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The Arsenal of Democracy Cover

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The Arsenal of Democracy

The American Automobile Industry in World War II

Asian Indians in Michigan Cover

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Asian Indians in Michigan

Arthur W. Helweg

Since 1970, a growing number of Asian Indians have called Michigan home. Representative of the “new immigration,” Asian Indians come from a democratic country, are well-educated, and come from middle- and upper-class families. Unlike older immigrant groups, Asian Indians do not form urban ethnic enclaves or found their own communities to meet the challenges of living in a new society. As Arthur W. Helweg shows, Asian Indians contribute to the richness and diversity of Michigan’s culture through active participation in local institutions, while maintaining a strong ethnic identity rooted in India.

A Badger Boy in Blue Cover

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A Badger Boy in Blue

The Civil War Letters of Chauncey H. Cooke

With an Introduction and Appendix by William Mulligan, Jr.

The Civil War letters of a young Wisconsin soldier, previously published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, 1920–1922, are made available for the first time to a wide audience.

Battle for the soul Cover

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Battle for the soul

Métis children encounter evangelical Protestants at Mackinaw Mission, 1823-1837

Keith R. Widder

In 1823 William and Amanda Ferry opened a boarding school for Métis children on Mackinac Island, Michigan Territory, setting in motion an intense spiritual battle to win the souls and change the lives of the children, their parents, and all others living at Mackinac. Battle for the Soul demonstrates how a group of enthusiastic missionaries, empowered by an uncompromising religious motivation, served as agents of Americanization. The Ferrys' high hopes crumbled, however, as they watched their work bring about a revival of Catholicism and their students refuse to abandon the fur trade as a way of life. The story of the Mackinaw Mission is that of people who held differing world views negotiating to create a "middle-ground," a society with room for all.
     Widder's study is a welcome addition to the literature on American frontier missions. Using Richard White's "middle ground" paradigm, it focuses on the cultural interaction between French, British, American, and various native groups at the Mackinac mission in Michigan during the early 19th century. The author draws on materials from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions archives, as well as other manuscript sources, to trace not only the missionaries' efforts to Christianize and Americanize the native peoples, but the religious, social, and cultural conflicts between Protestant missionaries and Catholic priests in the region. Much attention has been given to the missionaries to the Indians in other areas of the US, but little to this region.

Battleground 1948 Cover

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Battleground 1948

Truman, Stevenson, Douglas, and the Most Surprising Election in Illinois History

Robert E. Hartley

The election year of 1948 remains to this day one of the most astonishing in U.S. political history. During this first general election after World War II, Americans looked to their governments for change. As the battle for the nation’s highest office came to a head in Illinois, the state was embroiled in its own partisan showdowns—elections that would prove critical in the course of state and national history.

 

In Battleground 1948, Robert E. Hartley offers the first comprehensive chronicle of this historic election year and its consequences, which still resonate today. Focusing on the races that ushered Adlai Stevenson, Paul Douglas, and Harry Truman into office—the last by the slimmest of margins—Battleground 1948 details the pivotal events that played out in the state of Illinois, from the newspaper wars in Chicago to tragedy in the mine at Centralia.

 

In addition to in-depth revelations on the saga of the American election machine in 1948, Hartley probes the dark underbelly of Illinois politics in the 1930s and 1940s to set the stage, spotlight key party players, and expose the behind-the-scenes influences of media, money, corruption, and crime. In doing so, he draws powerful parallels between the politics of the past and those of the present. Above all, Battleground 1948 tells the story of grassroots change writ large on the American political landscape—change that helped a nation move past an era of conflict and depression, and forever transformed Illinois and the U.S. government.

The Best Specimen of a Tyrant Cover

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The Best Specimen of a Tyrant

The Ambitious Dr. Abraham Van Norstrand and the Wisconsin Insane Hospital

Thomas Doherty

In 1847, young Dr. Abraham Van Norstrand left Vermont to seek his fortune in the West, but in Wisconsin his business ventures failed, and a medical practice among hard-up settlers added little to his pocketbook. During the Civil War he organized and ran one of the army’s biggest hospitals but resigned when dark rumors surfaced about him. Back home, he accepted with mixed feelings the one prestigious position available to him: superintendent of the state’s first hospital for the insane.
            Van Norstrand was a newcomer to the so-called “Hospital Movement,” perhaps the boldest public policy innovation of its time, one whose leaders believed that they could achieve what had long been regarded as impossible, to cure the insane. He was a driven man with scant sympathy for those he considered misfits or malingerers. Even so, early observers were impressed with his energetic, take-charge manner at the hospital. Here at last was a man who stood firm where his predecessors had weakened and foundered. But others began to detect a different side to this tireless ruler and adroit politician. It was said that he assaulted patients and served them tainted food purchased with state money from his own grocery store. Was he exploiting the weak for personal gain or making the best of a thankless situation? Out of this fog of suspicion emerged a moral crusader and—to all appearances—pristine do-gooder named Samuel Hastings, a man whose righteous fury, once aroused, proved equal to Van Norstrand’s own.
            The story of Abraham Van Norstrand’s rise and fall is also the story of the clash between the great expectations and hard choices that have bedeviled public mental hospitals from the beginning. 

Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities Cover

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Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities

Across the United States, historic preservation has become a catalyst for urban regeneration. Entrepreneurs, urban pioneers, and veteran city dwellers have refurbished thousands of dilapidated properties and put them to productive use as shops, restaurants, nightclubs, museums, and private residences. As a result, inner-cities, once disparaged as zones of poverty, crime, and decay have been re-branded as historic districts. Although these preservation initiatives, often supported by government tax incentives and rigid architectural controls, deserve credit for bringing people back to the city, raising property values, and generating tourist revenue, they have been less successful in creating stable and harmonious communities.

 

Beyond Preservation proposes a framework for stabilizing and strengthening inner-city neighborhoods through the public interpretation of historic landscapes. Its central argument is that inner-city communities can best turn preserved landscapes into assets by subjecting them to public interpretation at the grass-roots.  Based on an examination of successful projects in St. Louis, Missouri and other U.S. cities, Andrew Hurley demonstrates how rigorous historical analysis can help communities articulate a local identity and plan intelligently on the basis of existing cultural and social assets.    

The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa Cover

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The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

Iowa has been blessed with citizens of strong character who have made invaluable contributions to the state and to the nation. In the 1930s alone, such towering figures as John L. Lewis, Henry A. Wallace, and Herbert Hoover hugely influenced the nation’s affairs. Iowa’s Native Americans, early explorers, inventors, farmers, scholars, baseball players, musicians, artists, writers, politicians, scientists, conservationists, preachers, educators, and activists continue to enrich our lives and inspire our imaginations.
     Written by an impressive team of more than 150 scholars and writers, the readable narratives include each subject’s name, birth and death dates, place of birth, education, and career and contributions. Many of the names will be instantly recognizable to most Iowans; others are largely forgotten but deserve to be remembered. Beyond the distinctive lives and times captured in the individual biographies, readers of the dictionary will gain an appreciation for how the character of the state has been shaped by the character of the individuals who have inhabited it.
     From Dudley Warren Adams, fruit grower and Grange leader, to the Younker brothers, founders of one of Iowa’s most successful department stores, The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa is peopled with the rewarding lives of more than four hundred notable citizens of the Hawkeye State. The histories contained in this essential reference work should be eagerly read by anyone who cares about Iowa and its citizens.

Entries include Cap Anson, Bix Beiderbecke, Black Hawk, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, William Carpenter, Philip Greeley Clapp, Gardner Cowles Sr., Samuel Ryan Curtis, Jay Norwood Darling, Grenville Dodge, Julien Dubuque, August S. Duesenberg, Paul Engle, Phyllis L. Propp Fowle, George Gallup, Hamlin Garland, Susan Glaspell, Josiah Grinnell, Charles Hearst, Josephine Herbst, Herbert Hoover, Inkpaduta, Louis Jolliet, MacKinlay Kantor, Keokuk, Aldo Leopold, John L. Lewis, Marquette, Elmer Maytag, Christian Metz, Bertha Shambaugh, Ruth Suckow, Billy Sunday, Henry Wallace, and Grant Wood.

Excerpt from the entry on:
Gallup, George Horace (November 19, 1901–July 26, 1984)—founder of the American Institute of Public Opinion, better known as the Gallup Poll, whose name was synonymous with public opinion polling around the world—was born in Jefferson, Iowa. . . . . A New Yorker article would later speculate that it was Gallup’s background in “utterly normal Iowa” that enabled him to find “nothing odd in the idea that one man might represent, statistically, ten thousand or more of his own kind.” . . . In 1935 Gallup partnered with Harry Anderson to found the American Institute of Public Opinion, based in Princeton, New Jersey, an opinion polling firm that included a syndicated newspaper column called “America Speaks.” The reputation of the organization was made when Gallup publicly challenged the polling techniques of The Literary Digest, the best-known political straw poll of the day. Calculating that the Digest would wrongly predict that Kansas Republican Alf Landon would win the presidential election, Gallup offered newspapers a money-back guarantee if his prediction that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would win wasn’t more accurate. Gallup believed that public opinion polls served an important function in a democracy: “If govern¬ment is supposed to be based on the will of the people, somebody ought to go and find what that will is,” Gallup explained.

Birch Coulie Cover

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Birch Coulie

The Epic Battle of the Dakota War

John Christgau

Black Eden Cover

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Black Eden

the Idlewild community

Lewis Walker

Black Eden chronicles the history of Idlewild, a Michigan black community founded during the aftermath of the Civil War. As one of the nation’s most popular black resorts, Idlewild functioned as a gathering place for African Americans, and more importantly as a touchstone of black identity and culture. Benjamin C. Wilson and Lewis Walker examine Idlewild’s significance within a historical context, as well as the town’s revitalization efforts and the need for comprehensive planning in future development. In a segregated America, Idlewild became a place where black audiences could see rising black entertainers.
     Profusely illustrated with photos from the authors’ personal collections, Black Eden provides a lengthy discussion about the crucial role that Idlewild played in the careers of artists such as Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, and Della Reese. Fundamentally, the book explores issues involved in living in a segregated society, the consequences of the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent integration, and the consequences of integration vs. racial solidarity. The authors ask: Did integration kill Idlewild? suggesting rather that other factors contributed to its decline.

 

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