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

cover for from goodwill to grunge Today we welcome a guest post by Jennifer Le Zotte, author of  From Goodwill to Grunge: A History of Secondhand Styles and Alternative Economies. In this surprising new look at how clothing, style, and commerce came together to change American culture, Jennifer Le Zotte examines how secondhand goods sold at thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales came to be both profitable and culturally influential. Initially, selling used goods in the United States was seen as a questionable enterprise focused largely on the poor. But as the twentieth century progressed, multimillion-dollar businesses like Goodwill Industries developed, catering not only to the needy but increasingly to well-off customers looking to make a statement. Le Zotte traces the origins and meanings of “secondhand style” and explores how buying pre-owned goods went from a signifier of poverty to a declaration of rebellion.

In today’s post, Le Zotte writes about the history of thrift stores as sites of commercial support of queer communities.

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In this divisive political season, American public bathrooms and changing rooms are spaces of contention. For example, in March 2016 North Carolina legislature passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, better known as HB2, in reaction to a Charlotte City ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in various settings. North Carolina’s HB2, one of a string of recent “bathroom bills,” specifies that in government buildings, individuals must use restrooms and changing facilities corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate.  In a swift and somewhat contentious response, discount retailer Target formally welcomed transgender shoppers, inviting them to use whichever bathroom corresponds with their gender identity.

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

Interview: Dr. Peggy Valentine on the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity

Left to right: Vanessa Duren-Robinson, Ph.D. (Editorial Board Member); Elijah Onsomu (Managing Editor and Layout Editor); Peggy Valentine, Ed.D. (Editor-in-Chief); Steve Aragon, Ph.D. (Editorial Board Member); and LaKisha Crews (Assistant to Acting Managing Editor). Not pictured: Joanne Banks (Associate Editor) and Leslie Allison, Ph.D. (Editorial Board Member). Photo courtesy of Winston-Salem State University.

 
In the following interview, John McLeod, director of the UNC Press Office of Scholarly Publishing Services discusses the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Research, Education and Policy with editor-in-chief Dr. Peggy Valentine.

Dr. Valentine is dean and professor at the School of Health Sciences at Winston-Salem State University, a constituent of the University of North Carolina system. She founded the peer reviewed Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Research, Education and Policy (J Best Pract Health Prof Divers) in 2007 to provide a forum for the discussion of factors that promote or constrain the development and sustainability of a diverse health professions workforce. Dr. Valentine oversees Winston-Salem State University educational programs in Clinical Laboratory Science, Exercise Physiology, Healthcare Management, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Rehabilitation Counseling. She has clinical experience as a registered nurse and physician assistant and has conducted research on homeless and minority issues. She is actively engaged with a number of state and national groups and institutions including the board of trustees for Novant Health Medical Group, the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Community-Based Interdisciplinary Linkages, the Consortium on International Management Policy and Development, the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, and the National Society of Allied Health.

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cover image for Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Research, Education, and Policy, Fall 2016 issueJohn McLeod: Can you tell us why you started the journal?

Dr. Peggy Valentine: I was inspired by the 2004 Sullivan Commission’s Report on “Missing Persons in the Health Professions,” and felt the need to provide a forum for educators, researchers and others to share their research, experiences  in their programs, and offer potential solutions.

JM: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges and opportunities the healthcare professions face today in terms of achieving better diversity?

PV:  The greatest challenge in achieving diversity is knowledge. Diverse students are often unaware of the variety of health disciplines and the educational requirements to be competitive. Many are unaware of available resources and lack mentors who can point them in the right direction.A challenge exists for faculty and administrators of educational programs who may also lack knowledge on how to best recruit and retain diverse students. Finally, the health care industry is challenged in recruiting diverse employees. It has been my observation that organizations with set goals and strategies in place to achieve a diverse workforce are more successful, especially when diversity is a high priority at all levels, including upper levels of management.

JM: You recently formed a partnership with the National Association of Medical Minority Educators which now offers the journal as a member benefit. Tell us a little bit about the NAMME and their mission.Continue Reading Interview: Dr. Peggy Valentine on the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity

Andrew Denson: Apologizing for Indian Removal in the Civil Rights Era South

monuments to absence by andrew densonToday we welcome a guest post by Andrew Denson, author of Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern MemoryThe 1830s forced removal of Cherokees from their southeastern homeland became the most famous event in the Indian history of the American South, an episode taken to exemplify a broader experience of injustice suffered by Native peoples. In this book, Andrew Denson explores the public memory of Cherokee removal through an examination of memorials, historic sites, and tourist attractions dating from the early twentieth century to the present. White southerners, Denson argues, embraced the Trail of Tears as a story of Indian disappearance. Commemorating Cherokee removal affirmed white possession of southern places, while granting them the moral satisfaction of acknowledging past wrongs. During segregation and the struggle over black civil rights, removal memorials reinforced whites’ authority to define the South’s past and present. Cherokees, however, proved capable of repossessing the removal memory, using it for their own purposes during a time of crucial transformation in tribal politics and U.S. Indian policy. In considering these representations of removal, Denson brings commemoration of the Indian past into the broader discussion of race and memory in the South.

