Journal of American History


“Restless in the Midst of Their Prosperity”: New Evidence on the Internal Migration of Americans, 1850–2000

Since Frederick Jackson Turner published his famous essay on the significance of the frontier, internal migration has been a contentious issue for American historians. Patricia Kelly Hall and Steven Ruggles use evidence from the census, made accessible by the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (ipums), to reevaluate the history of American migration. On several key empirical points, Turner got it right. The highest mobility occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century; the high levels of nineteenth-century migration resulted from long-distance westward migration to farms; and the closing of the frontier precipitated a decline in westward migration. Assessing the social implications of migration in U.S. history, Hall and Ruggles trace the differences between black and white migration patterns and explore evidence that suggests that migration may have improved economic opportunity. (pp. 829–46) Read online >

Baptism by Fire: Race, Military Service, and U.S. Citizenship Policy, 1918–1935

As this 1917 poster with Chinese text reveals, the territory of Hawai‘i actively recruited Asian American men, aliens as well as citizens, to register for the draft during World War I.
Courtesy Library of Congress.

Shedding light on the intersections of militarism, race, and citizenship in the interwar period, Lucy E. Salyer tells the story of Asian men who fought in the U.S. armed forces during World War I. Like African American soldiers, the Asians used their patriotic service to assert their right to membership in the American polity in a period when loyalty vied with race as the quintessential criterion for inclusion. To become naturalized citizens on the basis of military service, they had to overcome racial bars written into naturalization laws. Asian veterans secured legislation allowing their naturalization in 1935—but only after forging an alliance with the American Legion, a champion of both martial patriotism and nativism. (pp. 847–76) Read online >

Insecure Equality: Louis Marshall, Henry Ford, and the Problem of Defamatory Antisemitism, 1920–1929

Looking the picture of prosperity, Aaron Sapiro, who was suing Henry Ford for libel, and his wife, Janet, descend the steps of the federal courthouse in Detroit in March 1927. The litigation nearly bankrupted the Sapiros.
Courtesy Collections of the Henry Ford.

Victoria Saker Woeste examines a familiar episode in the life of Henry Ford—the 1927 libel suit against him and his antisemitic newspaper, the Dearborn Independent—as a formative event in the history of hate speech. Uncovering the roles played by lawyers and activists seeking to control the outcome of the litigation, she relates the case to the politics of antisemitism after World War I. Ford’s manipulation of the legal process and conflicts among Jewish activists over strategy produced an out-of-court resolution of the case. But newly discovered correspondence and long-overlooked materials from the Ford collections reveal that the case might have led to more—to a conclusive determination of the validity of group rights. (pp. 877–905) Read online >

“It Was like All of Us Had Been Raped”: Sexual Violence, Community Mobilization, and the African American Freedom Struggle

In the essay that won the 2004 Louis Pelzer Award, Danielle L. McGuire provides a haunting account of the brutal rape of an African American college student by four white men in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1959. McGuire revises the history of twentieth-century racial violence by arguing that the rape of black women, like the lynching of black men, served as a tool of white supremacy. McGuire argues that black women counterbalanced a “culture of dissemblance,” in which they refrained from commenting on sexual matters, with a “tradition of testimony,” in which they spoke out publicly against sexual violence. The Tallahassee case and others throughout the South demonstrate how protests against the rape of black women helped galvanize the civil rights movement. (pp. 906–31) Read online >

“Do Whites Have Rights?”: White Detroit Policemen and “Reverse Discrimination” Protests in the 1970s

City councilmen David Eberhard (left) and Jack Kelley participate in the Detroit Police Officers Association protest against a court ruling that upheld affirmative action hiring outside the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit on May 9, 1975.
Courtesy Wayne State University.

Protests by working-class white men in the 1970s, Dennis A. Deslippe argues, shaped and limited affirmative action. He describes white Detroit policemen’s fierce, sometimes violent, opposition to the city’s affirmative action plan and its effect on the law, politics, and the workplace. Harnessing “rights talk” to their own ends, white policemen in the post-civil rights era made far-reaching claims about equality, justice, and citizenship. In Detroit, such opponents of affirmative action formed cross-racial and cross-gender alliances with liberal unionists sympathetic to some aspects of affirmative action. When affirmative action plans moved beyond hiring and promotion to threaten seniority systems that protected longtime public employees from firing, courts across the country ruled in favor of the opponents. (pp. 932–960) Read online >

Exhibition Reviews

National Constitution Center
  • “One Nation under God: The Church, the State, and the Louisiana Purchase,” by Gaines M. Foster (pp. 961–62) Read online >
  • “Liberty Bell Center, by Allen F. Davis (pp. 963–65) Read online >
  • National Constitution Center, by Michael Zuckerman (pp. 966–70) Read online >
  • “Looking for Liberty: An Overview of Maryland History,” by Paul A. Shackel (pp. 971–72) Read online >
  • “Wallace Nutting and the Invention of Old America,” by Briann G. Greenfield (pp. 973–75) Read online >
  • “Will We Ever Forget: Baseball in Philadelphia, 1876–2004,” by Bruce Kuklick (pp. 976–77) Read online >
  • “Women in Sports: Breaking Barriers,” by Linda J. Borish (pp. 978–80) Read online >

Book Reviews

Dec. 2004, Vol. 91 No. 3

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


Movie Reviews

Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Thomas Jefferson Papers; and Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive, by Robert M. S. McDonald (pp. 1149–50) Read online >
  • Freedom Bound: The Underground Railroad in Lycoming County, PA, by Lois E. Horton (p. 1151) Read online >
  • American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870–1920, by Robert W. Snyder (p. 1152) Read online >
  • The World War I Document Archive; and First World War.Com: The War to End All Wars, by Christopher Capozzola (pp. 1153–54) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

“Recent Scholarship” is available online, Read online >

Dec. 2004 Cover

On the cover:

Though overlooked in most histories of World War I, Asians and Asian Americans served in the U.S. armed forces, often seeing military service as a path to citizenship and greater social acceptance. Here, five Japanese American doughboys from Honalo, Kona, Hawai’i, pose in their uniforms, c. 1917. Only two have been identified: Tsuneichi Fujii (right, back row) and Shigeichi Harada (center, back row). Gift of Ruth Nishida. Courtesy Reverend Shugen Komagata, Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles. See Lucy E. Salyer, “Baptism by Fire: Race, Military Service, and U.S. Citizenship Policy, 1918–1935,” p. 847.

Recent Issues

Icon Downarrow Full Text

The full text of the Journal of American History (1914–current) is available online to members of the OAH and to institutions that subscribe to the print versions of the journal. Electronic access is provided by Oxford University Press.

Icon Downarrow Subscribe to the JAH

A subscription to the JAH is one of the many benefits available to members of the Organization of American Historians (oah). To join the oah and receive the JAH, complete and submit a membership application at the oah Web site.

Icon Downarrow Purchase a Single Issue

Selected current and back issues of the JAH are available both as single issues and for large quantities, at volume pricing. For more information, please visit Oxford University Press