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What’s in the December Issue of the Journal of American History?

front-matter-2The December issue of the Journal of American History is now online for subscribers.

Included are articles by Julie A. Golia, Gloria McCahon Whiting, and Matthew Farish. We’ve included previews of these articles below.

We are also excited to share a round table on food history. Matt Garcia kicks off the round table with a piece titled “Setting the Table: Historians, Popular Writers, and Food History.” The round table includes five responses, from E. Melanie DuPuis, Madeline Y. Hsu, Mark PadoongpattMonica Perales, Jeffrey M. Pilcher, and a final response from Matt Garcia.

Our exhibition reviews section includes reviews of the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibitions on “American Enterprise,” “Places of Invention,” and “The Wheel Woman,” as well as the Bullock Texas State History Museum’s “Life and Death on the Border, 1910–1920,” and a joint review of four museums in Chicago: the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, the National Museum of Mexican Arts, The Polish Museum of America, and the National Hellenic Museum.

The book reviews section features the usual complement of books from across the breadth of American history. Feature reviews include Daina Ramey Berry’s review of Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told, David Roediger’s review of Manisha Sinha’s The Slave Cause, Paul Harvey’s review of African American Religions, 1500–2000, Etsuko Taketani’s review of Lisa Lowe’s The Intimacies of Four Continents, Mark Smith’s review of Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and Ari Kelman’s Battle Lines, and Timothy Stewart-Winter’s review of Michael Stewart Foley’s Front Porch Politics.

Our movie reviews section features reviews of the films The Murder of a PresidentChuck Norris vs. Communism, The Finest Hours, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Born to be Blueand Miles Ahead.

Digital history projects reviewed in this issue include Open Tour Builder; The Battle of Atlanta Tour: A Tour of History and Remembrance; and Emory Campus History TourFDR4Freedoms: The Life, Times, and Vision of Franklin D. Roosevelt,, and Wearing Gay History: A Digital Archive of Historical LGBT T-Shirts.

Previews of Articles and Round Table

Gloria McCahon Whiting examines enslaved Africans living in New England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to provide insight into the dynamics of gender and power in bound families throughout the Anglo-Atlantic world. Combining social-historical research on thousands of slaves with carefully reconstructed stories of particular families in bondage, she calls into question an important assumption that underpins much scholarship on gender and family in Atlantic slavery: that the structure of slaves’ families defined their normative values. Afro–New England families exhibited a number of striking patriarchal tendencies despite their mother-centered structure, making Whiting’s study germane to historians with interests in gender, family, race, and slavery throughout the Americas.

In the 1970s many American newspapers retired their long-running woman’s pages, replacing them with seemingly gender-neutral style pages. With their focus on fashion, housekeeping, society, and advice, women’s pages seemed a sexist relic of the past. But Julie A. Golia argues that the woman’s page served as a site of experimentation and innovation in early twentieth-century newspapers, even while reinforcing traditional gender roles. The woman’s page allowed publishers to re-envision their readership as female—and to leverage that readership to advertisers preoccupied with potential women purchasers. Examining a national sample of newspapers and trade journal advertisements over forty years, Golia demonstrates that gender shaped the content and marketing strategies of American newspaper publishers in ways that persisted well after the decline of the woman’s page.

During the 1950s hundreds of thousands of Americans volunteered for the Ground Observer Corps (GOC), a U.S. Air Force–sponsored organization that enlisted “sky watchers” to occupy observation posts and scan the horizon for unfamiliar aircraft. A World War II initiative revived during the early years of the Cold War, the GOC has received insufficient scholarly attention. Michael Farish offers a comprehensive history of the corps, significant because it illustrates the customary and commonplace dimensions of the Cold War in the daily routines of many Americans—dimensions often overshadowed by the biographies, events, and technologies that dominate histories of the era. The result is a more thorough attempt to document the elusive but profoundly consequential process of militarization.

Food has become a popular topic with both popular food writers and academics. In the latest installment in the Journal of American History‘s state-of-the-field series, Matt Garcia explores the creative tension between the two groups, arguing that it has generated new interests and more creative solutions to the current food crisis. He advocates for an inclusive and expansive interpretation of what constitutes food history—beyond cuisine to include agriculture, the environment, labor, and trade. He argues that authors who recognize the complex relationships among these fields and incorporate methods from nonhistory disciplines have made the greatest contributions to food studies. Following Garcia’s essay are responses from E. Melanie DuPuis, Madeline Y. Hsu, Mark Padoongpatt, Monica Perales, and Jeffrey M. Pilcher.