In this post Denson will speak on injustices brought upon the Cherokee people. 

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In the spring of 1962, legislators in Georgia voted unanimously to repeal a set of anti-Indian laws from the 1820s and 1830s. These laws had sparked the political crisis that led to the Cherokee “Trail of Tears,” the removal of the majority of Cherokees from the Southeast to Indian Territory. Starting in 1828, Georgia had extended its jurisdiction over Cherokee territory, outlawed

Dedication of the New Echota State Historic Site, Georgia, 1962, courtesy Georgia State Archives

the Cherokee government, and nullified Cherokee laws in an effort to force tribal leaders to negotiate a removal agreement with the United States. More than a century later, Georgia created a state historic site at New Echota, the removal-era capital of the Cherokee Nation, and state legislators organized the repeal of the old laws as part of that commemoration. They acknowledged the role played by their state in driving Cherokees west, denouncing Georgia’s campaign against the tribe as a “gross injustice” that would “shock the consciences of all those who believe in equality under the law.” In repealing the laws and commemorating Cherokee history at New Echota, the legislature explained, “Georgia atones for the wrong done to these worthy people.”

The state took this action in the midst of the civil rights movement, while African American activists in Georgia and elsewhere labored to secure that same “equality under the law.” Georgia dedicated New Echota shortly after a bitter dispute over school integration and while activists in several of the state’s cities fought to desegregate public facilities and services. In fact, during the very session in which lawmakers repealed the antebellum statutes, students from Atlanta’s black universities picketed the statehouse, demanding the desegregation of the building’s public galleries. White legislators condemned the injustice of Indian removal in a Jim Crow capitol, as black civil rights activists marched just outside the door.

This moment represents something more than an interesting coincidence.

Cherokee Supreme Court Building, Reconstruction, New Echota State Historic Site, photo by author

Cherokee removal became a more relevant topic in southern memory during the mid-twentieth century, when the Cold War and the politics of civil rights encouraged Americans to confront their nation’s history of racial injustice. Commemorating the Trail of Tears offered white southerners a politically safe way to contemplate one element of that history. In memory, the Trail of Tears echoed the modern struggle over civil rights, but it seemed distant enough from contemporary politics that white communities could memorialize Indian dispossession without inviting controversy. In apologizing for removal, meanwhile, white commemorators could express a commitment to American ideals of equality at a time when civil rights activists condemned the segregated South as deeply un-American. Midcentury commemoration of Indian history, then, opens a window on the culture of the white South during a crucial period of conflict and transformation.

 

 

Andrew Denson teaches history at Western Carolina University. Denson is the author of Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory.

Kristina M. Jacobsen: In Memoriam: Shirley Bowman (1949-2017)

cover for the sound of navajo countryToday we have a guest post from Kristina M. Jacobsen, in memory of her friend and mentor Shirley Bowman, who, among other contributions, edited and translated the Navajo text in Jacobsen’s newly published ethnography of Navajo (Diné) popular music culture, The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging.

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Shirley Bowman: Navajo language and culture teacher, world traveler, mother, grandmother, Navajo Nation citizen, professor, fellow “foodie” and tamale maker extraordinaire. These are some of the things that come to mind when I remember my teacher, mentor, friend and “mom,” Shirley Ann Bowman (1949-2017), who passed away on March 7.

The author, left, with Shirley Bowman

I met Shirley in the fall of 2008 in Crownpoint, when I began my research on Diné country western bands (“rez bands”) and was looking for a Navajo language teacher. She embraced me fully, immersing me not only in the Navajo language but what in it meant to be a woman in Diné society, my expected social roles, and how—as a non-Native, Anglo woman—to conduct myself accordingly.

Born into the Tsénahabiłnii [Sleep Rock People] clan and born for Bit’ahnii [Folded Arms People], Shirley was quick to laugh, loved to go on adventures, and was full of joy, especially when talking about the Navajo language. She was exacting in her English and her Navajo:  grammar, and proper spelling and saying things the “right” way was important to her (she referred to other versions of Navajo as “lazy tongue” Navajo), and this attention to detail is also something she passed on to her many students in Crownpoint, Alamo, and elsewhere.

photo by Kristina M. Jacobsen

Shirley loved word play, double entendre, and stories about Diné cultural types. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: In Memoriam: Shirley Bowman (1949-2017)

Jessica M. Frazier: Networks, News, and Activism

cover art for women's antiwar diplomacyToday we welcome a guest post by Jessica M. Frazier, author of Women’s Antiwar Diplomacy during the Vietnam War Era. In 1965, fed up with President Lyndon Johnson’s refusal to make serious diplomatic efforts to end the Viet Nam War, a group of female American peace activists decided to take matters into their own hands by meeting with Vietnamese women to discuss how to end U.S. intervention. While other attempts at women’s international cooperation and transnational feminism have led to cultural imperialism or imposition of American ways on others, Frazier reveals an instance when American women crossed geopolitical boundaries to criticize American Cold War culture, not promote it. The American women Frazier studies not only solicited Vietnamese women’s opinions and advice on how to end the war but also viewed them as paragons of a new womanhood by which American women could rework their ideas of gender, revolution, and social justice during an era of reinvigorated feminist agitation.

