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Ab Imperio

2000, no. 1 through current issue

Ab Imperio Quarterly is an international humanities and social sciences peer-reviewed journal dedicated to studies in new imperial history and the interdisciplinary and comparative study of nationalism and nationalities in the post-Soviet space. The journal has been published since June 2000, four times a year. The languages of publication are English and Russian with summaries, respectively, in Russian and English. Ab Imperio pursues a policy of thematic issues within annual programs. Ab Imperio serves as an international forum for scholars reflecting on historical and contemporary encounters with diversity in composite societies.

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Abandoned

Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City

Julie Miller

Two interesting items:
The author's article in New York Archives
A letter regarding foundlings in The Riverdale Press

In the nineteenth century, foundlings—children abandoned by their desperately poor, typically unmarried mothers, usually shortly after birth—were commonplace in European society. There were asylums in every major city to house abandoned babies, and writers made them the heroes of their fiction, most notably Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. In American cities before the Civil War the situation was different, with foundlings relegated to the poorhouse instead of institutions designed specifically for their care. By the eve of the Civil War, New York City in particular had an epidemic of foundlings on its hands due to the rapid and often interlinked phenomena of urban development, population growth, immigration, and mass poverty. Only then did the city's leaders begin to worry about the welfare and future of its abandoned children.

In Abandoned, Julie Miller offers a fascinating, frustrating, and often heartbreaking history of a once devastating, now forgotten social problem that wracked America's biggest metropolis, New York City. Filled with anecdotes and personal stories, Miller traces the shift in attitudes toward foundlings from ignorance, apathy, and sometimes pity for the children and their mothers to that of recognition of the problem as a sign of urban moral decline and in need of systematic intervention. Assistance came from public officials and religious reformers who constructed four institutions: the Nursery and Child's Hospital's foundling asylum, the New York Infant Asylum, the New York Foundling Asylum, and the public Infant Hospital, located on Randall's Island in the East River.

Ultimately, the foundling asylums were unable to significantly improve children's lives, and by the early twentieth century, three out of the four foundling asylums had closed, as adoption took the place of abandonment and foster care took the place of institutions. Today the word foundling has been largely forgotten. Fortunately, Abandoned rescues its history from obscurity.

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Abiding by Sri Lanka

On Peace, Place, and Postcoloniality

Qadri Ismail

The lack of peace in Sri Lanka is commonly portrayed as a consequence of a violent, ethnonationalist conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. Viewed in this light, resolution could be attained through conflict management. But, as Qadri Ismail reveals, this is too simplistic an understanding and cannot produce lasting peace. 

Abiding by Sri Lanka examines how the disciplines of anthropology, history, and literature treat the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. Anthropology, Ismail contends, approaches Sri Lanka as an object from an “outside” and western point of view. History, addressing the conflict from the “inside,” abides by the place and so promotes change that is nationalist and exclusive. Neither of these fields imagines an inclusive community. Literature, Ismail argues, can. 

With close readings of texts that “abide” by Sri Lanka, texts that have a commitment to it, Ismail demonstrates that the problems in Sri Lanka raise fundamental concerns for us all regarding the relationship between democracies and minorities. Recognizing the structural as well as political tendencies of representative democracies to suppress minorities, Ismail rethinks democracy by redefining the concept of the minority perspective, not as a subject-position of numerical insignificance, but as a conceptual space that opens up the possibility for distinction without domination and, ultimately, peace. 

Qadri Ismail is associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. He has also been a journalist in Sri Lanka.

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The Abolition of Slavery in Ottoman Tunisia

Ismael M. Montana

In this groundbreaking work, Ismael Montana fully explicates the complexity of Tunisian society and culture and reveals how abolition was able to occur in an environment hostile to such change. Moving beyond typical slave trade studies, he departs from the traditional regional paradigms that isolate slavery in North Africa from its global dynamics to examine the trans-Saharan slave trade in a broader historical context. The result is a study that reveals how European capitalism, political pressure, and evolving social dynamics throughout the western Mediterranean region helped shape this seismic cultural event.

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Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic

Derek R. Peterson

The abolition of the slave trade is normally understood to be the singular achievement of eighteenth-century British liberalism. Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic expands both the temporal and the geographic framework in which the history of abolitionism is conceived. Abolitionism was a theater in which a variety of actors—slaves, African rulers, Caribbean planters, working-class radicals, British evangelicals, African political entrepreneurs—played a part. The Atlantic was an echo chamber, in which abolitionist symbols, ideas, and evidence were generated from a variety of vantage points. These
essays highlight the range of political and moral projects in which the advocates of abolitionism were engaged, and in so doing it joins together geographies that are normally studied in isolation. Where empires are often understood to involve the government of one people over another, Abolitionism and Imperialism shows that British values were formed, debated, and remade in the space of empire. Africans were not simply objects of British liberals’ benevolence. They played an active role in shaping, and extending, the values that Britain now regards as part of its national character. This book is therefore a contribution to the larger scholarship about the nature of modern empires.

