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History > U.S. History > 19th Century

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Alcott in Her Own Time Cover

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Alcott in Her Own Time

A Biographical Chronicle of Her Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates

By 1888, twenty years after the publication of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was one of the most popular and successful authors America had yet produced. In her pre-Little Women days, she concocted blood-and-thunder tales for low wages; post-Little Women, she specialized in domestic novels and short stories for children. Collected here for the first time are the reminiscences of people who knew her, the majority of which have not been published since their original appearance in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Many of the printed recollections in this book appeared after Alcott became famous and showcase her as a literary lion, but others focus on her teen years, when she was living the life of Jo March; these intimate glimpses into the life of the Alcott family lead the reader to one conclusion: the family was happy, fun, and entertaining, very much like the fictional Marches. The recollections about an older and wealthier Alcott show a kind and generous, albeit outspoken, woman little changed by her money and status.

From Annie Sawyer Downs’s description of life in Concord to Anna Alcott Pratt’s recollections of the Alcott sisters’ acting days to Julian Hawthorne’s neighborly portrait of the Alcotts, the thirty-six recollections in this copiously illustrated volume tell the private and public story of a remarkable life.

The Allotment Plot Cover

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The Allotment Plot

Alice C. Fletcher, E. Jane Gay, and Nez Perce Survivance

Nicole Tonkovich

The Allotment Plot reexamines the history of allotment on the Nez Perce Reservation from 1889 to 1892 to account for and emphasize the Nez Perce side of the story. By including Nez Perce responses to allotment, Nicole Tonkovich argues that the assimilationist aims of allotment ultimately failed due in large part to the agency of the Nez Perce people themselves throughout the allotment process. The Nez Perce were actively involved in negotiating the terms under which allotment would proceed and simultaneously engaged in ongoing efforts to protect their stories and other cultural properties from institutional appropriation by the allotment agent, Alice C. Fletcher, who was a respected anthropologist, and her photographer and assistant, E. Jane Gay. The Nez Perce engagement in this process laid a foundation for the long-term survival of the tribe and its culture.

Making use of previously unknown archival sources, Fletcher’s letters, Gay’s photographs and journalistic accounts, oral tribal histories, and analyses of performances such as parades and verbal negotiations, Tonkovich assembles a masterful portrait of Nez Perce efforts to control their own future and provides a vital counternarrative of the allotment period, which is often portrayed as disastrous to Native polities.
 

Almost Free Cover

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Almost Free

A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia

Eva Wolf Sheppard

In Almost Free, Eva Sheppard Wolf uses the story of Samuel Johnson, a free black man from Virginia attempting to free his family, to add detail and depth to our understanding of the lives of free blacks in the South.

There were several paths to freedom for slaves, each of them difficult. After ten years of elaborate dealings and negotiations, Johnson earned manumission in August 1812. An illiterate “mulatto” who had worked at the tavern in Warrenton as a slave, Johnson as a freeman was an anomaly, since free blacks made up only 3 percent of Virginia's population. Johnson stayed in Fauquier County and managed to buy his enslaved family, but the law of the time required that they leave Virginia if Johnson freed them. Johnson opted to stay. Because slaves' marriages had no legal standing, Johnson was not legally married to his enslaved wife, and in the event of his death his family would be sold to new owners. Johnson's story dramatically illustrates the many harsh realities and cruel ironies faced by blacks in a society hostile to their freedom.

Wolf argues that despite the many obstacles Johnson and others faced, race relations were more flexible during the early American republic than is commonly believed. It could actually be easier for a free black man to earn the favor of elite whites than it would be for blacks in general in the post-Reconstruction South. Wolf demonstrates the ways in which race was constructed by individuals in their day-to-day interactions, arguing that racial status was not simply a legal fact but a fluid and changeable condition. Almost Free looks beyond the majority experience, focusing on those at society's edges to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of freedom in the slaveholding South.

Along the Streets of Bronzeville Cover

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Along the Streets of Bronzeville

Black Chicago's Literary Landscape

Elizabeth Schlabach

Along the Streets of Bronzeville examines the flowering of African American creativity, activism, and scholarship in the South Side Chicago district known as Bronzeville during the period between the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Poverty stricken, segregated, and bursting at the seams with migrants, Bronzeville was the community that provided inspiration, training, and work for an entire generation of diversely talented African American authors and artists who came of age during the years between the two world wars. In this significant recovery project, Elizabeth Schlabach investigates the institutions and streetscapes of Black Chicago that fueled an entire literary and artistic movement. She argues that African American authors and artists--such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, painter Archibald Motley, and many others--viewed and presented black reality from a specific geographic vantage point: the view along the streets of Bronzeville. Schlabach explores how the particular rhythms and scenes of daily life in Bronzeville locations, such as the State Street Stroll district or the bustling intersection of 47th Street and South Parkway, figured into the creative works and experiences of the artists and writers of the Black Chicago Renaissance. Providing a virtual tour South Side African American urban life at street level, Along the Streets of Bronzeville charts the complex interplay and intersection of race, geography, and cultural criticism during the Black Chicago Renaissance's rise and fall.

