Journal of American History


Exciting Emulation: Academies and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1780s–1820s

1822 program for an exhibition at Nichols Academy id Dudley, Massachusetts
Courtesy American Antiquarian Society.

J. M. Opal explores the emergence of “emulation” as a cultural ideal in postrevolutionary America by studying academies—secondary schools that spread across the rural North from the 1780s to the 1820s. Academies offered country youth a much higher level of education than did common schools. They also promised to “excite” students by fostering competition between them and rewarding individual accomplishments. Their new approach to motivating students aroused opposition from many parents, who were anxious that their children, once excited, might forgo family and neighborhood duties. They worried, in short, about the social effects of individualism. The conflict over academies and emulation suggests that the roots of a new American individualism lay less in economic change than in the moral and cultural transformation that followed the Revolution. (pp. 445–70) Read online >

Judicial Conservatism and Protestant Faith: The Case of Justice David J. Brewer

c. 1900 Photograph of Justice David J. Brewer

Most accounts of legal history describe progress toward an increasingly perfect separation of church and state, underestimating the persistent influence of religion on American law. Linda Przybyszewski exposes the religious roots of judicial conservatism at the turn of the twentieth century by analyzing the popular writings and speeches of Justice David J. Brewer of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the early twentieth century, Populists, Progressives, and historians blamed the Court’s opposition to government regulation on class bias or social Darwinism. Przybyszewski shows that Brewer relied on a Protestant faith that emphasized free will to counter early social scientists’ naturalistic critique of legal concepts of private property and criminal responsibility. (pp. 471–96) Read online >

Leonard Covello, the Covello Papers, and the History of Eating Habits among Italian Immigrants in New York

Italian American children celebrate their victory in a sanitation contest, 1948
Courtesy Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Drawing on documents produced and collected throughout the twentieth century by Leonard Covello, an Italian American teacher and community activist, Simone Cinotto describes the role food played in the development of Italian American ethnic identity. Cinotto uncovers three sources of conflicting narratives of ethnicity in the Covello collection—the subjectivity of its creator, the sources he collected and selected, and the words of the immigrant women and men conveyed by those sources. Many historians have seen food as an uncontested source of ethnic unity. In contrast, Cinotto argues that rituals of food production and consumption were a site of generational conflict between Italian-born parents and American-born children over the meaning of Italianness and Americanization. Class, gender, and race shaped the long negotiation that established food as an essential, seemingly consensual ethnic symbol. (pp. 497–520) Read online >

Flaunting the Freak Flag: Karr v. Schmidt and the Great Hair Debate in American High Schools, 1965–1975

Cartoon from the High School Independent Press Service

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, high schools were political and cultural battlegrounds. Gael Graham uses conflicts over boys’ long hair to trace the connections between the desire for personal autonomy and the quest for power and participation among public high school students. Centering her narrative on the legal battles between Chesley Karr, a male high school student in El Paso, Texas, and school officials in that city, Graham sheds light on the high school student rights movement and the public debate about long hair. The intensity of those conflicts highlights the need to include high school students in our understanding of the revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s. (pp. 521–43) Read online >

For suggestions on how to use Graham’s article in the United States history classroom, see our “Teaching the JAH” Web project.

Environmental Justice, Native Rights, Tourism, and Opposition to Military Control: The Case of Kaho’olawe

Island of Kaho'olawe
Courtesy Pat Badgero.

Beginning in the 1930s, the U.S. Navy used the Hawaiian island of Kaho’olawe, a site sacred to native Hawaiians, as a target range. In the 1960s, the environmental degradation of the island became an important issue for environmentalists, politicians, and native Hawaiians. Mansel G. Blackford describes how native Hawaiian activists convinced other residents to embrace plans to set the island aside for cultural renewal rather than economic development. In the struggle to restore Kaho’olawe, native Hawaiians created a distinctive trans-Pacific and postcolonial variant of the U.S. environmental justice campaign that succeeded through a spicy blend of culture, politics, and public policy—a combination of rediscovered native symbols, direct action, and astute use of the courts. (pp. 544–71) Read online >


Genres of History

Last September the JAH inaugurated “Interchange,” an annual section in which we publish an edited version of a month-long online conversation on history. For this year’s installment, we discuss “genres of history” with six participants who present the past through novels, poems, cartoons, newspaper columns, films, museum exhibitions, and Web sites. The conversation, conducted in fall 2003, ranges widely: from evidence, anachronism, imagination, and art to technology, narrative, audience, and empathy. It reminds us once again that scholarly books and articles are not the only ways to approach the past. (pp. 572–93) Read online >

Participants: Robert Begiebing, Joshua Brown, Barbara Franco, David Grubin, Ruth Rosen, and Natasha Trethewey

Book Reviews

Sept. 2004, Vol. 91 No. 2

Alphabetical by the last name of the book's first author or editor.


Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • National Archives and Records Administration Digital Classroom, by David Kobrin (p. 732) Read online >
  • Race: The Power of an Illusion, by Howard Winant (p. 733) Read online >
  • The James Fenimore Cooper Society, by Matt Cohen (p. 734) Read online >
  • The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture, by Steven Stoll (p. 735) Read online >
  • Jewish Women’s Archive, by Marjorie N. Feld (p. 736) Read online >
  • Agents of Social Change Online Exhibit: New Resources on 20th-Century Women’s Activism, by Melissa Doak (p. 737) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

“Recent Scholarship” is available online, Read online >

Sept. 2004 Cover

On the cover:

In 1934, the intersection of First Avenue and 108th Street featured an open-air market where Italian immigrants bought and sold a variety of foodstuffs. This pushcart market was also a vital landmark in the social life of the neighborhood during the interwar years, helping Italian Americans create an identity that connected food with ethnicity. Courtesy Milstein Division of United States History, Local History & Genealogy, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. See Simone Cinotto, “Leonard Covello, the Covello Papers, and the History of Eating Habits among Italian Immigrants in New York,” p. 497.

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