In this post Frazier discusses the parallels between the world of social media sharing today with activism tactics during the Viet Nam War. 

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Since the creation of social networking sites, maintaining contact with people around the world has never been easier, and it has never seemed easier to learn various perspectives on a given topic. But with the tendency to surround oneself with like-minded people, even (or perhaps especially) in the virtual world, comes the creation of echo chambers. With the accessibility of such sites to anyone who wants to sell a story regardless of its accuracy comes the corresponding problem of fake news. Both issues came to light following the recent American presidential race.

The desire to connect as well as to find alternative sources of information is not new. In the 1960s, many members of the underground press and anti–Viet Nam War movement similarly created their own networks of communication by traveling the world. Visiting Paris, Hanoi, Bratislava, Budapest, and elsewhere, activists took matters into their own hands by finding out for themselves what was happening halfway around the world, in Viet Nam.

Two such activists, Mary Clarke and Lorraine Gordon, members of an anti–nuclear proliferation group called Women Strike for Peace, traveled to Hanoi just two months after U.S. bombing began over North Viet Nam. They refused to take American politicians at their word and wanted to ascertain what the Vietnamese wanted and how they could help end U.S. involvement in Viet Nam. It would have taken Clarke and Gordon about a week to reach Hanoi by flying through Europe, Russia, and then on to Southeast Asia. Continue Reading Jessica M. Frazier: Networks, News, and Activism

Darrin Pratt: Mission Possible

We’d like to share with our readers a valuable article written by Darrin Pratt, director of the University Press of Colorado and current president of the Association of American University Presses. This article was originally published at the University of Colorado Press Blog.

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University Press of Colorado logo

In a previous post, I wrote about the minor miracle continually performed by the membership of the Association of American University Presses, a miracle that involves taking a relatively small annual budget and multiplying that budget until it becomes substantially larger. University presses, I observed, collectively receive an annual budget that would support the publication of roughly 900 scholarly monographs annually, based on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation–funded ITHAKA S+R study of the average publication cost of a monograph. In reality, university presses create enough additional revenue from the starting budget they are given to produce over 6,000 books annually,[1]The source of the figure cited here is the 2012–2015 Annual Operating Statistics Survey of the Association of American University PressesContinue Reading Darrin Pratt: Mission Possible

  1. [1]

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

midnight in america by jonathan whiteToday we welcome a guest post by Jonathan W. White, author of Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War. The Civil War brought many forms of upheaval to America, not only in waking hours but also in the dark of night. Sleeplessness plagued the Union and Confederate armies, and dreams of war glided through the minds of Americans in both the North and South. Sometimes their nightly visions brought the horrors of the conflict vividly to life. But for others, nighttime was an escape from the hard realities of life and death in wartime. In this innovative new study, White explores what dreams meant to Civil War–era Americans and what their dreams reveal about their experiences during the war. He shows how Americans grappled with their fears, desires, and struggles while they slept, and how their dreams helped them make sense of the confusion, despair, and loneliness that engulfed them.

In this post White follows the transformation of one woman’s dream life as revealed in her Civil War letters to her soldier husband.

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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.

In upstate New York, Cora Benton “felt depressed in spirit” when her husband, Charlie, left to become a soldier in August 1862. One night in November she “dreamed you had been in battle, and after the company had got back to camp, I rushed in to find you gone—dead and buried on the field, without one look, one word.Continue Reading Jonathan W. White: A Shadow Over My Heart: The Transformation of a Northern Woman’s Dream Life during the Civil War

Kristina M. Jacobsen: “Won’t You Be With Me Tonight (After the Ace’s Wild Dance)”?: Navajo Country Bands, Stage Patter, and Rodeo Announcers

cover for the sound of navajo countryToday we welcome another guest post by Kristina M. Jacobsen, author of  The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging. In this ethnography of Navajo (Diné) popular music culture, Jacobsen examines questions of Indigenous identity and performance by focusing on the surprising and vibrant Navajo country music scene. Through multiple first-person accounts, Jacobsen illuminates country music’s connections to the Indigenous politics of language and belonging, examining through the lens of music both the politics of difference and many internal distinctions Diné make among themselves and their fellow Navajo citizens.

In today’s post, Jacobsen explains the cultural significance of stage patter in the performances of a Navajo country band.

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Recently in my home city of Albuquerque, eighteen-year-old pedal steel player and Navajo citizen Matthew Begay was invited up on stage to sit in with country great Tracy Byrd on his classic song, “Don’t Take Her She’s All I’ve Got.”

