Volume 35 (Spring 2002) Issue 3
Article Abstracts

Abstract: Myron P. Gutmann, Sara M. Pullum-Pinon, Thomas W. Pullum, "Three Eras of Young Adult Home Leaving in Twentieth-Century America"

This article divides the history of coming of age in the U.S. in the twentieth century into three distinct time periods: one that ran from 1880 until World War Il, one that started in the 1940s and continued until the 1960s, and a third that began by 1970 and was clearly still in evidence in 1990. The story is based on data that recorded whether young people were living with one or both of their parents at the time of each of the decennial censuses of the U.S., from 1880 through 1990. The dramatic finding reported here is in the history of home-leaving ages up until the time of the second world war. Earlier studies assert that the age of home-leaving was declining from as early as it could be measured until 1970. These results are different. From 1880 until 1940 for males and 1950 for females, the age at leaving home did not decline, it rose. The decline came later, from 1940 (men) and 1950 (women). Beginning with 1970, the age of home-leaving rose again, reaching relatively high levels by 1990. The results also show that home leaving ages varied by race, sex, and region, among other factors.

Abstract: Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, "The Work of the Heart: Emotion in the 1805-35 Diary of Sarah Connell Ayer"

Through analyzing the 1805--35 diary of Sarah Connell Ayer and employing sociological concepts of feeling rules, this article examines how women shaped and reshaped their emotions to fit their evolving roles as daughter, wife and mother. It finds that sentimental literature taught young women to cultivate tenderness, control anger and admire one's goodness. Emotion work increased as husbands explicitly corrected women's emotional expression. Together, motherhood and Calvinism created the most demanding feeling rules: this Massachusetts diarist felt compelled to control every facet of her behavior lest she imperil her children's salvation. Although female friendship allowed young women free expression, in adulthood religious and maternal demands constricted that freedom. This essay concludes that ;SPMquot;emotion work;SPMquot; was highly gendered, set different tasks as women's class and relationships changed, mirrored characteristics of women's physical labor but was distinctive in the degree to which it threatened the boundaries of self.

Abstract: Peter C. Baldwin, "'Nocturnal Habits and Dark Wisdom': The American Response to Children in the Streets at Night, 1880-1930 "

From the 1880s through the 1920s, American cities created a new legal and institutional framework to control children's access to the nighttime city. The development of boys' clubs, child labor laws and juvenile curfews all aimed to limit the presence of children in city streets after dark. Such reforms were motivated in part by the moral uncertainty of modern urban night, at a time when the increase in nocturnal work and leisure activities brought more people into contact with the dubious activities that had long characterized hours of darkness. Many urban Americans worried about the presence of corruptible children in the public spaces of the new nocturnal city. Middle-class social reformers and government officials feared that premature exposure to sexual knowledge would disrupt proper child development. The boys' clubs, child labor laws, and juvenile curfews did not succeed in forcing children off the streets in the period before 1930. Their significance was primarily educational and symbolic. Further, by attempting to bring order to the use of urban time, these reforms echoed simultaneous attempts to bring order to the use of urban space.

Abstract: Richard C. Trexler, "Making the American Berdache: Choice or Constraint? "

Romantic scholars have long assumed that native Americans entered the status of berdache by their own choice. Yet as this article shows, with the exception of the American Plains nations, those who assumed that status across the Western Hemisphere were infants or young children. Repeatedly, parents or communities forced this life-choice upon the young, mainly for purposes of familial or communal demographic balance.

The present article reviews the evidence for those origins: beginning with the mostly male berdaches encountered by the Hispanic conquerors, continuing with the evidence from the northern extremes of the hemisphere, where Inuit berdaches were most often girls, and ending with the berdaches of the present-day United States where, again, male berdaches predominated. An analysis of the Plains berdaches shows that while they entered that status in adolescence rather than in childhood, they also were under constraint...of uniform visions staged and interpreted by elders.

Abstract: Nick Hayes, "Did Manual Workers Want Industrial Welfare? Canteens, Latrines and Masculinity on British Building Sites 1918-1970"

Whether or not manual workers actually valued industrial welfarism has been largely subsumed within the debate over its productive or coercive function. Yet many workers seemingly placed little importance on such benefits, either when demanded by unions or provided by employers. This rebuttal should not be read only in terms of the primacy of money wages within a hierarchy of demands. Taking construction as an example of a male dominated industry, it is argued that key aspects of welfarism ran counter to masculine constructs of workplace culture. Improved physical amenities devalued such defining attributes of worker identity as self-sufficiency and toughness; even cash benefits like paid holidays were misappropriated by a significant minority who preferred more traditional manly pleasures. Yet the value placed on "conditions of work" issues also reflected broader structural changes within the industry: notably issues of workplace control. Only in such contexts can attitudes to welfare be understood. It was never simply a question of want or dislike.

Abstract: Wayne K. Durrill, "A Tale of Two Courthouses: Civic Space, Political Power, and Capitalist Development in a New South Community, 1843-1940 "

"A Tale of Two Courthouses" argues that politicians in nineteenth century America used civic space as a means less to democratize local government than to consolidate power in the hands of an elite while, at the same time, producing a constituency for that rule. To demonstrate that point the histories of two successive courthouses in Union County, North Carolina, are examined in detail, connections being made among local efforts at economic development, two consolidations of power, and the building, maintenance, furnishings and uses of the courthouse buildings and grounds. In the end, the Union County courthouses proved instrumental to local elites in drawing political power to themselves and in legitimating that power by simultaneously excluding most citizens from the exercise of power while including them in the civic body through symbolic displays of unity such as Fourth of July parades.

Abstract: Yochi Fischer-Yinon, "The Original Bundlers: Boaz and Ruth, and Seventeenth-Century English Courtship Practices "

The courtship habits of Early Modern England included a wide spectrum of sexual togetherness. Between penetrative sex, which could end in premarital pregnancy, and no physical contact at all, there was a wide spectrum to maneuver.

The paper offers a new tentative research orientation attempting to interpret the social place and meaning of one custom of premarital sexual togetherness--namely: Bundling, in late sixteenth and seventeenth century England. Rather then relating the question of bundling to diaries, life stories or the church courts, as has usually been done, the interpretation focuses on a different source: the contemporary understanding and representation of the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz. The night meeting of Ruth and Boaz at the threshing floor (Book of Ruth ch.3) served as a kind of biblical example of pious, virtuous bundling. By offering a kind of conservative via media between full intercourse and no sexual contact at all, it seems that godly guidance, and not just economic needs or changes in Church legislation, could have had a potentially casual role in shaping, and in the same time, delimiting, sexual habits of popular as well as elite social classes.

 

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