A thousand unique gravestones cluster around old Presbyterian churches in the piedmont of the two Carolinas and in central Pennsylvania. Most are the vulnerable legacy of the Bigham family, Scotch Irish stonecutters whose workshop near Charlotte created the earliest surviving art of British settlers in the region. In The True Image, Daniel Patterson documents the craftsmanship of this group and the current appearance of the stones. In two hundred of his photographs, he records these stones for future generations and compares their iconography and inscriptions with those of other early monuments in the United States, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
Developed at the beginning of the twentieth century, movies quickly arose to become the cultural centerpiece, especially during Hollywood’s “golden era” of the 1930s and ’40s. In 1941, 85 million Americans—85 million, more than three-fifths of the overall U.S. population, which totaled 131 million at the time—attended movie theaters each week. Cinema’s remarkable popularity led observers to conclude that movies strongly influenced impressionable theatergoers.
New Fall sale categories: business history and southern history. Throughout the fall, we’re offering 50% off selected titles in the disciplines listed below. Enter 01SALE12 at checkout. Spend $75.00 and the shipping is free.
2012 marks the two hundredth anniversary of the first Protestant American foreign missionaries. Over the course of those years, the movement’s fortunes and its public presence have waxed and waned. In 1812, the movement boasted five missionaries sailing to the Indian subcontinent. One hundred years later, its most prominent members were recruited for diplomatic missions. Yet whatever the public perception of missionaries, their work raises significant questions, even for people who might have little interest in the movement itself.
Jesus was part of the Revolution and formation of the United States, but not as much as one might expect. As a physical presence, he was almost completely absent. And in the language of law and legislation for the new republic, he was virtually as nonexistent. In comparison to how prominent Jesus would become in the United States of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Revolution and founding of the new nation were profoundly Christ-less.
In Crooked Paths to Allotment, C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa complicates standard narratives of nineteenth century Native American history by uncovering the stories of individuals who contested federal Indian policy and proposed viable alternatives during a critical moment in its development.
Travel across the U.S.A., from Maine to California, and sooner or later you’re bound to stop at a new Main Street-inspired mall. Along the way, you may also find yourself driving into a town with an actual historic Main Street that is struggling to assert its relevance in the age of malls and supermalls. After the postwar romance with the mega shopping mall—which drained the vitality out of small towns across the U.S.—Americans are gradually coming back to the idea of the small-scale community embodied in the Main Street model.
When Americans made Jesus white, they gave a racial spin to creation, to redemption in the form of Jesus, and to the future Apocalypse. This is crucial because it allows white people to see whiteness and racial categories as everlasting.
Murphy attacked the tight-fisted policy of Ford Motor Company (FMC) and its indifference toward unemployed workers. Henry Ford publicly maintained he would never cut wages or jobs, even as he proceeded to do both. Employment at the largest facility of FMC in Dearborn, just outside Detroit, fell nearly 50 percent between 1929 and 1932. But the overwhelming majority of laid-off Ford workers resided in Detroit, raising the question, who bore responsibility for assisting them?
Throughout the fall, we’re offering 50% off selected titles in the disciplines listed below. Enter 01SALE12 at checkout. Spend $75.00 and the shipping is free.
American exceptionalism, or the idea that the United States is somehow both different and better from all other nations, has a long history. From the decision to put novus ordo seclorum (a new order for the ages) on the back of the Great Seal of the United States to President Barack Obama’s claim during his 2008 inaugural that “we are ready to lead once more,” many Americans have believed that their country is something different from anything that has come before or that has arisen since. A leader. A new order.
In some unexpected ways, it is Mitt and Gwen who have the most in common. For both of them are not only children of immigrants, but children of parents who were themselves children of immigrants.
Most sisters do not wear the once ubiquitous garb any more; many bishops yearn to see the gender-weighted tradition reinstated; nostalgic lay people reminisce about the habit along with such Catholic signposts as fish on Friday or parish bingo. It is time to drop the overdone fascination with the antiquated clothing of an earlier era—the long black veils, starched bonnets, and sweeping serge skirts—that supposedly measured the holiness of cloistered women, or at least made nuns easy to identify.
It was lovely, this old plantation house, perched, as it was, atop a hillside. Striking in its grandeur. Alluring in its light. I could almost believe, staring up at the glowing, Palladian window panes, that the year was 1806, that Cherokees still possessed the lands of northern Georgia, that the wealthy Cherokee family who once dwelled in this home would appear at a doorway in waistcoats and bustles.
The fear of alien attacks, the need to violently exclude Others seen as dangerous or polluting has formed a critical component of the United States’ national identity from the Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s through Joseph McCarthy’s war on domestic Communists to the present. To fear and dehumanize alien Others, to ruthlessly hunt them down, is truly American.
Cameras remained contraband at the camps located within the military district called the Western Defense Command. But Wyoming was outside that zone, and by the spring of 1943, cameras were permitted. The WRA recognized that allowing internees to take pictures was a way of helping them reclaim some sense of a normal life and some of their dignity.
To address the human element of production, Ford introduced his Five Dollar Day, Ford Profit-Sharing Plan. When the plan was unveiled in 1914, the world was stunned. Qualified Ford workers would receive five dollars a day, more than double the average wage in the auto industry at that time. When compared to lower prevailing wages in other industries such as steel, meatpacking, or coal mining, the Ford proposal was even more astounding. Simultaneously, FMC reduced the workday from nine hours to eight.
But there is another historically significant dimension to the decision that has received less media attention: ceding to states greater authority to regulate immigration would have represented a significant devolution in federal power.
For this month’s Free Book Friday, we’re giving away a copy of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, which features very rare color photographs of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp during World War II.
Well-Read Lives evolved from my interest in women’s history and biography that my father did not live to witness. He would surely have had his doubts about the gender angle. But I like to think that my admiration for his literary interests informed my choice of subject, if not my approach to it.