This week on The Historians Podcast, David Pietrusza discusses his memoir Too Long Ago: A Childhood Memory, A Vanished World about his Amsterdam, NY, roots. Pietrusza is a historian who has written books about presidential elections and other topics. He and podcast host Bob Cudmore were raised in the Reid Hill section of Amsterdam, a primarily Polish-American neighborhood in the 1950s. [Read more…] about Growing Up in Amsterdam, NY, in the 1950s
In the 1830s, anti-Catholic attitudes inflamed by conspiracy theories were reaching a fevered pitch, especially in New York and Massachusetts where attacks on the homes of urban Irish immigrants occurred with some regularity.
In 1834 the bigotry turned particularly violent. Its greatest instigator was Samuel B. Morse who whipped his Protestant brethren into a fury. [Read more…] about ‘Monkish Traditions’: 1830s Hatred of Irish Immigrants
Although there had always been Irish immigrants to the colonies of the Americas, in the 1830s the pace of immigration of unskilled Irish quickened in the United States. (In 1820, only 21 percent had been unskilled laborers; by 1836 nearly 60 percent were.)
These newcomers were mostly Catholic. [Read more…] about Anti-Irish Sentiment In New York Before The 1830s
On March 25th, 1911, a fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, claiming the lives of 146 workers. Most of the victims were young immigrant women from Eastern and Southern Europe. In the wake of the fire, a group of women labor activists fought to ensure that the tragedy led to concrete change. [Read more…] about Amended Podcast: Embers and Activism
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Scott D. Seligman’s new book The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City (Potomac Books, 2020) is a full account of the Great Kosher Meat War of 1902, a milestone in the history of Jewish-American women. [Read more…] about New Book: The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902
Pictures of street hawkers with their trade shouts recorded in captions of poetry or prose are known as “Cries.” They first appeared in Paris around 1500. This early creation of an urban iconography included socially marginal people such as vagrants, beggars, prostitutes, and others.
Fifty years later, these images were established as a stylistic category across Europe. Eventually, they would make their way to New York. [Read more…] about Urban Cries: Street Hawkers’ Shouts in New York & London
The book Bean Pickers, American Immigrant Portraits by Karen Foresti Hempson (Jacobs Press, Inc., 2019) focuses on eight true-life portrayals of Italian immigrants and their families, all beginning their American lives as summer bean pickers in Upstate New York.
The book features over one hundred authentic photos and documents, illustrating personal stories from the early twentieth century immigration wave, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the Second World War. Each character finds his/her way out of poverty through such avenues as bootlegging, playing baseball, joining the military. [Read more…] about Bean Pickers: Upstate Italian-American Immigrants
The new children’s book Jacob Riis’s Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children (Calkins Creek, 2020) by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Gary Kelley, is a revealing biography of a pioneering photojournalist and social reformer Jacob Riis, showcasing how he brought to light one of the worst social justice issues plaguing New York City in the late 1800s – the tenement housing crisis – using newly invented flash photography. [Read more…] about Children’s Book Features Reformer, Photographer Jacob Riis
The “Man with the Muck Rake” appears in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as a person who only looks down gathering filth. His vision is fixed on carnal, not on spiritual matters. By seeking out what is disagreeable, he is blind to divine grace.
In a speech on April 15th, 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt referred to this passage when he acknowledged that men with ‘muck rakes’ may be indispensable to social well-being, but that applies only if they know “when to stop raking the muck.” There is a rich Anglo-American tradition of muckraking that has been instrumental in exposing injustice and corruption. Today, investigative journalism is under threat. [Read more…] about Slum Tours and Muckrakers in London and New York
Through Sophie’s Eyes (Cahaba, 2008) is a remarkable memoir by Sophie Kussmaul (1875-1968), granddaughter of Princess Regina Henry, first cousin to Frederick III, Emperor of Germany, and niece of Dr. Adolf Kussmaul, a noted Heidelberg physician.
Edited by Sinclair Seevers, the memoir spans her first six decades, two thirds of Kussmaul’s long life. It’s a vivid account of her shy childhood in the 1870s through the years of the Great Depression. [Read more…] about Memoir Recounts The Remarkable Life of Sophie Kussmaul