Journal of American History

Presidential Address

Reasons to Talk about Tobacco

Auctioneer, buyers, and farmers during tobacco auction sale. Warehouse. Durham, North Carolina, November 1939. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USF34-52790.
Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USF34-52790.

In his presidential address to the 2009 Organization of American Historians convention, Pete Daniel focuses on a chance encounter in 1939 of Farm Security Administration photographer Marion Post Wolcott and Southern Writers’ Project interviewer Leonard Rapport. Through his interviewing experience with dozens of people around the Durham, North Carolina, tobacco warehouses, Rapport was able to introduce Wolcott to auctioneers, buyers, farmers, and the carnival of salesmen and shysters at the auctions. Using both photographs by Walcott and Rapport’s interviews and unpublished manuscript, Daniel describes the annual routine of tobacco farmers, the pilgrimage to the warehouse where their crops were auctioned in a matter of seconds to buyers they distrusted, and a vibrant labor-intensive tobacco culture before it was doomed by science, technology, and government intrusion. (pp. 663–77)
View the online version with additional materials >
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Circulating Race and Empire: Transnational Labor Activism and the Politics of Anti-Asian Agitation in the Anglo-American Pacific World, 1880–1910

L. Fongoun and Company after the 1907 Vancouver, British Columbia, riots. This store was one of over a hundred Chinatown businesses that filed claims for damages, which totaled about $26,000. Courtesy University of British Columbia Special Collections.
Courtesy University of British Columbia Special Collections.

In the early twentieth century, the Pacific Northwest borderlands were battered by a wave of anti-Asian violence and unrest. While historians have studied these events, they have confined their analysis to national frameworks and narratives. Kornel Chang argues that these actions should be viewed together as part of a broader history of white settler colonialism. He traces the local and global circulation of white working people and their ideas, following them across the U.S.-Canadian boundary and around the Pacific world. Chang shows how movements and exchanges that spanned the Anglophone settler colonial world shaped and spurred working-class xenophobia and anti-Asian agitation in the Pacific Northwest. (pp. 678–701) Read online >

When the “Jungle” Met the Forest: Public Work, Civil Defense, and Prison Camps in Postwar California

Along a ridge in the Los Padres National Forest north of Santa Barbara, conservation camp inmates march behind their forestry foremen toward a brush fire that charred over 24,000 acres in June 1966. Suggesting both military discipline and service, the California Department of Corrections praised these “specially trained and conditioned” prisoners for attacking the fire “like soldiers [in] battle.” Reprinted from California Department of Corrections, Biennial Report: Correctional Progress, 1965, 1966 (Sacramento, 1966), cover. Courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

After World War II, California’s forest labor camps offered prisoners unusual liberties and community respect in return for often-dangerous public works labor. But the Golden State’s fast–changing urban and rural landscapes eventually soured residents on this popular prison rehabilitation experiment and turned the conservation camp program into a catalyst for today’s prison geography. Volker Janssen draws on research in the correspondence of the California Department of Corrections to highlight the role of Cold War military culture in prison reform. Exploring the racial, urban–rural, and political conflicts sparked by the conservation camp program, Janssen argues that prisons and incarceration policies are central to understanding the connection between America’s urban crisis and law-and-order conservatism. (pp. 702–26) Read online >

For suggestions on how to use this article in the U.S. history classroom, see our “Teaching the JAH,” Web project at

“Made-in-America Revolutions”? The “Black University” and the American Role in the Decolonization of the Black Atlantic

Students from Iran, Jordan, Norway, Somalia, and Jamaica pose for publicity materials in front of Founders Library on the Howard University campus in 1957.  These students represented five of the thirty-nine countries with students attending Howard, though the bulk of foreign students then at Howard, Lincoln, and other black colleges and universities came from Africa and the Caribbean. Courtesy National Archives, Records of the United States Information Agency.
Courtesy National Archives, Records of the United States Information Agency.

