Subscribe to this seminar series for $25, and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

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The Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar provides a setting for local scholars as well as members of the general public to discuss all aspects of American immigration as well as urban history and culture. Programs may address one or both historical disciplines and are not confined to Massachusetts topics. Six to eight sessions take place annually during the academic year, and most focus on works in progress.

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

September

Immigration and Urban History Seminar Cuban Immigration and Exceptionalism: The Long Cold War 29 September 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Susan Eckstein, Boston University Comment: Christine Thurlow Brenner, University of Massachusetts—Boston For decades, the United States government has privileged Cubans over other immigrant groups. During ...

For decades, the United States government has privileged Cubans over other immigrant groups. During the Cold War, policy-makers extended far more refugee benefits and immigrant privileges to Cubans than to persons seeking refuge from other Communist regimes, and this exceptionalism has continued to this day. This presentation will focus on the complex roots of these benefits and the likely reform in Cuban immigration policy.

Note that this session only will begin with a light supper at 5:15 PM, and the program will follow at 6:00 PM.

More
October
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Immigration, Race and the Tea Party Movement 27 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Luis Jiménez, University of Massachusetts—Boston Comment: Theda Skocpol, Harvard University To what extent has racial anxiety played a factor in the formation of the tea party movement? ...

To what extent has racial anxiety played a factor in the formation of the tea party movement? Previous literature, ethnographic work and anecdotal evidence point to a complex mythology of taxpayers versus freeloaders that appears to not have any empirical basis, but rather rests on racial cues. This paper tests these hypotheses through a number of measures at different levels--state, congressional, and county units. It finds that tea party behavior was more pronounced in states, districts or counties with disproportionate numbers of Latinos, or people perceived as an immigrant other.

More
November
Immigration and Urban History Seminar “A barbarous practice that would not be permitted in other civilized countries”: The Evolution and Enduring Presence of the African Dodger Game at Boston-Area Amusement Venues 24 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Mark Herlihy, Endicott College Comment: Jeff Melnick, University of Massachusetts—Boston This paper traces the rise and enduring presence of the notorious African Dodger game, in which ...

This paper traces the rise and enduring presence of the notorious African Dodger game, in which patrons paid a nickel for a chance to throw a ball at the head of an African American male. The game’s popularity suggests the ways in which leisure venues and special events could strengthen white working- and middle-class identity and reinforce racial hierarchies.

More
January
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Becoming White Collar: Business Education and Work in Boston, 1880-1940 26 January 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Cristina Groeger, Harvard University Comment: John McClymer, Assumption College This paper traces the shift in the central site of preparation for work from informal on-the-job ...

This paper traces the shift in the central site of preparation for work from informal on-the-job training in the late 19th century to formal schooling by the 1930s, using the city of Boston to illustrate this transformation. The work argues that during this period, education as a path to social advancement was forged as a central tenet of American democracy. Yet this shift affected groups unevenly, and the expansion of education perpetuated some social hierarchies.

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February
Immigration and Urban History Seminar “The Other Essential Job of War”: Jewish American Merchants and the European Refugee Crisis, 1933-1945 23 February 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Niki C. Lefebvre, Boston University Comment: Hasia Diner, New York University Following the rise of Adolf Hitler, political and trade conditions in the United States prevented ...

Following the rise of Adolf Hitler, political and trade conditions in the United States prevented department stores from collaborating in an effective boycott against German imports. However, individuals did undertake personal campaigns to bring Jewish refugees out of Europe. Drawing on their networks abroad and influence in Washington, a handful of Jewish American merchants in the northeast took great personal risks to pursue what Ira Hirschman called the “other essential job of war”: saving people.

More
March
Immigration and Urban History Seminar The War on Butchers: San Francisco and the Making of Animal Space, 1850-1870 29 March 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Andrew Robichaud, Boston University Comment: Harriet Ritvo, MIT For much of the nineteenth century American cities were alive with a wide variety of animal life. ...

For much of the nineteenth century American cities were alive with a wide variety of animal life. This paper examines some of the challenges of urban animal life (and death) in cities, while tracing the evolution of animal regulations in San Francisco between 1850 and 1870, a period of notable change. Through the creation of new livestock and slaughterhouse regulations, the city of San Francisco remade laws, space, and the environment, which together contributed to a broader transformation of urban life.

More
April
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Communities Must be Vigilant: The Financial Turn in National Urban Policy 26 April 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Rebecca Marchiel, University of Mississippi Comment: Davarian Baldwin, Trinity College This research comes from a book project entitled "Neighborhoods First: The Urban Reinvestment ...

