Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines the 1913 investigation into the reform practices of the all-white Virginia Home and Industrial School for Girls. Fueled by rumors of hard labor performed by inmates under the supervision of an African American man, this incident reveals the complexities in how progressive reformers constructed and managed Virginia’s “girl problem” within an environment of paternalism, class rule, and white supremacy. In defense of their program, reformatory staff testified that certain outsiders—all of them white, male laborers—had attempted to “interfere” with the girls incarcerated inside. The interlocking dynamics of gender, race, and class that emerged reveal a rare moment of discussion over the need for social control legislation targeting white, working-class men. Thus, the investigation and its aftermath indicate that it took a public race scandal to attempt to establish the limits of white men’s sexual access to young women.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 46-61
Launched on MUSE
2019-07-10
Open Access
No
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