The Transatlantic Graduate Student History Association 19th Annual Conference

By Kyle B. Carpenter

On October 19th-20th, the Transatlantic History Student Organization put on their 19th annual graduate student conference at the University of Texas at Arlington. Highlighted by an engaging roundtable, keynote address from Dr. Nayan Shah, and exciting new research from graduate students in the field of Transatlantic History, the conference proved to be an excellent professional experience where I made great connections.

The conference kicked off on Friday night with a roundtable that directly tackled the theme of the weekend, “Subversive Spaces, Subversive Bodies.” With several discussants, including Drs. Stephanie Cole and Patryk Babiracki, the topics ranged from race to gender to the role of the state. One topic they deliberated that I found particularly engaging was the difference between subversive zones and borderlands. I had always considered those two concepts regarding their location in geographic space: the borderlands as an area that no state has yet to be able to fully establish its authority and subversive zones as areas within an established state where people are able to practice subversive activity. Their discussion got me thinking about how subversive zones exist within the borderlands, as people coalesce to challenge and subvert power in various forms, regardless of the state. It was a fun, engaging, and well-organized roundtable that, frankly, I could have listened to for another hour.

Immediately following the roundtable, Dr. Shah took the floor and presented his research on hunger strikes as a bodily form of protest in prisons. One of the key concepts of his work is the notion of the carceral control of food. Life in a prison is organized primarily around meal times and the primary power of the prison is that it can dole out and withhold food as it pleases. He argued that when political inmates went on hunger strike, it severely undermined the power structure within the institution. The prison’s control of food no longer mattered to the protester. If the hunger strike became public, it further undermined carceral control, thus making hunger strikes an important weapon of political prisoners throughout the twentieth century.

Leaflet advertising THSO 2018

In thinking about his presentation and the topic of bodily forms of protest, my mind immediately turned toward more extreme protests, like bodily mutilation or self-immolation. When I asked him about it during the Q&A, Dr. Shah patiently went through the many forms of bodily protest that occurred in prisons but came back to his argument that hunger strikes were the most effective at undermining carceral control. It was a convincing argument and the talk overall was a rewarding experience.

On Saturday, the degreed professionals took a back seat and the graduate students got to shine. The first panel of the day, titled “Reinterpreting the Body: Gender, Race, and Youth Construction,” contained three insightful papers. One that stood out because it seemed quite relevant to the public activities of white supremacists today was Derrick Angermeier’s “The Germans are Beating Us at Our Own Game: The Path from Southern Eugenics to Transatlantic Nazism.” He argued that, while Nazism undermined scientific Eugenics in the South, white supremacy remained a welcome pathway for racial expression in the United States. He dubbed the post-World War II American white supremacist movement as “transatlantic Nazism” because it shared so many features with its German cousin, particularly the symbolism, like the use of the iron cross. Angermeier’s presentation was both engaging and a little bit scary considering some of the parallels he made to current events.

The second panel, “Policing the Body Politic,” only had two presenters but they both provided unique perspectives on their topics. Heather Lane enlightened us on the debates within police forces across the Atlantic about systematizing human identification. While fingerprinting ultimately won out, different systems of measurement were championed across the western hemisphere which led to considerable confrontations among police forces. Aleksei Rubstov similarly tackled the issue of police monitoring and identification but flipped it to show how police identified social networks within protest movements in Moscow. One of the highlights of Rubstov’s presentation was his beautiful visualization of those networks and how they connected or did not.

Aleksei Rubstov presents his networks at THSO 2018.

I was in the third panel, “Buying In: Subverting Economy, Citizenship, and Expectations.” After we three panelists all presented, I understood the real value of a graduate student conference. Throughout the conference, a panel chair commented on each paper and most of them provided an incredible amount of constructive feedback. Our panel was no exception as Dr. Christopher Morris gave us all individual comments that, for me at least, will make not only that paper better, but help me think through my entire dissertation. I also made excellent professional connections with the other members of my panel.

Overall, the Transatlantic History Student Organization put together a wonderful conference, which makes it clear how a graduate student conference made it to its nineteenth year. I encountered engaging academic discussion, received amazing feedback, and created a couple important professional connections that I hope lead to future conference panels.

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Echoes of the Bracero Program During California’s Primary Election Debate

By Jonathan Angulo

Before California’s gubernatorial primary election, four Democrats and two Republicans faced off in a televised debate on January 25, 2018. Moderators Jorge Ramos and Ilia Caldéron asked candidates Antonio Villaraigosa (D), Delaine Eastin (D), Gavin Newsom (D), John Chiang (D), John Cox (R), and Travis Allen (R), about many issues, including immigration in general and in particular—they asked questions on sexual assault against undocumented women, on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and on immigrant farm work. Candidates Chiang and Cox alluded to the Bracero Program, a guest-worker program enacted between 1942-1964, during the debate. The discussion demonstrated how the program is remembered and how guest workers should be treated. The comments suggest the United States should remember workers’ hardships, so they are treated humanely when legislators propose immigration policies.

A fourteen-year old, Benjamín Zepeda, asked the candidates, “How can you help families like mine that are scared to be separated due to deportation?” this prompted Chiang’s indirect reference to the Bracero Program. As he highlighted immigrants’ contribution to California’s development, he recalled that during World War II the nation invited Mexicans to labor in our farms. Acknowledging the country’s failure to advocate for fully just immigration policies, he declared that our economic future would be shaped by immigrants. In recalling braceros’ contributions, the candidate pledged his support for immigrants because our country should represent dignity, decency, and respect for all people. He accordingly vowed to solve such issues with all governors by pushing Washington D.C., to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Thus, Chiang’s comments alluded to the significance and importance of the Bracero Program. 1

Candidate Chiang is seen answering a question during the debate.

