April C. Smith: Discovering Science and Nature Through Outdoor Exploration

Today we welcome a guest post by April C. Smith and Sarah J. Carrier, editor and assistant editor of Thirty Great North Carolina Science Adventures: From Underground Wonderlands to Islands in the Sky and Everything in Between, out now from UNC Press.

North Carolina possesses an astonishingly rich array of natural wonders. Building on this abundance, April C. Smith passionately seeks to open the world of nature to everyone. Her popular science guidebook features thirty sites across North Carolina that are perfect for exploration and hands-on learning about the Earth and the environment. A stellar group of naturalists and educators narrate each adventure, explaining key scientific concepts by showing you exactly where and how to look. This guidebook is for anyone—teens, kids, families, hikers, teachers, students, and tourists alike—who loves to be outside while learning.

Thirty Great North Carolina Science Adventures is now available in paperback and ebook editions.

You can also check out a new series of videos related to the book on the UNC Press Youtube channel. April C. Smith explains what you can learn and do at Jockeys Ridge State Park and in the Sandhills of North Carolina.


Discovering Science and Nature Through Outdoor Exploration

Recall, if you will, ten of the most memorable childhood experiences that made you who you are today. These could be experiences with others, or perhaps when you were alone. Can you recall a feeling of excitement, wonder, or awe from your experiences? Were they things that captured your imagination and made you want to dig a little deeper? Were they things that you wanted to share with your best friend, knowing that he or she would feel just as excited as you?

I have images of myself walking through cypress swamps, closely observing the cypress knees, noting the amount of water that they were standing in, and looking for snakes. I remember countless hours spent barefoot on oyster reefs in the inlet near my grandparent’s house. I remember my favorite place to camp on the river, and I remember shortly after learning to scuba dive, sitting on the bow of a friend’s boat on a calm summer day, looking out over the horizon when a giant manta ray breached the ocean’s surface. These are the moments that pull at a child’s heartstrings, and they are the ones that called me to be an environmental scientist.

When I asked my assistant editor, Sarah Carrier, to recall her early experiences of exploration, she described them to me this way:

As a child, I spent most of my free time exploring outdoors, wading in creeks and hiking in woods. Whether I examined the exoskeleton of a cicada, classified features of rocks, or compared the fluidity of streams with those in cirrus clouds, I began to learn about the patterns and beauty in nature. These experiences instilled in me a life-long love for both learning and for the outdoors.

Continue Reading April C. Smith: Discovering Science and Nature Through Outdoor Exploration

Claire Whitlinger–The Money in Memory: Commodifying Civil Rights Memory

Today we welcome a guest post from Claire Whitlinger, author of Between Remembrance and Repair: Commemorating Racial Violence in Philadelphia, Mississippi, out now from UNC Press.

Few places are more notorious for civil rights–era violence than Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of the 1964 “Mississippi Burning” murders. Yet in a striking turn of events, Philadelphia has become a beacon in Mississippi’s racial reckoning in the decades since. Claire Whitlinger investigates how this community came to acknowledge its past, offering significant insight into the social impacts of commemoration. Whitlinger expands our understanding of how commemorations both emerge out of and catalyze associated memory movements.

Between Remembrance and Repair is now available in paperback and ebook editions.


The Money in Memory: Commodifying Civil Rights Memory

Mississippi has become a tourist destination. Nearly sixty years after Jim Crow violence repelled residents and would-be visitors, the memory of the civil rights movement is drawing activists, students, and other interested citizens back to the state. In its first year, the recently-opened Mississippi Civil Rights Museum received over 250,000 visitors, far exceeding expectations.

This state-of-the-art museum, located in downtown Jackson, represents a notable change in the state’s cultural landscape. Once described by historian James Silver as the “closed society” for the state’s ill-treatment of outsiders and unwavering defense of race-based segregation, Mississippi now hosts dozens of civil rights monuments, celebrating the state’s pivotal role in the movement, including acts of racial terror that sparked the movement itself.

No community has been more central to this cultural transformation than Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Figure 1. State-sponsored historical marker in Neshoba County

Notorious as the site of the infamous 1964 “Mississippi Burning” murders where local Klansman conspired to kill civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, Philadelphia and its surrounding county (Neshoba) has long sustained a reputation as the worst of the worst in racial hatred for its white citizens’ silence, denial, and obstruction of justice surrounding the case—a reputation that endured long after the murders became memory.

Yet when I visited Mississippi for the first time in 2009, Philadelphia seemed to represent a touchstone for racial progress. Everywhere I went, people were talking about Philadelphia.

Continue Reading Claire Whitlinger–The Money in Memory: Commodifying Civil Rights Memory

Douglas J. Flowe: “Uncontrollable Blackness” in Context

Today we welcome a guest post from Douglas J. Flowe, author of Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New Yorkout now from UNC Press.

In the wake of emancipation, black men in northern urban centers like New York faced economic isolation, marginalization, and racial violence. In response, some of those men opted to participate in underground economies, to protect themselves when law enforcement failed to do so, and to exert control over public space through force. Douglas J. Flowe traces how public racial violence, segregation in housing and leisure, and criminal stigmatization in popular culture and media fostered a sense of distress, isolation, and nihilism that made crime and violence seem like viable recourses in the face of white supremacy. He examines self-defense against state violence, crimes committed within black social spaces and intimate relationships, and the contest of white and black masculinity.

In this post, Flowe introduces and contextualizes the historical study presented in Uncontrollable Blackness. The book is now available in hardcover and ebook formats.


Uncontrollable Blackness in Context

In the summer of 1915 New York City police arrested Sonny Wilks in Midtown Manhattan and charged him with murder. As Wilks told the story, he recently had a falling out with his girlfriend, Ada Wright, and she returned to a former lover, Jasper Diamond. Because Diamond blamed Wilks for the lapse in his relationship with Wright, he confronted him on West 61st street on a warm summer evening and things became violent. “[Diamond] tried to shoot me about a girl, and I save myself by shooting him first,” Wilks later told police in a written statement.