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An Abolitionist Abroad

Sarah Parker Remond in Cosmopolitan Europe

Sirpa Salenius

Sarah Parker Remond (1826--1894) left the free black community of Salem, Massachusetts, where she was born, to become one of the first women to travel on extensive lecture tours across the United Kingdom. Remond eventually moved to Florence, Italy, where she earned a degree at one of Europe's most prestigious medical schools. Her language skills enabled her to join elite salons in Florence and Rome, where she entertained high society with musical soirees even while maintaining connections to European emancipation movements.

Remond's extensive travels and diverse acquaintances demonstrate that the nineteenth-century grand tour of Europe was not exclusively the privilege of white intellectuals but included African American travelers, among them women. This biography, based on international archival research, tells the fascinating story of how Remond forged a radical path, establishing relationships with fellow activists, artists, and intellectuals across Europe.

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Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War

James Brewer Stewart

Before the Civil War, slaveholders made themselves into the most powerful, most deeply rooted, and best organized private interest group within the United States. Not only did slavery represent the national economy's second largest capital investment, exceeded only by investment in real estate, but guarantees of its perpetuation were studded throughout the U.S. Constitution. The vast majority of white Americans, in North and South, accepted the institution, and pro-slavery presidents and congressmen consistently promoted its interests. In Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War, James Brewer Stewart explains how a small group of radical activists, the abolitionist movement, played a pivotal role in turning American politics against this formidable system. He examines what influence the movement had in creating the political crises that led to civil war and evaluates the extent to which a small number of zealous reformers made a truly significant political difference when demanding that their nation face up to its most excruciating moral problem. In making these assessments, Stewart addresses a series of more specific questions: What were the abolitionists actually up against when seeking the overthrow of slavery and white supremacy? What motivated and sustained them during their long and difficult struggles? What larger historical contexts (religious, social, economic, cultural, and political) influenced their choices and determined their behavior? What roles did extraordinary leaders play in shaping the movement, and what were the contributions of abolitionism's unheralded “foot soldiers”? What factors ultimately determined, for better or worse, the abolitionists' impact on American politics and the realization of their equalitarian goals?

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The Abolitionists and the South, 1831-1861

Stanley Harrold

Within the American antislavery movement, abolitionists were distinct from others in the movement in advocating, on the basis of moral principle, the immediate emancipation of slaves and equal rights for black people. Instead of focusing on the "immediatists" as products of northern culture, as many previous historians have done, Stanley Harrold examines their involvement with antislavery action in the South--particularly in the region that bordered the free states. How, he asks, did antislavery action in the South help shape abolitionist beliefs and policies in the period leading up to the Civil War? Harrold explores the interaction of northern abolitionist, southern white emancipators, and southern black liberators in fostering a continuing antislavery focus on the South, and integrates southern antislavery action into an understanding of abolitionist reform culture. He discusses the impact of abolitionist missionaries, who preached an antislavery gospel to the enslaved as well as to the free. Harrold also offers an assessment of the impact of such activities on the coming of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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Abolitionists, Doctors, Ranchers, and Writers

A Family Journey through American History

In Abolitionists, Doctors, Ranchers, and Writers: A Family Journey through American History, historian Lynne Getz skillfully brings to life the extended Wattles-Faunce-Wetherill family. She adeptly showcases the ideas and experiences of three generations to reveal broad forces at work in nineteenth-century American life and details one family’s encounters with antebellum antislavery and women’s rights activism, the Civil War, women’s lives and labor in and outside of the home, and the American West.

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Abolitionists Remember

Antislavery Autobiographies and the Unfinished Work of Emancipation

Julie Roy Jeffrey

In ###Abolitionists Remember#, Julie Roy Jeffrey illuminates a second, little-noted antislavery struggle as abolitionists in the postwar period attempted to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. In the rush to mend fences after the Civil War, the memory of the past faded and turned romantic--slaves became quaint, owners kindly, and the war itself a noble struggle for the Union. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as Laura Haviland, Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans in an era of growing racism, Jim Crow, and the Ku Klux Klan. These abolitionists, who went to great lengths to get their accounts published, challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day. Jeffrey illuminates a second, little-noted battle over slavery: the postwar struggle of abolitionists to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. In the rush to mend fences after the Civil War, the memory of the past faded and turned romantic--slaves became quaint, owners kindly, and the war itself a noble struggle for the Union. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as John Quincy Adams, Frederick Douglass, Henry Stanton, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans in an era of growing racism, Jim Crow, and the Ku Klux Klan. These abolitionists challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day. Julie Roy Jeffrey illuminates a second antislavery struggle as abolitionists in the postwar period attempted to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as Laura Haviland, Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans. These abolitionists, who went to great lengths to get their accounts published, challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day. In ###Abolitionists Remember#, Julie Roy Jeffrey illuminates a second, little-noted antislavery struggle as abolitionists in the postwar period attempted to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. In the rush to mend fences after the Civil War, the memory of the past faded and turned romantic--slaves became quaint, owners kindly, and the war itself a noble struggle for the Union. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as Laura Haviland, Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans in an era of growing racism, Jim Crow, and the Ku Klux Klan. These abolitionists, who went to great lengths to get their accounts published, challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day.

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