Jennifer Le Zotte: Before Target, There Were Thrift Stores: How Postwar Secondhand Commerce Supported LGBTQ Rights

In recent years, corporate support of LGBTQ rights is not unusual, but in the 1950s and 1960s, major retailers were often complicit in the systematic anti-homosexual campaigns known as the Lavender Scare, firing gay employees and alienating or even arresting cross-dressing patrons attempting to try on clothing. In most states, wearing clothing “intended for the opposite sex”—even briefly in dressing rooms—meant risking a rap sheet. Commercial support of queer communities came instead from alternative retail sites— such as thrift stores. Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, and the hundreds of small, locally owned secondhand shops multiplying in the postwar years, became queer shopping havens. Such places did not issue public responses of solidarity with non-normative dressers, but most did extend a sort of benevolent neglect to all customers. With no clerks angling for a commission, and a staff untrained in suggestive retailing, thrift stores were much safer places than Weinstein’s for cross-dressing men and women to try and buy the clothing of their choice. Continue Reading Jennifer Le Zotte: Before Target, There Were Thrift Stores: How Postwar Secondhand Commerce Supported LGBTQ Rights

Jessica M. Frazier: Networks, News, and Activism

Many also found friendship, understanding, and compassion in their Vietnamese counterparts. Following face-to-face interactions, American and Vietnamese women maintained contact with one another through the exchange of letters, telegrams, and newsletters. Indeed, Vietnamese and American women formed part of a people’s diplomatic network that provided alternative interpretations of the war. Continue Reading Jessica M. Frazier: Networks, News, and Activism

Jonathan W. White: A Shadow Over My Heart: The Transformation of a Northern Woman’s Dream Life during the Civil War

Sitting at home, alone, many women in the North and South were overcome by feelings of fear and grief as their husbands fought on faraway battlefields. For all too many, nighttime only exacerbated their concerns. Nightmares of blood and gore tortured countless wives. And yet over time, some women gradually overcame such fearful feelings—even in their dreams. Continue Reading Jonathan W. White: A Shadow Over My Heart: The Transformation of a Northern Woman’s Dream Life during the Civil War

Nicole Eustace: Borders, Culture, and Nationhood in Early-Nineteenth-Century America     

As the United States leaders of 2017 contemplate dividing families and decimating workforces with new rules strictly limiting travel and immigration, they might do well to contemplate the human costs and historical errors inherent in such attempts. If American inhabitants were “warring for America” in the era of 1812, the struggle itself has never truly ceased. Continue Reading Nicole Eustace: Borders, Culture, and Nationhood in Early-Nineteenth-Century America     

Interview: Adrian Miller on The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

These chefs were simultaneously culinary artists, family confidantes and civil rights advocates. The most important contribution aside from their food is that they gave our presidents a window on black life that they would not otherwise have had. Only a handful of presidents chose to open that window, but it was there nonetheless. Continue Reading Interview: Adrian Miller on The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

Jonathan W. White: 8 Simple Rules for Prospective Graduate Students in History

During my first semester of college I told a professor that I wanted to go to graduate school to become a professor. He very wisely replied, “Jon, get a real job and do history on the weekends.” As a senior, another professor told me, “Don’t get a PhD in history unless you can’t see yourself doing anything else.” Both offered sound advice, and I hope they will forgive me for not taking it.

Now, as a tenured faculty member, I often find myself giving advice about graduate school to my students. I usually give them similar advice to that which I received when I was in college because they need to be aware of the risks involved in graduate study. The reality is that too many people are getting PhDs in the humanities, and there just are not enough jobs for them (I was on a search committee earlier this year that had 174 applicants for one job). Graduate students in certain fields therefore run the risk of lost potential income over a series of years, only to come out either unqualified or overqualified for most jobs, and ultimately unemployed or stuck in the adjunct circuit. Continue Reading Jonathan W. White: 8 Simple Rules for Prospective Graduate Students in History

Marc Stein: Immigration is a Queer Issue: From Fleuti to Trump

In Trump v. Washington, the Ninth Circuit panel has used a decision in a “gay rights” case as a precedent for a decision in a “Muslim rights” one. Continue Reading Marc Stein: Immigration is a Queer Issue: From Fleuti to Trump

Andrew Denson: The DAR Squabble: Possessing Cherokee History in the Southeast

In the spring of 1935, an odd dispute erupted between rival groups of heritage workers in Tennessee and Georgia over the right to commemorate the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.” That year, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Georgia decided to erect a small monument commemorating Red Clay, a site along the Tennessee border where the government of the Cherokee Nation met in the years just prior to removal. Continue Reading Andrew Denson: The DAR Squabble: Possessing Cherokee History in the Southeast

Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

Forty years ago CBS aired the miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley’s 1976 bestseller in which he traced his own ancestors back to West Africa, followed them to the United States as slaves, and took them forward into freedom. For the first time, a massive audience—roughly half the country’s population—confronted slavery and its legacies through an African American perspective. Roots prompted Americans to search out their own ancestors, particularly in subsequent years as digitization and personal computing brought resources to searchers’ fingertips.Now genealogy’s popularity—attested by the success of ancestry.com and the television show Who Do You Think You Are—makes it tempting to forget that we often shape our ancestors ourselves, even at the expense of historical evidence. Professional historians, in fact, were quick to point out fictions within Roots, a charge Haley accepted by originally calling his book a work of “faction.” I (re)learned this lesson about historical memory myself when it almost derailed the project that became my book, Atlantic Bonds. Continue Reading Lisa A. Lindsay: The “Truth” Behind Our Ancestors

