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Posts in Gender & Sexuality
Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot

Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot

Reviewed by Susan Goodier

Just when we thought there simply couldn’t be another thing to say about the New York women’s suffrage movement, Lauren Santangelo presents us with an immaculately researched, well-written book that adds a new and provocative dimension to the topic. At the center of this monograph is New York City itself, with its myriad public spaces and its fascinating complexity, and Santangelo draws us into her rendition of suffragism in the city that never sleeps. Suffrage and the City does not presume to replace the historiography of the movement, but it raises the bar for casting a wide net for sources, for contextualization of a social movement, and for bringing a historical period (in this case, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era) to life. She convincingly argues that the city—Manhattan in particular—is more than a setting; it is an essential part of the drama of the women’s suffrage movement.

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Rough Paradise: Sex, Art, and Economic Crisis on the New York City Waterfront

Rough Paradise: Sex, Art, and Economic Crisis on the New York City Waterfront

By Jeffrey Patrick Colgan and Jeffrey Escoffier

New York City was for many years one of the world’s leading ports. In the early 1950s, the docks in New York City, by far the country’s busiest, directly and indirectly supplied, according to the City’s Department of Marine and Aviation, livelihood for almost 10% of the city’s population. Nevertheless, even then there were signs of the port’s impending doom. Plagued with racketeering, traffic congestion, and outmoded facilities, the invention of container shipping was the final straw. Without adequate rail and road access and the space to operate cranes and stack containers, most of the port’s Manhattan-based business moved to New Jersey where new container facilities were being built.

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After the Vote: Feminist Politics in La Guardia's New York

After the Vote: Feminist Politics in La Guardia's New York

Reviewed by Karen Pastorello

Elisabeth Israels Perry has enriched the historical record by documenting New York City women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century. Inspired by the life of her grandmother, “political influencer” and civic reformer Belle Linder Israels Moskowitz, Perry goes well beyond recounting “firsts” for women and instead offers specific examples of accomplished women — all of whom surmounted a myriad of personal and professional challenges to enter a male-controlled political world. After suffrage was won, women attempted to ascend from their newly acquired position as voters to officeholders intent, for the most part, on advancing a social justice platform for all.

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Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Stonewall at 50: A Roundtable

Today on the blog, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with a series of short essays by activists, writers, and scholars whose lives and work have been shaped by the events of June 1969 and their aftermath. This year, the scale of celebration and commemoration in New York is larger than ever — more than 4 million people are expected to attend this weekend’s festivities, and an estimated 115,000 people will be marching at Pride.

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What Stonewall Means to Me

What Stonewall Means to Me

By Perry Brass

People often ask me if I was “at Stonewall,” and I’m one of the few people who will definitely say, “No.” I was actually around the corner at an old bar called Julius’, when some young men raced in to tell us that “the girls are rioting at the Stonewall!”

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A Documentary History of Stonewall: An Interview with Marc Stein

A Documentary History of Stonewall: An Interview with Marc Stein

Interviewed by Katie Uva

Today on the blog, we talk to Marc Stein about his new book, The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History. In it, he compiles 200 documents that shed light on the years immediately preceding and after the events at Stonewall.

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On the (Queer) Waterfront

​On the (Queer) Waterfront

Reviewed by Elvis Bakaitis

On the (Queer) Waterfront is currently on view at the Brooklyn Historical Society (March 6-August 4), and offers glimpses of individual LGBTQ lives from the mid-1800s through the post-WWII period. Co-curated by Avram Finkelstein and Hugh Ryan, the exhibit is based on Ryan's recently published book, When Brooklyn was Queer, which focuses on the borough as a whole, though with a strong anchor (pun intended) to the waterfront.

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"All the Single Ladies": Women-Only Buildings in Early 20th c. NYC

"All the Single Ladies": Women-Only Buildings in Early 20th c. NYC​

By Nina E. Harkrader

The growth of manufacturing and industry in Northeastern cities during the early to mid-nineteenth century increased demand for female labor in the United States. As a result, the number of single working women living in urban areas grew significantly. These newly arrived women workers were expected to find their own lodging, but there were no precedents for housing single women in cities. On top of that, the much lower wages paid to female workers greatly limited their housing choices, and many ended up living in squalid situations: shared bedrooms in tenement buildings or hired rooms in boarding houses with male lodgers. For women workers in cities, two problems emerged: a literal housing crisis, but a figurative one as well, as this was a period when female chastity, innocence, and domesticity were celebrated and expected of women, who would perform the role of “the angel in the house” and rarely, if ever, appear unaccompanied in public.

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The Girl on the Velvet Swing

The Girl on the Velvet Swing

Reviewed by Emily Brooks

In The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century, Simon Baatz explores the dramatic and violent relationship between three infamous figures in late nineteenth and early twentieth century New York City. The story of Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, and Harry Thaw, a beautiful young performer, a famous middle-aged architect, and a notorious scion of a wealthy family, respectively, captivated their contemporaries and continues to appeal to historians more than a century later.

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Hugh Ryan's When Brooklyn Was Queer

Hugh Ryan's When Brooklyn Was Queer

Reviewed by Benjamin Serby

“Pick a random book about ‘New York City’ history, and chances are, it will mention Brooklyn… sporadically if at all. The chance that it talks about the queer history of Brooklyn? Nearly zero.” Thus writes Hugh Ryan, a curator and author whose new book, When Brooklyn Was Queer, marks a first attempt at correcting the ingrained Manhattan-centrism of queer studies and recovering the stories of queer Brooklynites in particular.

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