Journal of American History

Presidential Address

The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past

In an article based on her presidential address to the Organization of American Historians, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall explores the stories we craft and teach about the American civil rights movement. The dominant narrative, which rightly celebrates the decade between Brown v. Board of Education and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, often obscures both the movement’s rich antecedents and the nationwide struggles that continue today. The truncated narrative of a sharply delimited, victorious civil rights struggle misconstrues the movement’s radicalism and lends itself to use by the New Right to undermine the movement’s far-reaching economic and structural goals. Hall proposes the story of a “long civil rights movement,” a truer story that incorporates change and resistance across the twentieth century and speaks to the challenges of our time. (pp. 1233–63) Read online >


From Royal to Republican: The Classical Image in Early America

The Continence of Scipio. New-York Magazine, July 1793
Courtesy American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Caroline Winterer takes a fresh look at the iconography of the American revolutionary era—the age of Liberties, Minervas, and Columbias—putting such images in the context of earlier illustrations that had circulated in the colonial period. She finds that the flamboyantly baroque and aristocratic images of antiquity that bedecked colonial-era books and engravings persisted into the nineteenth century, when aristocracy and hierarchy were being repudiated on all sides. Tracing the trajectory of one particular story and its accompanying imagery over time—the now-forgotten parable of the continence of Scipio—she shows how ancient concerns about empire were reworked for use in a modern republic with new imperial pretensions of its own on the western frontier. (pp. 1264–90) Read online >

All the World’s a Stage! The Actors’ Strike of 1919

Striking chorus girls demonstrate on the streets of New York City during the 1919
Courtesy Alfred Harding, The Revolt of the Actors.

Sean P. Holmes examines a quirky and prophetic incident of post-World War I labor unrest—the 1919 actors’ strike that darkened theaters in New York. Drawing upon largely unused archival sources, Holmes illuminates early twentieth-century cultural production, the obstacles to unionization posed by performers’ aspirations to gentility and dreams of individual stardom, and the special resources that men and women of the stage could deploy against their employers. By transforming an industrial dispute into an entertainment spectacle, actors mobilized public sympathy and won the strike. Their strategy highlights the growing theatricality of worker protest in a service economy in which public performance was increasingly important to the productive process. (pp. 1291–1317) Read online >

Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence

September 1954 cartoon from the pacifist journal Fellowship
Courtesy Fellowship and Yale University Library.

Joseph Kip Kosek recovers the career of Richard Bartlett Gregg, America’s first major theorist of militant nonviolence. In the early 1920s, frustrated by his work with organized labor, Gregg traveled to India to learn from Mohandas Gandhi and the Indian independence movement. He concluded that nonviolence, historically an inner religious conviction, could achieve social change as a modern, media-savvy form of political performance. Radical pacifists expanded upon and experimented with Gregg’s theories, and Martin Luther King Jr. later used his ideas in the Montgomery bus boycott. Gregg’s remarkable story brings together the disparate histories of civil rights, labor, pacifism, religion, the mass media, and, above all, the violence that defined twentieth-century politics in America and around the world. (pp. 1318–48) Read online >

“I Don’t Trust You Anymore”: Nina Simone, Culture, and Black Activism in the 1960s

Promotional photograph of Nina Simone, 1961
Courtesy The New York Public Library

In the early 1960s, often considered the heyday of liberal interracial activism, the singer and songwriter Nina Simone forged a version of black cultural nationalism that emphasized female power. Internationally famous and known primarily for her incendiary song “Mississippi Goddam” (1963), Simone showed how cultural production mattered to black activism. She actively participated in the black freedom struggle with her music, lyrics, performance strategies, and self‑representation. Ruth Feldstein shows how Simone drew on emerging concepts of feminism to create a gendered strategy of racial protest and how she disseminated a vision of black freedom and culture around the world. Feldstein offers a new way to think about the relationships of African American political activism, culture, and gender in the early 1960s. (pp. 1349–79) Read online >

Textbooks & Teaching

  • “Editors’ Introduction: ‘The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth’: Writing, Producing, and Using College-Level American History Textbooks,” by Gary J. Kornblith and Carol Lasser (pp. 1380–82) Read online >
  • “Reflections of a Longtime Textbook Author; or, History Revised, Revised—and Revised Again,” by Mary Beth Norton (pp. 1380–90) Read online >
  • “The Challenges and Rewards of Textbook Writing: An Interview with Alan Brinkley” (pp. 1391–97) Read online >
  • “Textbook Publishing: An Ecological View,” by Steve Forman (1398–1404) Read online >
  • “By the Book: Assessing the Place of Textbooks in U.S. Survey Courses,” by Daniel J. Cohen (pp. 1405–15) Read online >

Book Reviews

March 2005, Vol. 91 No. 4

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


Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Trails to Utah and the Pacific: Diaries and Letters, 1846–1869; and Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846–1869, by Fritz Umbach (p. 1555) Read online >
  • Territorial Kansas Online, 1854–1861, by Michael D. Pierson (p. 1556) Read online >
  • Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880–1920, by Marguerite S. Shaffer (p. 1557) Read online >
  • The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials, 1952–2004, by Gil Troy (p. 1558) Read online >
  • The Vietnam Project, by Meredith H. Lair (p. 1559) Read online >
  • Studs Terkel: Conversations with America, by Clifford M. Kuhn (p. 1560) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

“Recent Scholarship” is available online, Read online >

Contents of Volume 91

Index to Volume 91

thumbnail of cover

On the cover:

Nina Simone takes a bow before her audience during a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1965. Courtesy Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. See Ruth Feldstein, “‘I Don’t Trust You Anymore’: Nina Simone, Culture, and Black Activism in the 1960s,” p. 1349.

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