World War II’s Technological Advancements in Aerial Warfare

World War II’s Technological Advancements in Aerial Warfare

Brianna Hatzold

A significant battle that played an enormous role in World War II that incorporated air crafts was the Allied invasion of mainland Europe at Normandy Beach in France, Operation Overload. This epic invasion was a very crucial climatic battle of World War II. The invasion of Normandy which is commonly referred to as D-Day consisted of a series of complex operations that dealt over several of days. This operation’s goal was to defend the beaches of Normandy heavily and to establish a foothold on the European continent. The first step of the operation was the landing which would prove a grueling march to the city of Berlin to attack the Nazi regime. It is an understating to even try and describe the gigantic role the Allied air forces played in the invasion. Without the assistance provided from the Allied air force the operation could not have happened. The Allied air force, with the contribution of Allied fighter planes, transports, bombers, reconnaissance planes and troop carriers made the events on D-Day possible. In the D-Day operation approximately 13,000 Allied aircrafts participated. D-Day marks one of the largest aerial operations in history. This precedent action was a learning experience that further developed the understanding of how aircrafts can operate as well as how they would interact. Operation D-Day was a very critical and complex mission that commanders understood and accepted the fact that there will be great losses in order to have a control over a beachhead. During this there was a low pressure weather system in England and the coast of France. With the low weather in these areas it then resulted in much confusion when airplanes departed from their bases in England. On top of that, the ceilings forced drop planes to fly at much lower altitudes then what was planned. Then there was also a troubling overcast layer that made it difficult for bombers to targets. Some airplanes even crashed into one another or went missing. 

June 6, 1944 the operation commenced in the dark early-morning. This complex mission was a surprise to Germany. German commanders believed that the weather was poor conditions for the Allied powers to initiate an attack. The aerial operation had several phases in which immensely contributed to the success of the invasion. The first phase consisted of an aerial bombardment on the German emplacements, artillery and supply lines, that were on the beach of Normandy. In this first phase, it used heavy bombers and attack planes. Aircrafts such as the British Lancaster, American B-17 Flying Fortress and the Hawker Typhoons were in action to breakdown the enemy’s defenses. Allied commanders were hopeful that the bombings would neutralize the enemy’s defenses. However, it did not. German forces seemed to be still intact and feared of.

Hundreds of American C-47s were also at this scene. Acting as a supply plane the C-47 was capable to hold up to 6,000 pounds of cargo on their journey bearing a fully assembled vehicle or even a 37-mm cannon. When acting as a troop transporter it can hold 28 soldiers that are fully geared. If it was acting as a medical airlift it had the capacity to hold up to 14 stretcher patients as well as three nurses. According to Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, the C-47 was the most important piece of equipment. These aircrafts took off from a base that was located in central England which was approximately two hours flying time away from Normandy. Joe Crouch and his pathfinders were the first Americans to reach the outskirts of France in the early hours on the day of June 6, 1944. Him and his men took off it the darkness around 9:50 p.m. on June 5th. Joe Crouch’s small fleet of armless C-47s began to depart, leaving England in five-minute intervals. His fleets C-47s carried up to 200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne, the first pathfinders that played a role in the invasion. The pathfinders’ duties were to mark drop zones behind the beaches of Normandy by placing lights and radar beacons.

 Once in the air, the American C-47s then congregated into several V-formations. Each plane held more than a dozen paratroopers. In the morning of D-Day there were hundreds of planes that transported more than 13,000 paratroopers beyond the beach, encroaching on occupied France. The paratroopers were airborne fighters that would leap from these aircrafts into occupied France to cut off the Germans from behind. With the low weather in England and in France in the early morning, it made the airborne operation impossible to run swiftly like planned. About two-thirds of the courageous paratroopers landed way off of the ideal jump zone destinations. With the paratroopers being displaced all over France in incorrect areas it led to great chaos. As Allied soldiers desperately tried to regroup their troops, they encountered the Germans then resulting in a series of guerilla skirmishes.

During the invasion of Normandy, the Waco-CG Hadrian played an enormous role in the war effort. This aircraft did a fantastic job moving in troops and supplies onto the beaches. the Waco-CG Hadrian landed thousands of allied soldiers behind enemy lines with guns and equipment. It even was capable of carrying a Jeep or Howitzer into the war scene. This aircraft was easy to make and not costly to construct. Another wave of support came to troops hours later in gliders. The gliders arrived pre-dawn hours due to when the airborne troops. They went during that time because the airborne men could not wait incredibly long to resupply its troops with equipment as well as fighting off the Germans. This brought a mass amount of difficulty though due to landing at night. There were numerous variables that fliers could have faced. For instance: landing in an occupied territory, landing into fields that held defensive features, other problematic geography landscapes, anti-glider poles, ditches, and so on. Pilots reported that it was extremely difficult to see and that often times they were not able to see until their craft had touched ground. Many of the gliders crashed with fatalities. Despite the problematic situations these soldiers faced, the glider invasion was highly successful. The gliders were able to hold around 15 troops or to transport heavy equipment. Horsa gliders were larger than the Waco Gliders and could carry up to 30 troops.

The great contribution from C-47s as well as the Waco-CG Hadrian allowed the Allied forces to come out on top and to have a gateway into the European theater. D-Day is one of the most famous and the most significant battles that occurred in World War II. Without the reinforcement from aircrafts by supplying soldiers and equipment, then D-Day would not have been possible. Air crafts did far more for the war effort than one may think. Through air crafts, especially in this battle, they totally transformed the war and open the door to “how” to incorporate air crafts.

How Do We Teach Politics in a Society Where Political Affiliations Have Become Toxic?

How Do We Teach Politics in a Society Where Political Affiliations Have Become Toxic?

Nick Zolkiwsky

Throughout my time as a student from kindergarten up until the eighth grade, politics and government were never taught in my classes. To which I was not at all surprised, after all how do you teach a second grader the difference between a conservative and a liberal when they should be learning how to construct paragraphs and learn how to use a keyboard? Let alone how do you get them interested in such a topic? Even more importantly, how do we get them interested in the topic and teach them to respect others who may hold different political views?

The first time I can vividly recall politics being taught in my class was when I was in fourth grade and we were fastly approaching the 2008 Presidential election. During those short and brief lessons, my teachers did not tell us where Senators McCain or Obama sided on certain issues or even a basic background of the parties they were affiliated with. Instead, we were all taught to like Obama because he was younger and was the more “favorable” candidate among teachers at my elementary school. The same situation occurred four years later when I was in eighth grade and the 2012 election was approaching. To which I was genuinely surprised because at this point we were all teenagers and had a better understanding of how the world works compared to when we were still in grade school, at least I thought I did. However, it wasn’t until the 2016 election that my teachers actually began talking about the issues that Americans would be voting for and where Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood. While for the first time we were having open discussions about beliefs and the two major parties it was undoubtedly one of the most toxic environments one could have ever imagined. Instead of listening to each other oftentimes I would find classmates getting into heated arguments, which were then followed by one person attacking the personal character of the other. Even as a 17 year old I knew this was no way to hold political discussions. Where was the respect? Where were the listening skills? And most importantly, where was the maturity? The answer, nowhere to be found. So the question is, how do we, as teachers, teach and create a healthy environment where students can learn and discuss politics when we live in a society that becomes toxic when these discussions arise?

To say 2020 has been one of the most unpredictable years in recent memory would be an understatement. It’s been a 12 month period where every 30 days or so we are met with another apocalyptic type event: first it was wildfires, then a pandemic, then heightened racial issues, and to make it all the more fun we threw in a Presidential election into the mix. According to an article from “” there are easy steps to teaching politics within the classroom in the current climate that we live in. The first step that the article suggests is to discuss biases and “fake news” within the American mainstream media. This is a perfect starting point as understanding biases will better help all students fully understand the concepts of politics and how different media outlets portray a candidate/policy than a rivaling network. This also opens up the door to teach students the importance of fact-checking and doing their own research, which in the past few years has become so much more important than ever. Unfortunately, due to the easy access to media and the increasing influence of social media, individuals will typically see a picture or a meme on Twitter or Instagram and assume it to be true. Not only will they outright believe it but they won’t even go through the effort of reading up on the issue or using that additional information to form their own opinion.

The next three steps that the article discusses are more so related to notifying parents that you are about to discuss politics within the class. As many social studies teachers know, politics is a very touchy subject to teach about, and as many teachers in general know, parents sometimes are not afraid to tell you how they really feel about you teaching a particular subject. What this step aims to do is to notify the parents before the lesson is taught and lay out for them how the subject will be delivered to the students. By doing so, not only will the parents be as caught up as their students are but, it better prepares them to answer those difficult questions that their children may ask at the dinner table or in some cases, provide clarification and context to when a student tells their parents what they did in school that day. In addition to notifying parents about the upcoming lessons on politics and how you intend on delivering the information, it is a good idea to also encourage parents to talk about politics with their students at home. This is done so not only will the students have a better understanding of what they are getting into and about to learn, but it will also help them start to relate to certain focal points and issues that personally matter to them and their family.

Lastly, once the day has arrived to start teaching about politics in your classroom there are a few ground rules that you should establish right off the bat. The first rule, and quite possibly the most important rule, is to ensure that your students will show respect and remain respectful during the lesson. The way I like to think of it is, respectful ears are ears that are open to hearing the voices of others without judgment. The next rule is more geared towards you as the teacher and that is to remain neutral on the subject matter. While it is oftentimes difficult to remain neutral on certain topics, you have to understand that some of your students might have little to no understanding of the issues that you are about to discuss. Rather than giving them a biased opinion, which they have learned about at this point, you are giving them a non-partisan view and allowing them to make their own opinions on the topic. The third and final rule is to make sure that the students know that their opinions are their own opinions and they have the right to have them. This can be very empowering for students, especially those in High School who now find themselves in the “young adult” category. By having their own free-formed opinions this helps them establish a sense of identity as to who they are and where their morals lie and if you think about it you’re killing two birds with one stone.

How you want to present the information is totally up to you, just as long as you feel that you can provide the necessary information and that the information provided will be retained by the students in the classroom. Some suggest that PowerPoints and lectures may be the best option because this allows students to ask questions throughout the lesson and does provide room for a short class discussion. The more you allow students to voice their opinions and ask questions shows that they are engaging in the topic and that they are getting curious about why things are the way that they are. Other ways could include holding a mini-election within your own classroom, however, this activity may take a few class periods to run its full course, but on the flip side is it keeps them engaged longer and it allows them to go home after class and do their own research to further their own side of the topic. The last way you could do it is a much more laissez-faire approach and that is an open class discussion where you go around and have students speak up on what they know about politics. In doing so, the students are teaching one another and it gives you the teacher the opportunity to expand on talking points, correct any misconceptions brought up and even guide them to areas of further discussion. However, the one drawback that this approach comes with is that you will have biased opinions from students, so be sure to neutralize any bias that could be presented and most importantly, if a student holds similar views as you do, do not promote those as the “correct” way of thinking. 

