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"Belles of the Ball Game": Women's Professional Baseball League Thrives in the 1940s
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The All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League lasted from 1943 to 1954. During ... More

The All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League lasted from 1943 to 1954. During its peak attendance year, the League attracted close to a million fans--three of whom wrote letters, included below, to correct factual misrepresentations about the objects of their affection printed in the following Collier's article. The League inspired a hit motion picture of 1992 (A League of Their Own) and continues to hold interest for many, as demonstrated by numerous websites featuring leading players. Formed during World War II when major league owners feared that the military draft might lead to suspension of play, the All-American League thrived. In the early 1950s, however, it reproduced a pattern found elsewhere in American society: women encouraged to fill jobs (previously open only to men) during the war years faced restrictions as traditional norms were reestablished. The following look at the League from the perspective of its "harried" male managers, however, offers only minimal insight into the reasons for such high ticket sales and the devotion of fans cheering players who challenged the gender barriers of their day. Less

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"A Black Joke."
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Free African Americans living in the North before the Civil War suffered ... More

Free African Americans living in the North before the Civil War suffered enormous disadvantages and discriminations. Forced to sit in separate and inferior sections in theaters, public transit, and churches, free blacks were also barred from all but the most menial jobs and denied entrance to white trade unions. This racist cartoon in an 1854 edition of the humor magazine Yankee Notions inadvertently illustrated the everyday harassment and cruelty to which northern African Americans were subjected. At a performance of a play based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's antislavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, some white members altered a seat reservation card and, to the derisive laughter of the rest of the audience, pinned it on a black woman's shawl. Less

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Performing Arts
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"The Black Man's Burden": A Response to Kipling
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In February 1899, British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem ... More

In February 1899, British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled "The White Man's Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands." In this poem, Kipling urged the U.S. to take up the "burden" of empire, as had Britain and other European nations. Theodore Roosevelt, soon to become vice-president and then president, described it as "rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view." Not everyone was as favorably impressed as Roosevelt. African Americans, among many others, objected to the notion of the "white man's burden." Among the dozens of replies to Kipling's poem was "The Black Man's Burden," written by African-American clergyman and editor H. T. Johnson and published in April 1899. A "Black Man's Burden Association" was even organized with the goal of demonstrating that mistreatment of brown people in the Philippines was an extension of the mistreatment of black Americans at home. Less

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The Bloody Massacre
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With ongoing protests against the Townshend Duties, waterfront jobs scarce due to ... More

With ongoing protests against the Townshend Duties, waterfront jobs scarce due to nonimportation, and poorly-paid, off-duty British troops competing for jobs, clashes between American laborers and British troops became frequent after 1768. In Boston, tensions mounted rapidly in 1770 until a confrontation left five Boston workers dead when panicky troops fired into a crowd. This print issued by Paul Revere three weeks after the incident and widely reproduced depicted his version of what was quickly dubbed the Boston Massacre." Showing the incident as a deliberate act of murder by the British army Less

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Bobbed Hair Blues: A Mexican-American Song Laments "Las Pelonas"
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The "new woman" of the 1910s and 1920s rejected the pieties (and ... More

The "new woman" of the 1910s and 1920s rejected the pieties (and often the politics) of the older generation, smoked and drank in public, celebrated the sexual revolution, and embraced consumer culture. The flapper portrayed in cartoons, ads, and nationally circulated journalism, however, was almost always white, with features that denoted Northern European origins. She was also frequently shown with luxury goods or in exclusive settings. But young women of many ethnic groups also took up flapper styles and embraced the spirit of youthful rebellion. A popular song attested to generational conflict among Mexican Americans in San Antonio. In "Las Pelonas"--"The Bobbed Heads," or "Flappers"--the singer lamented the influence of Anglo youth culture on his Mexican-American community. [English version follows original in Spanish.] Less

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"Bombed Last Night": Singing at the Front in World War I
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For soldiers in World War I, as in other wars, songs provided ... More