Wilks was “idle” at the time of his arrest, he explained, having lost his job as a cigar maker, and he was away from his wife and child, trying to figure out how to make money to support them. In the photo of Wilks, on the cover of Uncontrollable Blackness, you can almost see the mixture of shock, anger, and fear he may have experienced in the moment of his arrest and booking. He had come to New York City from Honduras in 1900 and after fifteen years of working and surviving the crucible of Jim Crow, he was finally ensnared in the net of American law. The certainty that he would not see the streets, or his own family, in the context of freedom for quite some time, furrowed his brow. His bowtie sat crooked, likely because of being jostled by police when they dragged him away from the scene of the shooting. In the photo he was in a claustrophobic, smoky police stationhouse, deep within the notorious Tenderloin district; a precinct well-known for the chorus of cries to be heard from its windows as police applied the torturous “third degree” to those unlucky enough to see its innards. He was motionless for the instant of the photo, trying to follow the directions of the policemen surrounding him, and attempting to comprehend the profundity of his situation. And he had no way of knowing that in that moment he was not only looking at a camera controlled by a white officer in a dingy, musty room, but he was also staring more than 100 years into the future, on the cover of a book he would never get to read, but one that he would live every moment of. Wilks convinced a judge that he was in fact defending himself from Diamond during the conflict but he still received an indeterminate sentence of up to 16 years at Auburn Prison for first-degree manslaughter.

 Sonny Wilks’s inmate photo, Auburn Prison. Courtesy of New York State Archives.


Sonny Wilks’s story, and those of countless other men like him, provide an important opportunity to dissect the meaning of illegal, or criminalized, exploits of black men. Seizing this opportunity, Uncontrollable Blackness is not in any way meant to condemn their actions, nor is it meant to romanticize them. Whether petty crimes such as theft and vandalism, or heinous crimes like rape or murder, criminality can strike at the core of a community and rip the fabric of collective purpose. However, as a historian, I am primarily concerned with understanding the confluence of circumstances that placed Wilks on West 61st Street on that day that changed his life, the conditions that made his assailant approach him as he did, and those that made it so Wilks was armed with a gun and ready to use it, as he was. I am interested in the society they lived in, the ways that society had a part in their decision-making processes, and the crucibles uniquely customized for them. One of the greatest powers of the historian should be the ability to objectively observe and understand the past, and derive meaning that can contextualize the present; like comprehending the leaves of a tree by studying its roots, its seed, and the terra firma it is planted in. While judgement and bias might color all human perspectives, to some extent, historical study might provide a clear scope of an unseen past, and hold up a looking glass for us to observe ourselves. After all, our lives are intrinsically connected to what has come before us.

As such, Uncontrollable Blackness is an attempt to understand the societal, legal, economic, and gendered factors that may have made illegality attractive, necessary, or unavoidable for African American men in the early twentieth century, with an eye toward comprehending current issues of crime in black communities, and contextualizing continued police violence and mass incarceration. It comes to grips with how breaking the law can also be seen as resistance for those whom the legal process has turned against. It is meant to register the profound sense of dread one might feel when they realize societal inequalities tailormade for them are upheld by a body of laws that simultaneously restrict their options for recourse. How can anyone expect to address issues of crime and violence without seeking first to understand where they come from?

We can all understand Sonny Wilks because he is human, and the choices he made were set in a context that might force unwelcomed decisions for anyone who is navigating a crucible that threatens their livelihood, freedom, and life at every step. If he was telling the truth about defending himself, then he never actually broke the law, but lived the next six years of his life as prisoner number 34772 simply for trying to survive on the streets of his neighborhood. He was released for good behavior in the fall of 1921 but not before his wife passed away and he lost most of his connection with his child, who continued to live with Wilks’s aunt somewhere in New York. Ultimately, Wilks’s trials represent how the city itself got in the way of the lives black men tried to forge in the city. Whether by choice or by happenstance, they might find themselves compelled into violent situations, saddled with economic circumstances that made illegality alluring or vital, and entangled with the criminal justice system in ways that ravaged their lives. But, in the process, some used crime to gain distinct advantages. Uncontrollable Blackness tells these stories, finally, from their perspectives.


Photo by Sean Garcia

Douglas J. Flowe is assistant professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis. Follow him on Twitter.

Michael E. Woods: Remembering the Davis-Douglas Debates

Today we welcome a guest post from Michael E. Woods, author of Arguing Until Doomsday: Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and the Struggle for American Democracy, out now from UNC Press.

As the sectional crisis gripped the United States, the rancor increasingly spread to the halls of Congress. Preston Brooks’s frenzied assault on Charles Sumner was perhaps the most notorious evidence of the dangerous divide between proslavery Democrats and the new antislavery Republican Party. But as disunion loomed, rifts within the majority Democratic Party were every bit as consequential. And nowhere was the fracture more apparent than in the raging debates between Illinois’s Stephen Douglas and Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis. As leaders of the Democrats’ northern and southern factions before the Civil War, their passionate conflict of words and ideas has been overshadowed by their opposition to Abraham Lincoln. But here, weaving together biography and political history, Michael E. Woods restores Davis and Douglas’s fatefully entwined lives and careers to the center of the Civil War era.

In this post, Woods writes about the significance of the May 1860 clash between Democratic senators Jefferson Davis and Stephen A. Douglas.

Arguing Until Doomsday is now available in hardcover and ebook editions.


Remembering the Davis-Douglas Debates

After nearly half a century, C.S. Wooten vividly recalled one of antebellum America’s most momentous political debates. In a long article penned for a local newspaper, the North Carolinian described the “two great combatants” whose rhetorical duel had captivated their badly divided country. One was “short and fat,” but also “active, quick, sprightly in his movements, and a man of wonderful magnetism” whose oratorical prowess “could fascinate men and hold them under his magic spell.” The other was tall, lean, and projected “a stateliness and majesty of bearing, a loftiness of dignity, a certain hauteur of spirit that indicated a man accustomed to authority.” Erupting just months before the pivotal 1860 presidential election, these skilled debaters’ noisy clash over slavery’s westward expansion riled up northerners and southerners alike. As an eighteen-year-old, Wooten was too young to vote in that contest, but he recognized the massive stakes involved in what he called “The Davis-Douglas Debate.”[1]

Modern Americans are far more familiar with the 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, and historians have profitably compared and contrasted the lives of Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the executives who squared off in the Civil War. But Wooten’s article reminds us of what antebellum Americans understood quite clearly: the May 1860 clash between Senator Douglas of Illinois and Senator Davis of Mississippi was profoundly important and ominously divisive. Northerners and southerners followed the Congressional slugfest with rapt attention and responded with their own fiery rhetoric. A Georgian cheered on Davis and accused Douglas of making a “declaration of war against the South,” while from Maine came praise for Douglas’s “last great effort” which had “almost annihilated the Mississippian.”[2] Journalist Murat Halstead, who was scrambling from one city to the next to cover the ongoing presidential nominating conventions, stopped in Washington to watch part of the Davis-Douglas showdown, a highly anticipated event that filled the Senate galleries with eager spectators. And whether they watched in person or followed the debates through the newspapers, onlookers recognized the gravity of the rhetorical duel between two of the country’s most powerful senators. The debate portended both a rupture in their Democratic Party and trouble for the Union. As Davis himself predicted in early 1860, “a division of the Democracy must be the forerunner of a division of the States.”[3]

Continue Reading Michael E. Woods: Remembering the Davis-Douglas Debates

Jack Reid: Hitchhiking and Kinship Practices in the Navajo Nation

Today we welcome a guest post from Jack Reid, author of Roadside Americans: The Rise and Fall of Hitchhiking in a Changing Nation, out now from UNC Press.

