Plus: Equal Pay and Smokey Bear |

August 22, 2019

By Lily Rothman

This week, Virginia—and the whole of the United States—marks the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first captive Africans in English North America. That moment is an important landmark in the long and ugly story of slavery in American history, and it didn’t happen in a vacuum. With that in mind, TIME’s Olivia B. Waxman spoke to experts about why that day was a turning point in the history of slavery, but not its beginning. Click here to read more about what happened in 1619.

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

Scholar: The History Behind the Race and Gender Pay Gap

More than four months after America women marked Equal Pay Day, black women are only now catching up. Here's the history behind that gap

The Enduring Message of Letters From WWII's French Resisters

They were allowed to write home before being executed

Was The Wizard of Oz Cursed?

The production of the classic film was an infamous disaster, but not everything you've heard about what happened on set is true

How a WWII Attack Helped Spark the Creation of Smokey Bear

The grizzly face of fire prevention was introduced on Aug. 9, 1944

Column: The Early Inequalities of the War on Drugs

As difficult as passing drug laws is, enforcing them effectively, consistently and fairly has proven to be virtually impossible


Aug. 22, 1949

70 Years Ago: Elizabeth Taylor

“Eye-filling Elizabeth Taylor is no such problem. In fact, she is no problem at all. Elizabeth has only a little temperament and almost no side; she pretends to no more learning than she needs, reads little besides movie magazines, hates school, loves ice-cream sodas, convertibles and swimming pools, and admires big strong men. Elizabeth's womanly beauty usually makes strangers forget that she is, after all, only a youngster, but her behavior quickly reminds them of it. Beneath her breath-taking façade there is scarcely a symptom of sophistication. But Elizabeth, for all her youngish ways, is a purposeful girl in a way that Hollywood admires: she is feverishly ambitious to make a success in pictures." (Aug. 22, 1949)

Read the full story

Aug. 22, 1960

Today in 1960: Dag Hammarskjöld

“Despite his athleticism (mountain climbing, cycling), slope-shouldered Dag Hammarskjöld has a mild and even frail appearance. He converses sedately in four languages (excellent Swedish, English and French, adequate German), and when he sees a listener has got his drift, will often finish up, ‘and so forth and so on.’ But for all his apparent mildness, Hammarskjöld can operate with finality and surefootedness. Soviet delegates realize that Hammarskjöld is by origin, instinct and inclination firmly of the West and passionately democratic, but they also know him as a man who strives for objectivity and takes seriously his obligation to each of the 82 U.N. states.” (Aug. 22, 1960)

Read the full story

Aug. 23, 1948

This Week in 1948: Betty Grable

“In a business fraught with hazardous gambling and desperate financial uncertainties, Betty Grable comes about as close as Hollywood can get to a surefire, gilt-edged investment. The profits from her movies (something like $15 million over the last eight years) have left her boss, Producer Darryl Zanuck, free to dabble with such weighty but financially risky topics as political history (Wilson), lynching (The Ox-Bow Incident) and anti-Semitism (Gentleman's Agreement). Each week, some 10,000 admirers (zealously cheered on by her studio's press-agents) take the trouble to write Betty fan mail. For six years U.S. theater managers have ranked her among the top ten in box-office pull. " (Aug. 23, 1948)

Read the full story


400 Years On the subject of 1619, set aside some time for the major special project—launched in last weekend’s edition of the Times Magazine—with which the New York Times is investigating that year and its aftermath.

“History Wars” …And follow that up with Rebecca Onion’s piece for Slate about where the controversy over the 1619 Project fits in the history of debate over understandings of the American past.

Monumental Decision At Hyperallergic, Zachary Small has the story on why a group of historians is arguing that including Sojourner Truth in a new monument to suffragists would “obscure” the truth about that history.

Under the Skin For the BBC, Keiligh Baker writes about the complicated ethics of a book that helps surgeons save lives, but is the product of brutal Nazi experimentation.

Down Under Simon Barnard, who updated Australia’s first dictionary—a glossary of “criminal slang”—for its 200th anniversary, writes for The Guardian about some of the choicest terms.

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