 

Chiang’s statement referring to this country’s failure in advocating for just immigration policies had merit even in regard to the Bracero Program, whose resurrection is sometimes promoted as a solution to current immigration problems. The binational agreement originated when the agribusiness and railroad industries lobbied Congress for a guest-worker program. President Franklin Roosevelt subsequently signed an executive order which caused Mexico and the United States to create the Bracero Program from 1942-1951; Congress later extended the program from 1951 to 1964. Contracted Mexican workers, known as Braceros, traveled from their homes to migratory stations in Mexico before reaching the border. Then, they traveled from the stations to U.S. reception centers where they were formally contracted. Braceros were to be paid a minimum wage, provided with housing, given food, and promised a small pension from deducted funds in their paychecks.2

The program brought numerous laborers to the United States; however, there were not enough jobs for them, which led the applicants to take desperate measures. For example, on June 13th, 1958 a bracero bought a peer’s identity, so he could move up in the waiting list. Contracted by the Ventura County Citrus Growers Committee, the bracero, after his six-month contract, used the peer’s name again. Migratory officials, however, found that he was using the fraudulent identity. Thus, Mexicans who could not attain a contract through formal measures used such informal means and increasingly crossed the border as undocumented immigrants. The Eisenhower administration, subsequently, enacted Operation Wetback in 1954 which resulted in the deportation of over a million Mexicans. Mexican officials were upset at the deportations as they argued that the U.S. had invited workers to cross the border, then punished undocumented workers, instead of the employers who hired them.3

Moderator Ilia Caldéron later in the debate asked John Cox, “Do you know that more than 60% of the people harvesting fruits and veggies here in California are undocumented immigrants? Isn’t it pro-business to give them a legal status?” The candidate answered by sympathizing with Central Valley Farmers. According to Cox, the farmers advertised higher wages; however, they continued to endure labor shortages. The candidate then argued for a labor importation program, basically another Bracero Program already shown to be flawed. He claimed that Latinos came from dysfunctional and corrupt countries such as, Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, and Guatemala. Cox continued by describing them as nations where special interests, cronies, and monopolists receive government favors. The candidate ended by stating that Latinos come to the United States because it is a country of laws. But some farmers’ actions during the program tell a different story.4

Candidate Cox addresses Trump’s comments about African Nations and Third World countries.

 

The Bracero Program demonstrated that the United States often acted as a nation without laws, as the government frequently served farmers’ interests despite written agreements. For example, in November 1942, a frost damaged pea crops in the Imperial Valley of California. At the time, braceros were contracted to harvest peas, but were instead ordered to tie carrots. In addition, farmers paid braceros and domestic workers six cents per bushel instead of the normal eight-cent piece rate which challenged the prevailing wage agreement in the program. Objecting against such “cheap” labor, discontented domestic workers organized a strike on January 9, 1943 advocating for the original rate. In response, the California Farm Labor Transportation Program and the Imperial Valley Farmers Association worked together to deport braceros who refused to be strikebreakers. Thus, forty workers were deported between January 9 and February 3. The tying season finished before the strike gathered momentum.5

The United States, nevertheless, continued to break laws. Before 1952, the U.S president and the Mexican government informally re-approved the Bracero Program. Once President Harry Truman signed Public Law No. 78, the program required Congress’s approval every two years. The next renewal was accordingly discussed in 1954. Although both countries had failed to come to an agreement in early 1954, U.S. Border Patrol officials encouraged Mexicans to cross the border under an undocumented status. Tony Gose, a resident from the Imperial Valley, verified this claim in a House Agriculture Committee report. On one occasion, he witnessed a Mexican official grab a former bracero to prevent him from being hired as an undocumented laborer. A U.S. official, however, in a tug of war fashion, grabbed the laborer in an attempt to take him from the Mexican agent. Finally, both governments after tense negotiations agreed on a new renewal in 1954.6

Los Angeles Times Photographer Frank Q. Brown’s Imperial Valley Border Picture, 1954.

 

After the program, society has demonstrated that braceros have been remembered, but policymakers need to study their experiences more closely. Providing assistance for such study, the National Museum of American History has created the Bracero History Project to tell the complex history of braceros. Also, the Bracero Justice Movement has sought to recognize the exploitation and injustices guest workers faced, as well as to recuperate pensions and wages withheld from them. Policymakers should remember that braceros often found ways to alleviate the wrongs they experienced. They also developed agency when confronting state power in ways that might give politicians pause in promoting new guest worker programs As Mireya Loza argues in Defiant Braceros, braceros participated in deviance and defiance when they participated in the vice and sex industries along the border. Their shared leisure experiences gave them agency but also demonstrates that the importation of temporary male workers might be less preferable than admission of permanent residents in families.7

Policymakers, nevertheless, must agree that the United States and California was built on the backs of immigrants, that our country represents dignity, decency, and respect for all people, and that our nation should recognize and avoid repeating historical injustices when composing new immigration laws.

 

  1. Univision Noticias, “Forum with California’s gubernatorial candidates 2018.” YouTube video, 1:36:14, January 25, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcWa-X0RxwA&t=2044s&index=13&list=WL.
  2. Henry P. Anderson, The Bracero Program in California. (New York: Arno Press, 1976),43, 108.
  3. Peter N. Kirstein, “Agribusiness, Labor and the Wetbacks: Truman’s Commission on Migratory Labor,” The Historian, vol. 40. no. 4 (1978): 651; Richard B. Craig, The Bracero Program Interest Groups and Foreign Policy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971), 4.
  4. Univision Noticias, “Forum with California’s gubernatorial candidates 2018.”
  5. Don Mitchell, They Saved the Crops: Labor, Landscape, and the Struggle Over Industrial Farming in Bracero-Era California (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012), 35-36; Warne D. Rasmussen, A History of The Emergency Farm Labor Supply Program 1943-47(Washington D.C., Agriculture Monograph No. 13, U.S. Department of Agriculture Bureau of Agricultural Economics, 1951), 202.
  6. “Valley Hopes for Border Labor Pact,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 1, 1954; “Violence Halts Wetback Crossing,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 25, 1954; “Policy Shift Traps Mexican Farm Workers,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26, 1954; Robert S. Robinson, “Taking the Fair Deal to the Fields: Truman’s Commission on Migratory Labor, Public Law 78, and the Bracero Program, 1950-1952,” Agricultural History84, no. 3 (Summer-2010): 394-398.; House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture, Mexican Farm Labor. 83rdCong., 1954, 67, 69.
  7. Mireya Loza, Defiant Braceros: How Migrant Workers Fought for Racial Sexual and Political Freedom, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016), 17, 173, 182.
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Dynamic Digital Methods for Integrating Local History into Public History Institutions and the K-16 Classroom

