Journal of American History


Rethinking the Transition to Capitalism in the Early American Northeast

Naomi R. Lamoreaux reopens the debate over the transition to capitalism in the northeastern United States. She argues that the kinds of evidence used by scholars to “prove” that late-eighteenth-century farmers were not capitalists can, ironically, yield the identical conclusion for merchants and manufacturers. To illuminate the transition to capitalism, she turns to recent advances in economic theory that move beyond reductive notions of economic rationality and profit maximization. In the early nineteenth century, farmers, merchants, and manufacturers all became increasingly embedded in a market economy. But unlike farmers, merchants and manufacturers adopted new economic practices, impelled not simply by a drive for profit maximization, but by new cultural imperatives. (pp. 437–61) Read online >

The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian’s Rural Enlightenment

In assessing the influence of the Enlightenment in the British American colonies, early American historians have tended to focus on urban elites. John Fea instead explores a parallel rural Enlightenment through a study of the short life of Philip Vickers Fithian, a diarist from southern New Jersey. The complex configuration of Fithian’s social world—full of British books and nearby friends—demands that we rethink the distinction between cosmopolitanism and localism on the eve of the American Revolution and consider how cosmopolitan aspirations could be reconciled with local attachments in a rural community. (pp. 462–90) Read online >

For suggestions on how to use Fea’s article in the United States history classroom, along with substantial selections from Fithian’s diary and letters, see our Read online >

Red Scare Politics and the Suppression of Popular Front Feminism: The Loyalty Investigation of Mary Dublin Keyserling

Mary Dublin Keyserling

Landon R. Y. Storrs argues that anticommunist investigations of women in government in the 1940s and 1950s curbed both feminism and the social democratic potential of the New Deal. Using newly accessible sources, Storrs reconstructs the loyalty investigation of the government economist Mary Dublin Keyserling and the Popular Front-era activism that triggered it. Keyserling was one of many prominent women in government who advocated left-feminist social policies until accusations of Communism truncated their careers and discredited their causes. The red scare thus not any stigmatized dissent but also directly stifled an influential variant of feminism. (pp. 491–524) Read online >

“Give Earth a Chance”: The Environmental Movement and the Sixties

As a period, the 1960s has become a cliché—a time of radical protest. To incorporate the environmental movement into the narrative of the sixties, Adam Rome argues for a more complex understanding of the decade. Prior to Earth Day in 1970, the environmental movement gained momentum as a result of public advocacy by liberal intellectuals and Democratic politicians and of grass-roots activism by middle-class women and antiestablishment youth. Environmental activism was not simply a form of radical protest but involved a variety of social groups and a variety of political methods. (pp. 525–54) Read online >

This article is referenced in the June 2009 installment of “Teaching the JAH and is available for download. (PDF).

Special Essay

What Is the History of the History of Books?

Joan Shelley Rubin shows how recent studies in the expanding field of the history of books have surpassed older scholarship by exploring how social, economic, and cultural factors converge to shape the creation and uses of print. Surveying efforts to document the production, dissemination, and reception of print and to examine the goals those processes served, her essay traces book historians’ contributions to an understanding of the place of written communication in the American past. Rubin argues that the greatest promise of the history of books is to help us question conceptual dichotomies—sacred versus secular, public versus private, traditional versus modern—on which scholars rely too comfortably. (pp. 555–75) Read online >

New Section


The Practice of History

With this issue, the JAH inaugurates “Interchange,” an annual section featuring edited conversations among historians. We invite readers to follow the give-and-take as nine senior historians consider recent changes in historical practice.

Participants: Drew Faust, Hendrik Hartog, David A. Hollinger, Akira Iriye, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Nell Irvin Painter, David Roediger, Mary Ryan, Alan Taylor (pp. 576–611) Read online >

Book Reviews

Sept. 2003, Vol. 90 No. 2

Alphabetical by the last name of the book's first author or editor.


Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project, by Mary Beth Norton (p. 747) Read online >
  • Images of Native Americans, by Elizabeth Hutchinson (p. 748) Read online >
  • Across the Generations: Exploring U.S. History through Family Papers, by Amy Murrell (p. 749) Read online >
  • Thomas A. Edison Papers, by David A. Kirsch (p. 749) Read online >
  • The History of Jim Crow; and Remembering Jim Crow, by Joseph Crespino (pp. 750–1) Read online >
  • Philip Morris USA, Inc. Advertising Archive, by Pamela Walker Laird (p. 747) Read online >

Editor’s Annual Report, 2002–2003

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

“Recent Scholarship” is available online, Read online >

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On the cover:

Esther Peterson and Mary Dublin Keyserling at the end of Keyserling’s tenure as head of the U.S. Women’s Bureau, January 1969. Both women were accused of disloyalty during the second red scare but later were able to return to government service. Courtesy Tom Dublin. See Landon R. Y. Storrs, “Red Scare Politics and the Suppression of Popular Front Feminism: The Loyalty Investigation of Mary Dublin Keyserling,” p. 491.

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