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In its heyday, Thurber was home to coal miners and brick plant workers from Italy, Poland, and as many as fourteen other European nations, not to mention the many Mexican immigrants who came to the area. In this, her master’s thesis, Mary Jane Gentry, who started the first grade in Thurber and graduated as valedictorian of its high school in 1930, records first-hand memories of the town’s vibrant charm. Now edited and with an introduction by T. Lindsay Baker, Gentry’s lively history of the rise and decline of a Texas coal town provides a unique window into a bygone era. Her narrative of rancorous labor disputes, corporate machinations, and the eventual shuttering of the plants and virtual disappearance of the once-thriving town will allow Thurber to live again, if only in the minds of her readers.
New York, the Hudson Valley, and American Culture, 1790-1835
Today the idea of traveling within the United States for leisure purposes is so commonplace it is hard to imagine a time when tourism was not a staple of our cultural life. Yet as Richard H. Gassan persuasively demonstrates, at the beginning of the nineteenth century travel for leisure was strictly an aristocratic luxury beyond the means of ordinary Americans. It wasn't until the second decade of the century that the first middle-class tourists began to follow the lead of the well-to-do, making trips up the Hudson River valley north of New York City, and in a few cases beyond. At first just a trickle, by 1830 the tide of tourism had become a flood, a cultural change that signaled a profound societal shift as the United States stepped onto the road that would eventually lead to a modern consumer society. According to Gassan, the origins of American tourism in the Hudson Valley can be traced to a confluence of historical accidents, including the proximity of the region to the most rapidly growing financial and population center in the country, with its expanding middle class, and the remarkable beauty of the valley itself. But other developments also played a role, from the proliferation of hotels to accommodate tourists, to the construction of an efficient transportation network to get them to their destinations, to the creation of a set of cultural attractions that invested their experience with meaning. In the works of Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper and the paintings of Thomas Cole and others of the Hudson River School, travelers in the region encountered the nation's first literary and artistic movements. Tourism thus did more than provide an escape from the routines of everyday urban life; it also helped Americans of the early republic shape a sense of national identity.
the Idlewild community
A Political History of African Americans in Atlanta
Atlanta stands out among southern cities for many reasons, not least of which is the role African Americans have played in local politics. Black Power in Dixie offers the first comprehensive study of black politics in the city.
From Reconstruction to recent times, the middle-class black leadership in Atlanta, while often subordinating class and gender differences to forge a continuous campaign for equality, successfully maintained its mantle of racial leadership for more than a century through a deft combination of racial advocacy and collaboration with local white business and political elites.
Alton Hornsby provides an analysis of how one of the most important southern cities managed, adapted, and coped with the struggle for racial justice, examining both traditional electoral politics as well as the roles of non-elected individuals influential in the community. Highlighting the terms of Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young, the city's first two black mayors, Hornsby concludes by raising important questions about the success of black political power and whether it has translated into measurable economic power for the African American community.
Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina
In Black Rage in New Orleans, Leonard N. Moore traces the shocking history of police corruption in the Crescent City from World War II to Hurricane Katrina and the concurrent rise of a large and energized black opposition to it. In New Orleans, crime, drug abuse, and murder were commonplace, and an underpaid, inadequately staffed, and poorly trained police force frequently resorted to brutality against African Americans. Endemic corruption among police officers increased as the city’s crime rate soared, generating anger and frustration among New Orleans’s black community. Rather than remain passive, African Americans in the city formed antibrutality organizations, staged marches, held sit-ins, waged boycotts, vocalized their concerns at city council meetings, and demanded equitable treatment. Moore explores a staggering array of NOPD abuses—police homicides, sexual violence against women, racial profiling, and complicity in drug deals, prostitution rings, burglaries, protection schemes, and gun smuggling—and the increasingly vociferous calls for reform by the city’s black community. Documenting the police harassment of civil rights workers in the 1950s and 1960s, Moore then examines the aggressive policing techniques of the 1970s, and the attempts of Ernest “Dutch” Morial—the first black mayor of New Orleans—to reform the force in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even when the department hired more African American officers as part of that reform effort, Moore reveals, the corruption and brutality continued unabated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Dramatic changes in departmental leadership, together with aid from federal grants, finally helped professionalize the force and achieved long-sought improvements within the New Orleans Police Department. Community policing practices, increased training, better pay, and a raft of other reform measures for a time seemed to signal real change in the department. The book’s epilogue, “Policing Katrina,” however, looks at how the NOPD’s ineffectiveness compromised its ability to handle the greatest natural disaster in American history, suggesting that the fruits of reform may have been more temporary than lasting. The first book-length study of police brutality and African American protest in a major American city, Black Rage in New Orleans will prove essential for anyone interested in race relations in America’s urban centers.
The Assassination of Patrolman James Sackett
On May 22, 1970, responding to a bogus emergency call to help a pregnant woman, St. Paul patrolman James Sackett was killed by a sniper’s bullet fired from a high-powered rifle. The white officer’s assassination was the most shocking event in an era of shocking, racially charged events, punctuated by bombings at Dayton’s Department Store and elsewhere, police harassment and shootings of young black men, an alleged hijacking plot, and random acts of urban violence. a once peaceful, close-knit community, St. Paul’s summit-university neighborhood had reached a boiling point, heated by racism and rage. Award-winning journalist William Swanson masterfully walks the razor-edge between the grief and anger of a police force that lost one of its own and the deep-seated resentment and subsequent silence of a community that had many reasons not to trust the cops. Based on extensive interviews and archival research, Black White Blue recounts the details of one of the most extraordinary cold-case sagas in U.S. annals—a story featuring dozens of memorable characters, including a relentless “super cop,” an aggregation of conflicted informants, and a haunted woman who grew old with a terrible secret. The case culminates with the controversial trials, decades later, of Ronald Reed and Larry Clark. Black White Blue, is a powerful, true account of crime and punishment, time and memory, race, community, and personal relationships.