This research comes from a book project entitled "Neighborhoods First: The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Financial Deregulation." It explores how the U.S. financial system shaped, and was shaped by, the community organizing of low- and moderate-income urbanites during the last third of the twentieth century. This particular chapter explores the mixed results of 1970s efforts to revitalize neighborhoods through community-bank partnerships. In 1977, reinvestment activists successfully lobbied for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which gave them standing to stall bank mergers if banks redlined, or refused to lend in, the communities outside their offices. In effect, the CRA gave activists leverage to win new loan commitments from local banks. But just as activists gained traction here, new challenges emerged. The CRA offered no protection from gentrification, high interest rates, and bank deregulation that threatened neighborhood stability by decade's end.

More
More events
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Cuban Immigration and Exceptionalism: The Long Cold War Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 29 September 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Susan Eckstein, Boston University Comment: Christine Thurlow Brenner, University of Massachusetts—Boston

For decades, the United States government has privileged Cubans over other immigrant groups. During the Cold War, policy-makers extended far more refugee benefits and immigrant privileges to Cubans than to persons seeking refuge from other Communist regimes, and this exceptionalism has continued to this day. This presentation will focus on the complex roots of these benefits and the likely reform in Cuban immigration policy.

Note that this session only will begin with a light supper at 5:15 PM, and the program will follow at 6:00 PM.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Immigration, Race and the Tea Party Movement Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 27 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Luis Jiménez, University of Massachusetts—Boston Comment: Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

To what extent has racial anxiety played a factor in the formation of the tea party movement? Previous literature, ethnographic work and anecdotal evidence point to a complex mythology of taxpayers versus freeloaders that appears to not have any empirical basis, but rather rests on racial cues. This paper tests these hypotheses through a number of measures at different levels--state, congressional, and county units. It finds that tea party behavior was more pronounced in states, districts or counties with disproportionate numbers of Latinos, or people perceived as an immigrant other.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar “A barbarous practice that would not be permitted in other civilized countries”: The Evolution and Enduring Presence of the African Dodger Game at Boston-Area Amusement Venues Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 24 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Mark Herlihy, Endicott College Comment: Jeff Melnick, University of Massachusetts—Boston

This paper traces the rise and enduring presence of the notorious African Dodger game, in which patrons paid a nickel for a chance to throw a ball at the head of an African American male. The game’s popularity suggests the ways in which leisure venues and special events could strengthen white working- and middle-class identity and reinforce racial hierarchies.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Becoming White Collar: Business Education and Work in Boston, 1880-1940 Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 26 January 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Cristina Groeger, Harvard University Comment: John McClymer, Assumption College

This paper traces the shift in the central site of preparation for work from informal on-the-job training in the late 19th century to formal schooling by the 1930s, using the city of Boston to illustrate this transformation. The work argues that during this period, education as a path to social advancement was forged as a central tenet of American democracy. Yet this shift affected groups unevenly, and the expansion of education perpetuated some social hierarchies.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar “The Other Essential Job of War”: Jewish American Merchants and the European Refugee Crisis, 1933-1945 Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 23 February 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Niki C. Lefebvre, Boston University Comment: Hasia Diner, New York University

Following the rise of Adolf Hitler, political and trade conditions in the United States prevented department stores from collaborating in an effective boycott against German imports. However, individuals did undertake personal campaigns to bring Jewish refugees out of Europe. Drawing on their networks abroad and influence in Washington, a handful of Jewish American merchants in the northeast took great personal risks to pursue what Ira Hirschman called the “other essential job of war”: saving people.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar The War on Butchers: San Francisco and the Making of Animal Space, 1850-1870 Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 29 March 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Andrew Robichaud, Boston University Comment: Harriet Ritvo, MIT

For much of the nineteenth century American cities were alive with a wide variety of animal life. This paper examines some of the challenges of urban animal life (and death) in cities, while tracing the evolution of animal regulations in San Francisco between 1850 and 1870, a period of notable change. Through the creation of new livestock and slaughterhouse regulations, the city of San Francisco remade laws, space, and the environment, which together contributed to a broader transformation of urban life.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Communities Must be Vigilant: The Financial Turn in National Urban Policy Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 26 April 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Rebecca Marchiel, University of Mississippi Comment: Davarian Baldwin, Trinity College

This research comes from a book project entitled "Neighborhoods First: The Urban Reinvestment Movement in the Era of Financial Deregulation." It explores how the U.S. financial system shaped, and was shaped by, the community organizing of low- and moderate-income urbanites during the last third of the twentieth century. This particular chapter explores the mixed results of 1970s efforts to revitalize neighborhoods through community-bank partnerships. In 1977, reinvestment activists successfully lobbied for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which gave them standing to stall bank mergers if banks redlined, or refused to lend in, the communities outside their offices. In effect, the CRA gave activists leverage to win new loan commitments from local banks. But just as activists gained traction here, new challenges emerged. The CRA offered no protection from gentrification, high interest rates, and bank deregulation that threatened neighborhood stability by decade's end.

close

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