In the 1970s the Mexican government acted to alleviate rural unemployment by supporting the migration of able-bodied men. Millions crossed into the United States to find work that would help them survive as well as sustain their families in Mexico. They took low-level positions that few Americans wanted and sent money back to communities that depended on their support. But as U.S. authorities pursued more aggressive anti-immigrant measures, migrants found themselves caught between the economic interests of competing governments. The fruits of their labor were needed in both places, and yet neither country made them feel welcome.
Ana Raquel Minian explores this unique chapter in the history of Mexican migration. Undocumented Lives draws on private letters, songs, and oral testimony to recreate the experience of circular migration, which reshaped communities in the United States and Mexico. While migrants could earn for themselves and their families in the U.S., they needed to return to Mexico to reconnect with their homes periodically. Despite crossing the border many times, they managed to belong to communities on both sides of it. Ironically, the U.S. immigration crackdown of the mid-1980s disrupted these flows, forcing many migrants to remain north of the border permanently for fear of not being able to return to work. For them, the United States became known as the jaula de oro—the cage of gold.
Undocumented Lives tells the story of Mexicans who have been used and abused by the broader economic and political policies of Mexico and the United States.
After Upton Sinclair's powerful novel appeared in 1906, “the jungle” became a compelling metaphor for life and work in the nation's meatpacking industry. Harsh living and working conditions from the killing floor to the hide cellar to the packingtowns, cycles of overwork and underemployment, and the ever-present crowds of new and unskilled laborers characterized an often-violent industry in which the appetite of workers for the protection of unions was exceeded only by the zeal of their employers to prevent workers from organizing. Unionizing the Jungles—which originated in a seminar at the University of Iowa sponsored by the Center for Recent United States History—brings together historians and anthropologists whose studies of various phases of the meatpacking industry, its unions, and its impact on communities in the twentieth century both raise and answer important questions.
The rise and decline of industrial unionism in the packinghouse industry is a unique story that casts into bold relief the conflicts between labor and capital and the tensions based on race and gender in a perpetually changing workforce. The essayists in Unionizing the Jungles discuss the structurally distinctive features of the packinghouse industry—such as the fact that violence and extreme antiunionism were central elements of its culture—the primary actors in the union-building process, the roots of the distinctive interracialism of the United Packinghouse Workers of America and the explosion of industrial unionism in the 1930s, and the community-based militant unionism of the Independent Union of All Workers. Central themes throughout these essays include the role of African American workers, the constant battle for racial equality, and the eruption of gender conflict in the 1950s. Structural and technological changes in the corporate economy, the increased mobility of capital, and a more hostile political economy all contributed to the difficulties the labor movement faced in the 1980s and beyond.
Focusing on the workplace and the community as arenas of conflict and accommodation, the new labor historians in these vigorous essays consider the historical and contemporary problems posed by the development of the packinghouse industry and its unions and reflect on the implications of this dramatic history for the larger story of the changing relations between labor and capital in mass production.
Gerald D. Nash offers a balanced survey on American oil policies over a seventy-five year span, and places in historical perspective the controversies of government- business relations that have resulted from oil depletion and surplus allowances. Focusing on a single industry, Nash provides a valuable study on the government's role in private economic activity. He concludes that Americans have given the government great power in regulating the nation's industries, and in particular, as they relate to defense considerations, and the laws of supply and demand within American borders, and internationally.
In 2012, when the Justice Department sued Apple and five book publishers for price fixing, many observers sided with the defendants. It was a reminder that, in practice, Americans are ambivalent about competition. Chris Sagers shows why protecting price competition, even when it hurts some of us, is crucial if antitrust law is to preserve markets.
The University and the People chronicles the influence of Populism—a powerful agrarian movement—on public higher education in the late nineteenth century. Revisiting this pivotal era in the history of the American state university, Scott Gelber demonstrates that Populists expressed a surprising degree of enthusiasm for institutions of higher learning. More fundamentally, he argues that the mission of the state university, as we understand it today, evolved from a fractious but productive relationship between public demands and academic authority.
Populists attacked a variety of elites—professionals, executives, scholars—and seemed to confirm academia’s fear of anti-intellectual public oversight. The movement’s vision of the state university highlighted deep tensions in American attitudes toward meritocracy and expertise. Yet Populists also promoted state-supported higher education, with the aims of educating the sons (and sometimes daughters) of ordinary citizens, blurring status distinctions, and promoting civic engagement. Accessibility, utilitarianism, and public service were the bywords of Populist journalists, legislators, trustees, and sympathetic professors. These “academic populists” encouraged state universities to reckon with egalitarian perspectives on admissions, financial aid, curricula, and research. And despite their critiques of college “ivory towers,” Populists supported the humanities and social sciences, tolerated a degree of ideological dissent, and lobbied for record-breaking appropriations for state institutions.
Julian Gewirtz Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress HC427.92.G478 2017 | Dewey Decimal 338.951
With Deng Xiaoping’s blessing, Mao’s successors scoured the globe for fresh ideas to launch domestic prosperity and global economic power. Yet China’s government did not publicize its engagement with Western-style innovations, claiming instead that economic reinvention was the Party’s achievement alone. Julian Gewirtz sets forth the truer story.