For soldiers in World War I, as in other wars, songs provided diversion and expression of common sentiments. Four song lyrics included here recorded soldiers' responses, both to the new horrors of modern warfare and to the more general disillusion of men in combat. "Bombed Last Night" uses gallows humor to tame the dread of poison gas. "A Poor Aviator Lay Dying" uses the same kind of morbid humor to portray an aviator entangled with his plane, gallantly pleading for his comrades to salvage the parts, rebuild the engine, and keep on fighting. The lyrics to "Sittin' in De Cotton" and "Tell Me Now" expressed, in the ostensible dialect of the southern African American, the widely shared sentiment of the soldier--the disillusion with war and will to survive. Less

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"Born in Sin, Nurtured in Crime": The Children of New York City's Notorious Five Points, 1854
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The Five Points was a notorious mid-nineteenth century New York City slum. ... More

The Five Points was a notorious mid-nineteenth century New York City slum. Located just east of the fashionable stores, columned banks, and well-dressed crowds of Broadway, its squalor served to remind New Yorkers of the destitution that so closely underlay the city's surging wealth. The neighborhood included the infamous "Old Brewery," which had once been a real brewery but by mid-century had degenerated into a miserable tenement dwelling for the very poor. In the early 1850s the New York Ladies Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the "Old Brewery," demolished it, and built a mission on the site. The women of the Home Missionary Society made children their first concern, as, increasingly, did many other reformers of this period. While in this selection these Protestant missionary women showcase the children's gratitude, many Irish-Catholic immigrant families resented the missionaries' assumption of superiority and regarded their proselytizing as antagonistic to their own desire to pass on their religious beliefs to their children. Less

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U.S. History
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Author:
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The Boston Massacre, ca. 1868.
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The Boston Massacre became an important symbol for radicals who used the ... More

The Boston Massacre became an important symbol for radicals who used the incident to build popular opposition to British rule. For thirteen years after the incident, Boston observed March 5, the anniversary of the incident, as a day of public mourning. Artists continued to redraw, repaint, and reinterpret the Boston Massacre long after it occurred. This engraving based on a painting by Alonzo Chappel was published in 1868. While the artist still omitted Crispus Attucks, a black sailor who was one of those killed in the Massacre, it showed the chaos of the confrontation and captured the horror of soldiers shooting down unarmed citizens. Less

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U.S. History
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"The Bostonians paying the excise-man, or tarring and feathering."
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A 1774 British print depicted the tarring and feathering of Boston Commissioner ... More

A 1774 British print depicted the tarring and feathering of Boston Commissioner of Customs John Malcolm. Tarring and feathering was a ritual of humiliation and public warning that stopped just short of serious injury. Victims included British officials such as Malcolm and American merchants who violated non-importation by importing British goods. Other forms of public humiliation included daubing victims' homes with the contents of cesspits, or actual violence against property, such as the burning of stately homes and carriages. This anti-Patriot print showed Customs Commissioner Malcolm being attacked under the Liberty Tree by several Patriots, including a leather-aproned artisan, while the Boston Tea Party occurred in the background. In fact, the Tea Party had taken place four weeks earlier. Less

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U.S. History
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"Bring Sex Out of the Closet of Fear": A Psychologist Argues that Sex Education Can Save the American Family
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Alfred C. Kinsey published his pathbreaking research on sexual behavior in 1948 ... More

Alfred C. Kinsey published his pathbreaking research on sexual behavior in 1948 and 1953, reporting that premarital and extramarital sexual activity was not uncommon in American life. In fact, Kinsey argued, it had been part of a long-term shift beginning in the 1910s. Alarmed critics in the popular press attacked the study as a threat to the stability of the American family. In an era during which the family symbolized a retreat from Cold War and atomic age political and social tensions, some in the scientific community joined religious figures and cultural commentators in an ideological battle to strengthen the traditional domestic realm. In the following report in the popular magazine Collier's, a psychology professor characterized his research study as a follow-up to Kinsey that dealt with knowledge and attitudes about sex. Unlike Kinsey's work, however, this report explicitly served as a prescriptive guide--telling Americans how to avoid infidelity, escape divorce, and gain marital happiness through sex education. In attempting to change so-called "incorrect" attitudes, it presented as fact conclusions not warranted by the evidence offered-- that most men wanted wives who were not disinterested in sex but didn't and flaunt it either or that ultimately "the best sex is in marriage." In presenting these beliefs as facts, the report revealed ingrained cultural attitudes at odds with ideals of scientific objectivity. These values, however, conformed with efforts to use potentially disrupting sex research findings to strengthen the one socially approved channel for sexual behavior--marriage. Less