Between the Great Depression and the mid-1970s, hitchhikers were a common sight for motorists, as American service members, students, and adventurers sought out the romance of the road in droves. Beats, hippies, feminists, and civil rights and antiwar activists saw “thumb tripping” as a vehicle for liberation, living out the counterculture’s rejection of traditional values. Yet, by the time Ronald Reagan, a former hitchhiker himself, was in the White House, the youthful faces on the road chasing the ghost of Jack Kerouac were largely gone—along with sympathetic portrayals of the practice in state legislatures and the media. In Roadside Americans, Jack Reid traces the rise and fall of hitchhiking, offering vivid accounts of life on the road and how the act of soliciting rides from strangers, and the attitude toward hitchhikers in American society, evolved over time in synch with broader economic, political, and cultural shifts. In doing so, Reid offers insight into significant changes in the United States amid the decline of liberalism and the rise of the Reagan Era.

In this post, author Jack Reid explores the practice of hitchhiking among people of the Navajo Nation.

Roadside Americans is now available in hardcover and ebook editions.


Hitchhiking and Kinship Practices in the Navajo Nation

Within mainstream American culture, hitchhiking is often considered an abandoned past time.  Once common between the Great Depression and the mid-1970s—when many saw it as a thrifty and at times romanticized form of spontaneous transit—the practice eventually lost favor.  To this day most Americans associate ride solicitation with sensational crime stories.  Despite this national trend, however, the practice is more common among indigenous societies, particularly along the desert highways and sweeping vistas of the Navajo Nation.

Although most Navajo do not rely on hitchhiking, the practice is nevertheless a regular feature of day-to-day life.  The reservation’s leading news source, the Navajo Times, for instance, periodically runs articles in an ongoing series called “The Hitchhiker Diaries,” which highlight compelling human interest stories as told by individuals picked up by one of the paper’s journalists.  Likewise, hitchhikers are a common motif in the work of Shonto Begay, a well-known Navajo artist.  Whether a painting of a young man thumbing to nearby Flagstaff, Arizona, or a collection of individuals telling stories in a truck bed barreling down the highway, Begay’s work situates hitchhiking as a meaningful part of Navajo mobility. All this begs the question, why is hitchhiking still viable when it has largely disappeared elsewhere in the United States?

Continue Reading Jack Reid: Hitchhiking and Kinship Practices in the Navajo Nation

Thomas J. Brown: Rumors of War in Richmond

Today we welcome a guest post from Thomas J. Brown, author of Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America, out now from UNC Press.

This sweeping new assessment of Civil War monuments unveiled in the United States between the 1860s and 1930s argues that they were pivotal to a national embrace of military values. Americans’ wariness of standing armies limited construction of war memorials in the early republic, Thomas J. Brown explains, and continued to influence commemoration after the Civil War. Brown shows that distrust of standing armies gave way to broader enthusiasm for soldiers in the Gilded Age. Some important projects challenged the trend, but many Civil War monuments proposed new norms of discipline and vigor that lifted veterans to a favored political status and modeled racial and class hierarchies. A half century of Civil War commemoration reshaped remembrance of the American Revolution and guided American responses to World War I.

Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America is now available in print and ebook formats. The book has recently been named the winner of the 2020 Tom Watson Book Award by the Society of Civil War Historians.


Rumors of War in Richmond

Recently announced plans to remove memorials on Monument Avenue in Richmond mark a climax in the critique of Confederate monuments that gained traction after the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and accelerated after the Charleston massacre of 2015 and Charlottesville bloodshed of 2017. Ironically, this event comes shortly after a well-publicized attempt to leverage rather than clear the Confederate landscape of Richmond, the December 2019 installation of Kehinde Wiley’s equestrian statue Rumors of War. Wiley’s work reanimates as it mocks the equestrian statues on nearby Monument Avenue, particularly the statue of J. E. B. Stuart on which Wiley based his composition. Rumors of War certainly draws meaning from its location, but it is also the capstone of a series on which the artist has been engaged since an early stage of his meteoric career, long before Confederate monuments stirred wide controversy. The overall project suggests important aspects of its extension to Richmond.

Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War in Richmond (2019). Steve Helber / AP

Continue Reading Thomas J. Brown: Rumors of War in Richmond

Extending the open-to-read book collection at JSTOR

In the closing weeks of March UNC Press was approached by a number of online platforms who host digital versions of our academic books. Because of the abrupt transition students and scholars were making to online learning and research, these platforms requested we permit unlimited, free access to our books through the end of June. While we rely on the revenue these channels provide to support our authors and staff, it was clear we needed to open our books. A crisis is precisely when it’s more important than ever to show your values. Limiting access would have been completely contrary to our mission of disseminating scholarship as broadly as possible.

At the same time, budgeting for the coming year has been a sobering process. We are predicting a six-figure deficit meaning we will be forced to make a number of difficult choices in the coming months. So, when JSTOR approached us again last week asking us to extend the unlimited, free access through the end of August, we had to view that through the hard reality of this looming concern. But JSTOR told us something else when they made this new request. They said use of our books had increased 75% during the past months. We have agreed to this extension.

We are facing unprecedented economic challenges at the same moment that our books are being discovered, read, and cited more than ever. Many of our recent titles on race and social justice are becoming cornerstones in the urgent conversations our country is having. There will be a time in the near future for us to make the case for financial support for the Press, but for now we encourage everyone to explore our books in hopes you see the value of the scholarship we so proudly publish.

John Sherer
Spangler Family Director, UNC Press

Association of University Presses Releases Equity and Anti-Racism Statement

Today our trade group, the Association of University Presses, released a statement on Equity and Anti-Racism. We proudly support this statement.


June 2, 2020 (New York, NY; Washington, DC)—The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) holds among our core values diversity and inclusion. As an organization and as a community, we mourn the lost lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, stolen by the systemic racism at work in the US. We condemn police brutality and other forms of socially sanctioned racist violence. And we stand in solidarity with all who continue to seek justice, to imagine equity, and to enact a different world.

