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acknowledgments Writing a book is an exercise in patience and stamina. I am fortunate to have benefited along this path from the support of family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and institutions. I thank the Rutgers Center for Race and Ethnicity and the McKnight Foundation for fellowships that provided valuable research and writing time. I am also grateful to the Council for Research and Creativity at Florida State University for a first-year assistant professor award, a research planning grant, and a summer writing grant that gave the space necessary for me to complete this book. This book has taken me to countless archives in search of “nuggets of truth.” I am particularly thankful for the help offered by librarians and archivists at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Louisiana State Archives, the Louisiana State Museum Historical Division (Old U.S. Mint), the New Orleans Public Library, the Amistad Research Center, the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Newberry Library, the Carter G. Woodson Library, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, the Hill Memorial Library at Louisiana State University, the McCain Library at the University of Southern Mississippi, the Arthur Capps Library at Delta State University, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Library of Congress. I am especially indebted to archivists at the Hogan Blues Archive at Tulane University. They reached deep into their stacks for obscure recordings by well-known ix x acknowledgments and virtually anonymous singers. These recordings provide the backbone of this book. Even songs whose lyrics were too muffled to make out from the old-school LPs and could not otherwise be tracked down contributed to my argument that the blues archive represents a crucial theoretical and material framework for the 1927 Mississippi River Flood. The existence of these songs shows how much of a watershed event the disaster was in the imagination of blues singers. This book has benefited significantly from opportunities for me to present at conferences and works-in-progress sessions over the past decade. Valuable feedback from audiences and co-panelists at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in Milwaukee and the Society for the History of Technology in Amsterdam helped me think through ideas around race and technology. I am especially indebted to organizers of the first Workshop for the History of Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Science (WHEATS) held at MIT. I am also grateful for the opportunity to present parts of the book and engage scholars at the Medical History Society of New Jersey, the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Working Group in African American History and the Health and Social Sciences at Columbia University, the Symposium on Civil Rights and the Body in the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Georgia (WHEATS) workshop, the History of Science Department at the University of Oklahoma, the Workshop on Energy, Urban History, and Environment at the University of Houston, and the Department of History at the University of South Carolina. I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Jason Weidemann and the editorial staff at the University of Minnesota Press. Jason supported the many intricacies and oddities of my project from the very beginning and provided valuable and critical feedback. I thank Danielle Kasprzak for quickly and enthusiastically answering every question I had about the publishing process. At Rutgers University I benefited from the training and mentorship of Keith Wailoo, who pushed me to always “cast a wide net” in my formulation of history. Wailoo fostered and promoted my intellectual curiosity into other disciplines and fields and helped me to see the strategic importance of different kinds of texts and “ways of knowing” when writing about what is acknowledgments xi not easily accessible. I marvel at his unique ability to weave complicated ideas and arguments together in histories that are both necessarily broad and intricately detailed, and I am thankful for his continued professional and scholarly advice. Mia Bay and Julie Livingston read multiple drafts of chapters and have been constant advocates for me over the years, while Neil Maher helped me think through what were, at the time, foreign ideas of environmental history. Many others at Rutgers were supportive of my research and provided outstanding mentorship. I thank Deborah Gray White, Christopher Leslie Brown, Herman Bennett, David Levering Lewis, Jennifer Morgan, Stephen Lawson, Nancy Hewitt, Allison Isenberg, Paul Clemons, Carolyn Brown, Kim Butler, Ann...


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