In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

140 Canadian Review of American Studies At the time of his death in 1937, Haynes could look back on an extraordinarily active and successful career as a reformer. This biography is an invaluable guide to that career, though somewhat less helpful as a reflection on its meaning. Students of the Progressive Era will find in it much to reflect on in their attempt to make sense of that elusive era. Keith Cassidy University of Guelph •••••• Thomas J. Jablonsky. Pride in the Jungle: Community and Everyday Life in Back of the Yards Chicago. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. The Back of the Yards area of Chicago is perhaps the most studied neighbourhood in the United States. Beginning with the establishment of the University of Chicago Settlement House in the 1890s, this working-class community has served as the premiere "urban laboratory" for generations of social scientists, writers, and activists. Raised to national importance in 1906by Upton Sinclair's scathing expose, The Jungle, Packingtown gradually receded from attention following World War II as the stockyards closed and the neighbourhood lost its traditional, white ethnic identity. Recently, however, it has again become the subject of intense investigation, giving us a compelling portrait of work and community in the industrial city. Books by Louise Wade, James Barrett, Robert Slayton, Dominic Pacyga, and Thomas Jablonsky have looked backwards from Sinclair's classic to the Civil War origins of the Yards, and forward to the postwar era of Saul Alinsky and community organizing. Pride in the Jungle contributes to this reevaluation of Packingtown by drawing a finely detailed picture of daily life in the south-side neighbourhood during the twenties and thirties. Drawing upon oral interviews, Jablonsky records the "spatial behavior" of residents in order to create a social geography of the community. "The Americanization of the Back of the Yards," he posits, "involved spatial as well as social, cultural, economic, and political acculturation" (xiv). Reflecting this geographic perspective, the book is organized in a series of chapters that radiate outward from the home to the block, the neighbourhood, and the larger urban context of the community. Jablonsky, a native son, strives BookReviews 141 to show how the routines of everyday life created a sense of pride in, and identity with, a place. It was this sense of place which turned a disordered slum into a multiethnic community. The formation of the Alinsky-inspired Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council in 1939, according to the author, represented a logical culmination of a process of adjustment and assimilation over the course of two generations. This book follows in the tradition of Robert and Helen Lynd's Middletown and Herbert Gans's Levittowners. The effort is not so much to uncover the forces of change as to depict the fabric of everyday life. Oral testimony is woven into patterns of common experience.For example,Jablonsky describes how garbage, in the alleys led housewives and small children to abandon backyards in the favour of front stoops and sidewalks as a place for social activity. In contrast, teenage boys found special meaning in the alleys precisely because they were outside of regular parental supervision. Jablonsky illuminates a broad spectrum of daily life in the neighbourhood. Yet, his collective approach to oral history flattens the stories of his informants, giving them a lifeless, two-dimensional character. Giving voice to a selection of real people would have gone a long way to enrich our appreciation and understanding of their attachment to the neighbourhood . A more serious shortcoming is the complete lack of reference to the workplace . Since so many men and women who lived in Packingtown also worked there, the continuity between the two spaces demands attention. Jablonsky's failure to discuss the workplace undermines his effort to link "spatial behaviour " and community building. The normal routines of a job in the Yards, to say nothing of the bitter and prolonged struggles of the union movement during the Great Depression, represented a crucial source of class and social solidarity. While Jablonsky paints a fascinating picture of daily life in the Back of the Yards, other recent studies provide a fuller and more useful analysis of the dynamics of community...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 140-141
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.