Benjamin René Jordan: “Are you a Boy Scout?” The Youth Historian’s Dilemma

“Are you a Boy Scout?” I am frequently asked this question at history conferences or during social conversations after stating that I study early American Boy Scouting. Perhaps it’s my short haircut, or my normative white guy appearance. The question may also stem from an (accurate) perception that many current and former Boy Scouts and adult leaders are enthusiastic readers and amateur producers of histories of the organization and their local councils, troops, and summer camps. Scout history associations, newsletters, websites, networks, and historical memorabilia swap meets facilitate the exchange and consumption of such histories and memories. Thus, conference audiences and other people I meet are often confused when I report that I was not a Boy Scout. They seem surprised that somebody would study a youth organization like Scouting if that person had not been a member. I suspect other historians who study youth organizations and summer camps get similar queries. Continue Reading Benjamin René Jordan: “Are you a Boy Scout?” The Youth Historian’s Dilemma

LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Some writers have noted the presence of the “southern gothic” or the “southern porch” in Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s visceral visual album Lemonade. But the landscapes are unambiguously part of the geography of Louisiana; the visual album is haunting because of its specificity to place. Barely visible, in the discussion thus far, is the history of slavery—and its remnants—all over the landscape of the album. Continue Reading LaKisha Michelle Simmons: Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Benjamin René Jordan: “Free-Range Kids” and the Problem of Children’s Citizenship

Fisher warned that allowing young men to “stumble into citizenship,” assuming it only begins at age twenty-one, leads them to believe that civic responsibility is primarily limited to voting or paying taxes: “A boy cannot live his boy life entirely separate from any sense of responsibility to society and then be expected as a man to live a full-orbed citizenship.” Fisher’s statement suggests that our current social and educational structure in which adolescents are isolated from broader community interactions, mature responsibilities, and opportunities for personal growth endangers the very foundation of America’s democratic society by restricting young people’s awareness of the broader community and experience of citizenship. Continue Reading Benjamin René Jordan: “Free-Range Kids” and the Problem of Children’s Citizenship

J. Samaine Lockwood: Nineteenth-Century New England’s Queer Thanksgivings

As we travel home this Thanksgiving, it is worth taking time to reflect on the various meanings of this holiday—personal, collective, regional, and national. A product of nineteenth-century sectional, socio-sexual, and imperialist imperatives, Thanksgiving is far from a physically satisfying celebration involving a return to an uncomplicated home. Continue Reading J. Samaine Lockwood: Nineteenth-Century New England’s Queer Thanksgivings

Interview: Tanisha C. Ford on Black Women, Style, and Politics in the 1960s and ’70s

Gina Mahalek: Very briefly, what is Liberated Threads about?

Tanisha C. Ford: Liberated Threads is about how everyday women turned getting dressed into a powerful political act that transformed the cultural and political landscape of the 1960s and 70s around the world. Often, when we study the social movements of the mid-twentieth century, we focus on policy issues, the fight to integrate public spaces, and big events, such as marches and protests. But, in Liberated Threads, I argue that we need to focus on everyday acts such as getting dressed in order to understand how everyday people engaged in movement politics. Most people were not involved in formal political organizing. They were not members of Black Freedom movement organizations. But, they were engaged in the fashion culture of the time. I wanted to explore the various ways that fashion and style connected people to the global movement for black freedom. Continue Reading Interview: Tanisha C. Ford on Black Women, Style, and Politics in the 1960s and ’70s

Corinne T. Field: Old Age was Once a Feminist Issue

Winning respect for female elders was an issue that cut across the color line separating black and white feminists in nineteenth-century America. The white transcendentalist Margaret Fuller urged women to cast aside their fear of becoming “old maids” and cultivate talents rather than youthful beauty. Sharing the same goal, the black abolitionist Frances Harper crafted poetry and fiction centered on a new type of heroine, one “not vainly striving to keep her appearance of girlishness,” who dedicated herself to growing old in the service of antislavery and women’s rights. Continue Reading Corinne T. Field: Old Age was Once a Feminist Issue

Excerpt: Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women, by Blain Roberts

On the whole, black southern women forged a more intimate—and more active—relationship with the burgeoning world of beauty than did white southern women. Continue Reading Excerpt: Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women, by Blain Roberts

Excerpt: Island Queens and Mission Wives, by Jennifer Thigpen

Thigpen describes the voyage of New England missionaries to Hawai’i and the political shifts occurring on the island that signaled the powerful role women would play in the cultural interactions that lay ahead. Continue Reading Excerpt: Island Queens and Mission Wives, by Jennifer Thigpen

