Journal of Social History

Journal of Social History
Volume 37, Number 3, Spring 2004

CONTENTS

    Schwartzberg, Beverly.
  • "Lots of Them Did That": Desertion, Bigamy, and Marital Fluidity in Late-Nineteenth-Century America
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    Subjects:
    • Marriage law -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    • Bigamy -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    • Women -- United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
    • Women -- United States -- Economic conditions -- 19th century.
    Abstract:
      Although marriage was invested with significant personal, ideological, economic, legal, and political importance in late-nineteenth-century America, its endings and beginnings could be more fluid than the law suggested. This study of "contesting widow" applications, where two wives applied for a single soldier's pension, in Civil War pension files demonstrates these fluid marriage patterns among working-class couples. Some couples separated, and other individuals abandoned or deserted spouses. Short-term temporary separations sometimes lasted lifetimes. Many times the husbands and wives from these informal divorces married others, becoming bigamists. Their bigamous remarriages, however, showed fundamental respect for the institution of marriage. The article demonstrates and illustrates the common use of alias names, the importance of geographical mobility, the practice of informal divorce and separation, the uses of deception, common understandings and uses of family law, the prevalence of bigamy and serial marriage among men and women, and the economic circumstances of abandoned wives. Pension records help reveal significant marital histories that are otherwise hidden from view.
    Battan, Jesse F.
  • "You Cannot Fix the Scarlet Letter on My Breast!": Women Reading, Writing, and Reshaping the Sexual Culture of Victorian America
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    Subject Headings:
    • Free love -- Press coverage -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    • American newspapers -- History -- 19th century.
    • Women -- United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
    Abstract:
      By the nineteenth century, privacy was increasingly valued and increasingly scarce. While some culture critics attacked the willingness of publishers to expose private experiences to public scrutiny, others viewed this as an essential weapon in the arsenal of reform. This was especially true of a group of nineteenth-century sexual radicals, the self-described "Free Lovers."In the newspapers they published, such as The Word, Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, and Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, they provided a public forum in which readers could unburden their hearts and describe in intimate detail the sexual problems they experienced. As confidants to the discontented, the editors of these newspapers published ideas and experiences not commonly found in public discourse from those who seldom saw their words in print. This in turn provided readers with a sense that the problems they faced were shared by many and gave support to those who sought to break free from the restrictions placed on their behavior by Victorian sexual ideology. By exploring the articles and the letters to the editor columns published in the Free Love press, this essay examines the ways in which these newspapers were read by exploring their impact on the sexual ideas and behaviors of "real readers."
    Ramey, Jessie.
  • The Bloody Blonde and the Marble Woman: Gender and Power in the Case of Ruth Snyder
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    Subject Headings:
    • Snyder, Ruth May, d. 1928 -- Trials, litigation, etc.
    • Trials (Murder) -- New York (State) -- History -- 20th century.
    • Women murderers -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- New York (State) -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      In 1928, the state of New York sent Ruth Snyder to the electric chair for the brutal murder of her husband. The case generated enormous publicity, turning Snyder into an overnight celebrity, and became the focus of an ongoing national debate over gender and capital punishment. Two complex, contradictory, gendered characterizations of Snyder emerged from the public discourse surrounding her case: in one, Snyder was a woman (a "Bloody Blonde''), but one who must die in the electric chair regardless of her sex. In the other characterization, Snyder was no longer a true woman at all. She was a "Marble Woman,"lacking all proper feminine emotions, a sexual aggressor who overstepped gender boundaries. Through the resulting cultural narrative, newspaper reporters, editorialists, letter writers, and popular authors grappled with the very meaning of modernity and gender roles in the 1920s, many expressing concern that women were threatening the patriarchy of family and state. By examining the debate surrounding Snyder's execution, and situating her case in historical context, this paper seeks to uncover the political work of the "Execute Her"narrative as it serves to prop up traditional gender and power hierarchies.
