Plus: Joe DiMaggio and the 14th Amendment |

July 12, 2018

By Lily Rothman

On Thursday, the Associated Press shone a light on something found in a Justice Department report issued earlier this year: in light of “new information,” the government has reopened the investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. The news prompted us to pull together a fresh look at the 5 things you should know about the case, from how that gruesome killing—and the original investigation, ruled by what TIME in 1955 called “blind hatred”—galvanized the civil rights movement, to why it remains a touchstone today. Click here to read more.

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

The Backlash Against Plastic Straws Is Spreading. Here’s How They Got So Popular in the First Place

How did plastic straws — now being phased out by Starbucks and other major companies — become so ubiquitous as to represent the whole problem with single-use plastics?

Here's Every Time Queen Elizabeth Met a U.S. President

Queen Elizabeth II, who will meet with President Donald Trump on Friday, has met almost every U.S. President over the last 65 years

5 Reasons Why Past Supreme Court Nominations Have Failed

From ethical concerns to election years

What Americans in the '30s Knew About Nazis

An issue of TIME from 1933 helps lead to a key insight, explains a curator from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

How the 14th Amendment Redefined America

When the amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868, it closed the door on schemes to make the U.S. a white man’s country, writes historian Martha S. Jones


July 12, 1976

Today in 1976: ‘The Bugs Are Coming’

“The struggle between man and insects began long before the dawn of civilization, has continued without cessation to the present time, and will continue, no doubt, as long as the human race endures. We commonly think of ourselves as the lords and conquerors of nature. But insects had thoroughly mastered the world and taken full possession of it before man began the attempt. They had, consequently, all the advantage of possession of the field when the contest began, and they have disputed every step of our invasion of their original domain so persistently and successfully that we can even yet scarcely flatter ourselves that we have gained any very important advantage over them.” (July 12, 1976)

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July 13, 1981

This Week in 1981: The Vietnam Vet

“But then came America's longest, strangest war. From that one, in Viet Nam, the boys came home alone, mostly one by one. Sometimes they would arrive in the middle of the night, almost as if they were sneaking back. It was an abrupt, surreal transition—36 hours earlier, they had been in Nam, humping through that alien place with too much firepower and confusion and moral responsibility on their backs. Then they were plucked out of their bizarre yearlong excursion, set down in commercial jetliners, the stewardesses passing among them like sweet American hallucinations, Hefner visions, and dropped out of the sky back into an America that had turned ugly." (July 13, 1981)

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July 13, 1936

This Week in 1936: Joe DiMaggio

“The Yankees bought Outfielder DiMaggio from the San Francisco Seals for a reputed $75,000, not a record price but one high enough to justify him in displaying the utter lack of ability which expensive minor-league stars conventionally show in their major-league debuts. Any chance DiMaggio might have had to shine this season seemed even more thoroughly ruined by the attention he received in training camp, where sportswriters hailed him as the prize find of a decade. Far from achieving the collapse which his billing led sophisticated baseball addicts to expect, Rookie DiMaggio proceeded to make the notices seem inadequate.” (July 13, 1936)

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Not Just Nine As some Democrats float the scheme as their “nuclear option” for the Supreme Court, Dylan Matthews at Vox explains the history and logistics of court-packing.

Put the Book Back on the Shelf As part of a series on libraries, the BBC goes inside the world’s largest Medieval-style chained library.

Gaming It Out At Medium, Adam Fisher has an oral history of the “hard-partying” founding of pioneering game company Atari.

After the Crash Daryln Brewer Hoffstot’s essay for the New York Times Magazine about striking up a relationship with the navigator who survived the plane malfunction that killed her father is a different kind of war story.

Present and Correct Historian Matthew A. Sears writes for the Washington Post about the debate over whether it’s proper to use modern standards to make value judgments about the past.

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