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Urban History

Sessions by special interest

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Urban History


Saturday, April 18, 12:20 pm – 1:50 pm
Urban History Association Luncheon
Cost: $50
Sponsored by the Urban History Association
Burn Draft Cards Not Cities: Catholic Leftist Politics of the Vietnam Era
Special Guest:
Michelle Nickerson, Loyola University Chicago
Michelle Nickerson is an associate professor and Graduate Program Director of History at Loyola University Chicago. She teaches courses on the history of women and gender, U.S. politics, social movements, cities, and suburbs. She is a member of the Organization of American Historians' Distinguished Lecturer Program and co-convener of the Newberry Library's monthly Women and Gender Seminar.


Thursday, April 16

1:45 pm - 3:15 pm 

Trans-Atlantic Cultural and Material Exchanges
Chair and Commentator:
Lorri Glover, St. Louis University
Modernity and Urbanity: The Formation of African American Taste in the Antebellum North
Carla L. Peterson, University of Maryland
Sentimentality and Material Goods: Family and Exchange in the Post-Revolutionary Loyalist Diaspora
Chloe Northrop, University of North Texas
Drawn into Slavery: A Bermudian Challenge to an American Enslavement
Neil Kennedy, Memorial University

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm 

American History from the Inside Out: Putting St. Louis's History of Cities, Suburbs, and Race Relations to Work to Reconfigure the National Narrative
Peter Kastor, Washington University in St. Louis
• Keona Ervin, University of Missouri
• Clarence Lang, University of Kansas
• Eric Sandweiss, Indiana University
• Kevin Gaines, University of Michigan
This plenary takes the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri as a point of departure for considering how our understanding of the past changes when we move the attention away from the familiar focus on the cities of the East and West Coasts. Most history survey courses and grand historical narratives tell a fundamentally coastal story that usually begins in the east and moves west. But what happens when that story begins at the center, moving from the inside out? Rather than start with places like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, this plenary situates the St. Louis region in its own context of cities in the continental interior, places with their own histories that both confirm and challenge the histories from the coasts. In the process, this plenary engages some of the most timely questions facing historians: How should historians
respond to current events like the killing of Michael Brown? What places and histories should assume primacy in our scholarship and our teaching? How can historians identify larger continuities and changes on a truly national scale?
The speakers on this panel each engage a different methodological perspective in appraising the significance of St. Louis history as a point of orientation for national history. Please note: After the formal session, audience members will be welcome to stay in the room to continue the discussion of the historical implications of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Friday, April 17

9:00 am - 10:30 am

The Changing Landscape of Wildfire in the United States
Chair and Commentator:
Lincoln Bramwell, U.S. Forest Service
Housing Growth in the Wildland Urban Interface, 1940–2000
Miranda Mockrin, U.S. Forest Service
Between Two Fires: A Fire History of the U.S. since 1960
Steve Pyne, Arizona State University
Wave of Fire: Fire History and Settlement Patterns across the Eastern U.S.
Michael Stambaugh, University of Missouri–Columbia

10:50 am - 12;20 pm 

Illicit Economies and Taboo Trades: Excavating the Politics of Black Female Sexuality in Vaudeville, Pornography, and Prostitution in Twentieth-Century-America
Endorsed by the Urban History Association
Chair: Michele Mitchell, New York University
Commentator: Adrienne Davis, Washington University School of Law
"A Broad and Earthy Clown": The Bodily Politics of Moms Mabley
Cynthia Blair, University of Illinois at Chicago
Sepia Sex Scenes: Black Women's Erotic Labor in Early Pornographic Film
Mireille Miller-Young, University of California, Santa Barbara
"That He Would Keep Me For Himself": Hannah Elias, Illicit Sex, and Interracial Intimacy in Plessy-Era New York
Cheryl Hicks, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

