FW: Progressive Era South--Alabama-related questions...
- FYI...anyone who can assist Dr. Sallee should contact her directly...this
message has been forwarded from another discussion list, H-SAWH, a women's
history list...aj wright // ajwright@...
Subject: Progressive Era South
From: Shelley Sallee <ssallee@...>
Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 9:08 AM -0500
Dear SAWH members,
It's summer, and I'm trying to meet a revision deadline for the University
of Georgia for my manuscript, The Whiteness of Child Labor Reform in the
New South (name will probably change to include Alabama). I finished
this dissertation in the spring of 1998 and had a baby that fall as I began
a teaching job at a prep school in Austin. Two children later, I'm still
teaching at a boarding school that has been good to me (started an on-site
daycare), and I'm finally trying to do something with this manuscript. I
need some help in the two areas identified below.
Connections between local southern reformers and national leaders
While the larger work is on many aspects of the southern child labor
reform movement, I am looking to SAWH members for help with my treatment
of women reformers. I gave a paper at the SAWH conference in
Charlottesville in 1997 where I introduced evidence that initially the
Alabama Child Labor Committee was all male and white, organized women in
Alabama were hesitant about endorsing the proposed child labor
legislation. Now I'm revising my last two chapters where the work ends
with the emergence of Alabama women as leaders in the Alabama anti-child
labor movement and the development of a larger child welfare agenda. I
argue that the whiteness of reform helped white northern and southern
women unite and form a transregional women's Progressivism that helped
Alabama women overcome their initial reluctance to endorse strong child
labor legislation. Race was central to the emergence of white southern
women on an issue that eventually tied them to leading northern women
The controversial part of my work is this idea of a "transregional
Progressive culture." I chose this name because I found that
relationships with nationally famous women like Florence Kelley and
support from national organizations like the U.S. Children's Bureau and
National Child Labor Committee were critical for Alabama women
Progressives developing reform aspirations that conformed with child
welfare standards set by premiere Progressives and their organizations.
In Alabama the product of this transregional middle-class culture was a
revived Alabama Child Labor Committee with women in charge and the
creation of the Alabama Child Welfare Department (CWD) in 1919. I'm
aware of Linda Gordon's work on black and white women?s visions of welfare
and the women's networks that supported those visions. Most of her white
women are northern in the JAH 1991 article that I read.
1. Does anyone know of research on relationships between Progressive
women working in the South and those in other parts of the nation?
2. Does anyone know of evidence that the National Consumers' League or
U.S. Children's Bureau made calculated efforts to bring southern women
into their folds?
2. Does anyone have evidence that southern women looked to national
Progressive organizations for cues, support, and recognition? I have some
evidence but need more.
Alabama politics and its peculiarities
My second area of revision deals with learning more about the
peculiarities of Alabama and how women's child welfare reform fit into the
larger Alabama political structure. The women of the Alabama Child Labor
Committee and Alabama Children's Aid Society became the professionals of
the Child Welfare Department established in 1919. Besides a few bulletins
and a department report, I have little about this department. Does anyone
know of a good place to look for more about this department or for more on
early Alabama women social workers? Beyond Mary Martha Thomas's work and
obvious records in the Alabama State Archives of club women activities,
does anyone have suggestions for where I could find more information on
Loraine Bush, head of Alabama's first Child Welfare Department or Nellie
Kimball Murdock, head of the second Alabama Child Labor Committee?
I'm hoping to end this work by suggesting that the female reformers in
Alabama were not only mediators between their state and national reform
institutions like the National Child Labor Committee, National Consumer's
League, and U.S. Children's Bureau, but that they also contributed to the
growth of a liberal political strain in Alabama, one concerned with human
welfare issues. The peer reviewer suggested that by the 1930s Alabama was
a center for a "Populistic strain of southern liberalism" and noted that
Birmingham was the birthplace of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare
in 1938. Does anyone have suggestions for where I can find out more
about the roots of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare? Finally,
besides Robin Kelly's work on Birmingham Communists does anyone know of
recent works on liberal politics in Progressive Era Alabama?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my request and for any
response you can provide. I wish I'd thought to look to the listserv for