by Joel Zapata

A Western History Association Sponsored Workshop

The 2018 Western History Association Annual Conference featured over a dozen digital, public, and teaching sessions or workshops. These sessions and workshops considered how history practitioners—K-12 educators, students at all levels, university professors, museum professionals, and public historians—study, record, and communicate the past. As in most contemporary history meetings, the question of what it means to be a twenty-first-century historian arose. While neatly answering this may be high-reaching, conference participants did consider more attainable questions: how do we democratize history, how can we make invisible history visible, how can historians present their work clearly and to the widest audience possible, how can public historians co-create historical projects with communities, what digital or traditional tools should we utilize, and how can history practitioners better collaborate with each other and others?

Public historians, digital historians, design technologists, professors, K-12 educators, librarians, archivists, as well as students considered and answered most of the above questions at the Dynamic Digital Methods for Integrating Local History into Public History Institutions and the K-16 Classroom Workshop (see page 52 of the Conference Program), which the WHA Committee on Teaching and Public Education sponsored. Linsey Passenger Wieck, Director of the Master of Arts in Public History Program at St. Mary’s University, hosted the workshop at her home campus one day after the annual conference. The workshop featured four speakers: Rebecca Wingo, Shannon Murray, Jason Heppler, and myself.

Rebecca Wingo, Director of Public History at the University of Cincinnati, opened the workshop. Wingo’s presentation centered around the History Harvest, a community-based and student-driven digital archival project in which community participants bring items of historical significance and give oral histories about their items while students digitize the objects. Participants then take their family and community heirlooms back home where they belong. While teaching at Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota), Wingo and her students partnered with Rondo Avenue, Inc., the governing body of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood. As countless African American communities across the nation, the Rondo neighborhood was deliberately bifurcated by the construction of I-94 during the 1960s. Keenly aware of this history and the positionally of Macalester College as a privileged and majority white institution, Wingo discussed the importance of community leadership in the project. Honoring this, Rondo Avenue, Inc. and community members took leadership status in the partnership. Thus, Wingo and her students entered the community as welcomed partners. The resulting digitized items and oral histories provided valuable additions to Rondo Avenue, Inc.’s online history collection of photographs, historic maps, other archival materials, and oral histories housed at Remembering Rondo. Through the History Harvest process, historians, students, and community members democratize history while helping make a too often invisible local history visible.

Shannon Murray, Indigenous Programming Manager for the Calgary Stampede (a rodeo, exhibition, and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta), presented on the work of her organization’s education team. Seeking to connect K-12 students to local history, particularly the history of First Nations, Murray’s team focused on building collaborative relations with the First Nations whose history was being told. Through such collaboration, the education wing of Calgary Stampede founded an Indigenous Youth Program to teach life skills while emphasizing the importance of culture and tradition. This collaborative focused work has also produced exhibition signage in Blackfoot for the Calgary Stampede. Perhaps most impressively, the collaboration aided Siksika Nation’s Old Sun Community College and Board of Education in creating the Blackfoot language application. In a similar vein, Jason Heppler, Digital Engagement Librarian at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, presented on making local history accessible to the public through digital archives. Heppler showcased his project Silicon Valley Historical, “a mobile app and website that lets you explore the history of Silicon Valley through location-based essays, oral history, archival images, and documentary film.”[1]. Heppler then lead the workshop in brainstorming how digital tools can be used to improve the teaching and exhibition of history along with what tools could work for chosen projects. I presented on my digital history project, Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains Through Time and Space, which I envision as an accessible, digital museum for both scholars and the wider public. You can read about the project in my previous post, “Digitally Mapping and Exhibiting the Plains’ Chicana/o Movement.”

Together, the workshop’s presenters and participants posited and answered many questions concerning the future of the history profession. As the number of history majors shrink alongside the job openings for historians in academia, what struck me the most profoundly from the workshop was the innovative pedagogical, civic, and research approaches that the presenters followed. One can hope such innovations will counter or solve some of the profession’s most pressing issues. Overall, I left the workshop thinking that perhaps answering what it means to be a twenty-first century historian can be done by collaboratively answering more attainable questions regarding the future and betterment of the history profession.

 

 

[1]“About,” Silicon Valley Historical, accessed October 26, 2018, http://svhistorical.org/about/.

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Why the September Issue Still Matters: The Power of Visuals in American Culture

By Camille Davis

Photo taken by Tyler Mitchell, the first African American to shoot the cover of Vogue

When Julie Andrews sang My Favorite Things in Roger and Hammerstein’s 1965 musical, The Sound of Music, she really wasn’t singing about things.

Well, at least not in the sense that we are used to talking about them. This was not a tune about buying or collecting “stuff.”  No. This was no ode to materialism.

Instead, Andrews was singing about how the sight of certain things gave her a sense of pleasure and delight because she associated them with ideas and values that she esteemed.