In conclusion, it is safe to say that we live in a time like no other. Our political climate in our nation today has never been as divisive as it has been over the past few years. But we as educators and even future parents must realize that if we want to change the toxic climate that is our political spheres, then we must lead the charge. Show our students it’s okay to disagree with others and that you can still be friends just because one person voted for one candidate and the other voted for the opposite candidate. The sooner we implement respect in our classrooms and when discussing politics with younger generations the more likely they will pass those traits down to their children.

Art in an Area of Conflict: Kosovo

Art in an Area of Conflict: Kosovo

Susan Goetz Zwirn

UNICEF, during a discussion organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) reported in June, 2018, that children living in conflict areas has increased by 74% (UNICEF, 2018, June 26).  This site notes that in 2020 fifty-nine million children will require humanitarian assistance, the largest number since UNICEF began record keeping, with conflict the major driver  (UNICEF, 2020, Jan. 25) .  Basic services like water, health and education are all impacted.  Even when actual conflict has abated, children are impacted by the toll caused by missing and dead relatives, physical destruction, and economic deprivation.  The cultural genocide (a term to be explored) that often occurs prior to actual genocidal conflict is devastating.   A report by Save the Children in 2019 provided even more staggering statistics.  The organization reports that 1 in 5, almost 420 million children, were in conflict affected areas in 2017, constituting a rise of 30 million from 2016 (Chen, 2019).

The uprooted and traumatized children referred to in these statistics have contributed to what is, undoubtedly, the worst refugee crisis in modern history. The refugee ‘issue’ impacts most of the world and is an engine driving national and international policy by nations in turmoil, inflicting increased suffering of these children.  Although attention is focused on a few global hotspots where journalists are permitted, these tragedies are escalating and developing in dozens of places, for a myriad of reasons. Aggression promoted by intolerance is internalized in children and adolescents who have lived with insecurity born of a history of violence, often separated from loved ones, and grown up in exile or in displacement camps. This ongoing tragedy is unfolding in the United States as well. As of September 2018, the New York Times reported that there are 12,800 children in federally contracted shelters and 1,500 unaccounted for.  The current administration is canceling English classes and recreational activities (Romo, 2019). According to a joint investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series, Frontline: “The nearly-70,000 migrant children who were held in government custody this year—up 42 percent in the fiscal year 2018-2019—spent more time in shelters and away from their families than in prior years (Aljazeera,2019).  Can activist art educators provide consequential results for children impacted by such conflict?

This study was completed in Kosovo with the nonprofit arts organization ArtsAction Group (AAG).  AAG is an international community-based collective with over a decade of commitment to socially engaged arts initiatives with youth in conflict-affected environments. Informing this study is a week-long participatory observation experience in Kosovo with AAG as well as oral history interview data and research prior to the trip.

Their multifaceted mission statement is elaborated on their website:  AAG is focused on both the individual child and the group: developing capacity for empathy, aesthetic awareness, creativity, problem solving, curiosity, engagement with community, the development of self-esteem, and encouraging empowerment to participate in a democratic society. Of equal significance to AAG is the role of the arts to connect young people to the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century.  A keen focus on teaching contemporary art and design, particularly STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) via an inquiry-based approach further aides individual and group survival in today’s economy. An emphasis on contemporary art not only connects young people to global movements, it also encourages personal connection and individual mean making. 

Kosovo: Historical context in the struggle for independence

In 1999, after a prolonged conflict, the United States and NATO allies acted to end ‘ethnic cleansing,’ a euphemism for genocide, perpetrated by Milosevic’s forces, and characterized by murder, looting and intimidation orchestrated against Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population. Milosevic directed his forces inside Kosovo to drive the bulk of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian population out of the territory or annihilate them. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and obtained diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 113 UN members. Many countries, notably Russia, China, India and Serbia, do not recognize Kosovo’s independence and it is not a part of the UN.  Due to the lack of universal acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood and ongoing tension with Serbia, NATO troops maintains a presence in the region.

The violence in Kosovo is not unique.  In the 20th century, self-determination inspired peoples on several continents to overthrow oppressive rule. Once gaining independence, newly seated leaders in many of these nations, however, often denied the same freedoms for ethnic and religious minorities within their borders– perpetuating oppression and civil unrest. As of 2013, Sambanis writes that there were at least 125 civil wars in progress (as cited in Welhengama, 2013).

Kosovo province succeeded from Serbia in 2008. Gurr notes that except for Central and West Africa and South and Southeast Asia, most secessionist movements have subsided. Despite this reduction, current initiatives to justify secession have focused on the idea that self-determination is a human right (Welhengama, 2013).  What happens to the cultural, religious, and/or political groups that are engaged in these conflicts? 

Cultural Genocide

In 1948, the United Nations defined genocide at the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Article II, as acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group (United Nations Human Rights, 2018). The idea that genocide starts, but is not confined to killing, was elaborated on by Raphael Lemkin who first conceptualized ‘cultural genocide’ (as cited in Novic, 2015). Although Article II limited the legal definition of genocide to the physical and excluded the destruction of tangible cultural heritage and the prohibition of the use of the language of a group in their definition of genocide, the debate has continued. For Lemkin and others, cultural genocide came to be a form of genocide per se because the destruction of a culture could engender the destruction of the group over time. Anthropologists Jaulins and Clastres used the term ‘ethnocide’, which they claim is the systematic destruction of the modes of life and thought of people who are different. Clastres added that, genocide kills their bodies, “…while ethnocide kills their spirit” (as cited in Novic, 2015, p. 64).

The cultural dimension of genocide broadens a definition of genocide from a sole focus on the action of physical genocide to intention. Coined ‘ethnic cleansing,’ physical and cultural acts of genocide constituted mass attacks against people as well as their cultural heritage (United Nations Security Council, 1992). Whether the intention was to destroy or replace ethnic Albanians, the results impacted thousands of people in what is today called Kosovo. Since 1999, the region has been in a state of flux, beginning after the war with the presence of a military-humanitarian apparatus (Pandolfi, 2003) in which governmental and non-governmental relief agencies exist in a prolonged state of emergency and temporary relief.

Twenty years after the war, Kosovo is the economically poorest nation in Europe; the median family income is under 10K. Rebuilding from a war and genocide that impacted every community, the traumatic effects are still very much a part of Kosovar citizens’ lives and the rebuilding process is fraught with tension (Shtuni, 2015). Recent statements made by the US Ambassador to Pristina indicate a possible shift in US policy towards Kosovo which contradicts the stance taken in 1999 to end the war. Discussions against the partition of Kosovo from Serbia indicates that the sovereignty of Kosovo is perhaps now more fragile than before (2018, August 13, Mujanovic). According to Serbia’s foreign minister, as of August, 2019, 15 countries have revoked their recognition of Kosovo who stated it falls below 100 countries.  However, Kosovo claims to have 114 recognize it (Palickova, 2019). Kosovo is not a member of the UN and Russia and Serbia’s opposition is a cloud hanging over Kosovo’s efforts to join the EU. 

Working towards self-determination, Kosovars work to rebuild the economy. Kosovars are re-envisioning their culture and spirit as they choose to identify– through processes of becoming, mapping their own future– not wholly as victims, survivors, soldiers, or descendants (Biehl & Locke, 2010)..

Fellbach Haus Centre for Creative Education

Fellbach Haus is a community cultural center in the town of Suhareka, directed by a team from the community which includes artist and educator, Refki Gollopeni. Gollopeni experienced the war firsthand, when the Serbian government shut down the schools and the Albanian language was disallowed. After the war, Gollopeni focused on active involvement with the youth in the community for healing and rebuilding through art. He saw the need for art projects aimed at meaning making and creative expression, as well as innovative, entrepreneurial knowledge, and skills.

Gollopeni’s ten years of collaboration with AAG began with a meeting at a peace education conference. Wariness of non-governmental organizations and UN groups that aren’t grounded in community resulted in a two-year vetting process before AAG met Gollopeni. This relationship, over time, has been enhanced by local and international arts partners, local businesses, as well as the families of the young people who participate in the art programs. Gollopeni wanted to bring contemporary art education practices to Fellbach Haus. He describes the relationship with AAG: “Together we are working to establish a better future for humanity, while simultaneously maintaining human identity through peace, love, and art” (R. Gollopeni, interview, March 2018).

In Suhareka’s schools, art education focuses on traditional media and skills. Through collaboration, AAG designs projects that honor the local leaders’ expertise, and introduces new methods and materials at Gollopeni’s request. Each site is specific. Starting in 2008, with the request from Gollopeni to bring contemporary art practices to the center, AAG introduced installation art and artists which helped model teaching and the production of art that was collaborative and ephemeral vs the individual artist making a permanent object. Materials were locally sourced or transported on site by AAG.

In following years, AAG introduced stop motion animation stimulated by the work of contemporary artists. The content of the work was grounded in community, identity, and history, particularly documenting war stories from the community. Expanding upon the animation workshops, Gollopeni organized an international animation festival the following year which highlighted student work alongside work by international artists. Gollopeni continues to develop curriculum, building on the yearly experiences with AAG in ways that are meaningful for student expression and the future goals of the community.

Gollopeni’s interest in introducing contemporary art practice and collaboration for Kosovar youth corresponds to a recent research shift in scholarly and pedagogical activity regarding creativity. A new generation of research has begun to examine creativity as an outcome of collaborative activity rather than as a phenomenon that occurs entirely within the individual. Glaveanu’s culturally based definition of creativity refers to it as “a complex socio-cultural-psychological process. (Zwirn & VandeZande, 2015, p. 11). This understanding of creativity has salience for our discussion. Creativity is understood as a “generative process; it is connected to previous knowledge and cultural repertoires and in a dialogical relationship with the old or the already-there” (p. 11). In this conception, “tradition and previous knowledge are part and parcel of the creative process,” and “creativity and tradition are interpenetrated” (p. 13).

Week at the Fellbach Haus

Children’s projects focused on the theme of identity in an imaginative way, exploring the question: If you could have a secret super power, what would it be? The teens project, titled Utopia/Dystopia was developed in collaboration with Gollopeni and his discussions with his students during the planning stage before the visit. The theme asked students to explore the questions: What does ‘utopia’ mean to you? What does dystopia mean to you? Where do they overlap?  Students viewed images by contemporary artists who have explored the themes of utopia and dystopia to generate dialogue around societal and personal issues. The students discussed what they considered characteristics of utopian and dystopian society.

