Respectability on Trial: Sex Crimes in New York City, 1900-1918
by Brian Donovan
SUNY Press (September, 2016)
By Hugh Ryan
As a queer historian, a frustrating amount of my research comes from records of arrests. Sodomy, prostitution, disorderly conduct, masquerading, vagrancy, the crime against nature, solicitation – the list of laws that have been used in New York City to criminalize queer lives is long, varied, and stretches all the way back to 1634, when a Dutch colonial anti-sodomy law was used to prosecute a settler named Harmen van den Bogaert and an enslaved African man called Tobias.
I say frustrating because these arrests rarely say much to the historian interested in queer life: a name, a date, a charge; perhaps if you’re lucky you can find a newspaper squib that gives a line or two of context. Often, they are indicia in the truest sense, pointing towards something but not revealing much of anything (other than the existence of the state apparatus of criminalization). But in times where there was little public discussion of queer lives, records of arrests are some of the few regularly discoverable signposts pointing to where queerness may have existed.
The Daniel Dromm Collection at the La Guardia and Wagner Archives and the Queens LGBTQ Rights Movement
Sensibility and the Road: The Journal of Madame Knight and the Cultural Refinement of Eighteenth-Century New York
By Marjorie Heins
The art collector Peggy Guggenheim had just opened her avant-garde "Art of This Century" gallery on West 57 Street in the fall of 1942 when her friend Marcel Duchamp suggested that she mount an all-woman exhibition. Guggenheim loved the idea: the show would be radical not only because of its composition but because most of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures on view would be either abstract or Surrealist in style, as befitted Guggenheim's modernist taste.
“All of That is What Feminism is to Me”: Building a Multiracial, Working-Class Women’s Organization in 1970s Brooklyn
By Tamar W. Carroll
In 1969, Mobilization for Youth (MFY) social worker Jan Peterson left the Lower East Side for Williamsburg, Brooklyn, heeding a challenge posed by Congress of Racial Equality leader Marshall England: to organize in a white neighborhood. Peterson’s trajectory after MFY captures much of the effervescent rise of social movements in the seventies, as well as the many tensions and contradictions building within the movements themselves and in American politics more broadly. Inspired by the example of the African American civil rights movement and the promise of the War on Poverty, many grassroots activists organized Community Action Programs (CAPs) with the goal of both improving the immediate material circumstances of their members and creating a mechanism for their voices to be heard and taken seriously in policymaking. While the 1970s are often remembered as a decade of racial and ethnic polarization, in many cases CAPs and their successors drew participants together in interracial efforts….
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