Description : Colored Amazons is a groundbreaking historical analysis of the crimes, prosecution, and incarceration of black women in Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century. Kali N. Gross reconstructs black women’s crimes and their representations in popular press accounts and within the discourses of urban and penal reform. Most importantly, she considers what these crimes signified about the experiences, ambitions, and frustrations of the marginalized women who committed them. Gross argues that the perpetrators and the state jointly constructed black female crime. For some women, crime functioned as a means to attain personal and social autonomy. For the state, black female crime and its representations effectively galvanized and justified a host of urban reform initiatives that reaffirmed white, middle-class authority. Gross draws on prison records, trial transcripts, news accounts, and rare mug shot photographs. Providing an overview of Philadelphia’s black women criminals, she describes the women’s work, housing, and leisure activities and their social position in relation to the city’s native-born whites, European immigrants, and elite and middle-class African Americans. She relates how news accounts exaggerated black female crime, trading in sensationalistic portraits of threatening “colored Amazons,” and she considers criminologists’ interpretations of the women’s criminal acts, interpretations largely based on notions of hereditary criminality. Ultimately, Gross contends that the history of black female criminals is in many ways a history of the rift between the political rhetoric of democracy and the legal and social realities of those marginalized by its shortcomings.
Description : Shortly after a dismembered torso was discovered by a pond outside Philadelphia in 1887, investigators homed in on two suspects: Hannah Mary Tabbs, a married, working-class, black woman, and George Wilson, a former neighbor whom Tabbs implicated after her arrest. As details surrounding the shocking case emerged, both the crime and ensuing trial--which spanned several months--were featured in the national press. The trial brought otherwise taboo subjects such as illicit sex, adultery, and domestic violence in the black community to public attention. At the same time, the mixed race of the victim and one of his assailants exacerbated anxieties over the purity of whiteness in the post-Reconstruction era. In Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, historian Kali Nicole Gross uses detectives' notes, trial and prison records, local newspapers, and other archival documents to reconstruct this ghastly whodunit crime in all its scandalous detail. In doing so, she gives the crime context by analyzing it against broader evidence of police treatment of black suspects and violence within the black community. A fascinating work of historical recreation, Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso is sure to captivate anyone interested in true crime, adulterous love triangles gone wrong, and the racially volatile world of post-Reconstruction Philadelphia.
Description : In the 1970s, feminist slogans proclaimed “Sisterhood is powerful,” and women’s historians searched through the historical archives to recover stories of solidarity and sisterhood. However, as feminist scholars have started taking a more intersectional approach—acknowledging that no woman is simply defined by her gender and that affiliations like race, class, and sexual identity are often equally powerful—women’s historians have begun to offer more varied and nuanced narratives. The ten original essays in U.S. Women's History represent a cross-section of current research in the field. Including work from both emerging and established scholars, this collection employs innovative approaches to study both the causes that have united American women and the conflicts that have divided them. Some essays uncover little-known aspects of women’s history, while others offer a fresh take on familiar events and figures, from Rosa Parks to Take Back the Night marches. Spanning the antebellum era to the present day, these essays vividly convey the long histories and ongoing relevance of topics ranging from women’s immigration to incarceration, from acts of cross-dressing to the activism of feminist mothers. This volume thus not only untangles the threads of the sisterhood mythos, it weaves them into a multi-textured and multi-hued tapestry that reflects the breadth and diversity of U.S. women’s history.
Description : With this book, Cheryl Hicks brings to light the voices and viewpoints of black working-class women, especially southern migrants, who were the subjects of urban and penal reform in early twentieth-century New York. Hicks compares the ideals of racial upl
Description : Shortly after the dawn of the twentieth century, the New York City Department of Health decided to address what it perceived as the racial nature of health. It delivered heavily racialized care in different neighborhoods throughout the city: syphillis treatment among African Americans, tuberculosis for Italian Americans, and so on. It was a challenging and ambitious program, dangerous for the providers, and troublingly reductive for the patients. Nevertheless, poor and working-class African American, British West Indian, and Southern Italian women all received some of the nation’s best health care during this period. Health in the City challenges traditional ideas of early twentieth-century urban black health care by showing a program that was simultaneously racialized and cutting-edge. It reveals that even the most well-meaning public health programs may inadvertently reinforce perceptions of inferiority that they were created to fix.
Description : Into the Hearts of the Amazons is part rousing travel adventure through a little-known world and part popular ethnography, exploring how Zapotec women earned their legendary status in a remote corner of southern Mexico. To satisfy his curiosity about this culture, Tom DeMott journeyed to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where he discovered a thriving modern-day matriarchy among the people of the Isthmus—a cultural crossroads, breeding ground for rebels, and home to a half-million Zapotecs. DeMott integrated himself into the culture by joining in the rites of spring (where women pelt the men with fruit); by interviewing the women who control the marketplace where men are rarely seen; and by honoring the saints with drink and dance at all-night ceremonies. Evoking these singular women and their culture, DeMott tackles a primal question: What would life be like if women, rather than men, had the advantage?