The discussion was facilitated with Gollopeni and students fluent in English translating. The inspiration to tackle these subjects evolved from discussions with Kosovar teens via skype prior to our arrival. The youngest nation in Europe, Kosovo has a youth unemployment rate of around 57%. Young people are keenly aware of the disparity in access to opportunities and experiences that most other European youth enjoy (McCarthy & Wagoneer, December 14, 2017). Discussing utopia as a form of empowerment in envisioning a brighter future for the country and dystopia as a critical analysis of their daily experience hit close to home.

STEAM approach through contemporary art

Both the children’s workshops and the teen workshops focused on integrating technology into the art making as a means for creative expression. Kosovar youth come from a long artistic and cultural tradition. Their appreciation for art, along with their motivation to learn about new technologies was quite evident in what they accomplished in the space of the week with AAG.

The children created artworks working with circuitry for lights and sound recordings of their voice, describing their desired superpower. The elementary students also used circuit boards. The teens similarly worked with conductive materials as well as how to make an image into a 3D print file. They learned about Bare Conductive Touch Boards for adding sound to a symbol that they had created to identify their idea. The Touch Board makes projects interactive through a microcontroller based platform that allows one to turn almost any material or surface into a sensor. Thick graphite sticks served as both conductive material for sound and for ’drawing utopia and dystopia themed murals. Students chose a symbol on their work for emphasis and created the symbol into a 3D printed object.

Community Focused Alliances

Strategies employed by AAG bolster the impact of SEAE. Analysis of documentation, interviews, video, photos, observations and experiences highlight key curricular concepts: a valuing of alliances, empowerment through self-determination, curriculum co-created and based on participants stated requests that meets individual and group goals (such as current design and STEAM projects for 21st century skills, and a pedagogy focused on hope and personal and community meaning making.  The arts foster dialogue towards individual and community development.

Building alliances with local groups through long-term cooperation lay the groundwork for AAG’s success in Kosovo. AAG forms community alliances through student-led engagement in the form of interactive and participatory exhibition design, which culminates their workshops. The public exhibitions extend their focus on engaging community with young people, artists and art educators, by networking with family and community members. Collaboration is fundamental as students decide how to showcase their art to the community.  The turnout of several hundred parents, youth and municipal personnel at the workshops’ end confirmed the value of the workshops to community members.

Transformational, socially engaged education via the arts gains vitality when it is youth focused with a recognition that the future of Kosovo and its sovereignty is linked to the voices of generations to come. As Dukagjin Lipa, father of Kosovar’s first international pop star, Dua Lipa, explained in August 2018, regarding his creation of the first major music festival in Kosovo, “We have our troubles, but we have one of the most wonderful youths in this part of the world. They are intelligent, they’re creative. They have something to say.” (Marshall, A., 2018)


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The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 in New York State

The Cholera Pandemic of 1832 in New York State

Richard L. Williams

Reprinted with permission from

History shows that several pandemics have struck in New York State – one of the less remembered is known as the Second Cholera Pandemic of 1832. New York was among the most thoroughly scourged among the states.

A person may get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacterium.  Although cholera can be acquired from under-cooked marine life, in an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water and New York City, Buffalo, and Utica were all hit particularly hard due to the bacterium‘s water borne mobility.

Virtually every city along the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Champlain, and the Erie Canal suffered despite the imposition of quarantines and frantic local efforts to “purify” and eliminate public health nuisances. In June 1832 cholera appeared in Quebec and Montreal and then in Prescott, Kingston, and York in Canada. Thriving towns along the Erie Canal suffered as well as small villages and even isolated farms.  The appearance of cholera was the signal for the general exodus of inhabitants of larger communities, who, in their headlong flight, spread the disease throughout the surrounding countryside. The disease was terrifying. Like the current coronavirus pandemic, it had to be faced alone, often without friend, minister, or physician.

The pandemic was compounded by miasmatics, an obsolete medical theory that held that diseases — such as cholera, chlamydia, or the plague — were caused by noxious “bad air” (sometimes called night air).

Personal habits were also thought to be a major cause and public health officials sought to protect people they called “poor and vicious” from themselves. Cleanliness helped, but also New York City banned “green and unripe fruits of every kind.”  Leaders of the Temperance Movement charged whiskey as the culprit. “Strict Sabbatarians” thought the disease was due to improper regard for the holiness of Sundays.

Many people traveled then on the Erie Canal or on stagecoaches on turnpikes passing through communities like Utica, where the Common Council established a Board of Health on June 16, 1832 to make regulations to “prevent the introduction and spread of the disease in the city.” Property owners were directed to purify and cleanse their house or business and to remove unwholesome substances or water. Lime or chloride of lime was to be used by all to purify residences and other buildings.

A temporary hospital was erected on Broad Street and 50 bushels of lime was bought “for the use of the poor.” Canal boats were directed to a quarantine where they could be “cleansed and purified.” By August 13th Utica had four fatal cases, and the alarm had spread across the city. It was estimated that 3,000 people left Utica “in search of a securer refuge from the mysterious disease.” All told, Utica had about 200 cases of cholera and about 65 deaths. A writer in The Utica Daily Gazette 15 years after the episode said that “the bolts of death fell thick and fast. The dead were hurried to their graves as soon as the breath left the body, unaccompanied by friends and without the usual ceremony.”

By September 11, 1832 the Board of Health announced that there was no danger to people returning to Utica. On September 25th no new cases were reported.  As abruptly as the 1832 cholera pandemic had appeared in New York, it dissipated and was largely gone from the State by December of the same year.

A similar epidemic, the Third Cholera Pandemic, returned to the United States in 1849. It is believed that over 150,000 Americans died during the two pandemics.

Historic New Jersey: Long Pond Ironworks

Historic New Jersey: Long Pond Ironworks

Long Pond Ironworks in Hewitt takes its name from the nearby “Long Pond,” a translation of the Native American name for Greenwood Lake. Set alongside the swiftly flowing Wanaque, or “Long Pond,” River, the only natural drainage from Greenwood Lake, the site offered a perfect combination of natural resources for making iron. Long Pond Ironworks was founded by the German ironmaster Peter Hasenclever.

Reprinted with Permission from the Long Pond Ironworks Museum

With financial backing from English investors, Hasenclever purchased the existing Ringwood Ironworks in 1765, along with huge parcels of land, including the 55,000 acre Long Pond Tract.  He then imported more than 500 European workers and their families to build iron-making plantations at Ringwood, Long Pond, and Charlottenburg in New Jersey, and at Cortland in New York.

From the wilderness they carved roads; built forges, furnaces, and homes; and created supporting farms. At Long Pond, they dammed the river to provide water power to operate the air blast for a furnace and a large forge.  Robert Erskine, the ironmaster at Long Pond and Ringwood during the 1770s, took up the American cause during the Revolutionary War, supplying iron products to the Continental Army and serving as George Washington’s chief mapmaker until his death in 1780.

In 1807, Long Pond Ironworks was acquired by Martin J. Ryerson, owner of the Pompton Ironworks. The Ryerson family retained ownership until 1853, when they sold the properties to the industrialists Peter Cooper, Edward Cooper, and Abram S. Hewitt. The Cooper-Hewitt enterprise operated Long Pond Ironworks as part of the larger Trenton Iron Company. During the Civil War, two new blast furnaces, new waterwheels, and workers’ housing were built at Long Pond. The iron made here was found to be especially well suited to making guns for the Union Army.

Civil War era Water Wheel

The 1870s brought major changes in the American iron industry—notably, the rise of cheap steel manufacturing and the discovery of new coalfields in Pennsylvania and ore beds in the Midwest. Although Hewitt planned cost-saving improvements to keep his northern New Jersey ironworks in operation, on April 30, 1882, the last fires were blown out at Long Pond, ending more than 120 years of iron-making history at the site.

Although iron was no longer made at Long Pond after 1882, mining continued as a major industry. Through the turn of the twentieth century, residents of Hewitt, the village that had grown up around the ironworks, adapted to changing times. They built a new school and church between 1895 and 1905 and a new sawmill in 1913. Ice cutting on Greenwood Lake and recreation also became key industries. By the 1930s and the onset of the Great Depression, however, these industries were in decline. Residents of historic Hewitt began to move away, seeking opportunity elsewhere.

In 1957, the Ringwood Company donated the Long Pond Ironworks property to the State of New Jersey. In 1987, Long Pond Ironworks was dedicated as a State Park. Administered by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, and maintained by the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks, Inc., the Long Pond Ironworks Historic District stands as a testament to the vital role our region has played in our local, state, and national history.

Long Pond Today

Long Pond Ironworks is a microcosm of our industrial and cultural heritage. Its history tells a fascinating tale of the ironmasters who developed the iron industry in northern New Jersey. Their contributions to history in times of peace and times of war reach far beyond the local economy. These nearly forgotten chapters of history deserve to be retold and remembered.

Within the 175-acre Long Pond Ironworks Historic District lie the ruins of three iron blast furnaces, including the original Colonial-era furnace built in 1766 and two larger furnaces built for Civil War production. Also visible are remains of iron forges, waterpower systems, and a variety of workers’ homes and commercial buildings that were critical parts of the iron-working village.

Long Pond also illustrates the evolution of iron-making technology in the remains of the three successive blast furnaces, the ore roaster, and the hydropower systems. The continual search for more efficient operations and materials is a story of industrial ingenuity at its best.

The workers’ story at Long Pond Ironworks is a saga of immigration, hard work, and adaptation to changing times. The company town of Hewitt grew, thrived and declined along with the fortunes of the iron industry in the Northeast. The personal and community struggle to adapt to an evolving economy is a theme in our cultural heritage from which we can still learn.

The historical value of Long Pond Ironworks is paralleled only by its natural beauty. The forests that were once cut down to make charcoal for the furnaces have returned, and the river that was once diverted into the hydropower systems again cascades over ancient rock formations. The Friends of Long Pond Ironworks are working to ensure that the Historical District is preserved and remembered for its contributions to our past, present, and future.

All Have the Right to Question: Inquiry in the Incarcerated Environment

All Have the Right to Question: Inquiry in the Incarcerated Environment

Aubrey Brammar Southall and James Pawola

The bombing of Pearl Harbor is the current content for discussion in Mr. Peet’s (a pseudonym) United States History class. Mr. Peet has decided on the topic based on student written inquiry questions. Most students in the class were interested in studying why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Mr. Peet asks, “According to the sources, FDR makes it seem the Pearl Harbor attack was unprovoked. Tojo makes the case that the attack was provoked. What do you think? Support your answer with evidence from the sources provided.” The students fervently write out their responses after fumbling through their provided primary sources. As students recount the letters Hideki Tojo wrote during his time in prison, there is a general consensus, “Why would he lie when he is locked up for life?” and “Of course, Tojo was provoked.” The students speak of Tojo as if he is someone they know. Mr. Peet’s pupils bring an interesting perspective to the class discussion as they are all incarcerated. Mr. Peet teaches United States History at Midwestern Juvenile Justice Center (a pseudonym). He is a certified teacher by the Midwestern state in secondary social studies. Mr. Peet has taught at Midwestern Juvenile Justice Center for more than five years.