Though often consigned to the footnotes of history, African American women are a significant part of the rich, multiethnic heritage of Texas and the United States. Until now, though, their story has frequently been fragmented and underappreciated. Black Women in Texas History draws together a multi-author narrative of the experiences and impact of black American women from the time of slavery until the recent past. Each chapter, written by an expert on the era, provides a readable survey and overview of the lives and roles of black Texas women during that period. Each provides careful documentation, which, along with the thorough bibliography compiled by the volume editors, will provide a starting point for others wanting to build on this important topic. The authors address significant questions about population demographics, employment patterns, family and social dimensions, legal and political rights, and individual accomplishments. They look not only at how African American women have been shaped by the larger culture but also at how these women have, in turn, affected the culture and history of Texas. This work situates African American women within the context of their times and offers a due appreciation and analysis of their lives and accomplishments. Black Women in Texas History is an important addition to history and sociology curriculums as well as black studies and women’s studies programs. It will provide for interested students, scholars, and general readers a comprehensive survey of the crucial role these women played in shaping the history of the Lone Star State.
Nineteenth-Century Mississippi River Gambling Stories
In 1836 Benjamin Drake, a midwestern writer of popular sketches for newspapers of the day, introduced his readers to a new and distinctly American rascal who rode the steamboats up and down the Mississippi and other western waterways—the riverboat gambler. These men, he recorded, “dress with taste and elegance; carry gold chronometers in their pockets; and swear with the most genteel precision. . . . Every where throughout the valley, these mistletoe gentry are called by the original, if not altogether classic, cognomen of ‘Black-legs.’” In Blacklegs, Card Sharps, and Confidence Men, Thomas Ruys Smith collects nineteenth-century stories, sketches, and book excerpts by a gallery of authors to create a comprehensive collection of writings about the riverboat gambler. Long an iconic figure in American myth and popular culture but, strangely, one that has never until now received a book-length treatment, the Mississippi River gambler was a favorite character throughout the nineteenth century—one often rich with moral ambiguities that remain unresolved to this day. In the absorbing fictional and nonfictional accounts of high stakes and sudden reversals of fortune found in the pages of Smith’s book, the voices of canonized writers such as William Dean Howells, Herman Melville, and, of course, Mark Twain hold prominent positions. But they mingle seamlessly with lesser-known pieces such as an excerpt from Edward Willett’s sensationalistic dime novel Flush Fred’s Full Hand, raucous sketches by anonymous Old Southwestern humorists from the Spirit of the Times, and colorful accounts by now nearly forgotten authors such as Daniel R. Hundley and George W. Featherstonhaugh. Smith puts the twenty-eight selections in perspective with an Introduction that thoroughly explores the history and myth surrounding this endlessly fascinating American cultural icon. While the riverboat gambler may no longer ply his trade along the Mississippi, Blacklegs, Card Sharps, and Confidence Men makes clear the ways in which he still operates quite successfully in the American imagination.
A History of Violence in Appalachia
To many antebellum Americans, Appalachia was a frightening wilderness of lawlessness, peril, robbers, and hidden dangers. The extensive media coverage of horse stealing and scalping raids profiled the region’s residents as intrinsically violent. After the Civil War, this characterization continued to permeate perceptions of the area and news of the conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys, as well as the bloodshed associated with the coal labor strikes, cemented Appalachia’s violent reputation. Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia provides an in-depth historical analysis of hostility in the region from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Editor Bruce E. Stewart discusses aspects of the Appalachian violence culture, examining skirmishes with the native population, conflicts resulting from the region’s rapid modernization, and violence as a function of social control. The contributors also address geographical isolation and ethnicity, kinship, gender, class, and race with the purpose of shedding light on an often-stereotyped regional past. Blood in the Hills does not attempt to apologize for the region but uses detailed research and analysis to explain it, delving into the social and political factors that have defined Appalachia throughout its violent history.
The Mythology of a Gunfighter, Second Edition
William Preston “Bill” Longley (1851-1878), though born into a strong Christian family, turned bad during Reconstruction in Texas, much like other young boys of that time, including the deadly John Wesley Hardin. He went on a murderous rampage over the last few years of his life, shotgunning Wilson Anderson in retribution for Anderson’s killing of a relative; killing George Thomas in McLennan County; and shooting William “Lou” Shroyer in a running gunfight. Longley even killed the Reverend William R. Lay while Lay was milking a cow. Once he was arrested in 1877, and subsequently sentenced to hang, his name became known statewide as an outlaw and a murderer. Through a series of “autobiographical” letters written from jail while awaiting the hangman, Longley created and reveled in his self-centered image as a fearsome, deadly gunfighter—the equal, if not the superior, of the vaunted Hardin. Declaring himself the “worst outlaw” in Texas, the story that he created became the basis for his historical legacy, unfortunately relied on and repeated over and over by previous biographers, but all wrong. In truth, Bill Longley was not the daring figure that he attempted to paint. Rick Miller’s thorough research shows that he was, instead, a braggart who exaggerated greatly his feats as a gunman. The murders that could be credited to him were generally nothing more than cowardly assassinations. Bloody Bill Longley was first published in a limited edition in 1996. Miller separates fact from fancy, attempting to prove or disprove Longley’s many claims of bloodshed. Since the time of the first edition, diligent research has located and identified the outlaw’s body, the absence of which was a longstanding myth in itself. This revised edition includes that part of the Longley story, as well as several new items of information that have since come to light.