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The Bum as Con Artist: An Undercover Account of the Great Depression
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Middle-class observers reacted to hoboes and tramps of the Great Depression with ... More

Middle-class observers reacted to hoboes and tramps of the Great Depression with an array of responses, viewing them with suspicion, empathy, concern, fear, sometimes even a twinge of envy. For some, stolidly holding onto traditional values of work and success, the "bum" was suspect, potentially a con artist. Tom Kromer's "Pity the Poor Panhandler: $2 An Hour Is All He Gets" exemplified this stance, urging readers to resist the appeals of panhandlers and refer them to relief agencies, where professionals could help the deserving and get rid of the rest. Ironically, the young journalist who went undercover to write this piece would find himself unemployed and on the road within a year of the publication of his condescending article. Less

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World Cultures
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Can 52,600,000 TV Set Owners Be Wrong?: Look Magazine Assesses American Television in 1960
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Although experimental telecasts began in the 1920s and commercial broadcasting made a ... More

Although experimental telecasts began in the 1920s and commercial broadcasting made a tentative start in 1939, the television industry first blossomed after World War II. In 1949, one million sets were in use, mostly in urban areas. By the end of the 1950s, Americans had purchased more than 50 million sets. As with earlier forms of mass culture--especially radio and movies--the advent of television on a national scale brought forth a debate in popular forums on its quality, societal effects, and potential. While writer Paddy Cheyevsky in 1953 characterized television as "the marvelous medium of the ordinary," Federal Communications Commission Director Newton Minow, eight years later, charged that broadcasters had created "a vast wasteland" inhabited predominately with "game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons." The following article shows how a popular magazine assessed television's past, present, and possible future in 1960. Less

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World Cultures
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Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
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Captured By Indians: Mary Jemison Becomes an Indian
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In 1753, fifteen year old Mary Jemison was captured by Indians along ... More

In 1753, fifteen year old Mary Jemison was captured by Indians along the Pennsylvania frontier during the Seven Years War between the French, English, and Indian peoples of North America. She was adopted and incorporated into the Senecas, a familiar practice among Iroquois and other Indian peoples seeking to replace a lost sibling or spouse. Mary married and raised a family in the decades before and after the American Revolution; many captives, once adopted and integrated into an Indian community, refused the opportunity to return home, finding life in Indian society more rewarding. In 1823 Mary Jemison related her life story to James Seaver, a doctor who lived near her home in western New York. Seaver's story of "the white woman of the Genessee," as she became known, sold over 100,000 copies in 1824. Less

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U.S. History
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Cartooning for Victory: World War I Instructions to Artists
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During World War I, the United States fought a war of ideas ... More

During World War I, the United States fought a war of ideas with unprecedented ingenuity and organization. President Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to manage news and solicit widespread support for the war at home and abroad. Under the energetic direction of Mississippi newspaper editor George Creel, the CPI churned out national propaganda through diverse media including films, cartoons, and speeches. The CPI's home-front propaganda cartoons were no laughing matter. The Bureau of Cartoons, headed by George Hecht, exhorted cartoonists to use their popular medium to support the war effort. Like other CPI pamphlets that urged Americans to integrate the war effort into their home and work lives, this excerpt from the CPI's Bulletin for Cartoonists provided a mixture of suggestions, practical advice, and inspirational prose. Less

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Cartoonists on the Picket Line: The Walt Disney Studio Strike
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A wave of strikes in 1941 affected at least one West Coast ... More

A wave of strikes in 1941 affected at least one West Coast industry previously untouched by the labor movement. By the 1930s, animation had become a significant sector of the Hollywood film industry, its production based on factorylike techniques of mass production. World War II deprived Walt Disney of his lucrative foreign market at just the moment when he needed it most; neither Pinocchio nor Fantasia had earned revenues to cover their high production costs and, with the expensive relocation of his studio to Burbank, Disney faced a $4.5 million debt. Relations with his employees worsened as Disney cut wages, laid off staff, and denied long-deferred bonuses. Answering writer Dorothy Parker's admonition "Don't let Mickey Mouse become a rat," other unions came to the support of the Disney strikers. The business agent of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers, Herb Sorrell, testified before a congressional subcommittee that the strikers were bolstered by sympathizers in the other animation studios, principally Warner Brothers' Schlesinger studio. Less