Ambition, Competition, and Electoral Reform Cover

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Ambition, Competition, and Electoral Reform

The Politics of Congressional Elections Across Time

Jamie L. Carson

In Ambition, Competition, and Electoral Reform, Jamie L. Carson and Jason M. Roberts present an original study of U.S. congressional elections and electoral institutions for 1872-1944 from a contemporary political science perspective. Using data on late

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America in the Gilded Age

Third Edition

Sean Cashman

When the first edition of America in the Gilded Age was published in 1984, it soon acquired the status of a classic, and was widely acknowledged as the first comprehensive account of the latter half of the nineteenth century to appear in many years. Sean Dennis Cashman traces the political and social saga of America as it passed through the momentous transformation of the Industrial Revolution and the settlement of the West. Revised and extended chapters focusing on immigration, labor, the great cities, and the American Renaissance are accompanied by a wealth of augmented and enhanced illustrations, many new to this addition.

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American Collegiate Populations

A Test of the Traditional View

Colin Burke

American Collegiate Populations is an exhaustive and definitive study of the membership of American colleges and universities in the nineteenth century. Colin B. Burke explores the questions of who went, who stayed and where they came from, presenting as answers to these questions a mass of new data put together in an original and interpretive manner.

The author offers a devastating critique of the two reference works which until now have commanded scholars' attention. Burke examines Bailey Burritt's Professional Distribution of College and University Undergraduates (1912) noting that Burritt's categories oversimplify the data of the 37 institutions he studies. Donald G. Tewksbury's American Colleges and Universities Before the Civil War (1932), the author explains, presents a skewed interpretation of collegiate decline in the antebellum period. Using a far larger data base and capitalizing on the advances in quantitative history made in the last decade, Burke adopts appropriate analytic categories for college students and their subsequent careers. Amierican Collegiate Populations thus becomes the referent work to replace Burritt and Tewksbury and will likely have an equal longevity in print.

American Collegiate Populations systematically compares denominational colleges, colleges by region, and student groups from a host of angles - age entering college, geographical origins, parental occupations. subsequent careers, and professional choices. Burke shows the reach of American colleges back into the socio-economic fabric of the culture. a reach that carries implications for many subjects - religious, economic, social, and intellectual - beyond the mere subject of college alone.

Few works force the re-thinking of a whole field of historical inquiry - particularly one that has important bearings on current policy - as Burke's study does. The findings and implications presented in American Collegiate Populations will profoundly affect the scholarly community for decades to come.

American Confluence Cover

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American Confluence

The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State

Stephen Aron

In the heart of North America, the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers come together, uniting waters from west, north, and east on a journey to the south. This is the region that Stephen Aron calls the American Confluence. Aron's innovative book examines the history of that region -- a home to the Osage, a colony exploited by the French, a new frontier explored by Lewis and Clark -- and focuses on the region's transition from a place of overlapping borderlands to one of oppositional border states. American Confluence is a lively account that will delight both the amateur and professional historian.

American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader Cover

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American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader

Kari J. Winter

As a young man, John B. Prentis (1788–1848) expressed outrage over slavery, but by the end of his life he had transported thousands of enslaved persons from the upper to the lower South. Kari J. Winter’s life-and-times portrayal of a slave trader illuminates the clash between two American dreams: one of wealth, the other of equality.

Prentis was born into a prominent Virginia family. His grandfather, William Prentis, emigrated from London to Williamsburg in 1715 as an indentured servant and rose to become the major shareholder in colonial Virginia’s most successful store. William’s son Joseph became a Revolutionary judge and legislator who served alongside Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison. Joseph Jr. followed his father’s legal career, whereas John was drawn to commerce. To finance his early business ventures, he began trading in slaves. In time he grew besotted with the high-stakes trade, appeasing his conscience with the populist platitudes of Jacksonian democracy, which aggressively promoted white male democracy in conjunction with white male supremacy.

Prentis’s life illuminates the intertwined politics of labor, race, class, and gender in the young American nation. Participating in a revolution in the ethics of labor that upheld Benjamin Franklin as its icon, he rejected the gentility of his upbringing to embrace solidarity with “mechanicks,” white working-class men. His capacity for admirable thoughts and actions complicates images drawn by elite slaveholders, who projected the worst aspects of slavery onto traders while imagining themselves as benign patriarchs. This is an absorbing story of a man who betrayed his innate sense of justice to pursue wealth through the most vicious forms of human exploitation.

An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands Cover

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An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands

Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter, 1890-1893

selected and edited by Sandra Bonura and Deborah Day

The book consists of selected and edited letters from Hawai’i during the revolution period (1890-1893) by Carrie Prudence Winter (1866-1942), a young missionary teacher at Kawaiaha’o Seminary in Honolulu describing in great detail the operation of the Seminary, the lives of the Hawaiian girls there, and her experiences in Hawai’i. Miss Winter listed all of her Hawaiian students, and the Who’s Who appendix identifies them and other individuals mentioned in the book. The book also reproduces some examples of student homework, including 4 autobiographical essays by children she taught. This book includes a foreword by Dr. C. Kalani Beyer, Kamehameha School graduate, a noted scholar in the history of Hawai’i and education. It includes a hand drawn map by the renowned artist, Barron Storey. The book is profusely illustrated by original photographs, most of which have never before been published.

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