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History > U.S. History > Local and Regional > New England

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River of Dreams Cover

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River of Dreams

The Hudson Valley in Historic Postcards

George Lankevich

From its crystal headwaters at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains to its majestic embrace by the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of New York Bay, the Hudson River is not only one of America's greatest waterways. The river and its valley are among America's greatest treasures-home to unrivaled natural beauty and a rich historic legacy that lives on in the great cities and small towns that line its shores. In this fascinating book, a leading historian takes us on a different kind of journey up the Hudson. George J. Lankevich has chosen 64 postcards-most from the first half of the 20th century-to chronicle the changing landscape of the Hudson Valley. North from the gritty riverfront factories of Yonkers, past the towering bluffs of the Palisades, we travel upstream, stopping to sample the remarkable variety of the river's changing course.Here's a rich portfolio of scenes that convey the extraordinary vitality of Hudson Valley history-from stately mansions at Hyde Park and Pocantico Hills to the small river ports that sent bricks and grain down to New York City. There's West Point, strong on its stone embankment, and, nearby, relaxed scenes of vacationers taking a cruise on one of the historic day boats.Lankevich's concise, colorful narrative of the four-hundred-year legacy of Henry Hudson's discovery flows as smoothly as these snapshot chronicles of a past that still resonates today. River of Dreams is an essential guide to the spirit of a great place-a must for visitors and locals alike.Praise for George J. LankevichGives readers a walking tour of Manhattan, from Battery Park to the top of the island via a terrific set of vintage and contemporary postcards . . . the result is an unusual perspective on a much-vaunted metropolis.-Publishers Weekly (on Postcards from Manhattan)Here, as in New York itself, may be found everything and everyone.-The New York Times Book Review (on New York: A Short History)Lankevich has done the near-impossible and packed almost four centuries of New York City into one slim history . . . a deft survey.-New York History (on New York: A Short History)

Seated by the Sea Cover

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Seated by the Sea

The Maritime History of Portland, Maine, and Its Irish Longshoremen

Michael C. Connolly

For decades, Portland, Maine, was the closest ice-free port to Europe. As such, it was key to the transport of Canadian wheat across the Atlantic, losing its prominence only after WWII, as containerization came to dominate all shipping and Portland shifted its focus to tourism.

Michael Connolly offers an in-depth study of the on-shore labor force that made the port function from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. He shows how Irish immigrants replaced and supplanted the existing West Indian workers and established benevolent societies and unions that were closed to blacks. Using this fascinating city and these hard-working longshoremen as a case study, he sheds light on a larger tale of ethnicity, class, regionalism, and globalization.

Second Nature Cover

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Second Nature

An Environmental History of New England

Richard W. Judd

Bounded by the St. Lawrence Valley to the north, Lake Champlain to the west, and the Gulf of Maine to the east, New England may be the most cohesive region in the United States, with a long and richly recorded history. In this book, Richard W. Judd explores the mix of ecological process and human activity that shaped that history over the past 12,000 years. He traces a succession of cultures through New England’s changing postglacial environment down to the 1600s, when the arrival of Europeans interrupted this coevolution of nature and culture. A long period of tension and warfare, inflected by a variety of environmental problems, opened the way for frontier expansion. This in turn culminated in a unique landscape of forest, farm, and village that has become the embodiment of what Judd calls “second nature”— culturally modified landscapes that have superseded a more pristine “first nature.” In the early 1800s changes in farm production and industrial process transformed central New England, while burgeoning markets at the geographical margins brought rapid expansion in fishing and logging activities. Although industrialization and urbanization severed connections to the natural world, the dominant cultural expression of the age, Romanticism, provided new ways of appreciating nature in the White Mountains and Maine woods. Spurred by these Romantic images and by a long tradition of local resource management, New England gained an early start in rural and urban conservation. In the 1970s environmentalists, inspired by a widespread appreciation for regional second-nature landscapes, moved quickly from battling pollution and preserving wild lands to sheltering farms, villages, and woodlands from intrusive development. These campaigns, uniquely suited to the region’s land-use history, ecology, and culture, were a fitting capstone to the environmental history of New England.

Shadows in the Valley Cover

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Shadows in the Valley

A Cultural History of Illness, Death, and Loss in New England, 1840-1916

Alan Swedlund

How does the experience of sickness, death, and loss change over time? We know that the incidence and virulence of particular diseases have varied from one period to another, as has their medical treatment. But what was it like for the individuals who suffered and died from those illnesses, for the health practitioners and institutions that attended to them, and for the families who buried and mourned them? In Shadows in the Valley, Alan Swedlund addresses these questions by closely examining the history of mortality in several small communities in western Massachusetts from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century—from just before the acceptance of the germ theory of disease through the early days of public health reform in the United States. This was a time when most Americans lived in rural areas or small towns rather than large cities. It was also a time when a wide range of healing practices was available to the American public, and when the modern form of Western medicine was striving for dominance and authority. As Swedlund shows, this juncture of competing practices and ideologies provides a rich opportunity for exploring the rise of modern medicine and its impact on the everyday lives of ordinary Americans. To indicate how individuals in different stages of their lives were exposed to varying assaults on their health, the book is structured in a way that superimposes what the author calls “life-course time” onto chronological time. Thus the early chapters look at issues of infancy and childhood in the 1840s and 1850s and the last chapters at the problems of old age after 1900. The reader becomes familiar with specific individuals and families as they cope with the recurrent loss of children, struggle to understand the causes of new contagions, and seek to find meaning in untimely death. By using a broad time frame and a narrow geographical lens, Swedlund is able to engage with both the particularities and generalities of evolving medical knowledge and changing practice, and to highlight the differences in personal as well as collective responses to illness and loss.