    Sievens, Mary Beth.
  • Divorce, Patriarchal Authority, and Masculinity: A Case from Early National Vermont
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    Subject Headings:
    • Divorce -- Law and legislation -- Vermont -- History.
    • Patriarchy -- Vermont -- History.
    • Married women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Vermont -- History.
    • Masculinity -- Vermont -- History.
    Abstract:
      This article explores the effects that divorce had on patriarchal authority within early nineteenth-century marriages by analyzing the experiences and perceptions of one Vermont man. Elias Hall's wife obtained a divorce on the ground~ of intolerable severity, as well as a sizeable alimony award. Believing the divorce and alimony award to be unjust, Hall published a pamphlet in which he provided an autobiographical sketch and detailed accounts of his marital conflict and the legal proceedings surrounding the divorce. Hall's pamphlet reveals that his marital difficulties and divorce experience were painful and disconcerting because they violated beliefs that were central to his masculine identity. The court's affirmation of his wife's charge of intolerable severity threatened Hall's sense of himself as a benevolent husband and father. The alimony award granted to his wife jeopardized Hall's ownership of his property, threatening his status as an independent producer. Finally, Hall believed that his wife's successful divorce, which he felt she obtained through fraud and manipulation, threatened his right as a citizen to a fair, impartial hearing in a court of law. Hall's pamphlet demonstrates the potential of divorce to threaten patriarchy and masculinity in very concrete ways.
    Nelson, Robert K.
  • "The Forgetfulness of Sex": Devotion and Desire in the Courtship Letters of Angelina Grimke and Theodore Dwight Weld
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    Subject Headings:
    • Grimké, Angelina Emily, 1805-1879 -- Correspondence.
    • Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895 -- Correspondence.
    • Sex role -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    • Courtship -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    • Women's rights -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    Abstract:
      In his love letters to Angelina Grimké in 1838, Theodore Dwight Weld did something one would not expect from a man courting a woman: he repeatedly desexed his fiancé in his rhetoric (and at moments even imaginatively remade her into a man) by conflating her with a male friend of his, Charles Stuart. Lacking contemporary examples of egalitarian marriages to emulate, the abolitionist couple repeatedly invoked their close homosocial friendships as models for the heterosexual marriage they hoped to build. This essay argues that this surprising feature of the abolitionist couple's courtship letters was a central element of their effort to radically reform marriage and sex. Considering conventional practices of marriage and sex foundational to male power over women in antebellum America, Weld and Grimké saw their personal romance as a site of social engineering where they might redeem both; their courtship was an opportunity to remake marriage into an feminist institution and sex into an egalitarian act they shared and enjoyed as equals. In their love letters, the spiritually minded couple labored to "forget sex"(which for them encompassed by both the inextricably connected categories of gender and sexuality) and see each other only as unsexed souls and not as sexed bodies.
    Banerjee, Swapna M.
  • Down Memory Lane: Representations of Domestic Workers in Middle Class Personal Narratives of Colonial Bengal
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    Subject Headings:
    • Domestics -- India -- Bengal -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
    • Middle class families -- India -- Bengal -- History -- 20th century.
    • Bengal (India) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      Salvaging information from the autobiographical narratives of middle-class men and women this paper explores an important aspect of employer-servant relationships in predominantly Hindu middle class families of colonial Bengal. The essay focuses on a selective sample of Bengali autobiographical writings by both the male and female members of the bhadralok population that describe the "strength"and "authority"of servants within colonial families. By juxtaposing the childhood recollections of male writers with women's experiences of personal interactions with domestic workers, the paper documents how the dominant actors viewed, constructed, and maintained employer-servant relationships on a basis of difference and "otherness"through the simultaneously nurturing and oppressive aspects of familial ties. It probes the basis of the emotionality and sentiments that turned servants into "important"actors and points out the politics that lay behind such representations. Questioning the employers' memories that mediated the representations of the domestics the paper investigates not only how domestic workers were represented but what justified a particular kind of representation by male and female writers. The attempt of the paper is to demonstrate how the employer-servant relationship acted as a site of articulating Bengali middle-class cultural identity. (190 words)