The black freedom struggle in the United States and the independence movements in the “Third World” are often told as separate stories. Jason C. Parker argues that these fights were the foreign and domestic threads of the same global race revolution that redefined citizenship in the United States and redrew much of the world’s map. In the twentieth century, those threads, Parker suggests, became interwoven on the campuses of American black colleges. There, the future leadership of the “Black Atlantic” encountered African American peers who were fomenting the civil rights movement. As three generations of foreign-born blacks studied and worked in this environment, the campuses abetted the development of a transnational “imagined community” that would influence the black freedom struggle in both its American and colonial contexts. (pp. 727–50) Read online >

The Black Power Movement: A State of the Field

The first African Liberation Day, May 27, 1972, featured simultaneous demonstrations in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and the Caribbean that drew a total of sixty thousand demonstrators in support of indigenous rule in Africa. This photo is from the Washington, D.C., demonstration. ©Washington Post; reprinted by permission of the District of Columbia Public Library.
©Washington Post; reprinted by permission of the District of Columbia Public Library.

Black power remains perhaps the most controversial social movement to come out of the 1960s. Usually characterized as the outgrowth of disappointment, outrage, and frustration felt by black urban Americans over the slow pace of change in the wake of civil rights legislation, the movement is undergoing a dramatic and extensive historical reevaluation. Historians are now focusing more on substance than symbolism and have found the movement to be more varied and pragmatic than popular memory usually suggests. Peniel E. Joseph examines how the emerging subfield of black power studies is transforming the rich historiography of the black freedom struggle as well as the related fields of urban, women’s, political, and intellectual history. Joseph contends that this new scholarship has helped rewrite post-1945 American history by viewing civil rights and black power activism as parallel and intersecting movements rather than mutually exclusive ones. (pp. 751–76) Read online >

Peniel E. Joseph is also featured in the December 2009 podcast. Listen online or subscribe at

Exhibition Reviews

The gallery space in the Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War integrates military and social history into a single interpretive experience. Battlefield artifacts are not segregated from home front exhibits, as seen by the juxtaposition of the “The War Comes Home” case (in the foreground) and the displays around it that focus on the military side of the 1863 Pennsylvania Campaign. Courtesy Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War.
Courtesy Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War.
  • “Introduction,” by Benjamin Filene and Brian Horrigan (p. 777) Read online >
  • “Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the Seventheeth-Century Chesapeake,” by Kenneth Cohen (pp. 778–81) Read online >
  • The Newseum, by Bruce A. Williams (pp. 782–88) Read online >
  • “America I AM: The African American Imprint,” by Carole Merritt (pp. 788–92) Read online >
  • “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited,” by Natasha Barnes (pp. 792–96) Read online >
  • “Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s Favorite Journey”; and “ Within a Day’s Drive of Millions,” by Anne Mitchell Whisnant and David E. Whisnant (pp. 797–803) Read online >
  • The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War, by Peter S. Carmichael (pp. 804–8) Read online >
  • “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968”; and “After 1868: Contemporary Artists and the Civil Rights Legacy,” by Mark Speltz (pp. 808–11) Read online >

Book Reviews

Dec. 2009, Vol. 96 No. 3

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


Movie Reviews

  • Milk in the Land: Ballad of an American Drink, by Richard P. Horwitz (pp. 942–44) Read online >
  • Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, by Lester D. Friedman (pp. 944–46) Read online >
  • Thrilla in Manila, by Daniel A. Nathan (pp. 946–48) Read online >
  • For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, by Dana Polan (pp. 948–49) Read online >

Web Site reviews

Web site Reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Remembered and Reclaimed, by Barclay Key (pp. 950–51) Read online >
  • Black Loyalists: Our History, Our People, by Madeline Burnside (pp. 951–52) Read online >
  • Drawing the Western Frontier: The James E. Taylor Album, by Louis Warren (pp. 952–53) Read online >
  • Taking the Wheel: Manufacturers’ Catalogs from the First Decade of American Automobiles, by David Blanke (pp. 953–54) Read online >
  • Virginia Schools in the Great Depression, by Warren R. Hofstra (pp. 954–55) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

View “Recent Scholarship” listing online >

Recent Scholarship is available as a searchable database, Recent Scholarship Online >

cover image

On the cover:

The California Department of Corrections (cdc) promoted fire fighting as a means to preserve the western landscape and transform prisoners from wards of the state into examples of masculine strength and courage. Titled “Save Resources—Help Themselves,” this full-page photo in the cdc’s biennial progress report for 1959–1960 openly advertised the risks and dangers prisoners encountered on the fire line. Reprinted from California Department of Corrections, Biennial Report: Correctional Progress, 1959, 1960 (Sacramento, 1960), 13. Courtesy California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. See Volker Janssen, “When the ‘Jungle’ Met the Forest: Public Work, Civil Defense, and Prison Camps in Postwar California,” p. 702.

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