During World War I it was the task of the U.S. Department of Justice, using the newly passed Espionage Act and its later Sedition Act amendment, to prosecute and convict those who opposed America’s entry into the conflict. In Unsafe for Democracy, historian William H. Thomas Jr. shows that the Justice Department did not stop at this official charge but went much further—paying cautionary visits to suspected dissenters, pressuring them to express support of the war effort, or intimidating them into silence. At times going undercover, investigators tried to elicit the unguarded comments of individuals believed to be a threat to the prevailing social order.
In this massive yet largely secret campaign, agents cast their net wide, targeting isolationists, pacifists, immigrants, socialists, labor organizers, African Americans, and clergymen. The unemployed, the mentally ill, college students, schoolteachers, even schoolchildren, all might come under scrutiny, often in the context of the most trivial and benign activities of daily life.
Delving into numerous reports by Justice Department detectives, Thomas documents how, in case after case, they used threats and warnings to frighten war critics and silence dissent. This early government crusade for wartime ideological conformity, Thomas argues, marks one of the more dubious achievements of the Progressive Era—and a development that resonates in the present day.
Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
“Recommended for all libraries.”—Frederic Krome, Library Journal
“A cautionary tale about what can happen to our freedoms if we take them too lightly.”—Dave Wood, Hudson Star-Observer
For centuries, people have been thinking and writing—and fiercely debating—about the meaning of marriage. Just a hundred years ago, Progressive era reformers embraced marriage not as a time-honored repository for conservative values, but as a tool for social change.
In Until Choice Do Us Part, Clare Virginia Eby offers a new account of marriage as it appeared in fiction, journalism, legal decisions, scholarly work, and private correspondence at the turn into the twentieth century. She begins with reformers like sexologist Havelock Ellis, anthropologist Elsie Clews Parsons, and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who argued that spouses should be “class equals” joined by private affection, not public sanction. Then Eby guides us through the stories of three literary couples—Upton and Meta Fuller Sinclair, Theodore and Sara White Dreiser, and Neith Boyce and Hutchins Hapgood—who sought to reform marriage in their lives and in their writings, with mixed results. With this focus on the intimate side of married life, Eby views a historical moment that changed the nature of American marriage—and that continues to shape marital norms today.
Histories of the book often move straight from the codex to the digital screen. Left out is nearly 150 years of audio recordings. Matthew Rubery uncovers this story, from Edison to today’s billion-dollar audiobook industry, and breaks from convention by treating audiobooks as a distinctive art form that has profoundly influenced the way we read.
Discouraged by widespread unemployment and alarmed by anti-Mexican sentiment, nearly five hundred thousand Mexican Americans returned to Mexico between 1929 and 1939. Historian Abraham Hoffman captures the despair of these thousands of people of Mexican descent—including those with U.S. citizenship—who were actively coerced into leaving the country.
Prior to 1931, many Mexican Americans left the United States voluntarily, prompted by homesickness, unemployment, and the Mexican government’s offer of free small land parcels. As the Great Depression deepened, repatriation pressures increased. Anglo groups lobbied for laws that excluded aliens from jobs and welfare benefits. Many businessmen, government officials, and social workers believed that removing Mexican Americans would open up jobs for U.S. citizens and alleviate some of the burden placed on relief agencies.
The Department of Labor’s federal deportation drive, launched in 1931, created an atmosphere of fear and tension in Mexican American communities. Immigration agents conducted surprise searches for people who had entered the country illegally, and Mexicans who had crossed the border before restrictive legislation was passed became prime targets of the deportation campaign.
Welfare agencies throughout the United States organized repatriation programs. The Los Angeles County Welfare Bureau, with the most extensive program, was responsible for the removal of more than thirteen thousand Mexican Americans. A few well-publicized deportations had frightened Mexicans who were unsure of their immigration status. Many chose repatriation over possible deportation.
Using much archival material and many previously unpublished government documents, Hoffman focuses on the repatriation experience in Los Angeles. The city’s large Mexican American population provides an excellent case study of the entire movement. He also surveys the process of Mexican repatriation throughout the entire United States.
Now expanded to include the story of nuclear testing and its consequences, Uranium Frenzy has become the classic account of the uranium rush that gripped the Colorado Plateau region in the 1950s. Instigated by the U.S. government's need for uranium to fuel its growing atomic weapons program, stimulated by Charlie Steen's lucrative Mi Vida strike in 1952, manned by rookie prospectors from all walks of life, and driven to a fever pitch by penny stock promotions, the boom created a colorful era in the Four Corners region and Salt Lake City (where the stock frenzy was centered) but ultimately went bust. The thrill of those exciting times and the good fortune of some of the miners were countered by the darker aspects of uranium and its uses. Miners were not well informed regarding the dangers of radioactive decay products. Neither the government nor anyone else expended much effort educating them or protecting their health and safety. The effects of exposure to radiation in poorly ventilated mines appeared over time.