Many of our member presses put the values of diversity and inclusion into the world in a tangible way, playing major roles over the last few decades in amplifying the voices of scholars who originated African American Studies, Native Studies, and LGBTQ studies, among other groundbreaking fields. These works are readily available to provide insights and are frequently cited as resources in response to police brutality or white supremacist violence.

But we have only to look to evidence such as that found in the Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey, indicating in 2019 that our ranks are 76% white, to know that holding a value is not sufficient. Every day our professional community—just as our personal communities—must work towards equity, towards inclusion, and towards justice.

Today we issue the AUPresses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism, declaring that upholding these core values requires “introspection, honesty, and reform of our current practices, the interests they serve, and the people and perspectives they exclude.” Drafted by our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, taken through a rigorous review process by our Equity, Justice, and Inclusion (EJI) Committee, and approved by the AUPresses Board of Directors, this statement points a way forward:

“Only with systems of accountability in place to protect and lift up those who have been historically harmed and silenced by our collective inaction will we succeed in dismantling the white supremacist structure upon which so many of our presses and parent institutions were built. How to support these efforts sustainably across the industry must be considered a priority for the Association, its members, and its executive board as well as the main focus of the Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee.”

We acknowledge with gratitude the volunteer efforts of our EJI Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect Task Force in calling us to this work. Download a PDF of the Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism.

Our inaugural EJI Community Read is another piece of this witness and work, and many member presses are organizing their staffs to read these essential selections: White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo (Beacon, 2018) and Invisible People by Alex Tizon (Temple, 2019). Our community’s full list of nominations for the Community Read project provides a wider lens through which to understand current events across the US as people protest and seek to right the wrongs of systematic racism and the long injustices of white supremacy.

As a community of publishers we are called to discuss and absorb what these authors have to say and to act on our colleagues’ specific recommendations—such as explicitly anti-racist training for managers, amelioration of the no- and low-wage entry points to our industry, and new recruitment and promotion strategies—with a goal of making equity a lived experience.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Michael Brown. The devastating list goes on and on. Yes, say their names. Yes, do the reading. But we must also live and work as though we have listened.


UNC Press Signs Anne C. Bailey, Randall Balmer, and Anthea D. Butler to Ferris & Ferris Books Imprint

UNC Press announced today the signing of three important additions to its new Marcie Cohen Ferris and William R. Ferris Imprint for high-profile, general interest books about the American South.

Executive editor Debbie Gershenowitz bought world rights from Faith Childs at Faith Childs Literary Agency to historian and contributor to the New York Times’ 1619 Project Anne C. Bailey’s follow up to her 2017 book, The Weeping Time. In the new work, to be published in fall 2023, Bailey is continuing and expanding her research into how descendants of the enslaved people sold at the largest slave auction in U.S. history have experienced processes of trauma, memory, and redemption, while applying a wider lens to the topic.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work again with Anne Bailey, a gifted historian and eloquent storyteller. Anne’s tireless detective work in tracing the descendants of the African slave trade and allowing them to honor their ancestors via their own traumas, memories, commemorations, and activism offers lessons to all of us on finding resilience and empowerment in the face of oppression and tragedy,” Gershenowitz said.

Executive editor Elaine Maisner bought world rights from Carol Mann at the Carol Mann Agency to Randall Balmer’s To Everything a Season: How Team Sports Became America’s New Religion, to be published in 2022.  A leading historian of American religion, Balmer became addicted to sports radio—and was inspired to look deeply into North American history to figure out why team sports invoke such peculiarly devotional passions among sports fans.

“This book will bring together both of Randall Balmer’s passions, and with publication arriving around the time that spectator sports will likely roar back after the COVID-19 crisis, Balmer will be proven to be astonishingly astute,” Maisner said.

Maisner also bought world rights to historian and popular opinion writer Anthea D. Butler’s hard-hitting, clear-eyed, and unsettling chronicle of the racism that has consistently operated through the course of American history at the core of conservative white evangelical politics. It continues to fester today in an evangelical blind spot. The book, titled White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America, is scheduled to be published in Spring 2021.

“Anthea Butler brings her vibrant and ultimately compassionate voice to the tough story chronicled in White Evangelical Racism: how America’s racial history underlies the connection between religion and electoral politics today. This is a reality that bears on every American, no matter one’s religion or ethos, so we’d better open our eyes to it,” Maisner said.

The Marcie Cohen Ferris and William R. Ferris Imprint is supported by a multimillion-dollar endowment created in honor of the Ferrises at the Press. Its inaugural volume, Grace Elizabeth Hale’s Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture, was published in March 2020, and other authors under contract include Karen Cox, Adrian Miller, and a major new multi-authored history of the South edited by W. Fitzhugh Brundage.

The Press intends to publish two to three books annually under the Ferris & Ferris Books imprint.

Founded in 1922, UNC Press is the oldest university press in the South and one of the oldest in the United States. It is an affiliate of the University of North Carolina System.


Noeleen McIlvenna: The Long History of Public Protest

Today we welcome a guest post from Noeleen McIlvenna, author of Early American Rebels: Pursuing Democracy from Maryland to Carolina, 1640–1700, out now from UNC Press.

During the half century after 1650 that saw the gradual imposition of a slave society in England’s North American colonies, poor white settlers in the Chesapeake sought a republic of equals. Demanding a say in their own destinies, rebels moved around the region looking for a place to build a democratic political system. This book crosses colonial boundaries to show how Ingle’s Rebellion, Fendall’s Rebellion, Bacon’s Rebellion, Culpeper’s Rebellion, Parson Waugh’s Tumult, and the colonial Glorious Revolution were episodes in a single struggle because they were organized by one connected group of people.

Early American Rebels is now available in print and ebook editions.


We live in a time of renewed public protest here in the United States: Black Lives Matter rallies, the Women’s March on Washington, Families Belong Together demonstrations, Puerto Rican resistance. Such scenes provoke memories of the 1960s, when the marches of the Civil Rights Movement changed the nation. But Civil Rights was not the first major American social movement. Suffragists organized mass demonstrations one hundred years ago. And we can keep going back. The Lowell Mill workers ‘paraded’ about low wages in the 1830s. Stamp Act ‘rioters’ carefully organized public protest in the 1760s. Truth is, Americans have been protesting against state and corporate power at least since the 1600s.

We don’t know too much about political dissent within Native American communities in North America in the era before European colonization. There was active warfare between societies and tribute owed to powerful chiefs. But internal dissent did not require mass mobilization. Societies without courts and police operated on very democratic principles. Leaders had to build consensus, because there was little obedience to power within a tribe.

