It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village is a reminder of Democratic Party values – especially the values of long time Democrats whose lives have been dedicated to helping people.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: William Howard Russell On the Civil War 11/13/18

William Howard Russell during the Crimean War, 1855

I had never heard of William Howard Russell before reading Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey (h/t basket and janesaunt for the book recommendation). Russell is NOT the secret agent of the book title; he was a foreign correspondent for The Times of London, who first gained fame as a Crimean War correspondent. His blunt and realistic portrayals of the cost of war were shocking and mobilizing for the British public, and Florence Nightingale is alleged to have been motivated to get involved with and change battlefield treatment practices in part because of Russell’s dispatches. In 1861, he travelled to the United States and the Confederate States, and his observations were published in the Confederacy-supporting Times. What follows are excerpts from his dispatches; the collection from which I am drawing is available here: The Civil War in America.

Tuesday in Mooseville – A Year At a Glance: 1927, Sears Edition 11/6/18

Lindbergh’s famous flight (20-21 May, 1927) commemorated by the U.S. Post Office

I figure we’re all going to have the attention span of a fruit fly today (What Animal Has the Shortest Attention Span? ), so I decided to do a light, but [hopefully] fun revisit of an old Sears catalogue. This time the year is 1927: the year of Lindbergh’s flight; the silent film, It, is released, making Clara Bow the first “It” girl; The Jazz Singer, the first film with “synchronized dialogue” (and the unfortunate use of blackface) is also released; the year production of the Model T ended and the Model A started; when the radio network CBS Is created; Stalin takes control in Russia, and Calvin Coolidge is president with the average net income for Americans being $5496.73 ($79,746.50 today). (Statistics of Income for 1927, p. 3). The Roaring Twenties were…

…a decade in which many of the defining characteristics of late twentieth century life were determined, particularly with regard to mass movements of society. Mass production, mass distribution, mass marketing, and mass consumption held sway, and the rise of a mass service industry followed, due in part to so-called “technological unemployment,” the forced movement of workers out of blue-collar jobs as a result of the increased efficiency of new machinery and processes. (Laboring to Prosper)

Sears was ready to meet the demand, with a catalogue featuring a cover with a Norman Rockwell drawing, showing a woman, a man, and the family dog poring over the pages of the Big Book.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Voting Rights Potpourri 10/30/18

Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Anyone who has the time and inclination to identify those pictured wins my undying gratitude.)

I was going to do this post next week, but since so many people have already voted, I decided not to wait. Consider this your motivation for the day, with a few persuasion points, as you talk to neighbors, friends, and even strangers, and encourage them to vote.

Tuesday in Mooseville – A Year at a Glance: 1908, Sears Version 10/23/18

Sears Roebuck and Company Mail Order Plant, Bounded by Lexington and Grenshaw Streets, Kedzie Avenue and Independence Boulevard, Chicago, Cook County, IL; 1908.

I am a firm believer that too many history textbooks focus on dates and Big Events like wars, while giving scant coverage to the daily lives of the people who are living in and through those times. I was reminded of this while I was on my recent vacation; I picked up a reproduction of the 1908 Sears, Roebuck catalogue and have since spent more time than I care to admit reading the listings. I bought it as a resource for theatre costuming and props, but today I’m using it as a resource for connecting dates and big and small events with the people who lived in 1908.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: TR, Race Suicide, and Blaming Women 10/16/18

Theodore Roosevelt, Nobel Peace Prize photo, 1906.