From 1933 to 1935, the federal government’s Division of Subsistence Homesteads created thirty-four New Deal communities that sought to provide a healthier and more economically secure life for disadvantaged Americans. These settlements were designed to combine the benefits of rural and urban living by offering part-time farming, uplifting social functions, and inexpensive homes. Four were located in the West: in Phoenix, Arizona; El Monte and San Fernando, California; and Longview, Washington.
Robert Carriker examines for the first time the intricate histories of these subsistence homestead projects, which have long been buried in bureaucratic records and clouded by misunderstanding, showing that in many ways they were among the agency’s most successful efforts. He provides case studies of the projects, rescuing their obscure histories using archival documents and rare photographs. He also reveals the machinations of civic groups and private citizens across the West who jockeyed for access to the funds being allotted for New Deal community building.
By describing what took place on these western homesteads, Carriker shows that the DSH’s agenda was not as far-fetched as some have reported. The tendency to condemn the Division and its projects, he argues, has failed to appreciate the good that came from some of the individual homestead communities—particularly those in the Far West.
Although overshadowed by the larger undertakings of the New Deal, some of these western communities remain thriving neighborhoods—living legacies to FDR’s efforts that show how the country once chose to deal with economic hardship. Too often the DSH is noted for its failures; Carriker’s study shows that its western homesteads were instead qualified accomplishments.
In Urban Lowlands, Steven T. Moga looks closely at the Harlem Flats in New York City; Black Bottom in Nashville; Swede Hollow in St. Paul; and the Flats in Los Angeles, to interrogate the connections between a city’s physical landscape and the poverty and social problems that are often concentrated at its literal lowest points. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective on the history of US urban development that stretches from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, Moga reveals patterns of inequitable land use, economic dispossession, and social discrimination against poor and working-class residents. In attending to the landscapes of neighborhoods typically considered slums, Moga shows how physical and policy-driven containment has shaped the lives of the urban poor, while wealth and access to resources have been historically concentrated in elevated areas—truly “the heights.” Moga’s innovative framework expands our understanding of how planning and economic segregation alike have molded the American city.
The recent riots in Los Angeles brought the urban crisis back to the center of public policy debates in Washington, D.C., and in urban areas throughout the United States. The contributors to this volume examine the major policy issues--race, housing, transportation, poverty, the changing environment, the effects of the global economy--confronting contemporary American cities.
Raymond A. Mohl begins with an extended discussion of the origins, evolution, and current state of Federal involvement in urban centers. Michael B. Katz follows with an insightful look at poverty in turn-of-the-century New York and the attempts to ameliorate the desperate plight of the poor during this period of rapid economic growth. Arnold R. Hirsch, Mohl, and David R. Goldfield then pursue different facets of the racial dilemma confronting American cities. Hirsch discusses historical dimensions of residential segregation and public policy, while Mohl uses Overtown, Miami, as a case study of the social impact of the construction of interstate highways in urban communities. David Goldfield explores the political ramifications and incongruities of contemporary urban race relations.
Finally, Carl Abbott and Sam Bass Warner, Jr., examine the impact of global economic developments and the environmental implications of past policy choices. Collectively, the authors show us where we have been, some of the needs that must be addressed, and the urban policy alternatives we face.
In the 1970s, feminist slogans proclaimed “Sisterhood is powerful,” and women’s historians searched through the historical archives to recover stories of solidarity and sisterhood. However, as feminist scholars have started taking a more intersectional approach—acknowledging that no woman is simply defined by her gender and that affiliations like race, class, and sexual identity are often equally powerful—women’s historians have begun to offer more varied and nuanced narratives.
The ten original essays in U.S. Women's History represent a cross-section of current research in the field. Including work from both emerging and established scholars, this collection employs innovative approaches to study both the causes that have united American women and the conflicts that have divided them. Some essays uncover little-known aspects of women’s history, while others offer a fresh take on familiar events and figures, from Rosa Parks to Take Back the Night marches.
Spanning the antebellum era to the present day, these essays vividly convey the long histories and ongoing relevance of topics ranging from women’s immigration to incarceration, from acts of cross-dressing to the activism of feminist mothers. This volume thus not only untangles the threads of the sisterhood mythos, it weaves them into a multi-textured and multi-hued tapestry that reflects the breadth and diversity of U.S. women’s history.
Battleships were instrumental in America’s rise to world dominance at the end of the 19th century. Two battleships in particular, the U.S.S. Wisconsin BB-9 and BB-64, participated in wars and conflicts around the globe, demonstrating America’s strength and technological power. The keel of the BB-9 was laid down on the eve of the Spanish-American War, and she sailed with the Great White Fleet on its famous world voyage of 1907-1909. Representing a major advance in American naval technology, the Wisconsin both demonstrated American strength in the Pacific and served as the setting for peace talks between Panama and Colombia when the former gained independence in 1903. Recommissioned during World War I as a training ship, the BB-9 was then decommissioned in 1920. More than twenty years later, on December 7, 1943, the fast battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) was launched in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The BB-64 served in the Pacific to the end of World War II and again in the Korean War. One of the Iowa- class battleships, the BB-64 was one of the fastest and sleekest on the ocean. In 1988, she was refitted and recommissioned for yet another tour of duty. This is the story of two proud vessels and their role in American naval and diplomatic history.