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The Life of Southern Journalist Cornelia Battle Lewis, 1893–1956
A longtime columnist for the Raleigh News and Observer, Cornelia Battle Lewis earned a national reputation in the 1920s and 1930s for her courageous advocacy on behalf of women’s rights, African Americans, children, and labor unions. Late in her life, however, after fighting mental illness, Lewis reversed many of her stances and railed against the liberalism she had spent her life advancing. In Battling Nell, Alexander S. Leidholdt tells the compelling and ultimately tragic life story of this groundbreaking journalist against the backdrop of the turbulent post-Reconstruction Jim Crow South and speculates about the cause of her extraordinary transformation. The daughter of North Carolina’s most prominent public health official, Lewis grew up in Raleigh, but her experiences at Smith College in Massachusetts, and later in France during World War I, led her to question the prevailing racial attitudes and gender roles of her native region. In 1920, Lewis began her storied career with the News and Observer. Inspired by H. L. Mencken’s scathing criticism of the South, she soon established herself as the region’s leading female liberal journalist. Her column, “Incidentally,” attacked the Ku Klux Klan, lobbied against the exploitation of mill workers, defended strikers during the notorious communist-organized Gastonia labor violence, mocked religious fundamentalists who fought the teaching of evolution, and decried lynch law. A suffragist and a feminist who saw women’s rights as inextricably linked to human rights, Lewis ran for state legislature in 1928 and was one of the first women in North Carolina to be admitted to the bar. In the 1930s, however, Lewis faced repeated institutionalizations for a debilitating bout of mental illness and sought treatment from Christian Science practitioners, spiritualists, and psychotherapists. As she aged, her views grew increasingly reactionary, and she insisted that she had served as a communist dupe during the Gastonia strike and trials, that communists had infiltrated the University of North Carolina, and that many of her former progressive allies had ties to communism. Finally, many of her opinions completely reversed, and in the wake of the 1954 Brown v. Board decision, she served as an influential spokesperson for the South’s massive resistance to public school desegregation. She continued to espouse these conservative beliefs until her death in 1956. In his detailed retelling of Lewis’s fascinating life, Leidholdt chronicles the turbulent history of North Carolina from the 1920s through the 1950s, as industrialization and racial integration began to tear at the region’s conservative fabric. He vividly explains the background and ramifications of Lewis’s many controversial stances and explores the possible reasons for her ideological about-face. Through the extraordinary story of “Battling Nell,” Leidholdt reveals how the complex issues of gender, labor, and race intertwined to influence the convulsive events that shaped the course of early twentieth-century southern history.
Memories of Arkansas Slavery Narratives from the 1930s WPA Collections
These oral histories were first published in the 1970s in a thirty-nine-volume series organized by state, and they transformed America's understanding of slavery. They have offered crucial evidence on a variety of other topics as well: the Civil War, Reconstruction, agricultural practices, everyday life, and oral history itself.
Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey's exposé of big business's influence on Colorado and Denver politics caused a sensation when serialized in Everybody's Magazine 1909-1910. When published as a book later in 1910, The Beast was considered every bit the equal of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Now back in print, the book reveals the plight of working-class Denver citizens - in particular, those Denver youths who ended up in Lindsey's court day after day. These encounters led him to create Denver's Juvenile Court, one of the first courts in the country set up to deal specifically with young delinquents. In addition, Lindsey exposes the darker sides of many well-known figures in Colorado history, including Mayor Robert W. Speer, industrialist and Senator Simon Guggenheim, and Denver tramway czar William Gray Evans. More than just a fascinating slice of Denver history, this book - and Lindsey's court - inspired widespread social change in the United States.
A History of Anti-Black Violence
A symbolic embodiment of racial violence and hatred, "The Beast" openly prowled the nation between the Civil War and the civil rights movement. The reasons it appeared varied, with psychological, political, and economic dynamics all playing a part, but the outcome was always brutal--if not deadly.
From the bombing of Harriette and Harry T. Moore's home on Christmas Day to Willie James Howard's murder, from the Rosewood massacre to the Newberry Six lynchings, Marvin Dunn offers an encyclopedic catalogue of The Beast's rampages in Florida. Instead of simply taking snapshots of incidents, Dunn provides context for a century's worth of racial violence by examining communities over time. Crucial insights from interviews with descendants of both perpetrators and victims shape this study of Florida’s grim racial history. Rather than pointing fingers and placing blame, The Beast in Florida allows voices and facts to speak for themselves, facilitating a conversation on the ways in which racial violence changed both black and white lives forever.
With this comprehensive and balanced look at racially motivated events, Dunn reveals the Sunshine State's too-often forgotten--or intentionally hidden--past. The result is a panorama of compelling human stories: its emergent dialogue challenges conceptions of what created and maintained The Beast.
Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South
Appalachian legend describes a mysterious, multiethnic population of exotic, dark-skinned rogues called Melungeons who rejected the outside world and lived in the remote, rugged mountains in the farthest corner of northeast Tennessee. The allegedly unknown origins of these Melungeons are part of what drove this legend and generated myriad exotic origin theories. Though nobody self-identified as Melungeon before the 1960s, by the 1990s “Melungeonness” had become a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, resulting in a zealous online community and annual meetings where self-identified Melungeons gathered to discuss shared genealogy and history. Although today Melungeons are commonly identified as the descendants of underclass whites, freed African Americans, and Native Americans, this ethnic identity is still largely a social construction based on local tradition, myth, and media.
In Becoming Melungeon, Melissa Schrift examines the ways in which the Melungeon ethnic identity has been socially constructed over time by various regional and national media, plays, and other forms of popular culture. Schrift explores how the social construction of this legend evolved into a fervent movement of a self-identified ethnicity in the 1990s. This illuminating and insightful work examines these shifting social constructions of race, ethnicity, and identity both in the local context of the Melungeons and more broadly in an attempt to understand the formation of ethnic groups and identity in the modern world.
Stories of Culture and Identity in the Cowboy State
In the Cowboy State (also known as Wyoming), the Wild West has never died. The West has long been the favored repository of the East’s cultural fantasies, and in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Eastern expectations and demands largely shaped Wyoming's image in this role. Becoming Western shows how the myth of the “American West” has acted as a force both in history and in individual lives.
Liza J. Nicholas interrogates the creation of Western lore by looking at five stories that focus on, respectively, Jack Flagg, a Wyoming legend and the supposed model for Owen Wister’s Virginian; an equestrian statue of Buffalo Bill sculpted by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney; the dude ranch; the creation of the American studies program at Yale; and a campaign for the U.S. Senate. Each story reveals the ways in which the East consciously imagined and manipulated the West and how Wyomingites in turn interpreted this identity, manipulated it, and put it to work for themselves. Becoming Western is a fascinating study of how invented traditions can become potent cultural and political ideology on a local as well as a national level.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Michigan was home to the second-largest Belgian population in the United States, and Detroit had one of the largest Belgian populations in the nation. Although immigration declined after World War I, the Belgian- American community is still prominent in the state. Political, religious, and economic conditions, including a nineteenth- century economic depression, helped motivate the move to America. Belgians brought with them the ability and willingness to innovate, as well as a tradition of hard work and devotion. The Gazette van Detroit, a Flemish-language newspaper first printed in Detroit in 1914, continues to be produced and distributed to subscribers throughout the United States and overseas. Belgian-Americans continue to incorporate traditional values with newfound American values, enabling them to forever preserve their heritage.
From Newspapers to New Media
Founded in Galveston in 1842 with the launch of the Daily News, the Belo Corporation entered the twenty-first century as a powerhouse conglomerate, owning four daily newspapers (including the Dallas Morning News), twenty-six television and cable stations, and over thirty interactive Web sites. The first comprehensive work to bring to life this remarkable success story, Belo blends biography with a history of corporate strategies. Drawing on company archives and private papers of key figures, including A. H. Belo and G. B. Dealey, former company archivist Judith Garrett Segura brings to life important chapters in the cultural life of Texas, from Galveston’s days as the largest and most vibrant town in the Republic of Texas, through the wars that followed statehood, periods of economic hardship, and the effects of sweeping social change. Turning points in the company’s history, such as the sale of its Galveston paper when company revenues were dramatically affected by candid reporting of Ku Klux Klan activities in the 1920s, highlight crucial elements of the press’s role in the life of a community. Segura also charts technological advances, from the telegraph and the typographers’ union to the dawn of the Information Age. Finally, she includes the most complete portrait of the Dallas Times Herald Company to date, documenting the rise and fall of Belo’s chief rival. This is a story of frontier survival and futuristic thinking, marketing genius and historic reporting, nurtured by a family of mavericks.
An Ethnohistory of the Utah Paiutes
Ronald Holt recounts the survival of a people against all odds. A compound of rapid white settlement of the most productive Southern Paiute homelands, especially their farmlands near tributaries of the Colorado River; conversion by and labor for the Mormon settlers; and government neglect placed the Utah Paiutes in a state of dependency that ironically culminated in the 1957 termination of their status as federally recognized Indians. That recognition and attendant services were not restored until 1980, in an act that revived the Paiutes’ identity, self-government, land ownership, and sense of possibility.
With a foreword by Lora Tom, chair of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.