The response of the crowd in the stadium, which included many Navajos, was overwhelming. Begay also plays in the Navajo band Re-Coil, a country western band from Fort Defiance, Arizona, that I played with during my fieldwork singing and playing with Navajo country bands on the Navajo Nation. It was a beautiful moment,revealing what many Diné people have known since at least the late 1930s: that country music is a deeply loved genre of music, part and parcel of contemporary Navajo—and indigenous—experience and expressive culture.

But Begay’s performance and the crowd’s ecstatic response also reminded of other country-centered events still taking place on sovereign Navajo land. Take the weekly Navajo country western “dances” put on by the famous reservation band, Ace’s Wild, including the dance I attended on Thanksgiving day 2016.Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: “Won’t You Be With Me Tonight (After the Ace’s Wild Dance)”?: Navajo Country Bands, Stage Patter, and Rodeo Announcers

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

cover art for warring for americaToday we happily welcome a guest post by Nicole Eustace, co-editor, with Fredrika J. Teute, of Warring for America: Cultural Contests in the Era of 1812, published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia. The War of 1812 was one of a cluster of events that left unsettled what is often referred to as the Revolutionary settlement. At once postcolonial and neoimperial, the America of 1812 was still in need of definition. As the imminence of war intensified the political, economic, and social tensions endemic to the new nation, Americans of all kinds fought for country on the battleground of culture. The War of 1812 increased interest in the American democratic project and elicited calls for national unity, yet the essays collected in this volume suggest that the United States did not emerge from war in 1815 having resolved the Revolution’s fundamental challenges or achieved a stable national identity. The cultural rifts of the early republican period remained vast and unbridged.

In this post, Eustace discusses the idea of determining national affiliation by geopolitical barriers. 

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Can physical boundaries decisively shape social relationships? Do geopolitical barriers define the terms of human connections? Contentious throughout U.S. history, questions such as these have recently taken on extraordinary urgency as efforts to impose new limits and divisions on the people who live and work in the United States have begun to rise rapidly. While many might assume that a clear connection between landed location and national affiliation has always been the basis for determining a country’s legal membership, this means of defining the rights of citizens emerged only slowly in early America.

The essays collected in Warring for America: Cultural Contests in the Era of 1812 do much to document the contentious debates that surrounded questions of national belonging in the early United States. In her aptly titled essay, “‘Borders Thick and Foggy’: Mobility, Community, and Nation in the Northern Buffer Zone,” author Karen Marrero captures contemporary unease about the porosity of national parameters. Studying the edge-land region of the Great Lakes between Canada and the United States through the 1830’s, Marrero asks whether the sense of communal belonging among these early nineteenth-century North Americans most often grew from the land on which people dwelt or germinated from the seed of lineal ancestry. Ultimately, she argues that the United States largely succeeded in enforcing a notion of national affiliation dependent on the “external” issue of physical residence over the British and Indian preference for defining national membership on the basis of the “internal” and embodied question of ancestry.

If it is impossible to be in two places at one time, then land-based models of national affiliation precluded the possibility of dual citizenship. But for Indians who considered cultural ties to be the more reliable indicator of national loyalties, a multi-faceted national identity remained very much a possibility. For the Potowatami subject to the administration of British Canada, the issue of legal consent (that so pre-occupied American theorists) mattered far less than the more fundamental fact that their nationality was something they carried with them in their bodies no matter where they might be forced to migrate.

Marerro’s work reminds us of both the formal success of legal tactics intended to restrict membership in the United States and the informal endurance of alternate ways of defining belonging. Other essays in the volume explore the power of culture to destabilize efforts to restrict people’s connections to the nation. In the volume’s leading essay, “Minstrelization and Nationhood: ‘Backside Albany,’ Backlash, and the Wartime Origins of Blackface Minstrelsy,” David Waldstreicher analyzes the genre of “blackface” minstrel shows to argue that comic ridicule of black sailors implicitly undermined efforts to ignore African American contributors to the early United States. Even as the black sailor was held up as a figure of fun, he was pressed into service as a national spokesman. The very attention audiences bestowed in derision served to spotlight the place of African Americans on the national stage. Such efforts to undermine African Americans only added to public awareness of their presence in the nation and their key contributions to it.

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.

Nicole Eustace is professor of history at New York University and co-editor of Warring for America, which will be published in September 2017. She is also author of Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution (2011). Both books are published by UNC Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia.

Interview: Adrian Miller on The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

Photo by Tim Ryan

Author Adrian Miller talks with publicity director Gina Mahalek about his new book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas.

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Gina Mahalek: How did you go about researching this book? What were the most valuable sources?

Adrian Miller: I used a variety of sources: presidential memoirs, presidential biographies, cookbooks, a few interviews of alumni from the White House kitchen, and, most importantly, historic newspapers. Thanks to the Library of Congress and some companies, millions of newspaper pages are being digitized and made word-searchable. Now researchers can look at sources from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

GM: How long have you been working on this book?

AM: Technically for eight years. I first gathered stories about African American presidential chefs for presentation at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 20, 2009   . . . the night Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States!

