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History > U.S. History > 20th Century

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Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850–1954 Cover

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Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850–1954

An Intellectual History

Stephanie Y. Evans

Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women's educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators--despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies--contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.

Among those Evans profiles are Anna Julia Cooper, who was born enslaved yet ultimately earned a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Exposing the hypocrisy in American assertions of democracy and discrediting European notions of intellectual superiority, Cooper argued that all human beings had a right to grow. Bethune believed that education is the right of all citizens in a democracy. Both women's philosophies raised questions of how human and civil rights are intertwined with educational access, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service. This first complete educational and intellectual history of black women carefully traces quantitative research, explores black women's collegiate memories, and identifies significant geographic patterns in America's institutional development. Evans reveals historic perspectives, patterns, and philosophies in academia that will be an important reference for scholars of gender, race, and education.

Blacks, Reds, and Russians Cover

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Blacks, Reds, and Russians

Sojourners in Search of the Soviet Promise

Joy Gleason Carew

One of the most compelling, yet little known stories of race relations in the twentieth century is the account of blacks who chose to leave the United States to be involved in the Soviet Experiment in the 1920s and 1930s. In Blacks, Reds, and Russians, Joy Gleason Carew offers insight into the political strategies that often underlie relationships between different peoples and countries. Interviews with the descendents of figures such as Paul Robeson and Oliver Golden offer rare personal insights into the story of a group of emigrants who, confronted by the daunting challenges of making a life for themselves in a racist United States, found unprecedented opportunities in communist Russia.

Blind over Cuba Cover

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Blind over Cuba

The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis

David M. Barrett and Max Holland

In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, questions persisted about how the potential cataclysm had been allowed to develop. A subsequent congressional investigation focused on what came to be known as the “photo gap”: five weeks during which intelligence-gathering flights over Cuba had been attenuated. ?In Blind over Cuba, David M. Barrett and Max Holland challenge the popular perception of the Kennedy administration’s handling of the Soviet Union’s surreptitious deployment of missiles in the Western Hemisphere. Rather than epitomizing it as a masterpiece of crisis management by policy makers and the administration, Barrett and Holland make the case that the affair was, in fact, a close call stemming directly from decisions made in a climate of deep distrust between key administration officials and the intelligence community. ?Because of White House and State Department fears of “another U-2 incident” (the infamous 1960 Soviet downing of an American U-2 spy plane), the CIA was not permitted to send surveillance aircraft on prolonged flights over Cuban airspace for many weeks, from late August through early October. Events proved that this was precisely the time when the Soviets were secretly deploying missiles in Cuba. When Director of Central Intelligence John McCone forcefully pointed out that this decision had led to a dangerous void in intelligence collection, the president authorized one U-2 flight directly over western Cuba—thereby averting disaster, as the surveillance detected the Soviet missiles shortly before they became operational.? The Kennedy administration recognized that their failure to gather intelligence was politically explosive, and their subsequent efforts to influence the perception of events form the focus for this study. Using recently declassified documents, secondary materials, and interviews with several key participants, Barrett and Holland weave a story of intra-agency conflict, suspicion, and discord that undermined intelligence-gathering, adversely affected internal postmortems conducted after the crisis peaked, and resulted in keeping Congress and the public in the dark about what really happened.? Fifty years after the crisis that brought the superpowers to the brink, Blind over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis offers a new chapter in our understanding of that pivotal event, the tensions inside the US government during the cold war, and the obstacles Congress faces when conducting an investigation of the executive branch.

Blockading the Border and Human Rights Cover

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Blockading the Border and Human Rights

The El Paso Operation That Remade Immigration Enforcement

By Timothy J. Dunn

To understand border enforcement and the shape it has taken, it is imperative to examine a groundbreaking Border Patrol operation begun in 1993 in El Paso, Texas, “Operation Blockade.” The El Paso Border Patrol designed and implemented this radical new strategy, posting 400 agents directly on the banks of the Rio Grande in highly visible positions to deter unauthorized border crossings into the urban areas of El Paso from neighboring Ciudad Juárez—a marked departure from the traditional strategy of apprehending unauthorized crossers after entry. This approach, of “prevention through deterrence,” became the foundation of the 1994 and 2004 National Border Patrol Strategies for the Southern Border. Politically popular overall, it has rendered unauthorized border crossing far less visible in many key urban areas. However, the real effectiveness of the strategy is debatable, at best. Its implementation has also led to a sharp rise in the number of deaths of unauthorized border crossers. Here, Dunn examines the paradigm-changing Operation Blockade and related border enforcement efforts in the El Paso region in great detail, as well as the local social and political situation that spawned the approach and has shaped it since. Dunn particularly spotlights the human rights abuses and enforcement excesses inflicted on local Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants as well as the challenges to those abuses. Throughout the book, Dunn filters his research and fieldwork through two competing lenses, human rights versus the rights of national sovereignty and citizenship.

Blowing the Whistle on Genocide Cover

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Blowing the Whistle on Genocide

Josiah E. DuBois, Jr. and the Struggle for a U.S. Response to the Holocaust

by Rafael Medoff

Blowing the Whistle on Genocide tells the story of Josiah E. DuBois, Jr., a young treasury department lawyer who risked his career to alert the world to the Holocaust

Bodies of Reform Cover

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Bodies of Reform

The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America

James Salazar, 0, 0

“James Salazar takes the term ‘character’—pervasive and elusive—and accounts for its centrality by showing how it embodies the contradictions of modern America. In a series of intricate literary readings, he analyzes the ways in which the late-nineteenth-century obsession with building ‘character’ vivified social distinctions but also, in its instabilities, became the pivot for critique.”

