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History > U.S. History > Local and Regional > New England
One Town's Tragic Response to the Great Epidemic of 1918
The influenza epidemic of 1918 was one of the worst medical disasters in human history, taking close to thirty million lives worldwide in less than a year, including more than 500,000 in the United States. What made this pandemic even more frightening was the fact that it occurred when death rates for most common infectious diseases were diminishing. Still, an epidemic is not merely a medical crisis; it has sociological, psychological, and political dimensions as well. In Influenza and Inequality, Patricia J. Fanning examines these other dimensions and brings to life this terrible episode of epidemic disease by tracing its path through the town of Norwood, Massachusetts. By 1918, Norwood was a small, ethnically diverse, industrialized, and stratified community. Ink, printing, and tanning factories were owned by wealthy families who lived privileged lives. These industries attracted immigrant laborers who made their homes in several ethnic neighborhoods and endured prejudice and discrimination at the hands of native residents. When the epidemic struck, the immigrant neighborhoods were most affected; a fact that played a significant role in the town’s response—with tragic results. This close analysis of one town’s struggle illuminates how even well-intentioned elite groups may adopt and implement strategies that can exacerbate rather than relieve a medical crisis. It is a cautionary tale that demonstrates how social behavior can be a fundamental predictor of the epidemic curve, a community’s response to crisis, and the consequences of those actions.
Since 1969, Ethan Allen has been the subject of three biographical studies, all of which indulge in sustaining and revitalizing the image of Allen as a physically imposing Vermont yeoman, a defender of the rights of Americans, an eloquent military hero, and a master of many guises, from rough frontiersman to gentleman philosopher.
Seeking the authentic Ethan Allen, the authors of this volume ask: How did that Ethan Allen secure his place in popular culture? As they observe, this spectacular persona leaves little room for a more accurate assessment of Allen as a self-interested land speculator, rebellious mob leader, inexperienced militia officer, and truth-challenged man who would steer Vermont into the British Empire.
Drawing extensively from the correspondence in Ethan Allen and his Kin and a wide range of historical, political, and cultural sources, Duffy and Muller analyze the factors that led to Ethan Allen’s two-hundred-year-old status as the most famous figure in Vermont’s past. Placing facts against myths, the authors reveal how Allen acquired and retained his iconic image, how the much-repeated legends composed after his death coincide with his life, why recollections of him are synonymous with the story of Vermont, and why some Vermonters still assign to Allen their own cherished and idealized values.
Presented here for the first time is the history of Boston’s evolution as a center of American money management from early settlement to the twenty-first century. Within a few decades after the Revolution, Bostonians built up an impressive mercantile and industrial economy, and used wealth accrued from the China trade, New England mills, and other ventures to establish the most important stock exchange in America. They also created the “Boston trustee,” a unique professional who managed private fortunes over generations. During the late nineteenth century, Boston financial institutions were renowned as bastions of stability and conservatism in an era of recurrent economic panics and frequent failures. It was not until the twentieth century that Boston became better known for its role in investment management. In 1924, local financiers created the first mutual fund, an innovation almost a century in the making. After World War II, Boston originated venture capital with the founding of American Research & Development. This was soon followed by the development of private equity, the growth of the mutual fund industry, the pension “revolution” that changed and strengthened money management, the evolution in management of institutional endowments, and the rise of new family offices and hedge funds. The contributions of fiduciaries and investment managers have played an important part in the rise of the “New Boston” and made the city one of the most vibrant financial capitals in the world. Investment Management in Boston is published in association with Massachusetts Historical Society.
New York City's Unseen Scene
How do we speak about jazz? In this provocative study based on the author's deep immersion in the New York City jazz scene, Tom Greenland turns from the usual emphasis on artists and their music to focus on non-performing participants, describing them as active performers in their own right who witness and thus collaborate in a happening made one-of-a-kind by improvisation, mood, and moment. Jazzing shines a spotlight on the constituency of proprietors, booking agents, photographers, critics, publicists, painters, amateur musicians, fans, friends, and tourists that makes up New York City's contemporary jazz scene. Drawn from deep ethnographic research, interviews, and long term participant observation, Jazzing charts the ways New York's distinctive physical and social-cultural environment affects and is affected by jazz. Throughout, Greenland offers a passionate argument in favor of a radically inclusive conception of music-making, one in which individuals collectively improvise across social contexts to co-create community and musical meaning. An odyssey through the clubs and other performance spaces on and off the beaten track, Jazzing is an insider's view of a vibrant urban art world.