The purpose of this article is to examine the teaching of social studies in an incarcerated secondary classroom environment. The article will answer the following questions: (1) How is inquiry- based instruction implemented in an incarcerated classroom environment? And (2) How does the teacher interpret their classroom engagement level when inquiry- based instruction is employed?


The researchers are on the “inside” for observations. This term is used by students in Mr. Peet’s classroom. The researchers know their position as an outsider in this unique classroom environment. They are aware their position in society will shape perceptions and field notes. The researchers acknowledge the differences between the students and themselves, though they are greater than they could ever perceive. A sequence of events has partnered the researchers with Mr. Peet. What first started as a mentoring project by the local regional office of education has transformed and the researchers are now the mentees instead of mentors.

The purpose of this longitudinal case study is to evaluate the use of the inquiry based instruction in an incarcerated secondary classroom environment. The study will answer the following questions: (1) how is inquiry-based instruction implemented in an incarcerated classroom environment? (2) How does the teacher interpret their classroom engagement level when inquiry-based instruction is employed? The researchers use a case study qualitative research method. The research questions are best suited to be answered by employing a qualitative method. Yin (2013) believes “doing case study research would be the preferred method, compared to the others, in situations when (1) the main research questions are ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions; (2) the researchers have little or no control over behavioral events; and (3) the focus of study is a contemporary (as opposed to entirely historical)” (loc. 639). The use of quantitative research methods would not answer the research questions in an appropriate manner. Data collection included observations, teacher interviews, and field notes. Additionally, in this research study, the participant is one teacher in a juvenile justice center. Field notes and observation were necessary for data collection. The case study approach allowed for a holistic answer to the research questions.

For the purpose of this research project, the following definition for inquiry is employed: “Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that places students’ questions, ideas and observations at the center of the learning experience. Educators play an active role throughout the process by establishing a culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, redefined and viewed as improvable, moving children from a position of wondering to a position of enacted understanding and further questioning” (Student Achievement Division, 2013, p.2).

Mr. Peet’s Classroom

Mr. Peet’s classroom at Midwestern Juvenile Justice Center mimics national averages for jailed populations. The classroom where the researchers observed is made up of mostly Black and Brown young men. Most of Mr. Peet’s students report they have attended an alternative public school before entering his classroom. Over 50 percent of the students reported receiving special education services at their home public school. Kendi (2019) states Black students are four times more likely than white students to be suspended from public schools. Additionally, 56 percent of the prison population is made up of Black and Latinx people (Kendi, 2019). A recent Midwestern newspaper article stated “Youth who are detained are more likely to drop out of school, which in turn increases their likelihood of being rearrested and returning to jail” (Klonsky, 2019). The researchers noted that many practices at Midwestern Juvenile Justice Center appear to be restorative. Education is a top priority of administrators and educators. Students are offered the opportunity to participate in the following elective courses: yoga, music, graphic design, physical education, dual credit program with local community college, book club, garden club, art, and art therapy. Student artwork and murals adorn the walls of the school. The most notable student created murals state, “One day or day one, you decide”, “Renew”, and, “Begin.” Mr. Peet employs abolitionist teaching principles as his classroom “is built on the creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists to demand and fight for an educational system where all students are thriving, not simply surviving” (Love, 2019, p. 11).

Review of the Literature

Quality educational programing during incarceration can have a positive impact on students and help prevent involvement in future criminal behavior (Lochner & Moretti, 2003). The time youth spend in local short-term juvenile justice facilities should be used to address educational challenges, and to re-engage students in education or alternative programs (Office of Justice Programs’ National Criminal Justice Reference Service, 2017). Additionally, high quality education during incarceration is important for helping students become productive members of their communities (U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, 2014).

Incarcerated classrooms provide unique opportunities for secondary teachers. Scott (2013) reports there are two types of teachers in incarcerated settings. The first type of teacher sees prison as an important place for higher education and the other looks critically at the prison classroom. The researcher believes teachers looking critically at the prison classroom are more likely to advocate for incarcerated students (Scott, 2013). The researchers argue the teacher in this study, Mr. Peet, looks at his incarcerated secondary classroom critically. The researchers see Mr. Peet as an abolitionist teacher. Love (2019) states that:

Abolitionist teaching is built on the cultural wealth of students’ communities and creating classrooms in parallel with those communities aimed at facilitating interactions where people matter to each other, fight together in the pursuit of creating a home place that represents their hopes and dreams, and resist oppression all while building a new future (p. 68).

The teacher is willing to advocate for students and provide resources for inquiry. This image of the teacher shapes the narrative of the research.

The educational opportunities afforded to those in incarcerated environments impacts our societal landscape (Castro & Brawn, 2017). The classroom should be a place of thinking, discussing, and dialoguing. Additionally, the researchers and teacher highlight the importance of humanizing language when discussing people in incarcerated environments (Stern, 2014). Therefore, the researchers refer to the youth discussed in this study as students instead of inmates. Furthermore, Mr. Peet has made community in a place that is less than desirable.

For dark folx, thriving cannot  happen without a community that is deeply invested in racial uplift, human and workers’ rights, affordable housing, food and environmental justice, land rights, free or affordable healthcare, healing, joy, cooperative economic strategies, and high political participation that is free of heteropatriarchy, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, sexism, ageism, and the politics of respectability (Love, 2019, p. 65).

Mr. Peet’s classroom is a place where students and their backgrounds are valued and respected.

Furthermore, teaching in incarcerated environments should be seen as complex and unpredictable (Castro & Brawn, 2017). Teachers typically are the only teacher of their subject in the building, which is true for Mr. Peet.  Additionally, students do not have normal distractions like Wifi/internet, cell phones, parties, and school extracurricular activities (Scott, 2013). Furthermore, incarcerated students are not typically considered candidates for post-secondary education (Castro, Brawn, Graves, Mayorga, Page, & Slater, 2015). Mr. Peet does work in an environment promoting college readiness. He co-teaches community college courses for his incarcerated students. However, student perception of incarcerated classrooms draws from teacher and environmental stereotypes. “Analysis reveals how even well-intended practices in prison spaces pose obstacles to seeing incarcerated individuals as potential postsecondary students and degree completers” (Castro et al., 2015, p. 13). The presenters believe incarcerated environments with thoughtfully designed education programs “can create communities committed to personal growth, social responsibility, and engaged citizenship” (Ginsburg, 2014, p.33). Moreover, education in incarcerated environments that helps students with strong written and oral communication skills, such as inquiry based instruction, empowers them. Empowered students have the ability to represent and advocate for themselves in public spaces outside of incarceration (Lewen, 2014).

Classroom Practices

Mr. Peet instructs United States History chronologically. Each unit the teacher has the students write inquiry questions while reading an overview of the upcoming material. The teacher believes this allows the students to preview and/or review material and allows all students to start the unit with a base of prior knowledge. Students have stated writing inquiry questions as the teacher believes this gives them ownership in the lesson. “Hey, that’s my question!” is a resounding sound in Mr. Peet’s classroom. The teacher has reported, and researchers have recorded in field notes students are more engaged when student inquiry questions are used. The teacher provides research sources from multiple perspectives to students based on student-written inquiry questions. Bias is often discussed in the classroom. The teacher reported different levels of inquiry questions are written and answered based on student reading levels. Most of the students read below grade level. Resources provided by the teacher include photographs, art, music, speeches, news articles, and news’ broadcasts relating to the students’ interests. The nature of the provided resources and student written questions allows the teacher to differentiate for the variety of students present in the classroom. The teacher collects work daily and uses the feedback as a formative assessment. Due to the nature of Midwestern Juvenile Justice Center, summative assessments are not used.

Students report they often have not participated in their former social studies classrooms. Student feedback of Mr. Peet’s classroom is extremely positive. The teacher sets high expectations for all students. The researchers had Mr. Peet, affectionately known as “Mr. P” by his students, ask the students to write out why they enjoyed his class and participated in discussions and assignments. One student stated, “Mr. P teaches history in a very unbiased way. He never states opinions without refuting and clarifying both sides.” Another stated, “Mr. P is very knowledgeable of the subject. He makes it where I actually enjoy coming to school again.” Other comments were, “I like history the way you (Mr. P) teach” and “It’s (class) fun and I enjoy the fact that Mr. P actually makes it fun and makes it easy to understand.” Based on field notes and teacher reflection, many of the students have previously felt school was not the place for them.


As this study is longitudinal in nature, we will discuss the results from data collected thus far. We should note that due to the nature of incarcerated secondary classrooms, the teacher’s student population changes daily. The average time in a classroom is 14 days. Some students are members of the classroom for over a year. Additionally, some students rejoin the classroom throughout the school year. Furthermore, the researchers see youth who are incarcerated as a protected group. This study focuses on the teacher’s interpretation of classroom practices and student engagement.

Findings indicate inquiry-based learning in an incarcerated secondary social studies classroom environment is structured and teacher- dependent.  Mr. Peet’s United States History classroom ranges from seventh- twelfth graders. Students in this setting are not allowed to use the internet and have limited access to research materials. The teacher is responsible for providing needed materials for student inquiry. The teacher states the following as key components to structuring his classroom: “I usually use primary source pictures from the era or topic to spark interest and meaningful discussion” and “I find materials that I know are interesting and then tailor lessons to meet standards.” Additionally, he comments, “I do vocabulary exercises, and focus on the reading and analyzing primary and secondary sources.” Due to school policies, students are issued writing materials at the start of each class. Homework is not assigned as hardback textbooks and pencils are not allowed in student bedrooms due to safety concerns.

The teacher reported an increase in student engagement when inquiry based teaching practices are employed. Researchers recorded the following as key components of student engagement: a safe space for classroom discussion, the constant posing of “why?” to students, the posting of inquiry questions related to the topic everyday (student generated when applicable), and the modeling of good inquiry questions, sources of information, and identifying bias.

Additionally, the teacher noted increased engagement from students on release days from incarceration when inquiry based learning was used. The researchers recorded this in field notes as well. The teacher noted in previous experiences, students were understandably disengaged on release days. The students appeared to make the most use of their time in Mr. Peet’s class. Mr. Peet often states he hopes the students carry their often new found love of United States history back to their home public school.

Furthermore, an increase in individual student engagement is observed when the student’s own inquiry question is used during the lesson. Increased engagement is measured by student participation in classroom discussion and student answers to inquiry based questions. All inquiry question responses are required to use textual evidence. Textual evidence comes from teacher-provided resources.