GM: Why this book now?

AM: This book gives us a perspective on the U.S. presidency that we’ve never seen before. In addition, there’s been a lot of needed discussion about giving African American cooks their due for contributing to our nation’s food story. What better way to make that point than to highlight those who have cooked for our presidents?

GM: How might the kitchen cabinet change under the new administration?

AM: I know it sounds trite, but the White House kitchen staff serves at the pleasure of the president! The assistant chefs usually stay on from administration to administration, so the White House Executive Chef and the White House Pastry Chef are the only ones who should be sweating it now. President Trump may also bring in an additional chef who will just cook for the First Family, or he may keep the kitchen operations the same.

GM: You mention that presidential food service has “an understandable culture of discretion and nondisclosure agreements.” How did you overcome that obstacle?Continue Reading Interview: Adrian Miller on The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Thinking About Southern Identity on the Way to Work

cover image of resilience of southern identity by cooper and knottsToday we welcome a guest post by Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts, authors of The Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People. The American South has experienced remarkable change over the past half century. Black voter registration has increased, the region’s politics have shifted from one-party Democratic to the near-domination of the Republican Party, and in-migration has increased its population manyfold. At the same time, many outward signs of regional distinctiveness have faded–chain restaurants have replaced mom-and-pop diners, and the interstate highway system connects the region to the rest of the country. Given all of these changes, many have argued that southern identity is fading. But in this book, Cooper and Knotts show how these changes have allowed for new types of southern identity to emerge. For some, identification with the South has become more about a connection to the region’s folkways or to place than about policy or ideology. For others, the contemporary South is all of those things at once—a place where many modern-day southerners navigate the region’s confusing and omnipresent history.

In today’s post, Cooper and Knotts discuss what a southern identity truly means today compared to how it has been understood in the past. 

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Driving to Western Carolina University, you pass through a fairly nondescript stretch of road known as Highway 107. Although the road sits nestled between two mountain ranges, it is lined with fast food restaurants, auto parts stores, dry cleaners, and used car dealerships. There’s even a Walmart Supercenter thrown in for good measure.

Even if you have never had the pleasure of traveling to Cullowhee, the picture we describe above is probably recognizable to most people. Most of us live, work, and exist in a manmade landscape that looks more and more homogenous by the day.

Given this modern reality, it is not surprising that scholars, journalists, and the like have argued that regions and regional identity are fading. After all, if there is no distinct South anymore, then what use would anyone have in calling themselves a southerner?

In our book, the Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People, we argue against this narrative of declining identity.Continue Reading Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts: Thinking About Southern Identity on the Way to Work

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

midnight in america by jonathan w. white

Today we welcome a guest post from Jonathan W. White, author of Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War. The Civil War brought many forms of upheaval to America, not only in waking hours but also in the dark of night. Sleeplessness plagued the Union and Confederate armies, and dreams of war glided through the minds of Americans in both the North and South. Sometimes their nightly visions brought the horrors of the conflict vividly to life. But for others, nighttime was an escape from the hard realities of life and death in wartime. In this innovative new study, Jonathan W. White explores what dreams meant to Civil War–era Americans and what their dreams reveal about their experiences during the war. He shows how Americans grappled with their fears, desires, and struggles while they slept, and how their dreams helped them make sense of the confusion, despair, and loneliness that engulfed them.

In the following post White offers advice for students considering a graduate degree in history. 

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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.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

cover photo for sexual injustice by marc steinToday we welcome a guest post from Marc Stein, author of Sexual Injustice: Supreme Court Decisions from Griswold to Roe. Focusing on six major Supreme Court cases during the 1960s and 1970s, Stein examines the generally liberal rulings on birth control, abortion, interracial marriage, and obscenity in Griswold, Eisenstadt, Roe, Loving, and Fanny Hill alongside a profoundly conservative ruling on homosexuality in Boutilier. In the same era in which the Court recognized special marital, reproductive, and heterosexual rights and privileges, it also upheld an immigration statute that classified homosexuals as “psychopathic personalities.” Stein shows how a diverse set of influential journalists, judges, and scholars translated the Court’s language about marital and reproductive rights into bold statements about sexual freedom and equality.

In this post Stein highlights one of the historic cases referenced in the Ninth Circuit’s Court of Appeals ruling not to stay the temporary restraining order on President Trump’s Executive Order restricting the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

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Earlier this month, after a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s motion to stay a temporary restraining order for Executive Order 13769, a number of observers noticed that the ruling cited a major gay rights case as an important precedent. The case was Rosenberg v. Fleuti, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963. Thanks to the broad and deep education that most of us now receive in the history of LGBT rights and freedoms, few knowledgeable commentators could have missed the reference.