In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt was in the second year of his first elected term as president (he assumed the presidency in 1901 after the assassination of President McKinley); it is seven years after the Battle of San Juan Hill, two years after construction of the Panama Canal commenced, four years after the publication of Edward Ross’ paper, The Causes of Race Superiority, and one year before he receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering the peace between Russia and Japan, ending the Russo-Japanese War. It’s not clear of the impact of Ross’ paper on the American public, but it is clear that Roosevelt was aware of the concepts it promoted (we also know that Ross sent a copy of his book, The Changing Chinese: The Conflict of Oriental and Western Cultures in China in 1911, and TR responded with a cordial and almost chatty letter. Letter from Roosevelt to Ross). In 1905, Roosevelt addressed the National Congress of Mothers (a precursor to the PTA) and included his own spin on the concept of race suicide. The entire address)(

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: Edward Ross and Race Suicide 10/9/18

American sociologist and eugenicist Edward Alsworth Ross (1866-1951)


I had strongly considered backing off from difficult topics for awhile, in deference to the difficult past few weeks. But then I saw this tweet by one of my favorite Twitter-follows:


Some may not like the bluntness of @Ange_Amene, but I’ve always found her willingness to be true to herself, even if it enrages fellow Democrats and/or white feminists, to be refreshing and much-needed. And I also happen to think she’s right about “doesn’t know shit”; privilege more often than not has protected white folk from knowing and understanding history as it was, rather than as it was taught (often in support of white supremacy). So while it would be easier to stick with something lighter, today I’m focusing on a little-known phrase, “race suicide”, and how one prominent sociologist framed it and popularized the concept.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Chipping Away at the Patriarchy 10/2/18

Moritz von Schwind: Sabina of Steinbach, painted 1844. The existence of Sabina von Steinbach may be a myth, but women chipping away at the patriarchy is not.

Last week was a painful and potent reminder that the forces of patriarchy are still strong and that there will always be men and women who embrace the image and role of the subservient woman; to paraphrase the title of Gail Collins’ book, women as “dolls, drudges, helpmates, and [only occasionally] heroines.” But for every moment of rage and despair last week, there was a moment of hope: Dr. Blasey Ford’s personal bravery; Sen. Klobuchar’s quiet but firm questioning; Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher sharing their pain and outrage with Sen. Flake. Our hope comes not just from the sisters of today; it comes from knowing that our sisters from the past helped us to get this far. There’s still a long way to go. We won’t create the sculpture of equality overnight, but we have the chisel; we have the hammer, and we will not quit chipping away.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Primary Sources: Mansplaining 1870s Style 9/18/18

Written on border: ‘Jan. 10, 1878’. Just regular old 1870s style.

Every once in awhile, my curiosity leads me down obscure rabbit holes; this was one of those weeks. In the course of reading Gail Collins’ book, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines, she talks about the rise of the “New Woman” in the late 1800s; independent, educated, and involved in issues outside of the home. Collins mentions that the “first generation of female college students enrolled around 1870” (p. 297) and that their presence led to the publication of Dr. Edward Clarke’s Sex in Education, or, a Fair Chance for Girls. A quick search led me to the discovery that the entire treatise has been made available by Project Gutenberg (Sex in Education, 1873). I started skimming it and quickly settled in to read all 196 or so pages, with a mixture of bemusement, disbelief, and horror. In light of the enraging misogyny we are once again seeing, hearing, and being subjected to over the Kavanaugh attempted rape allegation, I thought it would be interesting to explore the 1870s version of mansplaining and blaming women. If we are supposed to learn from history, some folks are learning the wrong lessons.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Rage Becomes Us (h/t Soraya Chemaly) 9/11/18

Embrace it.

Sometimes you realize the reason you have a writing block is because you’re so damn angry. Twitter reminds me that I’m not alone; I remind myself that voting is cathartic and can’t come soon enough. Let’s get it done.

Tuesday in Mooseville – A Belated Labor Day Story 9/4/18

The Battle of the Overpass, 1937

Throughout the course of Labor Day, we see reminders of what unions have accomplished for all of us; tweets like this are typical:


Sadly, this anodyne and misleading tweet from the GOP is also typical:


What gets lost amidst the parades and barbecues, speeches and parties, politicians and public is the often costly path that was necessary to make the gains we now so-often take for granted. Today, I’m going to share one story: the story of the Battle of the Overpass.