Arguably, the extraordinary power of sight is what keeps the 126-year-old Vogue magazine publishing its famous September issue despite the tentative status of print culture in American society and in the world.

Background- What is the September Issue?

It’s no secret that a panoply of digital news and entertainment sites have caused print publications to struggle. Last September, The New York Times discussed the crises of the print world in an article called “The Not-So-Glossy Future of Magazines.” The Times seemed settled on the idea that print culture was fighting an inevitable decline, and it explained, “Magazines have sputtered for years, their monopoly on readers and advertising erased by Facebook, Google and more nimble online competitors.”[1]

Two years ago, The Times mentioned some of the specific obstacles that affected Vogue’sparent company, Conde Nast.  According to NYT, “Its digital business is up nearly 70 percent…but that component, as with virtually every other legacy media company, represents a much smaller percentage of overall revenue, which has declined in recent years.”[2]

Despite these realities, Vogue still continues to print a large, ornate, and expensive commemorative edition of the magazine each September.

This yearly commemorative edition is not merely a guide for style and self-presentation. It is an attempt to provide an analysis of American culture while simultaneously making cogent assessments about important international issues.

Vogue’seditor, Anna Wintour explains: “I think we’re living, in terms of media, in a very democratic age, but I think that we still look at everything through the lens of Vogue and through our own point of view. Vogue…can help guide enormous audiences through this fascinating world.”[3]

In other words, Vogue still feels like it has something unique to offer its readers. This something is an intricately illustrated periodical that uses aesthetics as an impetus for describing, explaining, and editorializing changes in the national and international spheres.

This month’s issue celebrates global beauty and the democratization of decisions regarding what is legitimately considered a style trend. Vogue explains that the proliferation of digital media and social media sites have allowed those outside of the fashion industry and outside of the Western World to make important contributions and commentary about what is virtuous, appropriate, and/or attractive.

What is Inside this September Issue?

One of this month’s stories discusses the politics of clothing in Muslim societies and promotes a Muslim fashion exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young Museum with articles of clothing from research conducted in Indonesia and Malaysia. The article depicts the myriad ways in which Muslim women express their personal identities through their garb. It also mentions that the exhibit displays documentary photographs of women who protested the wearing of a chador, a traditional cloth worn over the head and upper body, during the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Another story discusses dinners for refugees that are hosted by a food-event, start-up company called Komeeda. The organization sponsors “refugee-chef dinners,” that allow those who have fled from their countries to introduce their plights and their countries’ cuisines to American participants. Dinners have occurred in the Lower East side of New York, Austin, TX, and Washington D.C. Vogue reports there is a French catering company called Les Cuistots Migrateurs that has done something similar in Paris, Lyon, Madrid, and Rome.

Back Cover of Vogue: Serena Williams advertising Nike’s Virgil Abloh collection, specifically designed for her post-childbirth body.

There is also an article advocating the global initiative of raising the minimum age of working models to eighteen to combat the emotional turmoil and sexual abuse known to be pervasive in the modeling world.

The September Issue has lighter touches, as well. There are profiles of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new director, Max Hollein, and the man recently responsible for designing Serena’s Williams court ensembles that have been praised throughout the sports and aesthetic worlds, Virgil Abloh.

And, of course, there is an essay written by the cover star, Beyoncé, who waxes poetically about the evolution of her mind, soul, and body. She recently gave birth to twins, and like her friend Serena Williams, who also gave birth within the last year, Beyoncé experienced complications in childbirth. Both she and Williams have advocated societal acceptance of women’s bodies post childbirth.

Additionally, Beyoncé uses the pages of Vogue to express her unequivocal belief that modern communication platforms must express the voices and the struggles of those marginalized within the United States and around the world.

All of these articles are illustrated, and Vogue argues that printed illustrations are the best ways to ensure that the messages of the brand continually resonate with its readers.

Vogue’seditor, Anna Wintour puts it this way: “I think what you have to do in print is to create even more memorable images and more memorable pieces because what one consumes online or in social [media] has a much shorter shelf life, so to speak, so what print has to have is no more weight, but it has to be something that you can’t find so easily online. It has to really stand for print.”[1]

There is a desire by Wintour and her staff to appeal to their readers at a level beyond the simple transmission of rhetoric. They want their readers to remember the people, the values, the events, and the moments that they believe are notable. And with all the print and digital competition that is constantly vying for the modern consumer’s attention, it helps to have an intricately illustrated “cheat-sheet” to refer to and to collect for posterity.  

Examples of Iconic Images in American Culture

In using print images to commemorate important people and moments of American culture, Vogue is continuing a tradition within America of representing and commemorating the country’s most poignant times visually. Below are a few iconic examples:

President George W. Bush encouraging firefighters at Ground Zero in NY City on September 14, 2001. Photo: U.S. News & World Report

This photo was taken on September 14, 2001, three days after the historic terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. President George W. Bush flew to New York and stood at Ground Zero where the World Trade Center’s twin towers lay in ruins. Bush climbed on top of some rubble and placed his arms around one of the fire fighters, took a bull horn, and began thanking and encouraging the first responders on the scene. His famous line, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked down these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”[1]created a defining moment in his presidency and was a crucial step in solidifying support for the war on terror.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama together in a freight elevator at an Inaugural Ball, January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images

This image was taken on January 20, 2009 during the inaugural ball of President Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president. It captures a private moment between the President and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and contributed to the popular belief that America’s new president wasn’t just smart; he was “cool.”[1]

President John Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy in Dallas on Nov 22, 1963, the day of his assassination. Irish Central

This image was taken on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, TX only a few moments before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, which resulted in America’s loss of “Camelot.”[1]

Photo taken of Phan Thi Kim Phúc, a 9-year-old girl in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Photo taken by Nick Ut of the Associated Press. Courtesy of the Associated Press.