The researchers observed empowerment, questioning, and relationships are the key components of inquiry-based learning in an incarcerated classroom environment and teacher-reported student engagement. The teacher reported relationships with the students being of the utmost importance for inquiry based instruction. The student centered approach to instruction empowers students daily. Finally, challenging students to question the history they are taught increases engagement and inquiry-based learning. Researchers used field notes, teacher interviews, and student work samples to determine key components.


            The researchers understand the complex nature of Midwestern Juvenile Justice Center and acknowledge the troubling rates of incarceration for Black and Brown young men. The researchers believe the abolitionist teaching style of Mr. Peet should be replicated and employed in the teaching of youth who find themselves incarcerated or in alternative school settings. Mr. Peet models how to successfully teach inquiry in a space where individuals voices are often kept quiet. The researchers feel strongly about the use of student-centered practices and inquiry-based instruction in environments where rights have been diminished.


Castro, E. L., Brawn, M., Graves, D., Mayorga, O., & Page, J. (2015). Higher education in an era of mass incarceration: Possibility under constraint. Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs, 1 (2), 13-31.

Castro, E.L. & Brawn, M. (2017). Critiquing critical pedagogies inside the prison classroom: A dialogue between a teacher and a student. Harvard Education Review, 87 (1), 99-121.

Ginsburg, R. (2014). Knowing that we are making a difference: A case for critical prison programming. Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, 64 (1), 33-47.

Kendi, I. (2019). How to be an anti-racist. Penguin Random House.

Klonsky, A (2019, November 7). The lifelong damage we do in Cook County when we jail kids as young as 10. Chicago Sun Times.  

Lewen, J. (2014). Prison higher education and social transformation. Saint Louis University School of Law Review, 33 (1) 353-362.

Lochner, L. & Moretti, E. (2003). The effect of education on crime: evidence from prison inmates, arrests, and self-reports. American Economic Review, (94)1, 155-189.

Love, B. (2019). We want to do more than survive: Abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of educational freedom. Beacon Press.

Office of Justice Programs’ National Criminal Justice Reference Service. (2017). Strengthening education in short-term juvenile detention centers: final technical report.

Scott, R. (2013). Distinguishing radical teaching from merely having intense experiences while teaching in prison. Radical Teacher, 95 (1), 22-32.

Stern, K. (2014). Prison education and our will to punish. Saint Louis University School of Law Review, 33 (1), 443-459.

Student Achievement Division (2013). Capacity building series.

U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. (2014). Guiding principles for providing high quality education in juvenile justice secure care settings. Washington, D.C.

Yin, R. K. (2013). Case study research: design and methods (5th edition.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications,

Representation of National Identity in the Wake of the Sputnik Crisis

Representation of National Identity in the Wake of the Sputnik Crisis

Matt Triolo

“I got a phone call at my home in Princeton about 7:00 PM on Friday evening, October 4, from the New York Times aeronautics reporter, Richard Witkin. Had I Heard? What is the reaction to the U.S rocket community? My response is not even in my memory” said Martin Summerfield.  He went on, “But the impact of the launch on the United States, as well on my own career, would be powerful indeed… by 1962 a growth so rapid membership in the institute of Aeronautical science, as membership quadrupled from a few dozen to 20,000 in response (to Sputnik)” (Harford, 1999) At the dawn of the Space Race both the Soviet Union and the United States responded to the launch of Sputnik, which up until that point was the greatest technological feat ever achieved by man. This launch came at a pivotal time in the Cold War. As now each nation put resources into; What does the response of the Soviet Union and the United States say about each respective nation?  Does national identity reflect the true intentions of a nation or is it just an image to share with the rest of the world?

            The importance of researching the topic of national identity and Sputnik comes at the crux of the Cold War. During this era image and ideology reigned supreme as competing spheres of influence were ever growing and expanding. Prior historians have delved into the topic in order to uncover the finer points and develop the historiographical conversation even further. The relevance of the topic goes further as national identity and learning how nations portray themselves has a continuing legacy across all eras of modern history.  The use of newspapers official reports, as well as propaganda footage reveals the identity each nation was trying to portray in a post Sputnik world as the space race moved forward. The response to the successful launch of Sputnik showcases the national identity and ideologies of both the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union doubled down on the glory of their socialist and communist society being the only way of the future. In contrast to this the United States realized their own scientific shortcomings, and buckled down and rely on innovations from a capitalist system in order to make up lost ground in the Space Race. Identifying national identity can greatly assist students within the classroom it allows them to have a greater understanding of what countries are involved in a given conflict as well as makes certain countries easier to identify through their national Identity. With a subject like the Cold war this is fairly important and beneficial for students, the cold war sees two drastically different forces shaping the world around them. Understanding the national identity of each side of the cold war will allow for greater understanding. With the cold war taking up much of the 20th century there is a wide range of history for students to learn associated with this era, so having a deep and rich understanding of the source material is vital.

The use of Sputnik specifically is also important. While the United States of America claimed victory in the Cold War it is important to recognize it was not as one sided as contemporary history leads students to believe. The Soviet Union took an early lead in the space race and remained a head of the United States for much of the Space race. Introducing how behind the United States was builds a better historical narrative and further supports students in learning the topic. Within sputnik there are a great deal of Primary sources that show the inner workings and thought processes of the United States and Soviet Union. Overall, this article will be a resource for teachers to learn about national identity in the early stages of the space race as well as a deep dive into sputnik as an educational tool for teachers to cover a wide range of ideas.

            The origins of the space race lie deep within the Cold War, as global conflict developed the need and desire for scientific advancement. It seemed impossible to be without innovation and a drive to compete globally.  The Cold War saw the world divided into influence spheres of superpowers, the United States and The Soviet Union. Following the end to a long and devastating World War most nations worldwide were defeated and crumbling looking to rebuild from what they lost. The United States of America and the Soviet Union were the only nations standing, both with daring dreams of global influence and prestige. The Cold War put ideology at the forefront as now nations of the world found themselves taking sides between an ever-growing communist sphere and the free world. As the Cold War developed tensions rose in pockets of proxy wars where USSR backed forces squared off with American forces.  This global game of chess encompassed all aspects of life, trade, and warfare and diplomacy. The Cold War was the peak of 20th century global politics, the heights of which would never be seen again. Historian John Gaddis “No one today worries about a new global war, or a total triumph of dictators, or the prospect that civilization itself might end. That was not the case when the Cold War began. For all its dangers, atrocities, costs, distractions, and moral compromises, the Cold War—like the American Civil War—was a necessary contest that settled fundamental issues once and for all.” (Gaddis, 2007)

            The Soviet Union found themselves in a peculiar and significantly powerful position following the Second World War. The Yalta conference preceding the end of the Second World War played a significant role in shaping the Cold War for the Soviet Union. The agreement made between Churchill and Stalin would divide Europe into influence spheres. The Soviet Union liberated former Nazi Germany territory in Western Europe that they would turn into new additions to the Soviet Union. The USSR with rising influence outside of Europe, in Asia and the surrounding regions. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of an authoritarian communist state running on government control of production as well as control over all aspects of life. This nation was expanding and ready to make its mark in global politics cementing itself as true superpower.

            For the United States the Second World War established the growing nation as a competitive superpower. For years prior the United States had gone from a non-influential nation to the top dog for the western world. Being left relatively unscathed by two World Wars allowed the United States to grow to the levels of its contemporaries. Following the Second World War the United States used its wealth to rebuild Europe bolstering its position as both an ally to Eastern Europe and a superpower. As the world moved into the Cold War the United States saw communism as a looming threat to both global security and freedom. In order to meet the rising threat, the United States adopted a policy of containment with the goal of stopping the spread of communism and furthermore the expansion of powers by the Soviet Union. In the early stages of the Cold War the United States developed new technologies in order to meet the threat of communism.  This policy throughout the Cold War would expand to the space race, matching the Soviets where ever possible. The space race was a new challenge that would bring American strength and innovation to the forefront to meet a menacing advisory.

            National identity refers to the way a country views itself in regards to the rest of the world. For some national identity is the idealized version of a nation, showing the characteristics that it wishes to share with the outside world. These national identities often have a great deal to do with the leading ideology of a country. Communist nations tend to value national unity, while other free nations will value freedom and innovation. During the Cold War national identity and prestige were everything as the world was divided into growing influence spheres. National identity moves nations along it inspires individuals to act as for their nation and inspire bouts of patriotism and nationalism.

As the Cold War moved forward the developments in military rockets quickly turned to ambitions out of this world. Combine competing ambitions with the backdrop of the Cold War and the space race was born. Scientific developments moved at breakneck speeds and a push to get to the stars was now an achievable goal. On October 4th of 1957 the Soviets took great leaps and bounds launching the satellite Sputnik into the atmosphere dawning the start of the space race and a new era in the history of the Cold War. The world watched as the Soviet Union rocketed past them. For the United States, the policy of containment now reached outside the globe as they attempted to contain any communist threat even in space.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR was a dominant force in both Western Europe as well as global politics for a majority of the 20th century. Its reach knew no bounds moving into the middle of the 20th century.  Its dominant rise and position as a global superpower seemed unstoppable rivaling any western challenger. The carefully crafted identity of the Soviet Union revolved around imagery of strength, the will of the people and party as well as a sense that the Soviet way of life was the most fruitful and effective. The peak of USSR dominance was at the inception of the new space race where the USSR was literally thousands of miles ahead of its contemporaries. The successful launch of Sputnik signaled to the world what scientific heights the Soviet Union was capable of as well as how far behind the rest of the world was. Through publications of the era, it is clear that the successful launch of Sputnik represented the national identity of Soviet Union strength, unity, and superiority to the outside world and at the core of Soviet messaging.

            Soviet identity believed they were destined to conquer and claim the new frontier for humanity. Space was a new boundary for human exploration, it was the next natural step for a species that has controlled the rest of the planet. The Soviet identity was centered on the Soviet Union being the best form of humanity. Being the first to conquer space fit perfectly within the goals and ambitions of the Soviet Union. A key aspect of the identity of the Soviet Union was the development of an us vs them mentality, the rest of the western world was evil and that the Soviet Union was above all and no other way of life could have paved the way for the future. Another focal point of Soviet identity that was critical during the early stages of the space race was the sense of unity and strength shared by all Soviet peoples. Unity and power were the cornerstone of Soviet thinking, as historian Sarah Davis Wrote, “According to the propaganda, power in the USSR belonged to the people, namely the workers and peasants” (Davies, 1997). The aura of the USSR being of the people created a sense of unity with each person being a cog in a much larger and grand mechanism. The national identity of the USSR inspired scientists and the Soviet government to have made the transition into aiming for space. The Soviet space program slotted in perfectly into that identity with it being a driving force behind the mentality of those behind it.