Jonathan Edwards has long epitomized the Puritan preacher as fiery scold, fixated on the inner struggle of the soul and the eternal flames of hell. In this book, Ronald Story offers a fundamentally different view of Edwards, revealing a profoundly social minister who preached a gospel of charity and community bound by love. The first chapters trace Edwards’s life and impact, examine his reputation as an intellectual, Calvinist, and revivalist, and highlight the importance for him of the gentler, more compassionate concepts of light, harmony, beauty, and sweetness. Story then explains what Edwards means by the “Gospel of Love”—a Christian faith that is less individual than interpersonal, and whose central feature is the practice of charity to the poor and the quest for loving community in this world, the chief signs of true salvation. As Edwards preached in his sermon “Heaven Is a World of Love,” the afterlife itself is social in nature because love is social. Drawing on Edwards’s own sermons and notebooks, Story reveals the minister’s belief that divine love expressed in the human family should take us beyond tribalism, sectarianism, provincialism, and nationality. Edwards offers hope, in the manner of Walter Rauschenbusch, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King Jr., and other great “improvers,” for the coming of a world without want and war. Gracefully and compellingly written, this book represents a new departure in Edwards studies, revising the long-standing yet misleading stereotype of a man whose lessons of charity, community, and love we need now more than ever.
The Pequot Indian intellectual, author, and itinerant preacher William Apess (1798–1839) was one the most important voices of the nineteenth century. Here, Philip F. Gura offers the first book-length chronicle of Apess's fascinating and consequential life. After an impoverished childhood marked by abuse, Apess soldiered with American troops during the War of 1812, converted to Methodism, and rose to fame as a lecturer who lifted a powerful voice of protest against the plight of Native Americans in New England and beyond. His 1829 autobiography, A Son of the Forest, stands as the first published by a Native American writer. Placing Apess's activism on behalf of Native American people in the context of the era's rising tide of abolitionism, Gura argues that this founding figure of Native intellectual history deserves greater recognition in the pantheon of antebellum reformers. Following Apess from his early life through the development of his political radicalism to his tragic early death and enduring legacy, this much-needed biography showcases the accomplishments of an extraordinary Native American.
Documents and Oral Histories of Native New England Whaling History
Native Americans along the coasts of southern New England and Long Island have had close ties to whales for thousands of years. They made a living from the sea and saw in the world’s largest beings special power and meaning. After English settlement in the early seventeenth century, the region’s natural bounty of these creatures drew Natives and colonists alike to develop whale hunting on an industrial scale. By the nineteenth century, New England dominated the world in whaling, and Native Americans contributed substantially to whaleship crews. In Living with Whales, Nancy Shoemaker reconstructs the history of Native whaling in New England through a diversity of primary documents: explorers’ descriptions of their “first encounters,” indentures, deeds, merchants’ accounts, Indian overseer reports, crew lists, memoirs, obituaries, and excerpts from journals kept by Native whalemen on their voyages. These materials span the centuries-long rise and fall of the American whalefishery and give insight into the far-reaching impact of whaling on Native North American communities. One chapter even follows a Pequot Native to New Zealand, where many of his Maori descendants still reside today. Whaling has left behind a legacy of ambivalent emotions. In oral histories included in this volume, descendants of Wampanoag and Shinnecock whalemen reflect on how whales, whaling, and the ocean were vital to the survival of coastal Native communities in the Northeast, but at great cost to human life, family life, whales, and the ocean environment.