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Subject:
World Cultures
Film and Music Production
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"Caught in the Shafting."
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The National Police Gazette portrays, in a characteristically lurid fashion, an industrial ... More

The National Police Gazette portrays, in a characteristically lurid fashion, an industrial accident in a North Grosvenor, Connecticut, cotton mill. Many late-nineteenth century businessmen ignored hazardous working conditions, since they had little financial incentive to make the workplace safer. In 1881 alone, 30,000 railway workers were killed or injured on the job, and industrial hazards existed in other industries, including textiles. A national weekly magazine, the National Police Gazette enthusiastically violated the mores of genteel culture, focusing on legal and illegal sports, violent crimes and accidents, and sex. Women were often depicted as perpetrators or victims of violence, providing titillation to the weekly magazine's male readership. Less

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"Cavalry charge at Fairfax court house, May 31, 1861."
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Americans were not prepared for the ravages of modern warfare. Early in ... More

Americans were not prepared for the ravages of modern warfare. Early in the war, artists often drew highly romantic and very inaccurate pictures. Soldiers in the field viewed such feats as firing from the saddle with great amusement; they enjoyed seeing illustrations of their exploits almost as much as they enjoyed criticizing their inaccuracies. As the war continued and the carnage mounted, increasingly realistic battlefield sketches conveyed the horrors of war to the northern public. Less

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U.S. History
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Socialist and the Suffragist"
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The Appeal to Reason, the most popular radical publication in American history, ... More

The Appeal to Reason, the most popular radical publication in American history, was founded in 1895 by J. A. Wayland. The socialist newspaper reached a paid circulation of more than three-quarters of a million people by 1913, and during political campaigns and crises it often sold more than four million individual copies. Wayland, the paper's publisher until his suicide in 1912, had become a socialist through reading. He built his paper on the conviction that plain talk would convert others to the socialist cause. From its Kansas headquarters, the Appeal published an eclectic mix of news (particularly of strikes and political campaigns), essays, poetry, fiction, humor, and cartoons. During and after World War I the paper declined in circulation, and it ceased publication in November 1922. This poem by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman appeared in the September 28, 1912, issue. Less

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World Cultures
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"Chicago under the mob."
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In 1894, a strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company spread across ... More

In 1894, a strike at the Pullman Palace Car Company spread across the nation as the American Railway Union organized a national boycott and strike against all trains hauling Pullman cars. Strikers were met with the full force of company and government might. Thirty-four people were killed in two weeks of clashes between troops and workers across the nation. An ardent admirer of the military, artist-reporter Frederic Remington displayed no sympathy for the Pullman strikers in his reports for Harper's Weekly. Endorsing suppression, Remington described the strikers as a "malodorous crowd of foreign trash" talking "Hungarian or Polack, or whatever the stuff is." Less

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U.S. History
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The Class Ceiling: Nearing on Social Mobility
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The Appeal to Reason was the most popular radical publication in American ... More

The Appeal to Reason was the most popular radical publication in American history. The socialist newspaper, founded in 1895, reached a paid circulation of more than three-quarters of a million people by 1913. During political campaigns and crises, it often sold more than four million individual copies. J. A. Wayland, the paper's founder and publisher until his suicide in 1912, had become a socialist through reading. He built his paper on the conviction that plain talk would convert others to the socialist cause. From its Kansas headquarters, the Appeal published an eclectic mix of news (particularly of strikes and political campaigns), essays, poetry, fiction, humor, and cartoons. It ceased publication in November 1922, a victim of editorial instability, the declining fortunes of the Socialist Party, and U.S. government repression of radicalism. In the August 12, 1916 issue, Scott Nearing offered a disheartening prognosis for the social mobility of wage workers. Less

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Subject:
U.S. History
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American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
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Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
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