For many, this photograph of 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phúc, running while burned and naked in 1972 represented the horrors of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, despite the fact that this particular incident of horror came from a napalm bombing carried out by a South Vietnamese Air Force pilot.  The photo earned a 1973 Pulitzer Prize.

President Truman enjoying a moment of irony on November 3, 1948, after the Chicago Daily Tribune incorrectly published the results of that year’s Presidential election.

This photograph reminds us that the results of an election cannot be known until every vote is counted. The prevailing wisdom of the time was that President Truman would lose the presidency to New York governor, Thomas Dewey. The day after the election, November 3, 1948, President Truman delighted in being underestimated.

 

Flag Raising on Iwo Jima, World War II, February 1945. Photo by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal, 1945. Time Magazine.

This Pulitzer Prize photo by Joe Rosenthal illustrates the raising of an American flag by five Marines and a Navy corpsman who were ordered by a commander to hoist the flag to encourage American troops and to discourage the Japanese enemy.

These images affirm that visuals are as much a part of American history as our ideas, our rhetoric, and the moments that embody, challenge, and shape us. Vogue realizes this and is continuing to contribute to our visual history. For this reason, the September issue still matters.

 

[1]Sydney Ember and Michael M. Grynbaum, “The Not-So-Glossy Future of Magazines.” The New York Times. September 23, 2017.

[2]Ravi Somaiya, “Conde Nast Adapts to New Forces, Leaving Some Employees Unsettled.” The New York Times. January 31, 2016.

[3]Alexandra Steigrad, “Anna Wintour on Vogue at 125 – and Defining Print in the Digital Age.” Women’s Wear Daily.September 13, 2017.

[4]Ibid.

[5]Kenneth T. Walsh, “George W. Bush’s ‘Bulhorn’ Moment.” U.S. News and World Report. April 25, 2013.

[6]Julia Azari, “A Challenge for Obama’s Successor: Being a Casual, Cool President.” Politico Magazine.

[7]“JFK and the Public View,” The Kennedy Era: A CYOU project about John F. and Robert F. Kennedy. (pages.shanti.virgnia.edu) A University of Virginia site. The article sites the original publication that used the Camelot reference. Life Magazine. December 6, 1953.

[8]“Confronting the Myths of the ‘Napalm Girl.’ “ The Baltimore Sun. March 31, 2017. The article discusses the initial article that it printed about this image on June 9, 1972.

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Graduate Student Professional Development at SMU and Greater DFW

By Kyle B. Carpenter

When I first entered graduate school, one of the last things from my mind was how to develop as a professional historian. I was worried about classes, keeping up with the readings, trying to maintain some semblance of a family life, etc. However, during my first semester it became apparent that participating in professional development outside the classroom was one of the most important activities to build my career in academia. I came to see that conferences, outside speakers, interdisciplinary events, and numerous other occasions help graduate students to learn from other scholars how the craft works. These events all help young historians make important contacts both within and outside their field that can pay dividends in the future. Even historians have to network. It can seem overwhelming, though. How can one totally swamped grad student keep up in the classroom and do all this stuff? Travel can seem totally out of the question as it would take way too much out of necessary reading time, therefore I thought it would be helpful to put together a brief and wholly unexhaustive overview of some the most accessible professional development events at SMU and in DFW.

At SMU, the Clements Center for Southwest Studies offers a variety of resources to build professional historians. The center brings in a group of four fellows of very high academic standing every year and each one gives a free public talk about their research. Further, their offices are located right on SMU’s campus in Dallas Hall where graduate students can pick their brains or just get to know them. The Clements Center also puts on an evening lecture series that hosts some of the best scholars from across the world. Additionally, the center organizes annual symposia of scholars who focus on the Southwest and borderlands who get together and produce a book of essays that relate to given theme. Last year, the “Understanding Global Migration” symposium delivered a two-day public event where scholars of world migrations shared their research.

For those interested in topics outside the Southwest and borderlands, there are similar academic centers located throughout SMU. Anyone interested in politics should definitely check out the Tower Center. The SMU Cox School of Business has the O’Neil Center which often has events about contemporary and historical economic issues. Finally, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute produces several lecture series and fellowship opportunities for graduate students across campus.

SMU also offers resources for graduate students to become better teachers and to achieve funding for research. The Center for Teaching Excellence has multiple programs, workshops, and even a symposium designed to aid new and seasoned faculty in becoming more effective instructors in both the physical and online classroom. The Office of National Fellowships and Awards guides graduate students to the often-complicated processes of applying for scholarships and funding opportunities. In addition to their comprehensive online guides, the office also provides services to review grant applications so that you submit the best possible application to get the research funding you need.

If you want to meet some outstanding scholars in the DFW area and get out of the SMU bubble, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Most conveniently DASH (Dallas Area Society of Historians) meets monthly in locations at SMU and at TCU in Fort Worth. The organization draws in historians at all levels of the profession, from full professors down to graduate students, that allows for a comfortable atmosphere to socialize and present research. It really is a wonderful way to meet local historians, make connections, and learn how our craft is practiced at the highest level. Additionally, for those interested in religious history should attend the annual conferences of the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies in Irving, Texas every March.  Their annual meeting marks a great way to interact with scholars across disciplines in religious studies. DASH and SWCRS make up two excellent local organizations to network and develop professionally.

Another great organization that is inviting and provides an excellent setting for professional development is the Transatlantic History Student Organization at UTA. Not only is THSO a great organization to meet other graduate students at neighboring universities, they host an annual graduate student conference that draws in grad students from all over the country. Their annual conference is a highly professional event that is well organized and allows for young, inexperienced historians to get their feet wet to learn how history conferences work. Whether you want to present a paper or just attend to get the conference experience without having to travel, THSO’s annual event remains a fantastic resource for grad students in DFW.

