“No founding father wrote more eloquently on behalf of liberty and human rights than Thomas Jefferson, and none has a more troubling record when it comes to the “peculiar institution” of slavery. At present, the popular understanding of Jefferson’s shilly-shallying on this issue doesn’t extend much deeper than knowing smirks about Sally Hemings and the (unacknowledged) children Jefferson fathered with her. We tend to assume that the dirtiest secrets of the past have to do with sex. But, as Henry Wiencek explains in his new book, “Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves,” the real filth is in the ledger books.”
Historian Jules Tygiel presents not only an account of Jackie Robinson’s heroic struggle to integrate Major League Baseball, but a larger history of links between African American history, baseball, and the modern civil rights movement. Baseball’s Great Experiment further raises questions about race and sports in our current day.
This year, third year doctoral student Ava Purkiss received the prestigious L. Tuffly Ellis Best Thesis Prize for Excellence in the Study of Texas History. Her paper, titled “‘Home Economics Training is for the Improvement of Home and Family Life?’: African American Women Professionals and Home Economics Training in Texas, 1930-1950,” examines African American enrollment in the home economics major at Prairie View A&M University in the 1940s.
For the fifth installment of our “Making History” series, Zach Doleshal talks to Robert Matthew Gildner, a senior doctoral student in history at the University of Texas at Austin. In the interview, Robert explains why 1952 represented a unique moment for indigenous Bolivians, why previous historians have overlooked this history, and how a trip to Holland inspired him to work on Latin American history.
In the second installation of our new series, “Making History,” Zach Doleshal speaks with Jessica Wolcott Luther about her experience as a graduate student in history at the University of Texas at Austin. In the interview, Jessica shares stories about researching in seventeenth century archives (she’s been to eleven so far!), studying history using anthropological documents, and overcoming the frustration of knowing that she may never get the chance to find a direct source from a former enslaved person.
Since Douglas Cope’s seminal study The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City 1660-1720 was published in 1994, historians have understood the caste system, or sistema de castas, that categorised New Spain’s multiracial population as an elite construct to impose order on a disordered plebe, rather than a discourse that reflected existing, clearly defined racial boundaries.
Recent years have seen a real flowering of scholarship about the popular music of the early twentieth century. Here are a few of my favorites—and a little something extra.
Southern musicians performed a staggering variety of music in the early twentieth century. Black and white artists played blues, ballads, ragtime and string band music, as well as the plethora of styles popular throughout the nation: sentimental ballads, minstrel songs, Tin Pan Alley tunes, and Broadway hits. They embraced pop music. Many performed any music they could, regardless of their racial or regional identities. Such variety could appear in the same set as a performer eased from one song to the next. Observers agreed that rural southerners loved all sorts of music. Yet they fought about whether that was a good thing.
In 1746 Dr. Andrés Arce y Miranda, a creole attorney from Puebla, Mexico, criticized a series of paintings known as the cuadros de castas or casta paintings. Offended by their depictions of racial mixtures of the inhabitants of Spain’s American colonies, Arce y Miranda feared the paintings would send back to Spain the damaging message that creoles, the Mexican-born children of Spanish parents, were of mixed blood.
Empires of the Atlantic World is an engaging comparative history of the processes of conquest, colonization, and independence in the British and Spanish American empires. Elliot compares such factors as luck, race relations, and religion in the ways the two systems of colonization—and de-colonization—occurred in the Americas.