Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

The best part about completing this book is having the chance to thank the various people and institutions that made it possible. My debts are numerous. This project was brought to life by an amazing set of archivists who answered my vague and rambling inquiries with patience, humor, and unstinting professionalism. I would like to thank the staff at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and the Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture in New York; Mary Ann Quinn at the...

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Introduction: Imagining Negro Laboring Types in Fin de Siècle America

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pp. 1-12

The spring of 1885 had been an especially trying one for Ben Bailey. A fledgling “mulatto pugilist,” he was struggling to eke out a living in the fetid, smoke-filled, beer-doused taverns and athletic clubs of Philadelphia.1 In March, he had fought a “rattling four round bout at Chuck’s Club Theater” against a “stalwart mulatto,” Amos Scott. According to the Philadelphia Record, Scott “had had the best of the fight after the second round and was declared the winner.” A little over a month...

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1. Mortality as the Life Story of a People: Frederick L. Hoffman and Actuarial Narratives of African American Extinction, 1896–1915

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pp. 13-38

In November 1884, Frederick Ludwig Hoffman, a nineteen-year-old journeyman laborer from Oldenburg in northwestern Germany, arrived in New York City with little more than the proverbial dollar in his pocket. Despite lacking an extensive formal education, the young émigré was a proud autodidact determined to make a name for himself in America. Following a string of unsuccessful jobs—including a brief stint collecting insurance premiums door-to-door in Boston—Hoffman decided...

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2. The Negro Is Plastic: The Department of Negro Economics, Sociology, and the Wartime Black Worker

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pp. 39-70

In July 1917, less than four months after the United States entered the Great War to make the world safe for democracy, the whites of East St. Louis, Illinois massacred dozens of their fellow Americans. White workers—incensed by increased job competition and the use of black strike breakers at the local packing plant the previous summer—exploded with rage when rumors spread of black men socializing with white women at a recent union gathering. For three sweltering days...

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3. Measuring Men for the Work of War: Anthropometry, Race, and the Wartime Draft, 1917–1919

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pp. 71-108

In the spring of 1918, Henry S. Berry, a promising young medical student, arrived at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for induction into the U.S. Army. Prior to his arrival, Berry had undergone a battery of mental and physical tests that had found him “fit and worthy to bear arms in defense of the United States.” At Tuskegee, Berry and his fellow recruits underwent intense military training: “Stripped to the waist in the broiling sun, we would go through our exercises necessary to the development...

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4. Salvaging the Negro: Vocational Rehabilitation and African American Veterans, 1917–1924

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pp. 109-134

In August 1922, Buster Sunter, an African American veteran of World War I, informed the Veterans Bureau of alleged mistreatment at his local veterans training center. Previously diagnosed with tuberculosis, Sunter wrote, “I want to let you know that I have not been treated right here, when I take this training I was supposed to have four years here but they have cut my time down to two years ... they bully me and have me work like I ain’t sick so I want you to look into...

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5. A New Negro Type: The National Research Council and the Production of Racial Expertise in Postwar America, 1919–1929

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pp. 135-168

Notwithstanding the conflict’s gruesome human toll, the war also shook progressives’ faith in their ability to effect historical change through rational reform. One economist declared, “It would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that the European war has rendered every text in the social sciences out of date . . . but not much of an exaggeration.”1 As latecomers to the conflict and an ocean removed, Americans managed to avoid the war’s most destructive excess yet as active participants in the discourse of transatlantic reform, they were unable...

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Epilogue: Invisible Men: The Afterlives of the Negro Problem in American Racial Thought

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pp. 169-172

Since emancipation the African Amer ican experience has been animated by the tension between assimilation and segregation within American society. Though the terminology may have changed— negro, colored, black, African American—the question remains: Can African Americans be effectively reconciled to the social, economic, political, and cultural imperatives of American capitalism and democracy? As a racial minority in a historically majority white—or perhaps more...

Notes

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pp. 173-208

Bibliography

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pp. 209-224

Index

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pp. 225-230

About the Author

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p. 231