Obviously, this brief blog post is not an exhaustive list of all the professional development opportunities in DFW. These organizations and opportunities are the those I know about or have experienced first-hand. Those I have experienced have all not only helped me become a better scholar but taught me some of the most important aspects that go into being a professional academic. For those who read this and have additional suggestions, please contribute in the comments.

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Women at Work in Agriculture: Discovering a New Field

By Jonathan Angulo

In Professor Ariel Ron’s Graduate Colloquium,
U.S. History, 1812-1877, I wrote a historiographical paper on the early development of agriculture in California. Since I wanted to broaden my understanding of U.S. agriculture, I knew that I wanted to continue to research themes that related to agriculture in forthcoming courses. Thus, I met with Professor Crista DeLuzio on a September evening to discuss my intentions for her fall colloquium on U.S. History from 1877-1929. In her office, we discussed my research interests, which helped me choose a topic for my historiographical assignment. During our conversation, I realized that I wanted to study women’s role in agricultural labor during the decades surrounding the twentieth century. I presented my idea to Professor DeLuzio and she approved my topic. As the semester progressed, I found only a handful of books and articles that addressed the subject in depth. Historians, of this field, raised questions about women’s role in agriculture. For example, what was the role of African American women in agriculture? How did women affect family farms? How did women’s labor differ throughout the United States? How did women perform agricultural labor alongside their husbands and sons? Ultimately, I was surprised to find that there are few works that discusses women’s role in agricultural labor from 1870-1920.

Marion Barthelme’s Women in the Texas Populist Movement: Letters to the Southern Mercuryreveals the speeches, essays, and letters women wrote to the influential Southern Mercury. The Farmers’ Alliance recognized the Southern Mercury’s significance in advancing policies of the Populist Movement. In her work, Bartheleme publishes the original documents, so readers can understand how women felt about everyday experiences. Women wrote letters that discussed themes such as: politics, farm life, women’s suffrage, education, clothing, temperance, as well as other matters. Through government advancements of the nuclear family, women were often characterized as individuals who focused on the nurture of their households. However, Texan women worked outside of their homes by helping men in fields and pastures. Women collected goods in gardens and pastures to exchange them for necessary commodities. During periods of economic downturns, however, women continued to financially struggle. While they kept on working in and outside of the home, their work did not bring them the financial security they needed. Thus, through Barthelme’s work, I was able to observe one trend of women in agricultural labor.[i]

From Mary Neth’s Preserving the Family Farm: Women, Community, and the Foundations of Agribusiness in the Midwest, 1900-1940, I learned about women’s agricultural labor in a different region. Neth acknowledges the gender inequalities that existed even in most cooperative family farms; however, men, women, and children cast aside such inequalities to preserve their farms as agribusiness grew in the Midwest. While historians have characterized such instances as opportunities for women’s resistance, Neth argues that Midwestern women put their families before themselves. By participating in field labor and family care, women created commodities such as poultry flocks and eggs for their families as well as the market. Also, young boys and girls dug and planted potatoes, picked berries, and set tobacco. Families utilized these subsistence mechanisms to stabilize their household budgets, so they would not be bought off by agribusiness agents. Neth describes how certain commodities required women’s labor. For example, in Wisconsin, mothers and daughters gathered tobacco. Since farmers could not afford to employ many laborers, all family members often worked together in tobacco fields. Thus, families kept some of their purchasing power by not hiring additional labor. Women’s work in pastures and field was clear. In times of government surveys of agricultural production, however, women reported that they only helped in production. Therefore, women’s full participation in agricultural production was unintentionally overlooked.[ii]

By the turn of the twentieth century, women’s role in agricultural labor significantly increased during World War I. Cecilia Gowdy Wygant’s Cultivating Victory: The Woman’s Land Army and the Victory Garden Movement examines British and American women’s role in agricultural labor during both World Wars. Wygant argues that between 1900 and 1950 both British and American governments utilized images of agrarian women as symbols of nationalism which questioned their roles in farming and gardening. Once the U.S. joined the Allies in World War I, the federal government created the Women’s Land Army of America (WLAA). The WLAA trained women, so they could serve as agricultural workers. Women’s groups and college campuses created agricultural training programs for women with the WLAA’s help. For example, the University of Virginia taught women how to plow, harrow, till land, and prepare land by horse-drawn plows. Women who completed the training were known as “farmerettes.” Through such endeavors, women contributed to the war effort by producing food for their respective nations. More importantly, women’s strong participation in agricultural labor reinterpreted women’s role in agriculture as well as society. For example, the WLAA recommended better labor standards for agricultural laborers. They advocated for better cleanliness in living quarters to protect workers and the food supply. Also, the group called for improved boarding, compensation, and working conditions when they were employed. Women used these organizations to change some of the unfair practices in agriculture. While they were not always successful, their activism altered perceptions of normal agricultural practices such as conditions of living quarters.

While these were not the only books I reviewed for my historiographical paper about women’s role in agricultural labor during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, they were the most influential. I learned a great deal from this assignment. However, I concluded there are still many questions that should be addressed about this topic. What was the role of women in agricultural labor in regions such as the Southwest or the Southeast? Did these roles vary by ethnic groups? How did women’s roles change through their participation in agricultural labor? While I have not solely focused on such questions, I will continue to observe how the scholarship has changed. As my research continues, I may be able to answer some of these questions in the future.[iii]

[i]Marion K. Barthelme, Women in the Texas Populist Movement Letters to the Southern Mercury (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997), 3,4,7,12, 14, & 17.

[ii]Mary Neth, Preserving the Family Farm: Women, Community, and the Foundations of Agribusiness in the Midwest, 1900-1940(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 2,7, 12, 19, 20, 21, 23, 31,39.

[iii]Cecilia Gowdy-Wygant, Cultivating Victory: The Women’s Land Army and the Victory Garden Movement (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), 4,8,11,31,32,44,51-53, & 63.