European and African arrivals, however, have been protesting since they got off the boats. The Stono Rebellion of 1739 saw enslaved Kongolese lead a liberty march south from the Charleston area, gathering more people as they moved towards the border with Spanish Florida.

Continue Reading Noeleen McIlvenna: The Long History of Public Protest

Allison Margaret Bigelow: Mining Language and Political Discourse

Today we welcome a guest post from Allison Margaret Bigelow, author of Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World, out now from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and UNC Press.

Mineral wealth from the Americas underwrote and undergirded European colonization of the New World; American gold and silver enriched Spain, funded the slave trade, and spurred Spain’s northern European competitors to become Atlantic powers. Building upon works that have narrated this global history of American mining in economic and labor terms, Mining Language is the first book-length study of the technical and scientific vocabularies that miners developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as they engaged with metallic materials. This language-centric focus enables Allison Bigelow to document the crucial intellectual contributions Indigenous and African miners made to the very engine of European colonialism.

Mining Language is featured in our #LASA2020 virtual exhibit. It is now available in print and ebook formats.


About once every four years, as presidential elections ramp up here in the US, we hear a lot about miners. Despite the substantial policy differences between candidates like Donald Trump and Joe Biden, they tend to invoke a similar image of miners and mining technologies. Mr. Trump, sometimes donning a hard hat, often expresses solidarity with coal miners and their families, declaring, as he did in Toledo, Ohio, on January 9, 2020, “we are putting our miners back to work. Dig we must. Dig we must.”[1] Mr. Biden, expressing the same concern for employment prospects, does not claim that jobs in the industry are returning. Instead, he argues that miners could be retrained in computer science. As he put it, “Anybody who can go down 300-3,000 feet in a mine sure as hell can learn how to program as well.”[2]

These descriptions overlook the highly mechanized nature of modern mining. Mr. Trump holds an imaginary shovel in his hand, gesturing to nineteenth- and early-twentieth century methods of extraction, rather than contemporary technologies using draglines, large-scale trucks, and automatic conveyers.[3] Mr. Biden suggests that miners’ bravery will allow them to transition into new industries, seeming to overlook the knowledge required to operate high-tech equipment.

Continue Reading Allison Margaret Bigelow: Mining Language and Political Discourse

New Talking Legal History Interviews with Sophie White and Maddalena Marinari

Two new episodes of the Talking Legal History podcast series featuring UNC Press are online! You can listen to episode 17 with Sophie White here and episode 18 with Maddalena Marinari here.

The February episode features Siobhan talking with Sophie White about her book Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana (UNC Press, 2019). White is Associate Professor of American Studies and Concurrent Associate Professor in the Departments of Africana Studies, History, and Gender Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She is an historian of early America with an interdisciplinary focus on cultural encounters between Europeans, Africans and Native Americans, and a commitment to Atlantic and global research perspectives.

The March episode features Siobhan talking with Maddalena Marinari about her book, Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882–1965 (UNC Press, 2020). Marinari is Assistant Professor in History; Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies; and Peace Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. She has published extensively on immigration restriction and immigrant mobilization.

The series is produced by Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D. with support from the Versatile Humanists at Duke program. For updates on the series keep your eye on the UNC Press Blog and follow @SiobhanBarco on Twitter.










News from UNC Press: Retirement of Executive Editor Chuck Grench

Chuck Grench

In spring 2000, UNC Press marked the beginning of the new millennium by welcoming Chuck Grench as our new senior editor for history. Chuck was already well known to many in the university press community, having spent 25 years in the business before leaving Yale University Press for the warmer climes of North Carolina. But over the last 20 years, he has built many new relationships, not only in Chapel Hill but throughout the world of scholarly publishing. Whether you’ve broken bread with him, kibitzed at a conference booth, or merely seen him across the exhibit hall scrambling on top of a table to help hang our banner and posters, chances are you’ve found him as we have known hima nimble and curious thinker, a builder of lasting partnerships, a consummate professional, a cherished colleague.

So with a mix of admiration, gratitude, celebration, and a hint of sadness, we are sharing the news that Chuck Grench will retire from UNC Press on April 30, 2020. Though Chuck’s plans have been in the works since early in the new year, we had originally hoped to mark the announcement at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, which had been slated to meet in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. Though the coronavirus pandemic had other plans, we want to share the news with our community of authors, colleagues, and friends so that you can share your well wishes during this time.

Over the last two decades, most recently as executive editor, Chuck has helped catalyze many changes that have shaped UNC Press into the publisher it is today. On arriving from New Haven, he quickly built on the existing strengths of our list, acquiring prizewinning books in African American history and southern history while pushing into new areas such as western history, Latino and Chicano history, borderlands history, and more. He joined the Press very soon after the launch of our John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture (co-edited by Patricia Sullivan and Waldo Martin) and was integral to its growth and development. He later initiated the creation of the David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History (co-edited by Andrew Graybill and Ben Johnson) and helped the Press forge a vital new relationship around the series with the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. Chuck also built a distinguished list in Cold War-era and diplomatic history (particularly via the New Cold War History series, edited by Odd Arne Westad), acquired valuable projects for the Press’s Civil War-era and women’s history lists, and curated a fascinating cluster of books on the history and practice of craft in America. He has especially cherished his role as the Press’s primary liaison to the books publishing program of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture. Books by Chuck’s authors have earned virtually every major prize given for work in the field of U.S. history, and the work he has edited will continue to shape the field for years to come.

It would be easy to continue listing Chuck’s accomplishments, particularly if we include his many successful years at Yale. But those of you who know and love Chuck will appreciate that the most important thing is not what he did but how he did it. Chuck’s integrity, collegiality, tireless advocacy for his authors, and unfailing good spirit have been his calling card for nearly half a century. And that’s what those of us who have been honored to work with him will remember the longest.

Please join all of us at UNC Press as we honor Chuck as he nears the end of a terrific career and wish him well on all his next endeavors.

Mark Simpson-Vos
Wyndham Editorial Director, UNC Press

Chuck among his colleagues on our Acquisitions Editorial team. (front row, left to right) Brandon Proia, Cate Hodorowicz, Chuck Grench, Dominique Moore (back row, left to right) Mark Simpson-Vos, Lucas Church, Andrew Winters, Elaine Maisner, Dylan White, Debbie Gershenowitz.


Chuck on banner duty at a recent UNC Press conference exhibit. Photo by B. Proia.



If you’d like to send a short video or written message to Chuck on his retirement, please DM us on Twitter or send an email to afaison@uncpress.org, and we’ll be sure to pass it along.