War, Death, and Memory in Borderland New England
In May 1725, during a three-year conflict between English colonists and the Eastern Abenaki Nation, a thirty-four-man expedition led by Captain John Lovewell set out to ambush their adversaries, acquire some scalp bounties, and hasten the end of the war. Instead, the Abenakis staged a surprise attack of their own at Pigwacket, Maine, that left more than a third of the New Englanders dead or severely wounded. Although Lovewell himself was slain in the fighting, he emerged a martyred hero, celebrated in popular memory for standing his ground against a superior enemy force. In this book, Robert E. Cray revisits the clash known as “Lovewell’s Fight” and uses it to illuminate the themes of war, death, and memory in early New England. He shows how a military operation plagued from the outset by poor decision-making, and further marred by less-than-heroic battlefield behavior, came to be remembered as early America’s version of the Alamo. The government of Massachusetts bestowed payouts, pensions, and land on survivors and widows of the battle, while early chroniclers drafted a master narrative for later generations to emboss. William Henry Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau kept the story alive for later generations. Although some nineteenth-century New Englanders disapproved of Lovewell’s notoriety as a scalp hunter, it did not prevent the dedication of a monument in his honor at the Fryeburg, Maine, battlesite in 1904. Even as the actual story of “Lovewell’s Fight” receded into obscurity—a bloody skirmish in a largely forgotten war—it remained part of New England lore, one of those rare military encounters in which defeat transcends an opponent’s victory to assume the mantle of legend.
An Irish-American Memoir
As the title indicates, this memoir is an act of map making, of plotting out overlapping territories—topographical, temporal, and psychological. Centered on family life in a Massachusetts town from the 1920s to the 1960s, the author’s investigation extends outward to include the Boston area from colonial times to the recent past, encounters with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and with Harvard College, the American Civil War, and Ireland and Germany in the nineteenth century.Charles Fanning re-creates the landscape of childhood and adolescence in a place and time both ordinary and rich with possibility. An expert on Irish immigration, he was born and raised in Norwood, Massachusetts, twelve miles outside of Boston, where Yankee and Irish cultures bumped against each other. The narrative traces his personal growth, shaped by family, school, baseball, radio drama, and art. He was the first in his family to attend college, and the book ends with his undergraduate experience at Harvard, class of 1964.Along with this coming-of-age story, Mapping Norwood features forays back in time, including chapters on each of Fanning’s parents and historical excavations and meditations on three ancestors. Guided by his own experience as a scholar, the pressure of these chapters is epistemological—the thrill of the hunt toward knowing. Fanning’s great-grandfather, John Fanning, disappeared from the family in the late 1880s, and a chapter chronicles the discovery of “Walking John’s” fifty years of hidden later life in East St. Louis, Illinois, where he died alone in 1946. Fanning’s great-great-grandfather, Winslow Radcliffe, was a veteran of the 35th Massachusetts Infantry in the Civil War, and the author traces this regiment through the horrors of Antietam and Fredericksburg, by means of diaries and letters by four men from Winslow’s company. The evidence gleaned helps explain Winslow’s suicide after the war. An Irish immigrant ancestor, Phillip Fanning, came to Boston from County Monaghan just after the Great Famine of the late 1840s. Relying on historical research, Fanning imagines vividly the lives led by Phillip’s family and thousands like them in the wake of Ireland’s nineteenth-century catastrophe.
Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race
In the nineteenth century, nearly all Native American men living along the southern New England coast made their living traveling the world's oceans on whaleships. Many were career whalemen, spending twenty years or more at sea. Their labor invigorated economically depressed reservations with vital income and led to complex and surprising connections with other Indigenous peoples, from the islands of the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. At home, aboard ship, or around the world, Native American seafarers found themselves in a variety of situations, each with distinct racial expectations about who was "Indian" and how "Indians" behaved. Treated by their white neighbors as degraded dependents incapable of taking care of themselves, Native New Englanders nevertheless rose to positions of command at sea. They thereby complicated myths of exploration and expansion that depicted cultural encounters as the meeting of two peoples, whites and Indians.
Highlighting the shifting racial ideologies that shaped the lives of these whalemen, Nancy Shoemaker shows how the category of "Indian" was as fluid as the whalemen were mobile.