            The Soviet identity was strong presence through the core of its own space program, the space program was emblematic of the Soviet Union as a whole. The idea of unity and being just part of the larger mechanism was seen throughout the space program. The celebrity associated with advancements in space travel for the most part was not seen in the Soviet Union. The most glaring hidden figure of the Soviet space program was the mind behind Sputnik itself, Sergei Korolev was a dominant figure in the Soviet space program being a chief designer that was anonymous during his time being represented merely through a pseudonym. “For Korolev, an engineer-manager of tremendous achievement and high ego, to have to reconcile himself to career long obscurity” (Harford 1999). The Soviet identity was focused on the larger picture of workers together leading to one of its greatest minds being denied appropriate recognition for their contributions to history.

            In October of 1957 the mythos and identity of the Soviet Union was still holding strong and this was reflected in party publications of the time. Pravda was one such publication, controlled and operated by the Communist Party. Pravda was the first and most common dose of propaganda given to citizens of the Soviet Union. Issues of Pravda were a conduit for information within its circulation, millions of daily issues reported on changes in official Policy as well as propaganda that served to strengthen ties to the Communist Party and the Soviet Union as a whole. For all state-run companies, organizations and the military had subscriptions to Pravda with the express purpose of driving home the party messages and keeping readers minds closed to any other information. The publication of this particular issue comes in at a pivotal moment the Soviet Union’s history as they overtook the rest of the world in space travel.

            The Soviet Space program and its accomplishments were kept mostly in secret. This publication serves as a rare glimpse for the world serving its purpose as a propaganda piece as well as a representing Soviet identity. As in all issues of Pravda this particular issue focused on spreading the glory of the Soviet Union through information and the famous propaganda of the publication. The successful launch of Sputnik saw the Soviet Union surpass the rest of the world scientifically for a moment and the writers behind Pravda needed to write about and promote this. At the core of this newspaper is Communist Party propaganda. While sharing information about the launch is important the main goal is to drive home the message and the praises of the Communist Party. This Pro party sentiment comes to a head during the last section of the article, “Artificial earth satellites will pave the way to interplanetary travel and, apparently our contemporaries will witness how the freed and conscientious labor of the people of the new socialist society makes the most daring dreams of mankind a reality” (Pravda, 1957). This moment in history is where the USSR shined the brightest and was the sole winner dominating any global competition. It seemed at least for the members of the Soviet Union who bought into the Soviet propaganda that Socialism and the ways of the party were the path to the future. Within this article the wide ambition following the launch of Sputnik were dreams of interplanetary travel. The publication of articles like these fits in with the narrative of the Soviet Union moving into the future and communism being the way of the future.

            To the party leaders, optics were seen as priority, portraying the grand nature of the Soviet Union. This was key in crafting and maintaining a national identity with the glory of the Soviet Union shown with great power through grand military parades.  These parades were common along with praising the roots of the USSR in revolution. This sort of celebration was seen even in the space program. Sputnik was a huge accomplishment for those in the Soviet Union combining this achievement and celebration that the Soviet Union was exactly what the Communist Party wanted. In an interview Cosmonaut Georgy Grechko told the story of the Communist Party’s request for a procommunist launch, “After Sputnik 1, Sergei Korolev went to the Kremlin and Khrushchev said to him, we never thought that you would launch Sputnik before the Americans. But you did it. Now please launch something new in space for the next anniversary of our revolution. The anniversary would be in one mouth… and we launched on November 3rd 1957, in time for the celebration of the revolution” (Grechko, 1989) This is emblematic of the identity of the Soviet Union due to its origins in revolution and its desire to lead the world in strength and innovation. The glory of the Soviet Union continued its legacy with another successful launch on the 29th anniversary of the USSR.

            Propaganda posters are a mainstay of the Soviet Union as a promotion for both nationalism and party unity. A picture is truly worth a thousand words and a propaganda poster might be worth double that. A poster can appeal to anyone and simply looking at it can convey a message; this is in contrast to other forms of propaganda that might require more of an active participation from the viewer. Pieces such as pamphlets and books require the viewer to both know how to read and also at a high enough reading level to understand what is being written. Posters could be viewed by anyone and are eye catching while spreading the message to the biggest possible audience in an efficient manner. Soviet era propaganda posters had the unique job of spinning famine and hardship as well as creating a certain image for the leadership.  “A concerted propaganda campaign tried to portray the country’s leaders in a populist guise, an image that clearly had the potential to resonate with the people’s own representations”. The widespread use of propaganda and more specifically posters carried out a specific goal in influencing the largest portion of the population.

            In response to the launch of Sputnik Soviet propaganda used this great success to further the identity of the Soviet Union through propaganda posters. These posters crafted following the rise of Sputnik communicated Soviet ideals to the masses, promoting both the glory and the strength of the Soviet Union. One poster published in 1958 depicts a series of rockets launching into outer space with Sputnik 1 being at the bottom and more advanced and futuristic rockets above it. The USSR is the only country seen on earth with a red star and golden leaves at the base. Along with this imagery there is a simple tag line “Fatherland! You lighted the star of progress and peace. Glory to the science, glory to the labor! Glory to the Soviet regime!”  (Rzhevsky, 1958). This poster encompasses a great deal of soviet ideals, the fatherland in the forefront represents the great nationalism of the USSR, that sense of nationalism and pride is credited for the accomplishments of Sputnik and the larger space program as a whole. Praising the Soviet regime within this poster bolsters the national identity the communist party was attempting to craft. Another poster in this collection takes a slightly different route with the focus being on the Soviet worker. This poster has a young fit and good-looking man in the forefront, an ideal caricature of a Soviet man. He is a working welder, there are a few other men working in the background symbolizing the power of the soviet worker. Over the shoulder of the welder’s shoulder there is a rocket being launched connecting his work to the soviet space program.  At the bottom of the poster there is a line stating “I am happy – this is my work joining the work of my republic” (Rzhevsky, 1958). With this line the main objective of the poster is clear in showing the people of the USSR that they should be proud and happy to work and do their part to support their country and that it is the strength and will of the people that allows the USSR to reach these heights. These posters are just a few of the hundreds of examples of the Soviet Union using the success of sputnik to continue to cultivate and grow their national identity.

            The Soviet Union following the initial launch of Sputnik looked to praise their accomplishments and spread their ideology. In propaganda pieces such as Pravda and the previously seen posters there is a constant emphasis on communist values and communist superiority. Those who worked in the Soviet space program were influenced by the Soviet national identity, figures like Korolev were forced to not be a public figure because it did not match with the Soviet identity. Moving forward in the Space race the USSR would rely on successes like Sputnik and other early advancements to build and share their identity as a superpower.

            Following the conclusion of the Second World War the United States presented itself as both a pillar of democracy and innovation. With a crippled Europe the United States transformed itself into a superpower moving into the 1950s. At odds with USSR, the undertones of the Cold War raged on within the United States. A unique combination of communist fear and American exceptionalism prevailed within this era. That fear translated swiftly across the United States following the launch of Sputnik. What was once a global rival was now turning itself into a new threat that was beginning to eclipse the United States scientifically. Within the United States response to Sputnik its own national identity is revealed, an identity consisting of innovation, freedom and strength. Through legislation of the era, perspectives of leaders as well as publications of a free press this identity is clear and continues to be robust as the space race waged on following Sputnik.

            The national identity of the United States goes back to its roots and continued to develop throughout the young nation’s history. While there is a spotty record for freedom for all within the United States there is certainly a belief that the ideal of Freedom is present. Looking at the founding documents of the United States freedom as a right is clearly expressed in the nation’s own Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (U.S. Constitution, 1788). While the first Amendment is a small portion of the larger Constitution as a document it does serve as an early statement of this ideal of freedom.  The United States sees itself as exceptional to other nations. As a political scientist Richard Rose writes “America marches to a different drummer. Its uniqueness is explained by any or all of a variety of reasons: history, size, geography, political institutions, and culture” (Rose, 1989). This ties into its national identity as the United States and its unique qualities sets it apart from other western nations. The United States as a pillar of strength and democracy was a newer phenomenon prior to the two World Wars, with the United States not nearly as powerful or influential but following those global conflicts the United States left the wars relatively unscathed compared to its contemporaries becoming a super power in its own right. Nevertheless, the United States adopted this identity with full force and vigor and portrayed it throughout the entirely of the Cold War and especially in its response to the Sputnik Crisis.

            During the Sputnik crisis fear dominated the political and national conversation with a sense of danger settling in for many Americans. The Sputnik crisis within the United States refers to the time following the launch of Sputnik where the United States and the rest of the western world was plunged into panic and fear that the USSR was able to conquer a new and important feat in the Space race. What was once a belief that the United States and the western world were superior to the USSR was now shattered as they overtook them scientifically. This shock rippled throughout American society, “Along with official responses the launch and its symbolism unleashed vast and often effects on the domestic front due to society-wide crisis mentality it engendered. It changed the very mindset with in which Americans viewed communism and the Cold War” (Boyle, 2008). In an instance the Space race and by extension the cold war heated up as the USSR was a threatening force to American citizens. For American citizens fear went wild. The Soviets as one American General put it were “seeing into our bedrooms” (Goodpaster, 1941).  For much of the Cold Warn Americans believed in their own country’s strength and support, this was challenged for the first time for many Americans. These new fears in the wake of Sputnik were felt in the west globally, “Sputnik’s launch exacerbated pre-existing British fears that the Soviets were becoming more technologically advanced and leading the cold war.” (Barnett, 2013). For the western world, the USSR now threatened their way of life due to the Americans belief that the launch of Sputnik will lead to new military dominance from the success of the launch. For the duration of the Cold War both nations were in an intense arms race and now Americans feared that the Soviet Union had surpassing them.  This initial panic would loom over the space race as it developed acting as a driving force for innovation.

            Within the United States it is the duty of a trusted newspaper to report on the events of the world as they pertain to the lives of everyday Americans. With the Sputnik crisis American newspapers were some of the first reporting and sharing information with the American public. The New York Times is a long-standing American newspaper responsible for a rich news reporting history. In 1957 following the launch of Sputnik the paper published an Article chronicling the momentous event.  In the article titled “Soviet Fires Earth Satellite into Space; It Is Circling the Globe at 18,000 M.P.H.; Sphere Tracked in 4 Crossings Over U.S.” the event is reported on laying out facts about the launch as well as addressing potential panic. The first point of potential panic came from the title, the title mentions how many times Sputnik has traveled over the U.S. For an American it is terrifying that something the Soviets built is able to travel that fast directly above you. This leads to the fear of military application which was a central fear during the Sputnik crisis. The New York Times quells this fear by stating “The satellites could not be used to drop atomic or hydrogen bombs or anything else on the earth, scientists have said. Nor could they be used in connection with the proposed plan for aerial inspection of military forces around the world.” (Jordan, (1957). Panic following Sputnik was a significant part of the United States early reaction to the launch of Sputnik seen in a variety of other news sources. Moving forward past initial reactions the United States relied on its strength and innovation in order to make strides within the space race.