Cooperation and the Creation of a National Emergency Library

In the context of the unprecedented challenges associated with the spread of COVID-19, many of you will have read about an effort from the Internet Archive (IA) to launch a “National Emergency Library” (NEL). Essentially, the NEL was an effort to create unlimited access to digital editions of books in their collection. At a time when physical libraries were closing, this ambitious effort to open up content that had been previously limited or subject to paywalls was both praised and criticized.

At our presses we had already agreed to allow open digital access to our scholarly collections. At UNC Press, we opened our book collections in platforms like Project MUSEBooks at JSTOR, Ebsco, and ProQuest. Duke University Press offered free platform access to digital collections of books and journals to requesting libraries through June 30, 2020. Over 200 libraries have taken Duke up on this offer. Duke University Press opened up content to the public in several timely syllabi, including Navigating the Threat of Pandemic and Care in Uncertain Times. These arrangements had been made through dialog and discussion with those vendors who sought our perspective and permission.

The NEL was different in that the IA acted unilaterally and blurred legal arguments with extra-legal (read: emergency) justifications. This ignored the agency that authors and publishers legally and conventionally exercise. And as our colleague Karin Wulf from the Omohundro Institute wrote, it ignored the systems that invest in the production of these books.

After IA acted unilaterally in creating the National Emergency Library, we criticized the effort and presses began the process of withdrawing titles. However, after a conference call with the leadership of the IA and many university press directors, we realized our two presses shared many of the same goals of the NEL, but we simply disagreed with the process by which the main goal was being achieved.

After this conference call, we subsequently opened a separate line of communication with the IA and we’re pleased to announce that within a few days, we created a one-page Statement of Cooperation to allow our university press titles to participate in the NEL. The key features of this statement were:

  • Flipping the NEL from an opt-out to an opt-in arrangement where the Press provided affirmation and permission for titles to be included;
  • It gave the Press agency to determine when the “emergency” would be over (June 30);
  • It committed the IA to perform prompt take-downs (upon our individual author requests);
  • It ensured the sharing of usage data while protecting the privacy of patrons.

UNC Press and Duke University Press authors who do not want to have their books included in the NEL can write directly to info@archive.org with the subject line “National Emergency Library Removal Request.” Or they can reach out to us, and we’ll pass that communication to the IA.

We have shared the boilerplate language of the Statement of Cooperation with other university presses, but there remains significant (and justifiable) mistrust within our community for the Internet Archive. That mistrust exists among many publishers beyond university presses and precedes the NEL. There couldn’t be a worse time to be arguing about something like this. Possibly the most important part of the joint statement is the last line: “The Parties commit to a sustained, good-faith dialog about a long-term model for including the Press’s titles in the Internet Archive.” We have every confidence that we will make that happen.

John Sherer
Spangler Family Director, UNC Press

Dean Smith
Director, Duke University Press

Statement of Cooperation

The spread of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on scholarly communications. The entire creation and distribution chain for books (including authors, publishers, wholesalers, libraries, bookstores, students, teachers, and readers) has been upended. We agree that in this extraordinary moment, an unprecedented level of cooperation is required to address this crisis in order to meet the dire needs of readers—especially students and other readers who are at risk for losing access to their traditional sources of books.

The Press and the Internet Archive share a collective mission to distribute books and published materials as broadly and fairly as possible, while not adversely jeopardizing the ability of the Press and its authors to continue to produce such materials. During the spread of COVID-19, the Press and the Internet Archive have been contacted by countless teachers and students requesting access to materials, indicating a heightened and urgent demand.

Therefore, the Press agrees to allow the Internet Archive to temporarily remove the waitlist restrictions on its titles in the National Emergency Library through June 30. Within two weeks prior to that date, the Parties agree to consider an extension of this temporary lending policy. The Internet Archive agrees to promptly remove titles published by the Press where the author or the Press has requested an exemption from the temporary policy.

The Internet Archive commits to sharing usage data to the Press and helping the Press determine whether books not already in the Internet Archive could potentially be added to the policy.

The Parties stipulate that nothing in this Statement of Cooperation shall be deemed a precedent or construed as support, acknowledgment or agreement to any legal position about the long-term presence of the Press’s books in the Internet Archive, including in Controlled Digital Lending.

The Parties commit to a sustained, good-faith dialog about a long-term model for including the Press’s titles in the Internet Archive.


Jeffrey Alan Erbig Jr. : Indigenous Rights in “A Country Without Indians”

Today we welcome a guest post from Jeffrey Erbig, author of Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met: Border Making in Eighteenth-Century South America, out now from UNC Press.

During the late eighteenth century, Portugal and Spain sent joint mapping expeditions to draw a nearly 10,000-mile border between Brazil and Spanish South America. These boundary commissions were the largest ever sent to the Americas and coincided with broader imperial reforms enacted throughout the hemisphere. Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met considers what these efforts meant to Indigenous peoples whose lands the border crossed. Moving beyond common frameworks that assess mapped borders strictly via colonial law or Native sovereignty, it examines the interplay between imperial and Indigenous spatial imaginaries. What results is an intricate spatial history of border making in southeastern South America (present-day Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) with global implications.

Where Caciques and Mapmakers Met is now available in print and ebook formats.


Indigenous Rights in “A Country Without Indians”

Uruguay is often considered one of the most progressive countries in Latin America. Whether for its generous welfare state, strong labor unions, the decriminalization of abortion, marriage equality laws, the legalization of recreational cannabis, or otherwise, the country has stood out in the region. Yet Uruguay is one of the only countries in Latin America to not ratify the International Labor Organization’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 (Map 1). This 1989 convention is the only legally binding international document regarding Indigenous peoples’ rights, including the right to self-determination, and is a forerunner to the United Nations’ 2007 Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Map 1. Convention 169 Signatories in Latin America. Source: www.ilo.org

Uruguay’s opposition to signing this convention derives from a national imaginary that simultaneously denies and appropriates indigeneity. Since the nineteenth century, political leaders and academics alike have cultivated the notion that Uruguay is a country without Indians (“un país sin indios), instead emphasizing European immigration as its population’s defining characteristic. Meanwhile, they considered Charrúas – the principal Indigenous nation in and around Uruguay – to have been prehistoric forebears of Uruguayan national spirit, no longer around but living in everyone. This sentiment is ubiquitous yet perhaps most visible internationally in the use of the concept “garra charrúa” to refer to the tenacity of Uruguay’s national soccer team and players abroad. The logic is thus that if there are no more Charrúas or if everyone is Charrúa then there is no need to officially recognize Charrúa rights.