Social and Economic Networks in Early Massachusetts Cover

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Social and Economic Networks in Early Massachusetts

Atlantic Connections

Marsha L. Hamilton

The Solemn Sentence of Death Cover

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The Solemn Sentence of Death

Capital Punishment in Connecticut

Lawrence B. Goodheart

The first case study of its kind, this book addresses a broad range of questions about the rationale for and application of judicial execution in Connecticut since the seventeenth century. In addition to identifying the 158 people who have been put to death for crimes during the state's history, Lawrence Goodheart analyzes their social status in terms of sex, race, class, religion, and ethnicity. He looks at the circumstances of the crimes, the weapons that were used, and the victims. He reconstructs the history of Connecticut's capital laws, its changing rituals of execution, and the growing debate over the legitimacy of the death penalty itself. Although the focus is on the criminal justice system, the ethical values of New England culture form the larger context. Goodheart shows how a steady diminution in types of capital crimes, including witchcraft and sexual crimes, culminated in an emphasis on proportionate punishment during the Enlightenment and eventually led to a preference for imprisonment for all capital crimes except first-degree murder. Goodheart concludes by considering why Connecticut, despite its many statutory restrictions on capital punishment and lengthy appeals process, has been the only state in New England to have executed anyone since 1960.

Stove by a Whale Cover

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Stove by a Whale

Owen Chase and the Essex

Thomas Farel Heffernan

The first documented sinking of a ship by a whale and a harrowing account by the ship's first mate of the survivors' three months adrift in small boats. A thrilling narrative that inspired Herman Melville's masterpiece Moby Dick.

Tears of Repentance Cover

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Tears of Repentance

Christian Indian Identity and Community in Colonial Southern New England

Julius H. Rubin

Tears of Repentance revisits and reexamines the familiar stories of intercultural encounters between Protestant missionaries and Native peoples in southern New England from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Focusing on Protestant missionaries’ accounts of their ideals, purposes, and goals among the Native communities they served and of the religion as lived, experienced, and practiced among Christianized Indians, Julius H. Rubin offers a new way of understanding the motives and motivations of those who lived in New England’s early Christianized Indian village communities.

Rubin explores how Christian Indians recast Protestant theology into an Indianized quest for salvation from their worldly troubles and toward the promise of an otherworldly paradise. The Great Awakening of the eighteenth century reveals how evangelical pietism transformed religious identities and communities and gave rise to the sublime hope that New Born Indians were children of God who might effectively contest colonialism. With this dream unfulfilled, the exodus from New England to Brothertown envisioned a separatist Christian Indian commonwealth on the borderlands of America after the Revolution.

Tears of Repentance is an important contribution to American colonial and Native American history, offering new ways of examining how Native groups and individuals recast Protestant theology to restore their Native communities and cultures.

This Vast Book of Nature Cover

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This Vast Book of Nature

Writing the Landscape of New Hampshire's White Mountains, 1784-1911

This Vast Book of Nature is a careful, engaging, accessible, and wide-ranging account of the ways in which the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire---and, by implication, other wild places---have been written into being by different visitors, residents, and developers from the post-Revolutionary era to the days of high tourism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Drawing on tourist brochures, travel accounts, pictorial representations, fiction and poetry, local histories, journals, and newspapers, Pavel Cenkl gauges how Americans have arranged space for political and economic purposes and identified it as having value beyond the economic. Starting with an exploration of Jeremy Belknap’s 1784 expedition to Mount Washington, which Cenkl links to the origins of tourism in the White Mountains, to the transformation of touristic and residential relationships to landscape, This Vast Book of Nature explores the ways competing visions of the landscape have transformed the White Mountains culturally and physically, through settlement, development, and---most recently---preservation, a process that continues today.

The Underground Railroad in Connecticut Cover

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The Underground Railroad in Connecticut

Horatio T. T. Strother

Here are the engrossing facts about one of the least-known movements in Connecticut's history--the rise, organization, and operations of the Underground Railroad, over which fugitive slaves from the South found their way to freedom. Drawing his data from published sources and, perhaps more importantly, from the still-existing oral tradition of descendants of Underground agents, Horatio Strother tells the detailed story in this book, originally published in 1962. He traces the routes from entry points such as New Haven harbor and the New York state line, through important crossroads like Brooklyn and Farmington. Revealing the dangers fugitives faced, the author also identifies the high-minded lawbreakers who operated the system--farmers and merchants, local officials and judges, at least one United States Senator, and many dedicated ministers of the Gospel. These narratives are set against the larger background of the development of slavery and abolitionism in America-- conversations still relevant today.

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