            For American media Sputnik represented the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, so time sensationalism reigned supreme. Fear sells newspapers and magazines this fits into the capitalist mindset of using any means to turn a profit. For many nothing is more American than capitalist principals. Following the launch American media began a true and massive publication campaign around the successful launch, a “media riot” (McQuaid, 2007) had absorbed the United States. The threat of communism was a huge part of this push to report on Sputnik, while fears about safety and national security were on the forefront. Some publications saw this as a turning point within the Cold War in favor of the Soviet Union, “The implications of Sputnik were clear to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle, who proclaimed the satellite’s launching as a clear Soviet victory in the Cold War” (Kennedy, 2005).  Other American newspapers took different stances on the crisis, “The New York Times devoted extensive coverage of the events and attempted to decipher the meaning of the Soviets’ scientific breakthrough, including a small article that analyzed the meaning of the word “Sputnik.” (Kennedy, 2005). Sputnik was a sensation so something as trivial as the name of the satellite was a part of speculation.  New technology was in the hands of the Soviet Union “The press, pushed the panic button journalists needed sources, and that some “exaggerated the danger of the Soviet satellite” (McQuaid, 2007). The USSR achieved the impossible up until that point and it was high and popular news to report on it across the United States.

            With the outpouring of panic and fear following Sputnik it was now the role of the government to calm the public and announce a path to American success. During WW2 newsreels were an extremely effective way to give important information to an anxious American crowd. These reels were produced by the United States government post Sputnik as a way of calming Sputnik anxiety in an attempt to get the United States both back on track as well as portraying an identity of innovation and freedom. In this reel titled “Reds Launch First Space Satellite” was released three days after the launch of Sputnik and aimed to give the facts explaining what a satellite is and what its function was. This information was spread in order to stop panic and get the record straight on Sputnik. The rest of this news reel focuses on the United States own satellite ambitions, which was due to free and strong workers and would come to fruition in early 1958. The description of the segment from 1957 stated “Animated films graphically show how a mighty three-stage rocket placed an artificial moon into an orbit around the earth—a feat that occasions Western re-appraisal of Red missile progress” (Motion Picture 200-UN-30-82, 1957). This refers to what an American rocket would look like as well as a reappraisal of the Soviet accomplishments hinting that American innovation will yield a much stronger rocket. The governments public response to Sputnik through this film shows the identity that the United States was trying to cultivate as well as calm some of the panic other media outlets spread.

            The American government and the global science community at large were taken aback by Sputnik where out of nowhere the Soviets had overtaken the United States, it was now up to the leadership of the United States to respond. From the inception of the Sputnik crisis President Dwight D. Eisenhower was optimistic and saw potential benefits from the Soviet success of Sputnik.  For the American people an address from President Eisenhower represented a sense of security and safety that was lost during the initial fallout of the launch of Sputnik.  Following being briefed on the crisis Eisenhower urged advisors to look five years ahead and decided that he would meet the Sputnik challenge (Divine, 1993), this shows the strength and innovation that the United States was attempting to cultivate in the post Sputnik crisis working hard and in order to excel against Soviet advisories. In his first presidential address following the launch of Sputnik “President Eisenhower made a statement goal providing the American people with a summary on the Administration’s position on the U.S. satellite program and the status of that program” (Kennedy, 2005). This message served a dual purpose of communicating that the United States was not as far behind the Soviet Union and that similar scientific breakthroughs to Sputnik from the United States were on the horizon. It is the leaders of a country that embody the messaging as well as the identity of a nation. In times of crisis this is amplified. During the Sputnik crisis Eisenhower wanted to portray the very best of American identity pushing for scientific developments in order to secure its place as a strong nation. 

            Many within the United States government saw education as a root cause of the United States failure to beat Sputnik to space, and educational shortcoming led to a new push for improved American education.  The proposed solution for this educational problem came in the form of the National Defense Education Act, a piece of legislation with the goal of improving American schools to eventually match and surpass Soviet schools. This ideally would lead to a smarter generation in time and a generation that could overcome any Soviet space program. While a smarter and more educated citizenry benefits all aspects of a country the passage of the National Defense Education act was to directly address the Sputnik crisis and the space race. Within Title IX of the act there was a real push to allocate more resources to science and scientific communities at large through the establishment of a science information service. The implications of this service would help further develop American space programs. The Act states “The Foundation, through such Service, shall (1) provide, or arrange for the provision of, indexing, abstracting, translating, and other services leading to a more effective dissemination of scientific information, and (2) undertake programs to develop new or improved methods, including mechanized systems” (U.S. Congress, 1958). Through this service there were new systems for collecting and analyzing scientific data as well as programs for development of mechanized systems which means rockets and other effects of a highly technical nature. Outside of developing new systems for science there was a push to get skilled students into higher education. According to Title II this included those “whose academic background indicates a superior capacity or preparation in science, mathematics, engineering, or a modern foreign language” (U.S. Congress, 1958). Math and science happen to be two of the key parts to developing a successful space program. Putting a focus on students who succeed in those attributes can yield valuable assets for the United States. The development and passage of this Act in the wake of Sputnik reveals how the United States is willing to innovate and strengthen itself in order to come up on top in the Space race.

            The launch of Sputnik in the fall of 1957 changed the history of the Cold War forever as now the space race was in full swing and the push to the future could not be stopped. The Soviet Union’s achievement through the launch of Sputnik cemented itself as a competitor during the early formative years of the Space Race. Its accomplishment sent shockwaves throughout the globe igniting the fierce competition of the space race in the backdrop of the Cold War. Within the response to the launch a nation’s identity remained at the forefront showcasing the most important ideals of a nation. For the Soviet Union the response to Sputnik was deeply rooted in the ideals for the Soviet Union, focusing on unity and glory of socialism. For the Communist Party and the larger Soviet Union as a whole promoting their idealized society through the achievement of their space program was imperative. Propaganda posters painted the USSR as a global leader in both science and technology. For the Soviet Union faults came in the failure to promote individuals and the heroes like the way the United States did, however this fit into the identity since the Soviet Union was far more concerned with keeping an image of unity and party loyalty then individual accolades.

            For the United States in a post Sputnik world, portraying an image of innovation and a country willing to rise to the challenge was a top priority. During the crux of the Cold War the United States focused on containing and matching any Soviet threat of expansion. This found its way to relevance during the time of Sputnik in that the United States had to match the Soviets in the Space race. Following initial panic and fear the response of the United States was focused on promoting American Innovation and freedom, showing its strengths as a global superpower.

            National identity in the midst of the Cold War played an extra important role as now global influence was something both superpowers had to contend with and develop. Being the strongest nation had a way in spreading the ideology of both the United States and the Soviet Union. Sputnik revealed how both these nations acted in times of achievement and crisis showcasing to the world their own carefully crafted self-image. The historiography remains clear that Sputnik played a decisive role in revealing national identity in the early stages of the Space Race. Sputnik remains an important educational tool showcasing the tensions of the era as well as what Soviet and the United States national identities looked like. For students this valuable event encompasses a great deal of what students need to know about the early tensions of the Cold War.


CNN. (2014). Cold War (Andrew Goodpaster interview), episode 8, “Sputnik, 1949-1961.”

Barnett, N. (2013). Russia wins space race.’” Media History, 19 (2). 182–195.

Boyle, R. (2008) A red Moon over the mall: The Sputnik panic and domestic America. The Journal of American Culture, 31 (4), 373-390.

Davies, S. (1997).”Us against them”: Social identity in Soviet Russia, 1934-41. The Russian Review, 56 (1), 70-89.

Divine, R. (1993). The Sputnik challenge. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Gaddis, J. (2007) The Cold War a new history. New York: Penguin Books.

Grechko, G. (1989, October 20). Grechko interview. Pravda.

Harford, J. K.(1999). How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon. New York: Wiley.

Jorden, W. (1957, October 5). Soviet fires earth satellite into space; It is circling the globe at 18,000 m.p.h.; sphere tracked in 4 crossings over U.S.  The New York Times, October 5, 1957.

Kennedy, I. (2005). The Sputnik crisis And America’s response. Dissertation (M.A.), University of Central Florida.

McQuaid, K.  (2007). Sputnik reconsidered: Image and reality in the early space age.” Canadian Review of American Studies, 37 (3),  371-401.

[1] Motion Picture 200-UN-30-82; Universal Newsreel Volume 30, Release 82; 10/7/1957; Motion Picture Releases of the Universal Newsreel Library, 1929 – 1967; Collection UN:

Rose, R. (1989). How exceptional is the American political economy? Political Science Quarterly, 104 (1), 91.

Rzhevsky, S. (2019). Propaganda posters of Soviet space program 1958-1963.” Retrieved from

U.S. Congress. (1958). United States code: National Defense Education Program, 20 U.S.C. §§ 401-589. 1958.  Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

A Millionaire’s Tax for New Jersey

A Millionaire’s Tax for New Jersey

Allan Lichtenstein

In September 2020, the New Jersey legislature approved higher taxes on the wealthy to support state programs like road repair and education. The author of this essay, Allan Lichtenstein, worked for the Poverty Research Institute at the Legal Services of New Jersey and served on the Board of the RCHP Affordable Housing Cooperation that provides affordable housing and supportive services to low-income families in central New Jersey. In the essay, which originally appeared in NJ Spotlight, Lichtenstein made the case for the “millionaire’s tax.” Allan Lichtenstein died in August 2020 at the age of 71. 

In 2018, income inequality in New Jersey intensified. The rich, high-earning households grew richer, benefiting from larger gains in income than the poorer households with low incomes. My analysis of the recent U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey release of income inequality data reveals a process of widening income inequality in New Jersey in recent years. It stresses five aspects of exacerbating income inequality, certainly a disturbing direction for New Jersey’s future socioeconomic development, suggesting remediation is urgently warranted.

First, although the average income for each household group surpassed their 2017 levels in 2018, households in the high-income brackets enjoyed substantially larger income gains than households at the bottom end of the income scale. Moreover, the percentage increases in average household income were larger at the top end than at the bottom end of the income scale.

The average income of the top 5% of households jumped by far the most — more than $22,000 in 2018 inflation-adjusted dollars to climb to more than half a million dollars (using a New Jersey-specific inflation index that combines the CPI-All Urban Consumers Current Series for New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA and for Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-Md). The top 20% of households too benefited significantly, with an almost $10,000 gain, growing from about $290,000 to almost $300,000. By contrast, the average income of the bottom 20% of households rose only by about $300 between 2017 and 2018.

Second, one method to ascertain the magnitude of income inequality is to compute the difference between the average income of the top 20% of households and the average income of the bottom 20% of households over time. A comparison of each year between 2007 and 2018, shows the divergence widening each year after 2014, reaching a maximum disparity of almost $280,000 between the two ends of the income scale in 2018.

