Plus: Breast cancer and credit cards |

October 20, 2016

By Lily Rothman

In the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, Republican nominee Donald Trump repeated his assertion that the 2016 election could be rigged. The claim, made without evidence, has been soundly refuted. Many experts have said that it’s just not possible for this year's presidential election to be rigged. But was it ever possible?

This week I spoke to people who have studied past U.S. elections, hoping to get an answer to that question. In all of American history, they said, there is not a single documented case of a rigged presidential election. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any rigged elections—local elections have certainly been tampered with, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries. But it turns out the lessons of those less-than-forthright votes are not what one might think. You can click here to read more about what the real concern should be.

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

How a WWII Photograph Taught One Woman About Her Own Past

The baby in the photo is Gloria Fredkove, now 73

Now You Know: What Was the First Credit Card?

Credit cards became big business in the 1950s

'Moby-Dick' Was Published 165 Years Ago. Dive in Right Here

"Call me Ishmael"

What Breast Cancer Activism Was Like Before the Pink Ribbon

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

How Planned Parenthood Changed Everything

The first birth-control clinic in the U.S. opened 100 years ago, on Oct. 16, 1916


Oct. 20, 1997, cover of TIME

This Week in 1997: Hillary Clinton

“How do you take the measure of a woman's life at 50, when her generation—or at least its passionate front line—has broken all the rules? ‘There is no formula that I'm aware of for being a successful or fulfilled woman today,’ Hillary Rodham Clinton once said. ‘Perhaps it would be easier...if we could be handed a pattern and cut it out, just as our mothers and grandmothers and foremothers were. But that is not the way it is today, and I'm glad it is not.’” (Oct. 20, 1997)

Read the full story

Oct. 21, 1957

This Week in 1957: ‘The Queen’s Husband’

“Gracious by training, but never fully relaxed in public, Britain's Queen is not gifted at putting people at their ease. Her conversational ploys are stiffly predictable and her smile too controlled to be encouraging. But as the stilted gambits of formal conversation begin to freeze into an awful possibility of utter silence in her presence, the Prince strolls up, speaks, and all the tight, polite smiles, including that on the Queen's own peaches-and-cream face, widen into the kind of relaxed good humor that warms hearts.” (Oct. 21, 1957)

Read the full story

Oct. 20, 1961

55 Years Ago: Taking Shelter

“In Miller's Cafeteria, in downtown Denver, four young women met for the afternoon coffee break—and almost immediately began talking about what weighed heaviest on their minds. Said Louise Epperson, a bank clerk: ‘I'd just as soon be killed as come out of a shelter and see the country desolated.' Gail Pitts, an account executive with a public relations firm, felt differently. ‘I want to be around when it's all over,’ she said, ‘but I must admit I don't care too much about the idea of a fallout shelter. Still…’” (Oct. 20, 1961)

Read the full story


Polling Errors Over at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten takes a look at the question of whether the U.S. could possibly be heading into a ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ situation—in which a seemingly sure-thing election breaks the other way—and finds that 2016 is very different from 1948.

Early Discord In a New York Times op-ed, Alan Taylor makes the excellent point that, much as we like to talk about “the Founding Fathers” as a monolithic unit, that’s a myth—which means no single modern candidate can really lay claim to upholding their ideals.

An Outside Perspective At the history blog Wonders & Marvels, contributor Elizabeth C. Goldsmith recounts the observations of Frances Trollope upon visiting the U.S. just in time to witness the 1828 election, of which she did not think very highly.

Making Good Historian Jill Lepore is a guest on this episode of On The Media, which takes a look at the evolution of the idea that the U.S. is a “land of equal opportunity.”

A Marvel In non-politics news, Jill Pantozzi of The Nerdy Bird uses a 1969 letter from a reader to Marvel Comics to show how modern concerns over diversity in pop culture are really nothing new.

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