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A Social History of the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded
During much of the twentieth century, people labeled “feeble-minded,” “mentally deficient,” and “mentally retarded” were often confined in large, publicly funded, residential institutions located on the edges of small towns and villages some distance from major population centers. At the peak of their development in the late 1960s, these institutions—frequently called “schools” or “homes”—housed 190,000 men, women, and children in the United States. The Girls and Boys of Belchertown offers the first detailed history of an American public institution for intellectually disabled persons. Robert Hornick recounts the story of the Belchertown State School in Belchertown, Massachusetts, from its beginnings in the 1920s to its closure in the 1990s following a scandalous exposé and unprecedented court case that put the institution under direct supervision of a federal judge. He draws on personal interviews, private letters, and other unpublished sources as well as local newspapers, long out-of-print materials, and government reports to re-create what it was like to live and work at the school. More broadly, he gauges the impact of changing social attitudes toward intellectual disability and examines the relationship that developed over time between the school and the town where it was located. What emerges is a candid and complex portrait of the Belchertown State School that neither vilifies those in charge nor excuses the injustices perpetrated on its residents, but makes clear that despite the court-ordered reforms of its final decades, the institution needed to be closed.
An abandoned girl, a savaged heart, a fatal hit and run—the thirteen stories in this powerful collection explore the scattered wreckage of life’s survivors. The characters in Girls in Trouble struggle to overcome loss and find their way through a world of desire and menace, redemption and error. Normalcy, a state always just beyond reach, glitters and beckons, impelling them forward. A relationship disintegrates while a pot of crabs boils. A man vows to end his destructive lifestyle before it ruins his family and future. A young woman fights to free herself from the weight of an unwanted inheritance. A girl finds herself lost in the storm of her parent’s break up. These stories crackle and sing with an urgency and longing that lingers long after the last page is read.
How Politicians Cracked Down on Scientists as the Earth Heated Up
Global warming is the number one environmental issue of our time, yet some prominent politicians have refused to accept scientific evidence of human responsibility and have opposed any legislation or international agreement that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. A few have gone even further and have tried to destroy the reputations of scientists researching climate change by deliberately undermining the credibility of their research. These politicians have sought to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the public and to weaken public and political support for the control of fossil fuel use. In this powerful book, highly respected climate scientist Raymond Bradley provides the inside story from the front lines of the debate. In clear and direct language, he describes the tactics those in power have used to intimidate him and his colleagues part of a larger pattern of governmental suppression of scientific information, politics at the expense of empirically based discourse. Speaking from his experience, Bradley exposes the fault lines in the global warming debate, while providing a concise primer on climate change. The result is a cautionary tale of how politics and science can become fatally intertwined, written by one scientist who was unwittingly ensnared in a web of political intimidation.
This distinctive collection introduces a new type of mythmaking, daring in its marriage of fairy tale tropes with American mundanities. Conspiratorial, Goodbye, Flicker describes the interior life of a girl whose prince is a deadbeat dad and whose escape into a fantasy world is also an escape into language, beauty, and the surreal.
A Design History
Graceland Cemetery in Chicago was founded in 1860 and developed over several decades by a series of landscape gardeners whose reputations today figure among the most important in the field. An exemplar of the rural cemetery type, Graceland was Chicago’s answer to its eastern counterparts, Mount Auburn in Cambridge and Laurel Hill in Philadelphia. While the initial layout of the cemetery was the work of William Saunders, designer of Laurel Hill, the cemetery is most often associated with a later style of design that featured exclusive use of native plants. Graceland was considered one of the most perfect expressions of this design approach, hailed as the most “modern” cemetery in existence and “the admiration of the world.” In this book, Christopher Vernon carefully recovers the history of Graceland and the many hands that helped to shape its influential layout. Following Saunders’s work, a succession of individuals contributed to the long evolution of Graceland’s landscape, including H. W. S. Cleveland, William Le Baron Jenney, and O. C. Simonds. In recent years, renewed interest in native plants and principles associated with the Prairie School of landscape design has led to a focus on Simonds’s contributions. While Vernon discusses Simonds’s work, he also considers the work of the cemetery’s other designers. Known as the “Cemetery of Architects” because so many notable ones are buried there, Graceland remains a heavily visited attraction. This richly illustrated book helps readers understand how the influential and still beautiful landscape was developed over many generations, casting new light on the careers of several important landscape architects.
A History of the First Campaign in Massachusetts to Eradicate the Gypsy Moth, 1890-1901
In The Great Gypsy Moth War, Robert J. Spear presents the untold story behind the importation and release of the gypsy moth in North America and the astonishing series of coincidences that brought the state of Massachusetts to a decade-long war against this tenacious insect. Spear traces the events leading up to the beginning of the war in 1890, notes the causes for its failure, and shows the terrible legacy it left as the precedent for all subsequent insect-eradication campaigns. During the Civil War, when the supply of cotton from southern fields was disrupted, the owners of northern textile mills looked elsewhere for raw fiber. One source was silk. Among those experimenting with silkworm production was a Frenchman named Etienne Leopold Trouvelot, who had settled outside of Boston. It was Trouvelot who imported the gypsy moths and inadvertently allowed them to escape. Soon the invasion was on and a counteroffensive was required. Spear reveals the turbulent undercurrents in the eradication campaign when the enthusiasm of the entomologists in charge turned into desperation upon the discovery that their alien adversary was much tougher than they thought. Fighting a war they could not win and dared not lose, the leaders of the campaign resorted to political maneuvering, cheap tricks, and outright misrepresentation to maintain a façade of success, urging the Commonwealth to continue funding the war long after any chance of victory had faded. More than just reviewing the important events of this historic episode, Spear tells the story in an engaging way, often through the first-hand accounts of those who were directly involved. Much of what Spear has written is new, the recounting is lively, and the information he presents shows that almost all of the previous beliefs about the campaign to eradicate the gypsy moths are myths. In the process, he also traces the rise of modern economic entomology and the birth of the pesticide industry.