Continue Reading Jeffrey Alan Erbig Jr. : Indigenous Rights in “A Country Without Indians”

Author Interview: Jack Reid on Roadside Americans

In this Q&A, Jack Reid discusses his book Roadside Americans: The Rise and Fall of Hitchhiking in a Changing Nation, out now from UNC Press.

Between the Great Depression and the mid-1970s, hitchhikers were a common sight for motorists, as American service members, students, and adventurers sought out the romance of the road in droves. Beats, hippies, feminists, and civil rights and antiwar activists saw “thumb tripping” as a vehicle for liberation, living out the counterculture’s rejection of traditional values. Yet, by the time Ronald Reagan, a former hitchhiker himself, was in the White House, the youthful faces on the road chasing the ghost of Jack Kerouac were largely gone—along with sympathetic portrayals of the practice in state legislatures and the media. In Roadside Americans, Jack Reid traces the rise and fall of hitchhiking, offering vivid accounts of life on the road and how the act of soliciting rides from strangers, and the attitude toward hitchhikers in American society, evolved over time in synch with broader economic, political, and cultural shifts. In doing so, Reid offers insight into significant changes in the United States amid the decline of liberalism and the rise of the Reagan Era.

Roadside Americans is now available in hardcover and ebook editions.


Q: Did people really hitchhike for enjoyment and leisure “back in the day?”

A: For some, hitchhiking was simply a way to get from one place to another when they lacked transit options. Still, there were others—especially white middle class youths—who saw hitchhiking as a path toward adventure and a taste of authentic Americana. For instance, after reading On the Road and listening to the music of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan hitchhiked to New York from Minnesota in search of the “hydrogen juke box world” he read about in Beat literature. Also enamored with On the Road, Hunter S. Thompson hitchhiked across the country in 1960, writing romantically along the way about the open road, later captured in the edited volume The Proud Highway.

It was affordable to travel by thumb, making more ambitious trips possible for youths on summer break. Traveling across the country, they got to encounter and talk to a cross-section of Americans they’d likely never otherwise meet. They got a thrill from doing this, and felt like they were earning a worldlier disposition beyond that of their suburban upbringing. Even so, it wasn’t always about enjoyment as there was a lot of hardship on the road. Yet, this too was part of the allure. Surviving these difficult moments was a rite of passage of sorts.

Q: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is one of my favorite books. Why was the beat generation so preoccupied with hitchhiking?

A: Well the beats were a varied lot, but for folks like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, hitchhiking represented spontaneous movement and raw experience. It was kind of like jazz, a musical medium they were obsessed with. You couldn’t really have a structured hitchhiking experience, one had to constantly improvise, similar to a jazz musician, and see where the moment took them. Kerouac loved the characters he encountered on the road, all of them seemed to be right out of a Steinbeck novel. In On the Road, he waxed poetically about sipping spirits with a group of strangers turned friends in the back of a truck under the “tragic American night.” Kerouac was also very interested in the American hobo, so he had a nostalgia for the road and the sense of independence from mainstream responsibilities that it offered.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Jack Reid on Roadside Americans

Grace Elizabeth Hale: Happy Birthday, R.E.M.

Today we welcome a guest post from Grace Elizabeth Hale, author of Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture, out now from the UNC Press Ferris & Ferris Books imprint.

In the summer of 1978, the B-52’s conquered the New York underground. A year later, the band’s self-titled debut album burst onto the Billboard charts, capturing the imagination of fans and music critics worldwide. The fact that the group had formed in the sleepy southern college town of Athens, Georgia, only increased the fascination. Soon, more Athens bands followed the B-52’s into the vanguard of the new American music that would come to be known as “alternative,” including R.E.M., who catapulted over the course of the 1980s to the top of the musical mainstream. In Athens in the eighties, if you were young and willing to live without much money, anything seemed possible. Cool Town reveals the passion, vitality, and enduring significance of a bohemian scene that became a model for others to follow. Grace Elizabeth Hale experienced the Athens scene as a student, small-business owner, and band member. Blending personal recollection with a historian’s eye, she reconstructs the networks of bands, artists, and friends that drew on the things at hand to make a new art of the possible, transforming American culture along the way. In a story full of music and brimming with hope, Hale shows how an unlikely cast of characters in an unlikely place made a surprising and beautiful new world.

In this post, Hale commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Athens, Georgia, band R.E.M.’s first live performance, and shares an annotated playlist of their music.

Cool Town is now available in print and ebook editions. Watch the promotional trailer for the book here.


40 Years after R.E.M.’s Debut, a Band Not Afraid of Beauty May Be Just What We Need

Athens locals simply called it “the church.” Sometime in the seventies, someone had constructed a two-story plywood shell of an apartment within the former St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Oconee Street, like a stage set for a slacker sitcom. Inside the box, the one-time hippie squat offered impossible-to-heat rooms and a functional bathroom and kitchen. Outside the box, reached through a hole in the back of a bedroom closet, some of the old space of worship still existed—open, dusty, damp, and beckoning. You had to be young and broke to even think about renting it. As Peter Buck told Rolling Stone, the place had “been romanticized beyond belief. It was a rotten, dumpy little shit hole where college kids, only college kids, could be convinced to live.”

But it was a great place to party. On April 5, 1980, hippies and art students and members of other new music bands in what was becoming America’s first alternative scene crawled through the back of that closet and into the soaring space of what had been the sanctuary. On the raised platform that had formerly held the altar, three bands played. The last, too new then to have a name, was R.E.M. Mike Mills, Bill Berry, Michael Stipe, and Buck alternated between rough covers, including the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen,” and ragged originals like “A Different Girl.” People got smashed and high and paired off, but not before calling the band back for a sloppy, multiple-song encore that included an audience singalong to a rendition of Patti Smith’s cover of “Gloria.” Miraculously—maybe the space was still sacred—no one fell through the rotten floorboards.

Continue Reading Grace Elizabeth Hale: Happy Birthday, R.E.M.

Brian P. Luskey: The Civil War’s Free Labor Crisis

Today we welcome a guest post from Brian P. Luskey, author of Men is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America, out now from UNC Press.

When a Civil War substitute broker told business associates that “Men is cheep here to Day,” he exposed an unsettling contradiction at the heart of the Union’s war effort. Despite Northerners’ devotion to the principles of free labor, the war produced rampant speculation and coercive labor arrangements that many Americans labeled fraudulent. Men Is Cheap shows that in the process of winning the war, Northerners were forced to grapple with the frauds of free labor. Labor brokers, by helping to staff the Union military and Yankee households, did indispensable work that helped the Northern state and Northern employers emerge victorious. They also gave rise to an economic and political system that enriched the managerial class at the expense of laborers—a reality that resonates to this day.a reality that resonates to this day.

