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Stephen Robertson’s article, “Constrained but not contained: Patterns of everyday life and the limits of segregation in 1920s Harlem,” has appeared in The Ghetto in Global History: 1500 to the Present, edited by Wendy Z. Goldman and Joe William Trotter, Jr. (Routledge, 2017). The article is based on the presentation he gave to the Sawyer Seminar at Carnegie Mellon University in April 2015.

For a copy of the “accepted manuscript,” the final version of the article before copy-editing and production, click here.

ABSTRACT

In 1966, in the first major historical study of twentieth-century Harlem, Gilbert Osofsky told the story of the neighborhood in the 1920s as the making of a ghetto.  What he described was the emergence of a large, segregated community, and the transformation of the area it occupied into a slum from which black residents could not escape. The demographic evidence of segregated housing is clear, but offers at best only a partial picture of the nature of the neighborhood.  To determine if a neighborhood is a place apart also requires evidence of where residents went when they left their homes and who spent time in the neighborhood. Using the digital mapping tools offered by Digital Harlem as a means of combining fragmentary evidence from a wide range of sources and visualizing the spatial dimensions of everyday life, this chapter reveals patterns of everyday life that show the permeability of black Harlem’s borders in the 1920s. Residents left to work and play, and whites entered to work and visit a range of institutions and patronize various forms of commercialized leisure. Residents experienced white economic and government power and violence in their daily lives, even as they created a range of places and institutions apart from whites. If not contained, black life in 1920s Harlem was constrained, neither entirely separate from whites nor free of their authority. As a result, Harlem in the 1920s was too racially variegated and contested a place to be labeled a ghetto.

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AHR-286x300The February 2016 issue of the American Historical Review includes an extended review of Digital Harlem — “Harlem Crime, Soapbox Speeches, and Beauty Parlors: Digital Historical Context and the Challenge of Preserving Source Integrity,” by Joshua Sternfeld, and my response, “Digital Mapping as a Research Tool: Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915–1930.” 

The AHR provides authors with a free-access link to their publication, so clinking on the links takes you to the two articles regardless of whether you or your institution subscribes to the journal.

This exchange appears alongside another, on Vincent Brown‘s Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761, a very different kind of digital history mapping project than Digital Harlem, that works well as a companion piece to highlight a range of what is possible with web mapping tools.

For more on the exchange, see the post on drstephenrobertson.com

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F1.mediumMatthew Vaz, a lecturer in the History Department at the City College of New York, City University of New York reviews Playing the Numbers in a review essay titled “Gambling, Legitimacy, and the Limits of Community” that appears in the Journal of Urban History 41, 6 (2015): 1152-1159

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Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg_-210x328For Open Access Week this year, I’ve finally found time to deposit copies of my articles in the institutional repository at George Mason University. Those copies are post-prints — the final version I submitted to the journal, not the published version. They are available online, for download, free to everyone.

Included are four articles on 1920s Harlem related to Digital Harlem:

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5.coverOur article, “Harlem in Black and White: Mapping Race and Place in the 1920s,” has now appeared in the Journal of Urban History, vol. 35, no. 9, September 2013, pages 864-880. The abstract and a related map can be found in an earlier post announcing the acceptance of the article for publication in 2011.

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magazineWinter2013_265 A two-page spread on Digital Harlem appears in the Winter 2013 issue of New York Archives.  The article offers a brief introduction to the site, using as examples a map of nightlife and two maps discussed in posts on this blog: prostitution in 1925 & 1930; and Morgan Thompson’s work sites.

Digital Harlem_NYArchives

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Our article, “Disorderly Houses: Residences, Privacy, and the Surveillance of Sexuality in 1920s Harlem,” has now appeared in the Journal of the History of Sexuality 21, 3 (September 2012): 443-466.

There are several maps already posted on this blog that are related to the article’s arguments.  The police focus on street prostitution rather than what happened inside residences is evident in the map of prostitution arrests.  Divorce raids, which offer a glimpse of the privacy that unmarried couples could obtain in residences, are mapped in this post.  The night life venues that residents operated in their homes for a black clientele, away from the nightclubs and speakeasies frequented by whites, can be found on the map of Harlem’s nightlife.

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