O.K., that last part was fake; few of us receive much of an education in LGBT history. And the number of people who noticed the reference to Fleuti was probably quite low. Truth be told, the decision in Washington v. Trump, which addressed the 90-day ban on the entry of Muslims from seven Middle Eastern and African countries, only makes passing reference to Fleuti. It’s not even clear that Fleuti was a major gay rights victory; I myself did not single it out in a 2014 essay I wrote about teaching the U.S. Supreme Court’s greatest gay and lesbian hits.[1]

Still, it’s worth taking the opportunity to revisit Fleuti, which the Ninth Circuit panel quoted as saying that “the returning resident alien is entitled as a matter of due process to a hearing on the charges underlying any attempt to exclude him.”

Rosenberg v. Fleuti was a strange case in many ways. According to the facts presented in the Supreme Court’s decision, George Fleuti was a Swiss national who had been legally admitted as a U.S. permanent resident in October 1952 and had remained in the United States continuously except for a short day-trip to Ensenada, Mexico, in August 1956. For reasons that are unclear, in 1959 the Immigration and Naturalization Service attempted to deport Fleuti, claiming that when he re-entered the United States in 1956, he was excludable because he had been convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude” between his original entry in 1952 and his re-entry in 1956.

Unfortunately for the INS, it soon became clear that the minor same-sex sex offenses for which Fleuti had been convicted did not meet the definition of a crime of moral turpitude. Unfortunately for Fleuti, the INS had recourse to another law: in June 1952 Congress had passed a new immigration statute that provided for the deportation of aliens “afflicted with psychopathic personality.” The INS had begun to use this provision against “homosexual” aliens and that’s what it tried to use against Fleuti. Relying primarily on his prior convictions, the INS claimed that Fleuti had been afflicted with psychopathic personality when he re-entered the United States after his trip to Ensenada. (It could not make a similar claim about his original entry because the 1952 law did not take effect until December.) Fleuti’s lawyer Hiram Kwan argued in response that the psychopathic personality law was unconstitutionally vague.

Research in the papers of the justices reveals that initially the Supreme Court voted 5-4 against Fleuti, with the senior justice in the majority, Tom Clark, selecting the newest justice, Arthur Goldberg, to write the Court’s main opinion. Goldberg, however, changed his mind and he ended up writing a 5-4 decision in favor of Fleuti. Continue Reading Marc Stein: Immigration is a Queer Issue: From Fleuti to Trump

  1. [1]“Sexual Rights and Wrongs: Teaching the U.S. Supreme Court’s Greatest Gay and Lesbian Hits,” in Understanding and Teaching U.S. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender History, ed. Leila Rupp and Susan Freeman (Madison: Univ. Wisconsin Press, 2014), 238-53.

Kristina M. Jacobsen: The Gallup Flea Market and Navajo Cultural Sovereignty

cover for the sound of navajo country

Today we welcome a guest post by Kristina Jacobsen, author of  The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, and Diné Belonging. In this ethnography of Navajo (Diné) popular music culture, Kristina M. Jacobsen examines questions of Indigenous identity and performance by focusing on the surprising and vibrant Navajo country music scene. Through multiple first-person accounts, Jacobsen illuminates country music’s connections to the Indigenous politics of language and belonging, examining through the lens of music both the politics of difference and many internal distinctions Diné make among themselves and their fellow Navajo citizens.

In the following post, Jacobsen takes us to a Navajo Nation flea market, where a range of cultural attachments are demonstrated by what people choose to sell or not sell.

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I recently went to one of my favorite places on the Navajo Nation, the Gallup (Na’nízhoozhí) flea market. Gallup is a “border town” bordering the Navajo Nation on the New Mexico side of the reservation, and the flea market represents a veritable smorgasbård of Diné and New Mexico Native and Hispanic arts, crafts, musical styles and traditional foods. Strolling through the makeshift lanes, it’s a fully immersive and sensebound experience, where anything and everything is for sale, and creativity is on full display: Blue corn kneel down bread (nsidigo’í) from Kaibito, neeshjízhii (roasted corn stew) with mutton, Navajo tea (ch’il ahwééhé or greenthread), red pork tamales served in chili water and wrapped in corn husk, and salted, toasted piñons in the shell are a few of the Diné specialty foods we drove two hours to find. There’s also oven bread from Acoma Pueblo, stunning in-lay jewelry from Santo Domingo and Zuni pueblos, Diné silver and turquoise jewelry, and, everywhere we walk, gospel, country and “peyote” music fills the air. There’s even a teenage busker, playing his original metal tunes about the “rez” and being Diné.

