As it draws closer to the presidential election, the spotlight focuses on the political convention. Each multi-day, multimillion-dollar convention produces a candidate for president. The nomination is merely a formality, as the candidate is identified months in advance. In the early to mid-20th century, the party's nominee was not as clear because not every state had primary elections and there were no superdelegates.
Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law has been the topic of many debates in recent months. Proponents claim it will help reform the election and curb voter fraud. Opponents say it is a way of excluding people from voting, many of these being poor, elderly, disabled, and minorities. This edition of That’s History examines the history of voter reform in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and how that shaped the current voting process. Suggested reading:
The International Olympic Committee portrays the Olympic Games as a competition between the world’s greatest athletes in an effort to promote unity, competition, and pride.They believe the games should transcend political and other issues. As with many things in life, what ought to be is not what actually exists. The reality is that many participants and countries have used the games to make political statements. Some of the more extreme statements have resulted in tragedies such as the bombings in Atlanta in 1996 or the hostage situation in the Munich games in 1972.
With the summer season comes hot weather, picnics, and family vacations. Most academic years run from September through June, giving students a three-month vacation. Breaks in the school year were instituted in the 19th century, when children went home to help on the family farm for planting and harvesting. By the late 19th century, many schools changed their break to occur over the summer months, in an effort to reduce disease, which spread more easily in the hot weather.
The issue of alimony in the divorce process has always been highly debated. In the early 20th century as more women entered the workforce and the divorce rate spiked, newspapers and periodicals targeted alimony recipients. Depictions were of women living a good life while their ex-husbands sunk into despair and poverty. Examples such as these are being brought up in the debate over alimony reform currently going on in New Jersey.
Almost 40 years ago psychiatrist John Fryer spoke before the American Psychiatric Association (APA) wearing a mask to hide his identity. Being announced only as "Dr. H. Anonymous," Fryer announced he was a homosexual. He later was forced to resign his residency at the University of Pennsylvania and fired from Friends Hospital when officials learned of his sexual orientation. The APA recently made headlines when Robert Spitzer repudiated his 2002 study that had said reparative therapy is effective.
The political recall was created as a tool to remove corrupt political officials from office. Los Angeles was the first major city to institute the recall in 1903, and the first to remove corrupt mayor A.C. Harper six years later. Beginning in the 1970s, usage of the recall began to transform into a tool used by political parties to remove officials from office simply because their candidate did not win the election. Between 1971 and 2004, more state officials were removed than in the previous 63 years of statewide recall existence.
In every presidential election year after each party's nominee has been selected, much of the attention is focused on the selection of the vice presidential running mate. The common perception is that this person can balance the ticket and help gain votes to win the election. It was not until recently that this position also became a springboard for those with presidential aspirations.
In the late 19th century, 4-year-old Charley Ross's abduction from the streets of Philadelphia became the first nationwide missing children case. Recently reopened after 32 years was the case of Etan Patz. Although both Etan and Charley were never found, they helped to create new methods and procedures regarding missing children.
Until the mid-20th century, Philadelphia was a leading city in industry, technology, and innovation. Termed the "workshop of the world," the city hosted the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, which was a celebration of American history, culture, and glimpses of what the future might hold. Government funding fueled technological and industrial advances such as the creation of the railroad and ENIAC, the world's first supercomputer, which also was developed in Philadelphia.
- 1 of 2
- next ›
That's History was a biweekly radio segment co-produced by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and WHYY featuring historian Jonathan Zimmerman that aired from 2011 to 2012. That’s History took an event, issue or person in the news, and looked back into history for echoes, parallels, roots and lessons.