1:50 pm - 3:20 pm 

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
Nadia Ghasedi, Visual Media Research Lab, Washington University in St. Louis
• Brian Woodman, Producer, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
• Paul Fehler, Producer, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
• Sylvester Brown, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
• Benjamin Looker, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth
It began as a housing marvel. Two decades later, it ended in rubble. But what happened to those caught in between? The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home.
The film, winner of the 2012 OAH Erik Barnouw Award, analyzes the impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the process of mass suburbanization, emptying cities of residents, businesses, and industries. Those left behind, like the residents of Pruitt-Igoe, faced a destitute, rapidly de-industrializing St. Louis, parceled out to downtown interests and increasingly segregated by class and race. Punitive public welfare policies wrought domestic turmoil; the paternalistic Housing Authority was cash-strapped; and the downward spiral of vacancy, vandalism, and crime led to resident protest and action during the 1969 Rent Strike.
Despite this complex history, Pruitt-Igoe has often been stereotyped. The world-famous image of its implosion has helped to perpetuate a myth of failure, which has been used to critique Modernist architecture, attack public assistance programs, and stigmatize public housing residents. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth seeks to set the historical record straight...to implode the myth. The screening of the film will be followed by a discussion with coproducers Brian Woodman and Paul Fehler, former Pruitt-Igoe resident
Sylvester Brown, and American studies professor Benjamin Looker.

Politicizing Taboos: The Suffrage Campaign, Urban Space, and the Realignment of Gender Roles in the Early Twentieth Century
Sponsored by the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE)
Chair: Susan Goodier, Hamilton College
Commentator: Maureen Flanagan, Illinois Institute of Technology
When Women Occupy Wall Street
Amy Shore, State University of New York at Oswego
"They Will Not be Shut Out": Suffragists' Mobilization of "Dangerous" Spaces in Gotham
Lauren Santangelo, New-York Historical Society/The New School
Fashioning the Public Sphere: Suffrage Fashions and the Transformation of the Political Landscape
Einav Rabinovtich-Fox, New York University

Saturday, April 18

9:00 am - 10:30 am 

The Challenge of Engaging Local Communities in Place-Based History: The Case of St. Louis
Sponsored by the OAH Committee on Public History
Jeffrey Manuel, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Andrew Hurley, University of Missouri–St. Louis
• Bill Iseminger, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
• Gwendolyn Moore, Missouri History Museum
• Lois Conley, The Griot Museum of Black History
• Almetta Jordan, Scott Joplin House State Historic Site

10:50 am - 12:20 pm 

Reframing the Struggle: Latino Activism in Multiracial Cities, 1960s–1970s
Endorsed by the Urban History Association and the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA)
Chair: Eduardo Contreras, Hunter College, CUNY
Commentator: Adrian Burgos, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Race and Inequality in a Multiethnic City: African Americans, Mexican Americans, and the War on Poverty in Los Angeles
Casey Nichols, Stanford University
Desegregation or Disintegration? Fighting for Better Schools in Multiracial Denver, 1968–1976
Danielle Olden, University of Utah
"We Went to Make an Alliance": Puerto Rican and Black Politics in North Philadelphia, 1960s–1980s
Alyssa Ribeiro, Center for the Study of Women, University of California, Los Angeles

Sunday, April 19

9:00 am - 10:30 am 

Schools and the City: Public Education and Metropolitan Politics in U.S. History
Endorsed by the Urban History Association
Chair and Commentator:
Jerald Podair, Lawrence University
"A Relation of Considerable Delicacy": Catholic Schools and Compulsory School Attendance Laws in Late Nineteenth-Century Urban America
Robbie Gross, Sidwell Friends School
"The Credentials Lie with the People": Mental Health, Community Control, and Educational Equity in Boston's Black Education Movement, 1974–1977"
Tess Bundy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Schools, Race, and Public Policy in Modern America: Toward a New Typology for Racial Segregation
Andrew Highsmith, University of Texas at San Antonio
Letting the Public School System Die: Fiscal Crisis and the Remaking of Urban Education in the Long 1970s
Jon Shelton, University of Wisconsin–Green Bay