    Kelley, Sean.
  • "Mexico in His Head": Slavery and the Texas-Mexico Border, 1810-1860
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    Subject Headings:
    • Fugitive slaves -- Mexican-American Border Region -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
    • Mexican-American Border Region -- Race relations -- History -- 19th century.
    Abstract:
      The continual redrawing of the boundaries between the United States, Texas, and Mexico in the nineteenth century prompted slaves to view the border as a symbol of liberation. When the border was first fixed by treaty in 1819, enslaved Texans attached no particular significance to it because slavery was legal in both the United States and Spanish Texas. Slaves only began to associate the Mexican state with freedom in the 1820s, when national and state governments adopted a series of antislavery measures. However, because Texas was still part of Mexico, the border played no role in slave resistance. With the establishment of an independent Texas in the 1830s and with annexation to the United States in 1845, slavery was placed on a firm footing in Texas for the first time. The border soon became the focal point of slave flight and resistance. Even with the end of slavery, black Texans continued to associate Mexico with freedom and equality.
    Lang, Clarence.
  • Between Civil Rights and Black Power in the Gateway City: The Action Committee to Improve Opportunities for Negroes (ACTION), 1964-75
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    Subject Headings:
    • Black power -- Missouri -- Saint Louis -- History -- 20th century.
    • African American construction workers -- Missouri -- Saint Louis -- Political activity -- History -- 20th century.
    • African Americans -- Civil rights -- Missouri -- Saint Louis -- History -- 20th century.
    • Saint Louis (Mo.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This article discusses the origins and development of the Action Committee to Improve Opportunities for Negroes (ACTION), a protest organization based in St. Louis, Missouri. Active during the 1960s and 1970s, the group used militant, nonviolent direct action to fight for more and better black employment at the city's major firms. Exploring ACTION's evolution contributes to a revisionist narrative of the Civil Rights' struggle that foregrounds local working-class African Americans. A study of ACTION also challenges depictions of a Civil Rights agenda focused on public accommodations and the vote, and highlights the demand for economic opportunity that anchored the movement. Further, this work augments new historical interpretations framing Civil Rights and "Black Power"as cohesive political projects. Yet, this paper suggests that scholars should not commit the error of collapsing Civil Rights and Black Power as historical constructs; removing the distinguishing traits between the two effectively removes the African American experience from the fluid patterns of continuity and change that ground historical inquiry. Using ACTION as an illustration, this paper contends that Civil Rights and Black Power were neither dichotomous nor seamless, but rather discernible phases in an ongoing Black Freedom Movement.
    Taylor, David, 1946 May 10-
  • Conquering the British Ballarat: The Policing of Victorian Middlesbrough
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    Subject Headings:
    • Police -- England -- Middlesbrough -- History -- 19th century.
    • Crime -- England -- Middlesbrough -- History -- 19th century.
    • Middlesbrough (England) -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
    Abstract:
      Over the period of the reign of Queen Victoria, Middlesbrough---the British Ballarat in Asa Briggs' memorable phrase---was transformed from a rough-and-ready 'frontier' town, with high crime rates and little in the way of policing, into a relatively stable and policed community, with appreciably lower levels of both serious and petty crimes. Crime rates were not reduced significantly until the last quarter of the century, under the Black Country (for example) were the transition came in the third quarter. The 1870s and 1880s were also critical decades in the creation of a stable police force in the town. The causal links between the emergence of a 'professional' police force and the reduction in crime rates is far from straightforward. Recent interpretations have played down the contribution of the police, seeing them more as beneficiaries of wider socio-economic changes. Without ignoring the impact of the diversification of the local economy, rising working-class living standards and the spread of respectability, it is argued that the town's police force (and in particular the rank-and-file men who were most in contact with the local population) played a major role in the conquering of the British Ballarat.