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The Digital Present and Future of the Past: Digital History at the 2018 Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting

By Joel Zapata

The 2018 Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California (April 12-14) featured seventeen digital history sessions and workshops. Within the sessions that I had the opportunity to attend, critical questions for history practitioners—elementary school teachers, graduate students, university professors, archivists, museum professionals, and more—abounded. What does it mean to be a twenty-first century historian? In producing historic knowledge, who is excluded and what communities are included? How do we take history beyond paywalls and costly books that exclude the vast majority? How can educators reach native digital students? How can scholars blend traditional print medias and digital medias to reach broader audiences but still fulfill academia’s print-based publication requirements? How can we present complex ideas clearly to the widest audience possible? Undoubtedly, the ways we answer these questions will determine the future of the past.

And if the future of history is digital, the sessions I attended made clear that history’s future is also collaborative. One thought-provoking session, titled “Teaching Contested History: Digital Archives and Digital Maps,” was composed of librarians, professors, archivists, and a public-school official. The panelists described the collection and digitization of primary sources regarding the court-ordered integration of Boston Public Schools in various mediums, including Beyond Busing: Boston School Desegregation Archival Resources. In the citywide effort, educators, archivists, and activists created an approachable primary-source-based curriculum focused on teaching historical and civil literacy to Boston public school students by documenting the city’s profound racial strives. The panelists concluded that the endeavor countered fake history—or “the liberal myth”—that minimized Boston’s divisive and yet to be completed school desegregation process, brought social and social justice awareness, demonstrated the hard truths of history at grade level, and taught students how the past informs society’s present state. Hence, the panelists demonstrated how digital collaboration can result in achieving the highest aspirations within the practice of history.

Another forward-looking session, “Writing Race, Gender, and Education: Digital Book and Video Projects,” showcased work by professors and students, which included a discussion over Educating Harlem. This project, out of Teachers College, Columbia University, is a multiyear and multifaceted collaboration between students and professors regarding Harlem’s educational history from the Harlem Renaissance through the twentieth century. The project’s creators intended it to become a digital platform that contains a curated archival collection and exhibits, an edited scholarly volume, as well as an after-school program for Harlem high school students to learn the educational history of their community. With these different outlets, the creators of Digital Harlem hope to connect the historically oppositional white university to its surrounding African American community, attempting to work with the community instead of against it.
The session also featured a presentation by Jack Dougherty (Trinity College) on open access scholarly books, of which he has published two and is writing another, On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs, in collaboration with fellow professors and students. This web-first book, under contract with Amherst College Press, “makes visible the hidden [school] boundaries that divide the Hartford region, and tells the stories of civil rights struggles to cross over, redraw, or erase these lines.” As Dougherty demonstrated, the book’s narrative is enhanced through interactive maps, documents, and video—an impossibility within traditional books. Moreover, Dougherty and his collaborators are writing On The Line openly online, allowing for readers to explore and comment before completion. The book’s development demonstrates how editing can go beyond the closed editing of conventional books while remaining part of a university press. Perhaps most promisingly, On The Line is an example of accessible and easily discoverable scholarship that is not hidden behind paywalls. From this session, I left with a sense that open-access (i.e., freely available) digital books are a meaningful way of democratizing history, opening the past to the wider public, students, and scholars. Such a publication medium may be especially attractive for civil rights historians, providing another avenue to connect with and include the people they write about. The session chair and commentator, James Fraser (New York University), rightfully concluded that the panelists were “part of what we all need to become” if history is to remain—or become more—relevant in the twenty-first century.

Digital history is a broad field that encompasses distant reading or textual analysis, the digitization of documents or artifacts and related metadata, data manipulation, mapping methodologies, digital publishing, and more. The sessions I attended did not focus on all the possible ways of doing digital history. Yet, they all centered on one of the most significant outcomes of digital history—provoking empathy from an audience through the growing ways of doing history. That is, digital history can provide us additional avenues of humanizing the past. The sessions I attended also focused on growing the audiences that historians and other history professionals reach. Overall, at 2018 OAH Annual Meeting, presenters along with audience members reimagined how history can grow within an increasingly connected digital world.

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Musing on the United States Consulate in Matamoros

Kyle B. Carpenter is a PhD Candidate in SMU’s William P. Clements Department of History

I study European-born immigrants who traveled to Rio Grande Borderlands in the mid-nineteenth century.  This past month, I sat down with the records of United States consular dispatches from Matamoros, Mexico to see if the consulate recorded any intersections with Europeans in the region.  While I found a few choice documents for my own research, I came across a lot of interesting material within the consular dispatches that I wanted to get out there in case any other historians are interested in the topic.  What I have noticed, at least in the context of Matamoros between 1826 and 1867, is that consuls individually and the consulate in general often acted as agents for U.S. imperial ambitions.  They denigrated the local Mexican population and Mexican government, imposed upon Mexican law outside of necessary U.S. interests, and regularly called for U.S. forces to intervene in Mexican territory.

