American Historian Gary Gerstle

    Meghan Markle Followed in My Footsteps

    Gary Gerstle is a political and social historian of the 20th-century United States with a particular interest in ethnicity, race, and nationhood. Since 2014, he has taught at the University of Cambridge, where he is the Paul Mellon ...

New at Zócalo


How Three Texas Newspapers Manufactured Three Competing Images of Immigrants

In Depression-Era San Antonio, Polarized Portraits of Mexicans Appealed to the Biases of Readers

by Melita M. Garza

In August 1930, an editorial writer for the largest newspaper chain on Earth proclaimed: “THE FARMER rids his barn of rats, his hen-house of weasels … the government of the United States should clean house and get rid of undesirable human vermin.”
 The writer went on to demand that Congress make citizenship harder to obtain, so the government would be protected “against the vicious and criminal, the incompetent and the unfit.”
 Sound familiar?
 The Trump administration’s endless, bigoted campaign against immigrants may seem shocking. But the rhetoric accompanying that campaign, down to the metaphors comparing immigrants to small, loathsome animals, is nothing new. Much ...


The Communal, Sometimes Celibate, 19th-Century Ohio Town That Thrived for Three Generations

Zoar’s Citizens Left Religious Persecution in Germany and Created a Utopian Community on the Erie Canal 

by Kathleen M. Fernandez

Quaint, rural, and hardworking, Zoar, Ohio, is the kind of place that wasn’t supposed to thrive in America.
 The citizens of Zoar came to this country as religious dissenters in the early 19th century. In unorthodox fashion, they formed a communal society where all wealth was combined: men and women alike pooled their labor, their wealth, and their belongings for the benefit of the whole.
 The community thrived. In a nation dedicated to individualism, Zoar’s citizens built a first-of-its-kind economic system and persevered for three generations, becoming one of the longest-lasting communal societies in U.S. history. That Zoar was allowed to succeed, and was even admired for its efforts, serves as a reminder that America has ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews