Childcare in 1920s Harlem

While most employed adults travelled outside Harlem to work six days a week, children remained in the neighborhood. An Urban League study of 2400 families published in 1927 found that more than half of the mothers were in paid employment. Those women reported a variety of means of providing care for the youngest of their… Continue reading Childcare in 1920s Harlem

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Populating a Building in 1920s Harlem: 116 West 144th Street

Aggregated census data have been important in establishing the character of Harlem as a black neighbourhood.  Census schedules individualize that data, and perhaps more importantly for Digital Harlem, locate individuals at an address, in a specific place. So while I use census schedules to identify and trace individuals, I just as often use them to… Continue reading Populating a Building in 1920s Harlem: 116 West 144th Street

Annie Dillard: Domestic Service & Single Motherhood in Harlem

Annie Dillard*, an 18 year old native of St Kitts in the British West Indies, was admitted to the New York State Reformatory for Women in July 1924. (*This name is a pseudonym, as required by the New York State Archives). A judge committed her as a Wayward Minor, at the request of her sister,… Continue reading Annie Dillard: Domestic Service & Single Motherhood in Harlem

“Disorderly Houses” in the Journal of the History of Sexuality

Our article "Disorderly Houses: Residences, Privacy and the Surveillance of Sexuality in 1920s Harlem" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the History of Sexuality. It will appear in 2012/2013. The article argues that despite overcrowding, Harlem's residences  provided privacy, due to the regular, extended absence of residents at work, the willingness of… Continue reading “Disorderly Houses” in the Journal of the History of Sexuality

The Death Penalty comes to Harlem, 1925: William Hoyer murders his wife and daughter

The shots with which twenty-five-year-old William Hoyer killed his wife Jennie and five-year-old daughter Sylvia were fired at 430 St Nicholas Avenue, but the events leading up to those murders wove through the spaces of Harlem.  Rich evidence of this case survives because Hoyer was ultimately executed for the crime, one of ten black residents… Continue reading The Death Penalty comes to Harlem, 1925: William Hoyer murders his wife and daughter

“This Harlem Life” now published

Our article, "This Harlem Life: Black Families and Everyday Life in the 1920s and 1930s," has now been published in the Journal of Social History, in the Fall 2010 issue.  <update, 19 July 2011: as six months have elapsed since its publication, I can now provide a copy here>.  I've already posted maps and discussions… Continue reading “This Harlem Life” now published

Perry Brown: A Lodge member’s life in Harlem

Perry Brown* was a forty-five-year-old born in Pennsylvania, who was placed on probation after stealing coats from the building of which he was superintendent in 1930.  (*This name is a pseudonym, used at the request of the Municipal Archives).That crime came in response to his wife Pauline's long illness, and was a marked departure from… Continue reading Perry Brown: A Lodge member’s life in Harlem

Morgan Thompson – a West Indian Laborer’s Life in Harlem

A West Indian, born in 1888, who arrived in Harlem in 1917, Morgan Thompson* was convicted of assault in 1928 after he lost his temper and stabbed a man who had confronted his seventeen year old son  on West 144th Street. (* This name is a pseudonym, used at the request of the Municipal Archives)… Continue reading Morgan Thompson – a West Indian Laborer’s Life in Harlem

“This Harlem Life” in the Journal of Social History

Our article "This Harlem Life: Black Families and Everyday Life in the 1920s and 1930s" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Social History.  (It appeared in the Fall 2010 issue). The article uses the Probation Department files to reconstruct the lives of five men "to highlight what the black metropolis offered those… Continue reading “This Harlem Life” in the Journal of Social History