newest Disney version of the story hits theaters, TIME History took a look at the tale’s origins—and it turns out there’s more real history there than you might expect. In fact, some scholars now believe the story had its beginnings in one man’s real-life experiences. Click here to read more about his story.

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

How One Woman's Story Led to the Creation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

After her family story was overlooked, Jeanie Jew turned her anger into an annual national observance

Trump Would Give Immigrants a Test. The U.S. Tried That Before

By 1917, anti-immigration campaigners succeeded in passing a literacy test for admission to the U.S. Here's what to know about that moment

Norman Mineta on Japanese Internment and Changing Times

'In Japanese there’s a phrase Shikata ga nai which means, "Things happen over which you have no control, try to make the best of it,"' Mineta tells TIME

The Difficulty of Cambodia's Day of Remembrance for Genocide

May 20 used to be known as the Day of Hate

How Architect I.M. Pei Achieved Greatness by Testing Himself

Famed architect I.M. Pei designed some of the greatest buildings across the globe in his more than half century career


May 23, 1960

Today in 1960: Cold War Diplomacy

“Even the one hope which Khrushchev held out for future summit negotiations was deliberately insulting. ‘We would think,’ he said, ‘that there is no better way out than to postpone the conference of the heads of government for approximately six to eight months.’ Harshly, he underscored his point: by then, Dwight Eisenhower will no longer be President of the U.S. ‘The Soviet government,’ declared Nikita, ‘is deeply convinced that if not this Government of the U.S., then another, and if not another then the next one, would understand that there is no other way out but the peaceful coexistence of the two systems.’” (May 23, 1960)

Read the full story

May 24, 1963

This Week in 1963: Astronaut Gordon Cooper

“After being strapped in the 6-ft.-wide Faith 7 for nearly a day and a half, he had to take over when the best equipment that the best of science could provide failed. He had to respond with incredible precision to directions from earth; he had to show a kind of skill and nerve and calm that no man has ever had to demonstrate. While people around the world listened with deep anxiety, Major Cooper seemed cooler than any man on earth. Finally, he piloted his craft into the atmosphere, and his communications blacked out. After four minutes of excruciating silence from space, he was sighted by radar—and moments later, a roar of triumph came from sailors aboard the carrier Kearsarge, 115 miles east-southeast of Midway. Four miles off the port bow, Cooper's orange and white chute floated down through a brilliant blue sky. He was safe—he had done what his equipment could not do.” (May 24, 1963)

Read the full story

May 22, 1950

This Week in 1950: President Truman

“Harry Truman, on tour, radiated confidence and wellbeing. In no position to berate a Congress controlled by his own party, he lumped all opponents of his policy with all the opponents of 17 years of Democratic rule and happily thumped away at them as ‘reactionaries,’ ‘timid men,’ ‘calamity howlers’ and ‘greed boys.’ He wanted, he made it clear, what ‘the common man’ wanted. If he didn't get it, that was not Harry Truman's fault—he was always trying. He was the buoyant salesman of good intentions.” (May 22, 1950)

Read the full story


In Your Head For The New Yorker, Jerome Groopman uses the release of a new book about psychiatry to take a look back at some of the more distressing moments from the field’s past.

Study Up History prof John Jeffries Martin argues at the Washington Post that, at a moment when democracy’s ideals are under fire, the study of history can help.

Classroom Management Rebecca Onion of Slate examines why so many teachers use exercises in which they ask students to pretend to be people in the past—and what kids actually learn from those lessons.

Religious History Historian Sam Haselby writes at Aeon about why the early history of Muslims in America is so often overlooked, and what we can learn from that past.

How to Get to Sesame Street As Sesame Street approaches its 50th birthday, The Daily Beast presents Anne Harrington’s essay on how the show was shaped by black psychiatrists looking for a better way to reach children in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

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