Corinne T. Field: “Boomerang Kids” and the Political History of Adulthood

Concerns about adult independence cut to the very heart of what it means to be an American citizen, and indeed, to long-standing assumptions about the proper functioning of democracy itself. Anxieties about coming of age have a history, and this history is not just economic but political. Continue Reading Corinne T. Field: “Boomerang Kids” and the Political History of Adulthood

Anne Balay: For Transgender Steelworkers, Invisibility Isn’t an Option

Transgender steelworkers are the most vulnerable people I interviewed. The option of invisibility isn’t available to those who transition at work. And every change that shows, every single solitary detail, becomes a focus of teasing, harassment, violence, and abuse. Continue Reading Anne Balay: For Transgender Steelworkers, Invisibility Isn’t an Option

Anne Balay: Queer Steelworkers and Labor Unions

I asked him to recall all the people he has worked with—all his union brothers and sisters, down through the years—and count the gay ones. Almost surprised, he said there were none. Of course, he knew as well as I do that there have been many, but that they did not identify themselves as such. My task is then to convince him that their silence was not simply a choice, but rather that it was made in fear, and comes with crippling consequences. Continue Reading Anne Balay: Queer Steelworkers and Labor Unions

2014 Women’s History Month Reading List

UNC Press has a long history on publishing outstanding work in the field of Women’s Studies. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to highlight some of the great work we’ve been proud to publish in the past year. Click on an image below to start the slideshow. During our American history sale you… Continue Reading 2014 Women’s History Month Reading List

Anne Balay: The Consequences of Marriage Inequality

For my narrators—the forty transgender, lesbian, and gay steelworkers I interviewed—marriage is complicated. Insurance and survival benefits are not just theoretical issues for them. Continue Reading Anne Balay: The Consequences of Marriage Inequality

Anne Balay: As GLBT freedoms expand, who benefits–and who doesn’t

Queer rights becomes the paradigmatic symbol of the west – in Russia, gay liberation had gained some momentum until Putin linked gay rights with Western values, which then led to the systematic, legal oppression of gays in Russia today. The government is literally going into homes of gay people and taking their children away. And these Russian gays can’t hide, because during the period of comparative freedom, they had come out, and now have public personas. There’s no such thing as going back into the closet – once you’re out, that’s that. Their little window of freedom now targets them for state-sponsored abuse as the freedom and progress queers experience in the USA is used to punish queers globally. Continue Reading Anne Balay: As GLBT freedoms expand, who benefits–and who doesn’t

E. Patrick Johnson’s ‘Sweet Tea’ on stage in Durham

Author, actor, and activist E. Patrick Johnson is bringing his one-man show Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (based on his award-winning book of the same name) to Durham. Continue Reading E. Patrick Johnson’s ‘Sweet Tea’ on stage in Durham

Susan Ware: The Ongoing Battle of the Sexes

The footage shows not a player who was intentionally tanking a match, but one who was consistently and masterfully outplayed by a superior opponent, which Riggs admitted at the time and maintained right up until his death in 1995. The unsupported ESPN allegations have no place in sporting history. Continue Reading Susan Ware: The Ongoing Battle of the Sexes

Carolyn Herbst Lewis: Dropping the K-Bomb

In rejecting the evidence presented in the Kinsey volumes that contradicted their definitions of sexual health, medical professionals reinforced a brand of sexual citizenship that not only made full citizenship exclusively available to married heterosexuals with children, but also limited those couples’ sexual activities to a strict protocol. Continue Reading Carolyn Herbst Lewis: Dropping the K-Bomb

Laura Browder: Women’s Gun Culture in America

The image of the armed woman as white, suburban-looking, and thoroughly domesticated is but one aspect of women’s gun culture, and women’s relationship to guns, in the United States. Continue Reading Laura Browder: Women’s Gun Culture in America

Marc Stein: Five Myths about Roe v. Wade

On 22 January 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights case that culminated in one of the most controversial legal rulings in the country’s history. Forty years later, numerous myths continue to circulate about the contents and meanings of Roe. Here are five of the most significant. Continue Reading Marc Stein: Five Myths about Roe v. Wade

Join us on Twitter for a #FreetoBe40 event with Lori Rotskoff

It’s a Twitter event! This Wednesday, December 12, from 9-10 pm EST join @LoriRotskoff, @uncpressblog, and @MamaDramaNY for a Twitter celebration and discussion of the 40th anniversary of Free to Be…You and Me, the popular nonsexist children’s album/book/TV special that has helped shape the childhoods and parenting practices of generations. Continue Reading Join us on Twitter for a #FreetoBe40 event with Lori Rotskoff