Articles published in partnership with Object Lessons
Writing boxes, popular from the 17th century, provided the same pleasure as today’s laptops and custom word processors: To make the experience of writing pleasurable, whether or not any actual writing gets done. An Object Lesson.
Since the 1960s, the reference book has cataloged how people actually use language, not how they should. That might be changing. An Object Lesson.
Millions of publications—not to mention spy documents—can be read on microfilm machines. But people still see these devices as outmoded and unappealing. An Object Lesson.
When they were invented, the vessels promised to revolutionize travel and industry. But they soon settled into life as an entertaining diversion. An Object Lesson.
Is the banner’s patriotism undermined when it’s manufactured abroad? An Object Lesson.
Commemorative class books evolved from practical notebooks into collections of hair clippings, rhyming couplets, and “have a great summer” wishes. An Object Lesson.
Before and after Prohibition, temperance organizations turned the whiskey or beer vessel into a personification of American moral failure.
It’s often called the optic that best approximates human vision, but approximation is relative. An Object Lesson.
How the postal letter became a tool for ingenious criminality. An Object Lesson.
As people spent more and more time in cars, auto interiors transformed into living spaces, where food and drink became necessities. An Object Lesson.
Advances in biking gear had an impact on advances in gender equality. An Object Lesson.
Glass has changed the world like no other substance, but people usually overlook it. An Object Lesson.
Before two deadly nuclear mishaps, scientists used to risk “tickling the tail of a sleeping dragon.” An Object Lesson.
Invented centuries ago in France, the bidet has never taken off in the States. That might be changing.
The gynecological apparatus, designed by men, has a sordid history. An Object Lesson.
Rockets and turbofans have promised to realize dreams of transportation progress—for decades. An Object Lesson.
Lockers and sleeves for phones can feel like an infringement on personal rights, but they also might save people from their worst habits. An Object Lesson.
Cloud-connected medical devices save lives, but also raise questions about privacy, security, and oversight. An Object Lesson.
Elixir Sulfanilamide was a breakthrough antibiotic—until it killed more than 100 people. An Object Lesson.
Doing so has appealed to people for centuries, but the power of a gratitude list can be misused. An Object Lesson.
Women have long borrowed from men’s dress to claim the authority associated with it. It hasn’t always worked. An Object Lesson.