Coffee Stand, Gallup Flea Market

Since the flea market is close to the main Navajo reservation, Diné representation in this scene is high (much higher than it is in Gallup at large), and so it becomes, in many ways, a Diné social space.Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: The Gallup Flea Market and Navajo Cultural Sovereignty

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

monuments to absence by andrew densonToday we welcome a guest post by Andrew Denson, author of Monuments to Absence: Cherokee Removal and the Contest over Southern Memory. The 1830s forced removal of Cherokees from their southeastern homeland became the most famous event in the Indian history of the American South, an episode taken to exemplify a broader experience of injustice suffered by Native peoples. In this book, Andrew Denson explores the public memory of Cherokee removal through an examination of memorials, historic sites, and tourist attractions dating from the early twentieth century to the present. White southerners, Denson argues, embraced the Trail of Tears as a story of Indian disappearance. Commemorating Cherokee removal affirmed white possession of southern places, while granting them the moral satisfaction of acknowledging past wrongs. During segregation and the struggle over black civil rights, removal memorials reinforced whites’ authority to define the South’s past and present. Cherokees, however, proved capable of repossessing the removal memory, using it for their own purposes during a time of crucial transformation in tribal politics and U.S. Indian policy. In considering these representations of removal, Denson brings commemoration of the Indian past into the broader discussion of race and memory in the South.

In the following post Denson explores a 1935 controversy that saw two communities of elite white southerners compete for ownership of a piece of Cherokee history.

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1935 DAR Marker, photo by author

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. In the early 1830s, Cherokee leaders moved their councils to Red Clay from New Echota (about thirty-five miles south), after the state of Georgia outlawed the tribal government. Red Clay played an important role in the Trail of Tears story as a place where Cherokee leaders debated the removal policy. As the final seat of the Cherokee Nation government in the East, it also represented a starting point for the Cherokees’ forced migration to Indian Territory.

When the Georgia DAR announced plans to place their marker, however, residents of southeastern Tennessee cried foul. Continue Reading Andrew Denson: The DAR Squabble: Possessing Cherokee History in the Southeast

Judy Kutulas: How Mary Tyler Moore Helped 1970s America Imagine a New Future

cover image for After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies, by Judy KutulasToday we welcome a guest post from Judy Kutulas, author of After Aquarius Dawned: How the Revolutions of the Sixties Became the Popular Culture of the Seventies. In this book, Kutulas complicates the common view that the 1970s were a time of counterrevolution against the radical activities and attitudes of the previous decade. Instead, Kutulas argues that the experiences and attitudes that were radical in the 1960s were becoming part of mainstream culture in the 1970s, as sexual freedom, gender equality, and more complex notions of identity, work, and family were normalized through popular culture—television, movies, music, political causes, and the emergence of new communities. Seemingly mundane things like watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show, listening to Carole King songs, donning Birkenstock sandals, or reading Roots were actually critical in shaping Americans’ perceptions of themselves, their families, and their relation to authority.

In today’s post, Kutulas remembers Mary Tyler Moore’s (1936-2017) character Mary Richards as a role model who helped 1970s Americans imagine a new future.

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Minnesotans are perhaps skeptical of the ways we are perceived in the popular culture. Far too often we are portrayed as way too quirky, driven crazy by the frozen landscape, and prone to the overuse of phrases like “you betcha,” living in towns with names like Lake Woebegon and Frostbite Falls. And while we appreciate native sons Joel and Ethan Coen, it’s taken us a long time to get over Fargo. We embrace without hesitation, however, Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, the heroine of the CBS sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moore’s recent death has made Minnesotans particularly prideful of our connection to such a wonderful character. Indeed, I claimed Mary as the symbolic cover image of the theme of my book, After Aquarius Dawned, because she so embodied the spirit of the 1970s to me. She is throwing her hat into the air joyously, celebrating her possibilities in the midst of an era—the 1970s—stereotyped as dismal and demoralizing. There is even a statue in Minneapolis that commemorates that hat-tossing. People way too young to remember the actual program pose with it, mimicking the gesture. Moore herself posed there when the statue was commemorated, on a bleak, cold stereotypically Minnesotan day, soldiering on in the face of adversity, just like her fictional self.

Mary Tyler Moore 2002

Mary Tyler Moore (photo: Joe Rossi, St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, May 8, 2002)

Mary Richards had “spunk,” noted her fictional boss, Lou Grant (Ed Asner), who added that he “hated spunk.” But spunk, a sort of underdog version of courage, is precisely what bonded fictional Mary to millions of Minnesotans and Americans.

Fictional Mary worked at a television station in Minneapolis even she knew was second rate. Yet it was also so beyond how she imagined her future unfolding that she embraced it with a mixture of gusto and relatable fear. So many of us were in that predicament in the 1970s, jarred out of what was supposed to be our future by the revolutions of the 1960s. Americans identified with Mary far more personally than most previous characters. As someone who studies sitcoms, I could explain to you the structural set-up that facilitated that bonding, but the outcome is what’s more relevant here: that Americans regarded fictional Minnesotan Mary Richards as a real person. They sent letters to the Minneapolis post office addressed to her and made so many pilgrimages to knock on the door of the house featured in the opening credits that they exhausted and angered the actual owners of the house. Real people showed up in the series playing themselves, including first lady Betty Ford, who loved Mary as much as the rest of us.