The long era of liberal reform that began with the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century and continued with the New Deal, culminated in the 1960s with Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Inspired by the example of his mentor, Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson sought to extend the agenda of the New Deal beyond the realm of economic security to civil rights, housing, education, and health care. In the end, however, his bold ambitions for a Great Society, initiated against the backdrop of an increasingly costly and divisive war, fueled a conservative backlash and undermined faith in liberalism itself. In this volume of original essays, a distinguished group of scholars and activists reassess the mixed legacy of this third major reform period of the last century. They examine not only the policies and programs that were part of LBJ's Great Society, but also the underlying ideological and political shifts that changed the nature of liberalism. Some of the essays focus on Lyndon Johnson himself and the institution of the modern presidency, others on specific reform measures, and still others on the impact of these initiatives in the decades that followed. Perspectives, methodologies, and conclusions differ, yet all of the contributors agree that the Great Society represented an important chapter in the story of the American republic and its ongoing struggle to reconcile the power of the state with the rights of individuals—a struggle that has continued into the twenty-first century. In addition to the editors, contributors include Henry J. Abraham, Brian Balogh, Rosalyn Baxandall, Edward Berkowitz, Eileen Boris, Richard A. Cloward, Hugh Davis Graham, Hugh Heclo, Frederick Hess, William E. Leuchtenburg, Nelson Lichtenstein, Patrick McGuinn, Wilson Carey McWilliams, R. Shep Melnick, Frances Fox Piven, and David M. Shribman.
In the fall of 1967, Carol McEldowney, a twenty-four-year-old community organizer living in Cleveland, embarked on a remarkable journey. In a climate of growing domestic unrest and international turmoil, she traveled illegally to North Vietnam with fellow members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to meet the enemy face-to-face. She was determined to understand the foe that had troubled America's leaders in Washington since the end of World War II. With an eye toward history and a recognition of the significance of her journey, McEldowney documented her experiences in the journal reproduced in this book. Through her words we bear witness to a political ideology that saw a connection between the struggles of the poor in America and the tragedy of war-torn Vietnam. McEldowney first gained the respect of her fellow activists as a student organizer at the University of Michigan. High regard for her intelligence, skill, and hard work with SDS's Economic Recovery Action Program during the years following her graduation in 1964 earned her an invitation to attend an international conference in Czechoslovakia and an offer to continue on to North Vietnam. Though her journal displays only traces of the feminist consciousness that would mark her later political activism, she recorded her observations of North Vietnam clearly aware that she was an outsider—a woman not subject to the military draft, not married to a soldier, and without the heartache of a brother or even a close friend serving in the war. McEldowney searched for glimpses of everyday life that would help her to better relate to women in Hanoi and the hardships they faced during wartime. As she traveled in North Vietnam, she sought a deeper understanding of the events of her time. Her journal provides readers with a unique lens through which to study those events and gain a new perspective on the Vietnam War era.
A Cultural Biography
Harriet Hosmer (1830–1908) was celebrated as one of the country's most respected artists, credited with opening the field of sculpture to women and cited as a model of female ability and American refinement. In this biographical study, Kate Culkin explores Hosmer's life and work and places her in the context of a notable group of expatriate writers and artists who gathered in Rome in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1852 Hosmer moved from Boston to Rome, where she shared a house with actress Charlotte Cushman and soon formed close friendships with such prominent expatriates as Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and fellow sculptors John Gibson, Emma Stebbins, and William Wetmore Story. References to Hosmer or characters inspired by her appear in the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Kate Field among others. Culkin argues that Hosmer's success was made possible by her extensive network of supporters, including her famous friends, boosters of American gentility, and women's rights advocates. This unlikely coalition, along with her talent, ambition, and careful maintenance of her public profile, ultimately brought her great acclaim. Culkin also addresses Hosmer's critique of women's position in nineteenth-century culture through her sculpture, women's rights advocates' use of high art to promote their cause, the role Hosmer's relationships with women played in her life and success, and the complex position a female artist occupied within a country increasingly interested in proving its gentility.
Throughout this collection, which was plucked from a pile of 300 manuscripts and awarded the Grace Paley Prize in short fiction, Caspers details the many ways reality can interfere with our dreams. Not surprisingly, dissatisfaction becomes a dominant theme. . . . Many of Caspers's stories are set in Minnesota's cattle and dairy country, and all of them traffic in the kind of Midwestern realism that doesn't rely on pyrotechnics to generate dramatic heat. Throughout, Caspers's people—it's difficult to consider some of them mere characters—question the decisions they've made or the ones they refuse to make. There's nothing flashy about Caspers's prose; like the beauty of the prairie itself, its attraction lies in details seen up close.New York Times Book Review