The socio-political and economic turmoil of the early twentieth century transformed American society. Between the conclusion of the Civil War and the end of the First World War, the country went from being a predominantly rural farming society to an urban industrial one. [Read more…] about Socialism, Greenwich Village & ‘The Masses’
The Women’s House of Detention, a landmark that ushered in the modern era of women’s imprisonment, is now largely forgotten. But when it stood in New York City’s Greenwich Village, from 1929 to 1974, it was a nexus for the tens of thousands of women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people who inhabited its crowded cells.
Some of these inmates — Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur — were famous, but the vast majority were incarcerated for the crimes of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of the people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, that percentage was almost certainly higher. [Read more…] about The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison
In the history of migration the (often neglected) participation of women has been crucial. Tales of hardship and bravery are legion. The plight of women who have had to make painful sacrifices has been highlighted by artists and historians, though more easily forgotten by the general public.
Zaida Ben Yùsuf joined the American labor force in the 1890s. She was in the vanguard of women who became professionally involved in the production of periodicals, as magazines reached a mass readership and photographs supplanted illustrations. But it was her migrant mother who had blazed the trail. [Read more…] about Anna Ben-Yùsuf: The Bravery of a Migrant Mother
James R. McManus was born in Hell’s Kitchen in 1936 and recently died in 2019. For 54 years (from 1962 to 2016) he was the Democratic Party District Leader from the Hell’s Kitchen area. This was a position that his father Eugene E. McManus had held for 20 years before him.
Previously Eugene McManus’s great grand uncle, Thomas J. McManus, had held the position, since the formation of the McManus Democratic Club in 1892, when he defeated the prior District Leader George Washington Plunkitt, author of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (1905). [Read more…] about Tammany’s Last Stand: The McManus Club & The McGovern Campaign
The city of New Rochelle has a relevant place in the founding history of the United States. It was here that in 1689 a small community of French Protestant refugees would settle.
Known as Huguenots, they exercised considerable influence on America’s course towards self-determination. George Washington descended from a Huguenot refugee on his mother’s side. [Read more…] about Huguenots & New Rochelle’s Spirit of Liberty
Nineteenth century critics constructed an image of the artist as masculine, ignoring the fact that women were very much part of the bohemian subculture. In literary and pictorial representations, the figure of the “grisette” was consistently associated with the Latin Quarter.
The term refers to a group of independent young women who frequented Parisian cafés, posed as artist’s models, and provided additional sexual favors. The most enduring grisette is Mimi in Henri Murger’s “Scènes de la vie de Bohème,” the source for Puccini’s opera La bohème. [Read more…] about Queens of Bohemia: Laura Keene, Ada Clare & Adah Isaacs Menken
There is a nationwide movement to reconsider the names of places and teams and to stop honoring racists and racist symbols. The Cleveland Indians will soon be no more; the baseball team will be known as the Cleveland Guardians. The Washington Redskins are now the Washington Football Team while a new name is being considered. A bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader, a Confederate general responsible for atrocities committed against African American troops serving in the United States army, and a founder of the terrorist Ku Klux Klan, was finally removed from the state capitol building in Nashville, Tennessee. Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced the Reconciliation in Place Names Act to create a special advisory committee to investigate and propose changes to offensive place names. There remain thousands of towns, lakes, streams, creeks and mountains in the United States with racist names.
In New York City, Eric Adams, the Democratic Party candidate for Mayor, pledges to rename streets and buildings named after slave-owners. The name of a Bronx Park was recently changed from Mullaly to Foster. John Mullaly was indicted during the Civil War for inciting a draft riot that led to the murder of African Americans on the streets of Manhattan. The Reverend Wendell Foster was a Bronx community activist who campaigned to have the park restored.
The following Manhattan streets are named for slaveholders and slave traders: [Read more…] about Manhattan Street Names Tied to Slavery Listed from A to Z
On September 11th, 2021, the traditional Last Night of the (BBC) Proms took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Away from the usual and rather bizarre jingoism, this performance was memorable for the “revolutionary” introduction of an accordion on stage.
Latvian virtuosa Ksenija Sidorova was the first accordion soloist ever to be invited to play on such an occasion. Her interpretation of Astor Piazzolla’s 1974 composition “Libertango” brought a packed house to its feet. [Read more…] about Tango Mania: From Brothel to Concert Hall
The study of art may be perceived as trivial, yet for many it can be a cathartic pastime, and still others are clever enough to earn a living from it. An investigation under this topic which can be greatly refined is sculpture. The three dimensional medium is so broad that it allows many areas of awareness, and also permits the student multiple personal preferences.
The Empire State is a great repository of sculpture, and our colleges and universities hold much of this collection and provide instruction as well. One fine example would be Syracuse University, which holds a vast assemblage of art through several centuries. The collection at Syracuse University includes the papers of Laura Gardin Fraser and her husband James Earle Fraser. This couple produced some very notable art work; however, their names are not widely recognized. [Read more…] about Ars gratia Artis: The Fraser Collection at Syracuse University
Frances Perkins, who served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor in all four terms of his administration, is often credited with designing many of the New Deal’s social welfare programs, including Social Security. As such, she ranks among the most influential women of the 20th Century.
Few however, know that Perkins began her career in the Hell’s Kitchen area of the city of New York, work that as inspired inn part by a chance meeting an Irish Tammany Hall District Leader Tom McManus. [Read more…] about Frances Perkins, One of America’s Most Influential Women, Remains Unrecognized