Friday, March 4, 2011, 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Working Women: African American Women’s Livings and Lives in the Twentieth-Century North
Commentator: Martha Biondi, Northwestern University
"The Pride of Ownership:" African-American Businesswomen in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1940s-1960)
Crystal M. Moten, University of Wisconsin-Madison
During the late 1940s and 1950s, African-American businesswomen in the city of Milwaukee used their business acumen and professional networks to provide services for the growing African-American community, forge interracial alliances, and critique the status quo that sustained de facto segregation and discrimination in the city of Milwaukee. This paper explores the contests these women faced within and outside of the African-American community as they struggled to realize their own, often intertwined, goals of economic development and community empowerment. By exploring these women and their tactics for achieving justice, we come to a more nuanced understanding of activism and politics during the long civil rights movement of the 20th century.
Playing the Numbers: Madame Stephanie St. Clair and African American Informal Economies in Early-Twentieth-Century Harlem
Lashawn D. Harris, Michigan State University
Madame Stephanie St. Clair, also known as the “Numbers Queen,” was probably the only African American female numbers banker who controlled New York City’s illegal numbers racket during the “New Era” of the 1920s. This paper critically examines the unique public persona and criminal activities of Stephanie St. Clair. Providing a nuanced reading of urban black women, this study diverges from existing historical scholarship that focuses on middle-class African American women. Instead, it delineates how less familiar black women like Stephanie St. Clair refashioned, and at times complicated, black elite interpretations of female work, respectability, and race politics.
All papers are pre-circulated electronically to those who plan to attend the seminar in person. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Heather Radke at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 312-255-3524. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.
The Newberry Library Seminar on Women and Gender is co-sponsored by the History Departments of Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at the University of Chicago
Scholl Center for
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