Bodies of War Cover

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Bodies of War

World War I and the Politics of Commemoration in America, 1919-1933

Lisa Budreau

The United States lost thousands of troops during World War I, and the government gave next-of-kin a choice about what to do with their fallen loved ones: ship them home for burial or leave them permanently in Europe, in makeshift graves that would be eventually transformed into cemeteries in France, Belgium, and England. World War I marked the first war in which the United States government and military took full responsibility for the identification, burial, and memorialization of those killed in battle, and as a result, the process of burying and remembering the dead became intensely political. The government and military attempted to create a patriotic consensus on the historical memory of World War I in which war dead were not only honored but used as a symbol to legitimize America's participation in a war not fully supported by all citizens.

The saga of American soldiers killed in World War I and the efforts of the living to honor them is a neglected component of United States military history, and in this fascinating yet often macabre account, Lisa M. Budreau unpacks the politics and processes of the competing interest groups involved in the three core components of commemoration: repatriation, remembrance, and return. She also describes how relatives of the fallen made pilgrimages to French battlefields, attended largely by American Legionnaires and the Gold Star Mothers, a group formed by mothers of sons killed in World War I, which exists to this day. Throughout, and with sensitivity to issues of race and gender, Bodies of War emphasizes the inherent tensions in the politics of memorialization and explores how those interests often conflicted with the needs of veterans and relatives.

Body and Soul Cover

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Body and Soul

The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination

Alondra Nelson

Between its founding in 1966 and its formal end in 1980, the Black Panther Party blazed a distinctive trail in American political culture. The Black Panthers are most often remembered for their revolutionary rhetoric and militant action. Here Alondra Nelson deftly recovers an indispensable but lesser-known aspect of the organization’s broader struggle for social justice: health care. The Black Panther Party’s health activism—its network of free health clinics, its campaign to raise awareness about genetic disease, and its challenges to medical discrimination—was an expression of its founding political philosophy and also a recognition that poor blacks were both underserved by mainstream medicine and overexposed to its harms.

Drawing on extensive historical research as well as interviews with former members of the Black Panther Party, Nelson argues that the Party’s focus on health care was both practical and ideological. Building on a long tradition of medical self-sufficiency among African Americans, the Panthers’ People’s Free Medical Clinics administered basic preventive care, tested for lead poisoning and hypertension, and helped with housing, employment, and social services. In 1971, the party launched a campaign to address sickle-cell anemia. In addition to establishing screening programs and educational outreach efforts, it exposed the racial biases of the medical system that had largely ignored sickle-cell anemia, a disease that predominantly affected people of African descent.

The Black Panther Party’s understanding of health as a basic human right and its engagement with the social implications of genetics anticipated current debates about the politics of health and race. That legacy—and that struggle—continues today in the commitment of health activists and the fight for universal health care.

Bold They Rise Cover

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Bold They Rise

The Space Shuttle Early Years, 1972-1986

David Hitt

After the Apollo program put twelve men on the moon and safely brought them home, anything seemed possible. In this spirit, the team at NASA set about developing the Space Shuttle, arguably the most complex piece of machinery ever created. The world’s first reusable spacecraft, it launched like a rocket, landed like a glider, and carried out complicated missions in between.
 
 
Bold They Rise tells the story of the Space Shuttle through the personal experiences of the astronauts, engineers, and scientists who made it happen—in space and on the ground, from the days of research and design through the heroic accomplishments of the program to the tragic last minutes of the Challenger disaster. In the participants’ own voices, we learn what so few are privy to: what it was like to create a new form of spacecraft, to risk one’s life testing that craft, to float freely in the vacuum of space as a one-man satellite, to witness a friend’s death. A “guided tour” of the Shuttle—in historical, scientific, and personal terms—this book provides a fascinating, richly informed, and deeply personal view of a feat without parallel in the human story.

Bootleggers and Borders Cover

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Bootleggers and Borders

The Paradox of Prohibition on a Canada-U.S. Borderland

Stephen T. Moore

Between 1920 and 1933 the issue of prohibition proved to be the greatest challenge to Canada-U.S. relations. When the United States adopted national prohibition in 1920—ironically, just as Canada was abandoning its own national and provincial experiments with prohibition—U.S. tourists and dollars promptly headed north and Canadian liquor went south. Despite repeated efforts, Americans were unable to secure Canadian assistance in enforcing American prohibition laws until 1930.
 
Bootleggers and Borders explores the important but surprisingly overlooked Canada-U.S. relationship in the Pacific Northwest during Prohibition. Stephen Moore maintains that the reason Prohibition created such an intractable problem lies not with the relationship between Ottawa and Washington DC but with everyday operations experienced at the border level, where foreign relations are conducted according to different methods and rules and are informed by different assumptions, identities, and cultural values.
 
Through an exploration of border relations in the Pacific Northwest, Bootleggers and Borders offers insight not only into the Canada-U.S. relationship but also into the subtle but important differences in the tactics Canadians and Americans employed when confronted with similar problems. Ultimately, British Columbia’s method of addressing temperance provided the United States with a model that would become central to its abandonment and replacement of Prohibition. 

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