The Refuge of Affections: Family and American Reform Politics, 1900--1920

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Overview

The Progressives — those reformers responsible for the shape of many American institutions, from the Federal Reserve Board to the New School for Social Research — have always presented a mystery. What prompted middle-class citizens to support fundamental change in American life? Eric Rauchway shows that like most of us, the reformers took their inspiration from their own lives — from the challenges of forming a family.

Following the lives and careers of Charles and Mary Beard, Wesley Clair and Lucy Sprague Mitchell, and Willard and Dorothy Straight, the book moves from the plains of the Midwest to the plains of Manchuria, from the trade-union halls of industrial Britain to the editorial offices of the New Republic in Manhattan. Rauchway argues that parenting was a kind of elitism that fulfilled itself when it undid itself, and this vision of familial responsibility underlay Progressive approaches to foreign policy, economics, social policy, and education.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History
Original and elegantly written.

— K. Walter Hickel

Journal of American History - K. Walter Hickel
Original and elegantly written.
Booknews
"At the start of the 20th century, a generation of reformers began self-consciously to adapt traditional institutions to a modern and rapidly changing world, and in the process they took an especially keen interest in the meaning and purpose of families"<-->(from the introduction). Rauchway's (affiliation not cited) analysis includes a history of three families of political and social reformers and an exploration of how these reformers used their ideas about family and social obligation to create the periodical, Ruskin College Oxford, the Bank Street Schools, and the New School for Social Research. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Eric Rauchway is University Lecturer in American History at the University of Oxford.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Dorothy Whitney and Willard Straight2. Mary Ritter and Charles Beard3. Lucy Sprague and Wesley Clair Mitchell4. War and the Progressive Family5. The Narrative of Progress versus the Logic of EventsEpilogue: The Rise and Fall of The Rise of American CivilizationWorks Cited

Columbia University Press

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2001

    The New Gold Standard for Enthusiasts of the Progressive Era

    This is a one of those rare instances where one finds a piece of serious historical scholarship that is also eminently readable, relevant, and above all, entertaining to the average non-historian. The author is extraordinarily insightful in connecting historical events and characters to larger cultural themes, and most importantly, theorizing about some very important, but oft unnoticed influences of same in areas not limited to the strict historical study, for example: art, popular culture, and of course the American family. I would recommend this book to any teacher or student of American History (college level -- I think it is a bit sophisticated for high school) or anyone with a true interest in early 20th Century American life.

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