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Follows centuries of New York activism to reveal the city as a globally influential machine for social change

Activist New York surveys New York City’s long history of social activism from the 1650’s to the 2010’s. Bringing these passionate histories alive, Activist New York is a visual exploration of these movements, serving as a companion book to the highly-praised Museum of the City of New York exhibition of the same name.

New York’s primacy as a metropolis of commerce, finance, industry, media, and ethnic diversity has given it a unique and powerfully influential role in the history of American and global activism. Steven H. Jaffe explores how New York’s evolving identities as an incubator and battleground for activists have made it a “machine for change.” In responding to the city as a site of slavery, immigrant entry, labor conflicts, and wealth disparity, New Yorkers have repeatedly challenged the status quo.

Activist New York brings to life the characters who make up these vibrant histories, including David Ruggles, an African American shopkeeper who helped enslaved fugitives on the city’s Underground Railroad during the 1830s; Clara Lemlich, a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant who helped spark the 1909 “Uprising of 20,000” that forever changed labor relations in the city’s booming garment industry; and Craig Rodwell, Karla Jay, and others who forged a Gay Liberation movement both before and after the Stonewall Riot of June 1969.

The city’s inhabitants have been at the forefront of social change on issues ranging from religious tolerance and minority civil rights to sexual orientation and economic justice. Across 16 lavishly illustrated chronological chapters focusing on specific historical episodes, Jaffe explores how New York and New Yorkers have changed the way Americans think, feel, and act.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Half Title Page, Copyright, Title Page
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  1. Director's Foreword
  2. Whitney W. Donhauser
  3. pp. 5-6
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  1. Foreword
  2. Eric Foner
  3. pp. 7-9
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. 10-11
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 12-15
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  1. Colonial and Revolutionary New York: 1624-1783
  2. pp. 16-20
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  1. Chapter One Let Us Stay: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in Dutch New Netherland
  2. pp. 21-26
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  1. Petitioning for Freedom in New Amsterdam
  2. pp. 27-32
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  1. Chapter Two The Zenger Case: Fighting for Freedom of the Press
  2. pp. 33-38
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  1. Educating the Enslaved in Colonial New York
  2. pp. 39-44
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  1. Chapter Three Leather Aprons & Silk Stockings: The Coming of the American Revolution in New York
  2. pp. 45-48
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  1. Quakers and Post-Revolutionary Reform
  2. pp. 49-55
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  1. Seaport City: 1783-1865
  2. pp. 56-60
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  1. Chapter Four Workingmen & Aristocrats: New York's Labor Movement Takes Shape
  2. pp. 61-66
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  1. "Beware of Foreign Influence": Nativists & Catholics
  2. pp. 67-72
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  1. Chapter Five Practical Abolitionists: David Ruggles and the New York Committee of Vigilance
  2. pp. 73-78
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  1. Challenging Segregation in New York's Streets
  2. pp. 79-86
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  1. Urban Crusaders
  2. pp. 87-89
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  1. Gilded Age to Progressive Era: 1865-1918
  2. pp. 90-94
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  1. Chapter Six "Propaganda by Deed": New York City Anarchists
  2. pp. 95-104
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  1. Battling the Slums: Housing Investigation and Reform
  2. pp. 105-108
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  1. Chapter Seven "Inside the Monster": Latino Activism in 19th-Century New York
  2. pp. 109-118
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  1. Advocating for Migrants of Color
  2. pp. 119-122
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  1. Chapter Eight "I Am a Working Girl": Upheaval in the Garment Trades
  2. pp. 123-128
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  1. Houses of Welcome: The Settlement House Movement
  2. pp. 129-136
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  1. Socialist Legacies: Housing Cooperatives and the Amalgamated Bank
  2. pp. 137-140
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  1. Chapter Nine "New York is the Battleground": The Campaign for Woman Suffrage
  2. pp. 141-150
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  1. Battles over Sexuality and Birth Control
  2. pp. 151-153
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  1. Midcentury Metropolis: 1918-1960
  2. pp. 154-158
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  1. Chapter Ten "The New Negro": Activist Harlem
  2. pp. 159-164
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  1. To Drink or Not to Drink: Prohibition, Pro and Con
  2. pp. 165-172
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  1. Defending Civil Liberties: The ACLU
  2. pp. 173-176
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  1. Chapter Eleven "Art is a Weapon": Activist Theater in the Great Depression
  2. pp. 177-182
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  1. Confronting Fascism
  2. pp. 183-190
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  1. Chapter Twelve A Cold War: Activism and Anti-Communism in New York
  2. pp. 191-196
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  1. Blacklisting the Weavers
  2. pp. 197-202
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  1. Refusing to Hide: Anti-Civil Defense Protests
  2. pp. 203-205
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  1. The Sixties in New York: 1960-1973
  2. pp. 206-210
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  1. Chapter Thirteen "Gay is Good": The Rise of Gay Power
  2. pp. 211-216
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  1. Resisting the Vietnam War
  2. pp. 217-224
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  1. Women's Liberation in New York
  2. pp. 225-230
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  1. Chapter Fourteen "¡Basta Ya!": The Young Lords and Puerto Rican Activism
  2. pp. 231-236
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  1. From Civil Rights to Black Power
  2. pp. 237-242
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  1. Asian American Activism
  2. pp. 243-245
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  1. Urban Crisis and Revival: 1973-2011
  2. pp. 246-250
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  1. Chapter Fifteen "Don't Move! Improve!": The New Housing Activists
  2. pp. 251-260
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  1. "Silence = Death": AIDS Activism
  2. pp. 261-264
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  1. Chapter Sixteen "We Are the 99 Percent!": Occupying Wall Street
  2. pp. 265-272
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  1. A New Era of Activism
  2. pp. 273-276
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  1. Endnotes
  2. pp. 277-284
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  1. For Further Reading
  2. pp. 285-292
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 293-298
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  1. Image Credits
  2. pp. 299-302
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 303-304
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