Role models and mentors help us imagine new futures. Our best heroes are underdogs. Mary Richards was one such underdog. Continue Reading Judy Kutulas: How Mary Tyler Moore Helped 1970s America Imagine a New Future

New Books for Spring and Summer 2017

What's in Store from UNC Press for Spring and Summer 2017

 

A new season means, of course, new books! Here we have provided an interactive catalog that you can browse through to see what’s in store for spring and summer 2017. You can visit our website to see what’s already available in the subject areas that interest you. The easiest way to stay up to date is to sign up for our monthly eNews announcements.

Here are a few titles that will be available. Browse the catalog to see more!

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

cover art for atlantic bonds by lisa lindsayToday we welcome a guest post by Lisa A. Lindsay, author of Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa. A decade before the American Civil War, James Churchwill Vaughan (1828–1893) set out to fulfill his formerly enslaved father’s dying wish that he should leave America to start a new life in Africa. Over the next forty years, Vaughan was taken captive, fought in African wars, built and rebuilt a livelihood, and led a revolt against white racism, finally becoming a successful merchant and the founder of a wealthy, educated, and politically active family. Tracing Vaughan’s journey from South Carolina to Liberia to several parts of Yorubaland (present-day southwestern Nigeria), Lisa Lindsay documents this “free” man’s struggle to find economic and political autonomy in an era when freedom was not clear and unhindered anywhere for people of African descent.

In today’s post Lindsay explores the human tendency to shape our ancestors into who we need them to be.  

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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

cover for Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil WarToday we welcome a guest post by Stephen Cushman, author of Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War. War destroys, but it also inspires, stimulates, and creates. It is, in this way, a muse, and a powerful one at that. The American Civil War was a particularly prolific muse–unleashing with its violent realities a torrent of language, from soldiers’ intimate letters and diaries to everyday newspaper accounts, great speeches, and enduring literary works. In Belligerent Muse, Stephen Cushman considers the Civil War writings of five of the most significant and best known narrators of the conflict: Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ambrose Bierce, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Considering their writings both as literary expressions and as efforts to record the rigors of the war, Cushman analyzes their narratives and the aesthetics underlying them to offer a richer understanding of how Civil War writing chronicled the events of the conflict as they unfolded and then served to frame the memory of the war afterward.

In the following post Cushman explores the historical and aesthetic layers to Stephen Crane’s approach to writing The Red Badge of Courage.

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Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War tries to show “what can happen when discussions of historical detail, generally absent from treatments of Civil War writings as ‘literature,’ complement discussions of verbal artistry, generally absent from works of history and historiography” (6). Chapters on Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ambrose Bierce, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, each of whom was self-conscious about his powers as a writer, approach their historical writings from the assumption that we should not view those writings “simply as transparent windows on the past” but instead as stained-glass windows, “sometimes only faintly tinted, sometimes richly colored” (3). The goal of such discussions is to develop both a historically informed aesthetic sensibility and an aesthetically informed historical one. 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.

Stephen Crane tests this last statement in instructive ways. Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1871, he was closer to the war than we are, but like us he did not witness the war years first hand, as did the writers considered in Belligerent Muse. With publication of the newspaper version of The Red Badge of Courage: An Episode of the American Civil War in 1894, the year he turned twenty-three, and publication of the full book by D. Appleton and Company the following year, Crane was suddenly an established writer, Continue Reading Stephen Cushman: Stephen Crane, Historical Researcher

UNC Press Distributing the North Carolina Office of Archives and History’s Historical Publications

NCDNCR logoThe University of North Carolina Press is now distributing the North Carolina Office of Archives and History’s Historical Publications—more than 150 books about the state’s history, people, and culture.

Housed within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and Parks, the Office of Archives and History has earned a reputation for offering well-researched and affordably-priced works of nonfiction for general readers, scholars, and students. The Office was first established as the North Carolina Historical Commission in 1903 with the mission of collecting, editing, and publishing the state’s historical documents. Its first book, Literary and Historical Activities in North Carolina, 1900-1905, was published in 1907.

Some of the Office’s most popular titles include From Ulster to Carolina: The Migration of the Scotch-Irish to Southwestern North Carolina; A History of African Americans in North Carolina; and Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina. Their publications also include reference works that are a valuable resource for scholars, including the series, North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster and the recently published The Old North State at War: A North Carolina Civil War Atlas.

“UNC Press has long been a valued partner of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources,” said Dr. Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Archives & History. “We are pleased to have entered into a more formal and expanded partnership as we continue to document the history of the state and its people.”

“UNC Press is uniquely positioned to partner with the Office of Archives and History as we both have long traditions of publishing for audiences interested in the history of North Carolina and the South. By taking advantage of our infrastructure—state-of-the-art warehouse, on-demand printing, digital publishing platforms, and strong regional sales channels—the Office can focus on acquiring and editing new books while the Press helps them reach the broadest possible audiences,” said John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of the University of North Carolina Press.

In addition to selling Historical Publications titles that are currently in print, the Press and the Office will work together to reissue out-of-print titles and will make many of the books available in digital formats through a wide array of eBook vendors.

The Historical Publications continue to be sold through bookstores, museum stores, and gift shops at parks and historic sites around the state. For more information visit www.uncpress.org.