Plus: Jackie Robinson and the Olympics |

March 26, 2020

By Lily Rothman

American industry could be a key part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, with fashion companies making protective gear and car companies producing ventilators. It wouldn’t be the first time businesses have gotten to work helping the country face an emergency, World War II being perhaps the most famous example of industry mobilizing for the greater good. You can click here to read more about past examples.

But, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told me this week, that kind of mobilization doesn’t happen on its own. Click here to read more on what she believes the past can tell us about the leadership the nation needs in this moment.

I hope you are all safe and healthy, and here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Have the Olympics Ever Been Canceled? Here’s the History

Since the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896, only three have been abandoned. Now, the 2020 Olympic Games will be postponed

I Feared My Enslaved Ancestors Had Been Dishonored in Death

But the African Burial Ground in New York City tells a different story, writes Bettye Kearse

Trump's 'Chinese' Virus Is Part of a Long History

'Spanish flu' wasn't actually from Spain—and other moments in the long, harmful history of blaming other countries for disease

Jackie Robinson's Insight on Race and Communism

On the morning of July 18, 1949, just six days after he played in his first All-Star Game, Robinson appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee

The Stories That Skewed American Memory of the Civil War

A new book examines why 'Gone with the Wind' dominates popular memory of the Civil War—and which forgotten stories of that time are worth remembering


Mar. 26, 1979

Today in 1979: Peace in the Middle East

“The gesture was eloquent. Emerging from the doorway of Air Force One on the floodlit tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base last week, an exhausted Jimmy Carter greeted several thousand welcomers by flinging open his arms. It was a movement that oddly combined a sense of triumph with just a hint of martyrdom. Said Carter: ‘I believe that God has answered our prayers.’ He had taken a tremendous risk and had won. At times during his six-day mission to Cairo and Jerusalem in an attempt to forge an Egyptian-Israeli peace, failure seemed all but certain. Discouraged aides talked openly of the trip becoming ‘a debacle.’ But at the last minute Carter achieved a victory of presidential diplomacy that has brought Egypt and Israel to the threshold of peace after 30 years of enmity and four brutal wars." (March 26, 1979)

Read the full story

Mar. 26, 1965

Today in 1965: The First Spacewalk

“Tied to a capsule by a 16-ft. tether, the first human satellite whirled through the vacuum of space at 18,000 m.p.h. For ten minutes Soviet Cosmonaut Aleksei Arkhipovich Leonov drifted and spun through dreamlike gyrations while he followed the spaceship Voskhod II in its swift, elliptical path around the distant earth. Then, as easily and efficiently as he had emerged from his ship, Leonov climbed back inside. After 15 more orbits, he and his comrade, Colonel Pavel Ivanovich Belyayev, began the long flight home." (March 26, 1965)

Read the full story

Mar. 26, 1945

Today in 1945: Rebuilding Britain

“The plain fact is that no British Government can hope to pilot Britain through peace without a substantial degree of state control over the lives and livings of Britons. The things that Politician Churchill and Businessman Woolton propose would have been damned two decades ago by every Tory in England as shameless Bolshevism. The plans include: social insurance ‘from womb to tomb’; the ‘greatest Education Act ever known in these Islands’; sweeping extensions of workmen's compensation awards; reforms in the national health system; vast housing projects. And with them, in all probability, will go peacetime controls over what consumers can buy, how labor will work, what materials industry can have and what goods it can sell.” (March 26, 1945)

Read the full story


Deep Breath At Fast Company, Mark Wilson has the history of the N95 respirator mask, the simple-looking medical equipment that has become a crucial piece of the fight against COVID-19.

Mass Exposure Smithsonian has an excerpt from Kenneth C. Davis about the lessons of a 1918 Liberty Loan parade in Philadelphia that ended up exposing thousands of people to that year’s deadly influenza.

Ancient Anguish Robert Zaretsky looks even further back into medical history, at Slate, with a piece about a plague that hit ancient Athens, and how Thucydides preserved its story.

Medical Mistakes With President Trump suggesting he would like to see the U.S. loosen public-health restrictions in the next few weeks, historian Christopher McKnight Nichols argues at the Washington Post that history suggests such an approach could be dangerous.

Full Speed Ahead And now for something completely different: Road & Track has an excerpt from Neal Bascomb’s Faster, with the story of how a Jewish race-car driver challenged Nazi domination at the Grand Prix.

To Unsubscribe
Unsubscribe here if you do not want to receive this newsletter.

Update Email
Click here to update your email address.

Privacy Policy
Please read our Privacy Policy.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.

For Further Communication
Please email

3 Bryant Park
New York, NY 10036
Connect with TIME
Find TIME on Facebook
Follow TIME on Twitter
Subscribe to more TIME Newsletters
Get TIME on your Mobile Device
Get TIME on your iPad
Subscribe to RSS Feed