Stephen Cushman: Stephen Crane, Historical Researcher

The reason that we in the twenty-first century need to develop these complementary sensibilities is that the Civil War erupted against a standard of literacy different from our own, one with increasingly unfamiliar conventions of reading and writing. Because most of us know what we know about the war primarily through the medium of writing, understanding the war we read about depends to a large extent on our understanding as many historical and aesthetic layers of its writings as possible. Continue Reading Stephen Cushman: Stephen Crane, Historical Researcher

Karina Biondi: The Extinction of Sexual Violence in the Prisons of São Paulo, Brazil

In 1992, in order to contain a riot, police forces invaded the largest prison in Latin America and killed 111 prisoners. The event, known as the Carandiru Massacre, was illustrated in the Brazilian film Carandiru, directed by Hector Babenco. Episodes of sexual violence were frequent, as were violent disputes over material goods and the conquest of spaces within the prison. Another factor that defined the life inside the prison was the financial capacity of the prisoner. There were, therefore, two ways of obtaining material goods and sexual services in prison: money or physical violence. Continue Reading Karina Biondi: The Extinction of Sexual Violence in the Prisons of São Paulo, Brazil

David S. Brown: America’s Sunbelt Politics: The Story of Three Centuries

Historians and social scientists such as Richard Hofstadter and Daniel Bell first began to use the term “Radical Right” in the 1950s as something of a reaction to McCarthyism. A decade later, with the unexpected presidential candidacy of the Republican Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater accompanied by the growth in wealth, population, and thus political power of many southern states, the term “Sunbelt Right” came into vogue. Continue Reading David S. Brown: America’s Sunbelt Politics: The Story of Three Centuries

Gregg A. Brazinsky: Sino-American Competition Past and Present

Trump’s campaign rhetoric and willingness to aggravate the thorny Taiwan issue have raised hackles in Beijing. Part of the reason for this is that China’s view of itself and its role in the international community differs starkly from Washington’s. Continue Reading Gregg A. Brazinsky: Sino-American Competition Past and Present

Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration

The outcome of this nineteenth-century emigration movement offers little comfort for those who would leave today. At least half of the African Americans who settled in West Africa perished of tropical diseases, while others struggled to eke out a living. And they were not welcome there. Though they called their colony Liberia and touted “the love of liberty” in their official motto, the settlers’ encounters with local Africans were marked by violence, condescension, and—ironically—conditions not unlike slavery. Continue Reading Lisa A. Lindsay: The Enduring Allure of Emigration

Lorien Foote: How Slaves Prayed for Yankees during the Civil War

In the fall of 1864, slaves prayed with and for hundreds of Yankee soldiers who sought refuge in their cabins. The words of these prayers reveal slaves’ powerful faith that God would intervene in history to defeat the Confederacy and bring about their freedom. Continue Reading Lorien Foote: How Slaves Prayed for Yankees during the Civil War

University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners

We have celebrated the theme of Community for the past several days with our sibling publishers in the Association of American University Presses’ #UPweek. Today we invite you into our own virtual rolodex to introduce you to just some of the many partner organizations with whom we have collaborated to make many of your favorite books and journals possible. Continue Reading University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners

Greta de Jong: Who Lost the War on Poverty?

Poverty may have won in the end, but this outcome was not inevitable. Innovative projects sponsored by the federal government in the 1960s put poor people to work providing needed services in their communities and helped to lift many participants into the middle class. Continue Reading Greta de Jong: Who Lost the War on Poverty?

Anne M. Blankenship: Pilgrimage to the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Centers: Championing Civil Rights for All

One of the greatest challenges to pilgrimage today is the dwindling number of former incarcerees. In Memory, History, Forgetting (2004), Paul Ricoeur emphasized the need to preserve one’s heritage, while remaining separate from victimization. He said that descendants should not take on the “moral priority” of past victims. Continue Reading Anne M. Blankenship: Pilgrimage to the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Centers: Championing Civil Rights for All

Matthew Mason: Morality, Politics, and Compromise: The Plight and Prospects of the Moderate, Then and Now

There are a few potential parallels between modern and antebellum religious leaders. Many modern religious leaders seemingly hope to set aside thorny issues such as LGBT rights and immigration so they can refocus on their core religious missions. Continue Reading Matthew Mason: Morality, Politics, and Compromise: The Plight and Prospects of the Moderate, Then and Now

Stephen D. Engle: IL Governor Richard Yates and the Union’s Cooperative Federalism

Governors asserting themselves in ways that strengthened the Union was the cornerstone of the cooperative federalism that emerged in the Civil War North and contributed to a Union victory. If it is true, as some scholars have asserted in the last 150 years, that the Confederacy died of Democracy, it might also be said that the Union lived because of it. Continue Reading Stephen D. Engle: IL Governor Richard Yates and the Union’s Cooperative Federalism