Reviews

    Martin, Ann Smart, 1960-
  • The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities and Design in Early Modern Britain and Early America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Crowley, John E., 1943- Invention of comfort: sensibilities and design in early modern Britain and early America.
    • Households -- United States -- History.
    Brennan, Thomas Edward.
  • Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Warner, Jessica. Craze: gin and debauchery in an age of reason.
    • Alcoholism -- England -- History -- 18th century.
    Zuckerman, Michael J.
  • American Exceptionalism: The Effects of Plenty on the American Experience (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Gutfeld, Arnon. American exceptionalism: the effects of plenty on the American experience.
    • National characteristics, American.
    Neiberg, Michael S.
  • Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Keene, Jennifer D., 1962- Doughboys, the Great War, and the remaking of America.
    • World War, 1914-1918 -- United States.
    Schroer, Timothy.
  • GIs and Fräuleins: The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Höhn, Maria (Maria H.) GIs and Fräuleins: the German-American encounter in 1950s West Germany.
    • Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany) -- Social conditions.
    King, Michelle T.
  • Infanticide: Historical Perspectives on Child Murder and Concealment, 1550-2000 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Jackson, Mark, 1959-, ed. Infanticide: historical perspectives on child murder and concealment, 1550-2000.
    • Infanticide -- Great Britain -- History.
    Banner, Lois W.
  • Bathsheba's Breast: Women, Cancer & History (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Olson, James Stuart, 1946- Bathsheba's breast: women, cancer & history.
    • Breast -- Cancer -- History.
    Watts, S. J. (Sheldon J.)
  • Rising Life Expectancy: A Global History (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Riley, James C. Rising life expectancy: a global history.
    • Life expectancy.
    Rawski, Evelyn Sakakida.
  • Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Szonyi, Michael. Practicing kinship: lineage and descent in late imperial China.
    • Kinship -- China -- History.
    Ownby, Ted.
  • Family Men: Middle-Class Fatherhood in Early Industrializing America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Johansen, Shawn. Family men: middle-class fatherhood in early industrializing America.
    • Fatherhood -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
    Carp, E. Wayne, 1946-
  • Strangers and Kin: The American Way of Adoption (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Melosh, Barbara. Strangers and kin: the American way of adoption.
    • Adoption -- United States.
    Schneider, Eric C., 1951-
  • Tramps, Unfit Mothers, and Neglected Children: Negotiating the Family in Late Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Broder, Sherri. Tramps, unfit mothers, and neglected children: negotiating the family in late nineteenth-century Philadelphia.
    • Family social work -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 19th century.
    Stowe, Steven M., 1946-
  • All that Makes a Man (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Berry, Stephen William. All that makes a man.
    • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Social aspects.
    Sigel, Lisa Z., 1965-
  • Sex Without Consent: Rape and Sexual Coercion in America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Smith, Merril D., 1956-, ed. Sex without consent: rape and sexual coercion in America.
    • Rape -- United States -- History.
    Vandal, Gilles.
  • Race and Homicide in Nineteenth-Century California (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • McKanna, Clare V. (Clare Vernon), 1935- Race and homicide in nineteenth-century California.
    • Homicide -- California -- History -- 19th century.
    Roediger, David R.
  • Chinese Immigrants, African Americans, and Racial Anxiety in the United States 1848-82 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Aarim-Heriot, Najia. Chinese immigrants, African Americans, and racial anxiety in the United States 1848-82.
    • Chinese Americans -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
    Innes, Joanna.
  • Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Beattie, J. M. Policing and punishment in London 1660-1750: urban crime and the limits of terror.
    • Law enforcement -- England -- London -- History -- 17th century.
    Jordan, David P., 1939-
  • Paris: Capital of the World (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Higonnet, Patrice L. R. Paris: capital of the world.
    • Paris (France) -- History.
    Gordon, Bertram M., 1945-
  • Vichy and the Eternal Feminine: A Contribution to a Political Sociology of Gender (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Muel-Dreyfus, Francine, 1940- Vichy and the eternal feminine: a contribution to a political sociology of gender.
    • Johnson, Kathleen A., tr.
    • Vichy (France) -- Politics and government.
    Lamberti, Marjorie, 1937-
  • Repainting the Little Red Schoolhouse: A History of Eastern German Education, 1945-1995 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Rodden, John. Repainting the little red schoolhouse: a history of Eastern German education, 1945-1995.
    • Education -- Germany (East) -- History.
    Mires, Charlene.
  • Myth, Memory, and the Making of the American Landscape (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Shackel, Paul A., ed. Myth, memory, and the making of the American landscape.
    • Historic sites -- United States.
    Munro, Doug.
  • What Is History Now? (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Cannadine, David, 1950-, ed. What is history now?
    • History -- Philosophy.
    Schmidt, Albert J.
  • The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity: England, 1550-1850 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Kuchta, David, 1960- Three-piece suit and modern masculinity: England, 1550-1850.
    • Men's clothing -- England -- History.

Erratum




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