The United States consulate system was designed to protect American seaman from injustices imposed by foreign powers as well as extend commerce and preserve trade for U.S. mercantile interests.  Even though the consuls in Matamoros executed that agenda, they tended to partake in a few extracurricular activities to push the United States to extend beyond its territorial boundaries.  For example, Daniel W. Smith represented the United States as consul in Matamoros and remained one of the longest standing consuls in that port discharging those responsibilities from 1826 to 1842, which was no small feat in the age of executive patronage.  In 1829, he crafted a report to then Secretary of State Martin Van Buren complaining about Mexican officials practicing extra judicial policies in which he concluded that, “The most intelligent natives of this country manifest an anxious solicitude that something decisive may be effected in relation to our commercial intercourse. They have been often heard to remark…that under the Administration of General Jackson it would be sooner and better adjusted.”[1]   This statement offers a wealth of detail to unpack.  First, by the term “natives,” Smith was describing Mexicans.  However, by using that careful choice of words he takes away their ownership of the land and associates Mexicans with Native Americans, who Jackson was at the time forcing to remove from their Eastern lands.  Smith’s statement also implies that the Mexican government was incapable ensuring profitable trade and the best of the Mexican population would prefer to live under Jackson’s administration.  Smith would continue to suggest that the Mexican government was incapable of protecting commerce and that the whole region would greatly benefit from more sound government, like that of the United States.[2]

Even after the United States’ successful conquest of the Southwest in the U.S.-Mexico War, consuls continued to push for expanding U.S. power beyond the border.  Thomas Slemons, U.S. consul in Matamoros in 1848, declared that the United States should waste no time claiming sovereignty over the entire Rio Grande so that “it opens to our commerce and agriculture a valley almost equal to that of the Mississippi.”[3]  Further, he notes that the continued development of American towns along the river would ensure that the United States would control the commerce of all of Northern Mexico.

Slemons’s soft colonialism turned into overt calls for the use of more military force by the time Richard Fitzpatrick took over the consulate.  In 1860, Fitzpatrick witnessed the peak of the Cortina raids north of the Rio Grande and the outbreak of a violent civil conflict within Matamoros and could not withhold his vitriol for Mexico.[4]  Penning a letter to Secretary of State Lewis Cass, the fiery consul claimed, “These people are and always have been deadly hostile to every American (unless he is a negro or mulatto)…It is an entire mistake if our government believes that the people of this country are or ever will be friendly to Americans…if our government intends to protect the lives and property of our citizens it must be done by force, for it cannot be done by treaty stipulations.”[5]  In this letter, consul Fitzpatrick clearly implies that the United States needs to invade Matamoros because he believes Mexicans to be an inferior people who have no regard for their American superiors.  By demanding violent interference, Fitzpatrick hoped for military occupation and possibly further conquest below the Rio Grande.[6]

The above mark just a few examples I found in the consular dispatches of one port in Northern Mexico and even there I have barely scratched the surface.  The historiography on the United States consulate system remains quite sparse, at least in my cursory review of it.  Considering that it has officially been in existence since 1792 and created abundant sources that are well organized and easily accessed, the consulate system marks a gaping hole in American historiography.  Gautham Rao’s history of the U.S. custom houses could even provide an excellent model for how to tackle such a large bureaucracy.[7]  I think it’s a worthwhile and significant topic, not to mention the documents are quite entertaining to read.

[1] Daniel W. Smith to Martin Van Buren, July 01, 1829, “Despatches from United States Consuls in Matamoros, Mexico, 1826-1906,” Microfilm Mf79.01, reel 1, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

[2] Daniel W. Smith to Louis McLane, January 01, 1834 & Daniel W. Smith to John Forsyth, January 01, 1835, Ibid.

[3] Thomas Slemons to James Buchanan, November 12, 1848, , “Despatches from United States Consuls in Matamoros, Mexico, 1826-1906,” Microfilm Mf79.01, reel 3, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

[4] For more on these conflicts see Jerry Thompson’s book Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas, (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007).

[5] Richard Fitzpatrick to Lewis Cass, January 06, 1860, “Despatches from United States Consuls in Matamoros, Mexico, 1826-1906,” Microfilm Mf79.01, reel 4, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

[6] An added note: Fitzpatrick was from South Carolina and quit his post as U.S. consul in November to join the Confederacy.

[7] Gautham Rao, National Duties: Custom Houses and the Making of the American State (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

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Crosspost: Some Thoughts on the First Ever Mexican American Civil Rights Tour

SMU PhD Alum Ruben A. Arellano wrote a post about this exciting Spring Break trip, in which he collaborated with fellow SMU history PhD Carla Mendiola:

Carla contacted me only a few weeks ago to help her find Dallas activists who could speak to the students surrounding issues relating to the Chicano movement.  Due to the suddenness of the request, I found it difficult finding speakers, but with the help of Evelio Flores (long time Chicano activist and jefe de danza azteca), we were able to track down Luis Sepulveda to speak to the students.  Sepulveda grew up in West Dallas, a neighborhood that he cares about deeply, and he’s been fighting against lead contamination and radiation pollution in that part of the city since the 1980s.  In addition to all of his accomplishments, he served as Dallas County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, for many years.  There was no doubt in our minds that he was the perfect candidate for the job.  Moreover, when Carla discovered that I was part of a danza group, she asked if the group could do a brief presentation for the kids—we did and they loved it!

The resonated with Arellano’s own background as an SMU student, when he participated in the school’s famous Civil Rights pilgrimage, led by Dennis Simon.  Read the full post here:

Some Thoughts on the First Ever “Mexican American Civil Rights Tour”

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The Dangerous Game Donald Trump is Playing with MS-13

PhD Student Roberto Andrade Franco has a piece in the March 7, 2018 Washington Post.

Here’s a taste:

Of course, this is not the first time politicians have used a Latino group as a boogeyman for political gain. Seventy-five years ago, it was the fear over pachucos — a group of Mexican and Mexican American youths who lived along the United States’s southwest border — that rose to a hysteria, culminating in a riot that remains a historical scar. The riot alienated many Mexican Americans, which in turn helped shift their politics away from what some would consider assimilation.

Many believed that the pachucos originated in the El Paso-Juárez borderland in the early 20th century, where El Paso still bears the moniker El Chuco. From this nickname came the term “pachuco,” a name that, in many ways, symbolized the mixing of two cultures in an area that may have been defined politically as part of Mexico or the United States but still was contested in terms of cultural identities. In this space, pachucos created a bicultural identity — one that was not quite Mexican but also not accepted as American.

Read the whole piece here.

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