Men is Cheap is now available in print and ebook editions.


The Civil War’s Free Labor Crisis

For Henry Walker, a private in the 117th New York Infantry, the Civil War was an economic crisis. Walker’s household was imperiled by the demands the war placed upon it. While Henry and his only son Albert served in the army, his wife Persis and their six daughters struggled to pay the rent because neighbors reneged on promises to help them while the male breadwinners who risked their lives for the nation were absent. Persis requested assistance and demanded fair treatment from creditors and storekeepers, but she remained anxious about how long she and the girls could survive in his absence. Henry—far from home, earning low wages as an enlisted man, and despairing of obtaining the state bounty payment owed to him—found it difficult to help his family make ends meet.

Faced with the challenge of alleviating his family’s economic struggles on a soldier’s wage, Walker resolved to bet everything on the promise of free labor ideology for workers. He would work harder, dispense advice to his family, and envision a future in which he and his loved ones would be in control of their economic destiny. He bought shoemaker’s tools and earned additional money mending the soles of his comrades’ boots. He sent those funds home, accompanied by letters in which he instructed his wife and daughters to save their money. He echoed the spirit of “go-ahead” that was so prevalent in the nation during this era. Hard work and self-discipline were obligatory: “I wish you to prosper,” he told his family, “rem[em]ber your life is just what you make it.” Perseverance was also a must: “our coarse in life depends on our own energy. persevere their is nothing like try try agan.”

Continue Reading Brian P. Luskey: The Civil War’s Free Labor Crisis

Philip F. Rubio: The Great Postal Wildcat Strike Jubilee

Today we welcome a guest post from Philip F. Rubio, author of Undelivered: From the Great Postal Strike of 1970 to the Manufactured Crisis of the U.S. Postal Service, forthcoming in May 2020 from UNC Press.

For eight days in March 1970, over 200,000 postal workers staged an illegal “wildcat” strike—the largest in United States history—for better wages and working conditions. Picket lines started in New York and spread across the country like wildfire. Strikers defied court injunctions, threats of termination, and their own union leaders. In the negotiated aftermath, the U.S. Post Office became the U.S. Postal Service, and postal workers received full collective bargaining rights and wage increases, all the while continuing to fight for greater democracy within their unions. Using archives, periodicals, and oral histories, Philip Rubio shows how this strike, born of frustration and rising expectations and emerging as part of a larger 1960s-1970s global rank-and-file labor upsurge, transformed the post office and postal unions.

In this post, Dr. Rubio writes about the importance of commemorating the nationwide postal wildcat strike on the day of its fiftieth anniversary. You can read his 2015 blog post which includes a more detailed account of the strike here.

Undelivered will publish in May 2020 and is available for pre-order now.


The Great Postal Wildcat Strike Jubilee

March 18, 1970 marks the day fifty years ago when postal workers walked off the job in New York City in what soon became the largest wildcat strike in U.S. labor history.  “Wildcats” are strikes not authorized by the unions, but this strike was also illegal, as a 1912 law bars federal government workers from striking.  Nevertheless, for eight days over 200,000 workers struck the U.S. Post Office Department across the country in a dozen states and hundreds of post offices.  They struck for a living wage and job dignity.  The strike forced passage of the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act (PRA) that transformed the post office into a self-supporting government/corporate hybrid called the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in 1971.  President Richard Nixon and Congress ended further strike threats by extending pay raises and full collective bargaining rights to postal workers—the only federal employees who enjoy those rights to this day.  Their strike also initiated a process of greater democratization of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), and the new American Postal Workers Union (APWU, product of five unions merging in 1971).

Unfortunately, our society has largely forgotten the 1970 postal strike.  What historians choose to research and publish matters, and amazingly, this strike has so far gained little attention from labor historians.  It has fallen to strike veterans, the postal unions, and labor activists to keep that memory alive and mark that date in anticipation this year of the strike’s “jubilee” (also known as the fiftieth anniversary).

Continue Reading Philip F. Rubio: The Great Postal Wildcat Strike Jubilee

Author Interview: Jennifer L. Etnier on Coaching for the Love of the Game

In this Q&A, professor of kinesiology Jennifer L. Etnier discusses her new book Coaching for the Love of the Game: A Practical Guide for Working with Young Athletes, available now from UNC Press.

More than 45 million children play youth sports in the United States each year, and most are coached by parent volunteers with good intentions but little training. This lack of training and an overemphasis on winning often results in stress and frustration for coaches and players alike, which can discourage young athletes so much that they walk away from sports altogether. With this new guide for amateur parent coaches, Jennifer Etnier, author of Bring Your ‘A’ Game, aims to change that. Etnier offers a system of positive coaching that can be applied to any sport, from the beginner level to high school athletics, and explains that good coaching requires working with young athletes at their developmental level and providing feedback designed to keep children engaged and having fun.

Coaching for the Love of the Game is now available in print and ebook editions. Watch a promotional trailer for the book here.


Q: Why did you write this book, and how do you hope it will be used?

A: I wrote this book because I have literally been losing sleep at night over coaches I’ve seen working with youth athletes. To give just a few examples: I wrote this book because of the coach I saw screaming at a team of 9-year-olds after a soccer game, the volleyball coach who only let his weaker players on the court for 2 points out of 3 entire games, the basketball coach who told his 11-year-olds to do push-ups until they were ready to pay attention, and the coach who spent the majority of his practice texting on his cell phone. I wrote this book with the hope of helping well-intentioned coaches remember what the top priority is in youth sports (i.e, the kids!) to help them have a positive influence on their athletes so that every athlete has fun, improves, and feels valued and respected.

Q: What was your own experience growing up as a young athlete and an avid lover of sports? How have those experiences influenced this book?

A: When I was playing sports, I had coaches who were focused on creating a fun atmosphere where athletes had an opportunity to improve. My coaches ran the gamut from volunteer parent coaches to full-time paid coaches, but most approached athletics as an environment for personal growth rather than a venue for winning at all costs. Of course, we cared about winning and I’m a very competitive person, but I also recognized early on that winning is not the most important thing. The most important things are to be competitive while having fun, focusing on improvement, and learning how to work hard to give winning your best chance. I learned to give full effort against a competitor, but to still cheer for her good shot. I learned to work hard in practices to improve, to try my hardest in competition, to persist against adversity, and to be a good sport.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Jennifer L. Etnier on Coaching for the Love of the Game