In nineteenth century America, there was no denying that a democratization of reading was underway. Printing technology improved dramatically, literacy steadily increased, newspapers proliferated the landscape, and influential books were published and widely read. Out of this culture, a distinct form of literature emerged: the exciting, enticing tales printed on cheap paper and usually sold for five or ten cents to largely working class audiences.
Antebellum America witnessed the growth of specialized facilities for people suffering from mental illness known as asylums. Reformers believed that the right environment and specialized care could provide some good for this “less-fortunate” class. Unsurprisingly, many of the patients who found themselves in asylums were women. These institutions went through their share of ups and downs, from the promise that came with their initial construction to the detriments of underfunding, overcrowding, unwarranted commitment, and abusive conditions seen by the end of the century. It was an area ripe for the reform impulse of the era, and a multitude of people—many of them female—contributed to the advances seen in that realm. Like other causes of that period (such as abolitionism), the rights of the mentally ill became inextricably intertwined with the rights of women.
With a variety of leisure opportunities, from vaudeville theaters and nickelodeons to dance halls and amusement parks, New York City was an urban Mecca of possibilities for amusement-seekers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The city offered innumerable ways to take one’s mind off the stresses of everyday life. There were also extracurricular… MORE
Looking the 1939-1940 New York Worlds Fair in the context of World War II shows the globally famous event was fertile ground for acting out major tensions of the day. With the theme World of Tomorrow and presentations such as Mrs. Modern versus Mrs. Drudge in a dishwashing contest, organizers and sponsors clearly highlighted the… MORE