After the Great Recession

Third, although the Great Recession concluded nine years prior, households in the bottom two quintiles have yet to enjoy the benefits of the ongoing economic expansion. They, in fact, were worse off in 2018 than in 2007. While households in the top income groups have not only recouped the income losses they suffered as a result of the Great Recession, they have raised their income levels. By contrast, the average income of households in the bottom two quintiles has contracted. The average income of these households lingers below their 2007 level.

Fourth, by far most of the household income is held by the high-income earners. In 2018, more than half of all household income accrued to the top 20% of households, while the top 5% of households amassed almost one quarter of aggregate income. By contrast, just 3% of aggregate income accrued to the bottom 20% of households.

Finally, overall, New Jersey is among the most unequal states in the country. It placed 40th among all states when comparing income inequality rankings using the Gini Coefficient, a common measure of income dispersion. Only 10 states had a larger Gini Coefficient than New Jersey, with Puerto Rico topping the list, followed by the District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut and Louisiana. The Gini Coefficient ranges from a low of zero when there is perfect equality with all households having the same income to a value of 1, which is maximum inequality when all the income is held by a single household.

The intensifying income inequality in New Jersey underscores a tendency toward increasing concentration of income among the higher income groups. It reiterates and re-emphasizes the need to impose higher tax rates on high-earning households to stem the growing income inequality and to gain a more fair and equitable distribution of income. As Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, economists at the University of California, Berkeley and among the foremost researchers in income inequality recently demonstrated in a New York Times op-ed, “the working class is now paying higher tax rates than the richest people in America.”

Given these deteriorating trends in income inequality, the time is ripe for the New Jersey state Legislature to assert itself and not allow another year to pass in which it does not impose a millionaires tax on New Jersey’s wealthy residents. These additional monies could be well invested to improve the lives of people of low income, providing resources to the programs they urgently need to help them make ends meet.

Pull Down the Statues, and Pull Down the Social Studies Curriculum, Too

Pull Down the Statues, and Pull Down the Social Studies Curriculum, Too

Jack Zevin

“In a country that cannot come to a consensus on fundamental questions — how restricted capitalism should be, whether immigrants are a burden or a boon, to what extent the legacy of slavery continues to shape American life — textbook publishers are caught in the middle. On these questions and others, classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters.” – Dana Goldstein (2020, January 12). “Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories,” New York Times.

“PULL DOWN THE STATUES” is becoming something of a national pastime these days. Americans are suddenly discovering that many, maybe most of our historical honors expressed as statues and streets have been awarded to racist, sexist, militaristic, and anti-progressive figures in our shared history. These folks, largely of monochromatic hue, were previously were seen as ‘important people’; heroines and heroes for a hundred or more years. (Well, very few heroines, alas but lots of great guys.)

It is rather amusing, and frightening, to think that the realization of moral error, street renaming, and statue destruction, is taking place in a highly contentious atmosphere of competing parties, philosophies, politics, marches, and culture wars during a worldwide major pandemic of epic proportions!

While destroying statues or defacing them or tossing them into the river {warning: possible pollution!) people are lining up to demand dramatic changes in who and what statues represent now and historically.

There is only a little talk on using suddenly ‘defrocked’ statues as educational tools, and taking aim at more than breaking a few former heroes’ necks. The statues represent ‘other times’ in our history, when slavers, fornicators, capitalists, and imperialists were given positive treatment and raised up on pedestals because we the people of that time saw these folks in a very positive light, asked few questions, and easily received government funding to build the things. Worse yet, we enshrined many in our collective historical memories, suppressing all negative input about their lives and morals, forgetting all were no more than mere mortals.

There are (and were) many juicy examples, like Robert E. Lee, the rebel commander sitting at the entrance to the Virginia State Assembly, Teddy Roosevelt on the steps of the Museum of Natural History in New York accompanied by a Native American and African American subject at either side. Christopher Columbus astride a horse was toppled recently outside the Minnesota state capitol in protest of racism against Native peoples.

A lot of the statues have delicious ironies since Lee, a slave-owning hero of the South and a “great” general actually lost the war with the North; while Teddy Roosevelt, an exciting President and world traveler (as well as proud imperialist) thought he was advancing the “lesser” peoples to greater recognition, while these people remained politically and socially inferior. Columbus statues were put up to recognize contributions by Italian Americans after decades of immigration to the USA at the expense (though they may not have recognized it) of Native Peoples. Who is in power gets to build the statues they like, until the politics shift at later times. Context should not be underrated!

Maybe we need lighter wheeled and movable statues to push in and out of warehouses, as needed, to satisfy the shifting political issues of the time?

Yet these bronze pigeon-bearing structures were often ignored, or got just a glance of admiration or condemnation, from ordinary folk brought up on a social studies curriculum of state sponsored and purchased textbooks that have supported and personalized the exact same people now toppled from their pedestals, figuratively and literally. After all, every nation needs its heroines/heroes to be proud of in shared worship. But if we dump them that means we need to rethink new candidates and push up a lot of new expensive statues.

As a workaday social studies teacher starting out in Chicago Public Schools I remember being handed my textbook by my social studies chairman, a book, History of the American People, by David Muzzey, An American History textbook for schools, first published in 1911 and a best seller into the 1950s. I rapidly discovered that I was teaching from a volume very sympathetic to the South in the Civil War, offering anti-immigrant and occasional blatant racism, so much so I was embarrassed to present it to my mixed multitude class of students, and deeply suspicious of its motives. Women were rare, mostly the wives of Presidents, with African-American’s problems ignored, Native Americans rarer still with a few feather bonnets noted, and Ethnics nearly non-existent. Most of these people were NEVER heard from in their own voices, only through the historian.

From a Chicagoan’s point of view, those gathered before me and those offered in the text most definitely struck a discordant note. It was time to cheat and create a new underground curriculum of inquiry! I had some real work to do not only to teach, but to defeat the textbook itself…so I became a lover of original sources, presented just as they were, warts and all, and that was a lot of serious work suited to inquiry and frank debate.

It is easy to tear down statues and give rise to new people on pedestals but the big question is what images, which values, whose stories, determine who shall be heroines/heroes in our minds and hearts and history.

After a couple of centuries of building allegiances and admiration for very flawed leaders, this form of socialization is much harder to change as part of cultural heritage, our inner realm of tokens, symbols, and identifications.

Much of this biased story was what we learned in school from state and city textbooks accompanied by enthusiastic teacher exponents of great leaders and country/men (a lot) and country/women (a few) plus a few troublemakers. But the big questions include: why do we need pedestals at all, why either raise up, or pull down, statues? Why not reform the content and meaning of what we learn in school and home histories?

Amidst cries for social justice, Black Lives Matter, the end of racism, fairness in economic sharing of the nation’s wealth, all while dealing with a devastating pandemic, the curriculum continues to wander along in its patriotic fervor, with rather gentle treatments of great leaders many of whom were slaveowners, warmongers, and suppressors of civil rights. Andrew Jackson comes along as a fine example open to questions of patriotism, racism and betrayal of the Constitution.

The entire curriculum, from important characters, and stories, to periodization, from before the beginning of the Republic, to current times, from foundation to towering international power, from inhabitants excluded or included like dancers and singers and playwrights and novelists, we desperately need a makeover.

That makeover, should be honest and forthright, neither conservative, nor liberal, not middle of the road, just honest and forthright about disagreements (extremely difficult because we desperately want those statues and personalities to stand in the curriculum without any tarnishing.) We like our heroines/heroes varnished and standing, maybe on rearing stallions, super-duper characters standing for our best founders’ policies, like ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. Perhaps this is why Americans are so prone to celebrate superheroes and a few superheroines?

If we cannot decide on a single acceptable narrative for everyone right now, how about side-by-side competing narratives on each side of a page facing each other? Let us see the clashing views right out in the open. Or let’s use our modern technology to meet-and-greet clashing views of “great” and “ordinary” people.

A great inquiry lesson comes to mind: does Jefferson stand up as a great man after careful scrutiny, or does his statue and status go down? Does Andrew Johnson deserve a statue at all? Who really does deserve a statue? How about reserving statues for ordinary heroines and heroes outside of war and politics? How about cultural people in the arts and humanities, music and architecture, medicine and science, etc.? How about the firemen and police who risked their lives on 9/11? How about less emphasis on GREAT MEN and more on stuff that really matters like food, inventions, economics, gender, and moral philosophy, taking issues and problems seriously without necessarily solving anything?

How about a new diet of people and events that includes the views and stories of Native Americans, African-Americans, Ethnics and immigrants, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and all the peoples and characters pretty much underprivileged in U.S. history textbooks and classrooms? How about a new diet across genders, LGBTQ rainbows, and especially fairer treatment for women, more women, even troublesome examples. Where are the women other than Presidents’ wives and suffragettes?

Where are the writers, journalists, artists, musicians, entertainers, dancers, and scientists? Where are the women?

Where are ethnics and newcomers? Where are some great villain? Does our history have to be “whitewashed?”

Why don’t we write a fairer and more open, more troublesome, more challenging, and more entertaining curriculum? Multisided? Real inquiry aiming at reaching at least tentative truths, and decision-making, albeit tentative?

So, let’s tear down the curriculum right now. Let’s do it overall, not piece by piece, fight by fight, but overall, the whole thing from new perspectives. Let’s revise the periodization, the cast of characters, the favorite stories, the underlying philosophies of national and international history, (sorry, but the U.S.A. is part of world history, too, very much so, but a long story only solved by a new curriculum). For example, in U.S. history, maybe we can give the Moundbuilders a bit of time at the beginning, maybe note that the colonies had European aid in the Revolution, that the second revolution failed in Reconstruction so we had to try again in the 60s with the Civil Rights movement as a third revolution, and we may have to try again.

Let’s opt for structural changes, historical philosophies, and embed the story in a global narrative so everything is not always about, ‘us’ but ‘them’, others, all.

Let us battle with our statues, our heroes, and a few heroines, facing up to the 7 sins of history (you come up with your own list):

  • Ethnocentrism: The sin of thinking that everything should be seen from ‘our’ point of view and not others.
  • Egoism: The sin of thinking that the story is always about us, never them.
  • Nationalism: The sin of thinking our nation is the greatest, right or wrong.
  • Sexism: The sin of thinking that gender is neutral in history and daily life.
  • Racism: The sin of thinking that there are ‘races’, and that one is superior or inferior when we can all interbreed as one species.
  • Imperialism: The sin of thinking and celebrating sometimes violent real estate grabs without a contract or compensation as something wonderful.
  • Official Story: The sin of promulgating and authorizing a single story of any period of history, any people or nation, any great leader as if this existed without any contrary views from ‘the other’.

I rest my case (for now).