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1919 Los Angeles mayoral election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Los Angeles mayoral election, 1919

← 1917 May 6, 1919 (1919-05-06) and June 3, 1919 (1919-06-03) 1921 →
Portret Mereditha P. Snydera (1).jpg
Candidate Meredith P. Snyder Frederick T. Woodman Sylvester Weaver
Party Democratic Republican Independent
First round vote 23,368 19,504 13,864%
First round percentage 37.28% 31.12% 22.12%
Runoff vote 26,779 15,578
Runoff percentage 63.22% 36.78%

Candidate Gesner Williams
Party Independent
First round vote 4,316%
First round percentage 6.89%

Mayor before election

Frederick T. Woodman

Elected Mayor

Meredith P. Snyder

The 1919 election for Mayor of Los Angeles took place on May 6, 1919, with a run-off election on June 3, 1919. Incumbent Frederick T. Woodman was defeated by Meredith P. Snyder.

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  • ✪ Hidden in Plain Sight: Family Secrets and American History || Radcliffe Institute
  • ✪ The Armenian Genocide: 100 Years of Denial
  • ✪ Afternoon Exercises | Harvard University Commencement 2014


- Good afternoon, everyone. Glad to see so many of you here. I'm Liz Cohen. I'm Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and I'm so happy you could be here to join us for today's panel, entitled, Hidden in Plain Sight, Family Secrets and American History. As Harvard's Institute for Advanced Study, Radcliffe has a dual mission. We support cutting edge work across the arts, the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, and we share that work with broad public audiences. We offer a packed calendar of events, including lectures, conferences, exhibitions, and panel discussions like the one we're about to hear today. You can find more information about all of our programming on our website. Now today, our distinguished panelists will share what they have learned about uncovering hidden family histories. And I'm grateful to all of them for joining us, and I look forward to their insights. As we dive into this fascinating topic, I think we will see that rich and revealing archives do not only live in libraries, but they can also be found in basements, closets, and attics. Whether a diary, a letter, a photograph, or a deed, these documents reveal truths that matter for relatives and for descendants, but they also contribute to our understanding of history more broadly. The unique window into lived experience that family artifacts can reveal makes it all the more important that some of them find their way into manuscript repositories, where they can be properly preserved, cataloged, and made available to researchers to tell a more nuanced and complex American history. Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, which organized today's event, is the preeminent archive documenting the history of women and gender in this country, and it houses an incredible collection of these artifacts, among many other important materials. Because libraries like the Schlesinger play such a crucial role in facilitating the writing and analyzing of American history, we are now particularly focused on diversifying our collections to make sure that they are preserving a full spectrum of women's experiences across class, race, political perspective, sexual orientation, religious experience, and more. We have also prioritized expanding access to the library's valuable resources by digitizing its most sought after collections. We face other new challenges, as we seek to ensure that scholars and students in the future will have all the evidence they need to write responsible and inclusive histories of today. With so much of the human record we produce nowadays being ephemeral, whether a text message, an email, or a blog post, the Schlesinger is actively collecting and preserving materials that were created electronically, referred to as born digital, whether e-correspondence or online magazines, or any of the many other ways that we record private and public interactions in our contemporary culture. Jane Kamensky, my colleague in the History Department here at Harvard, and the Karlen Lily Pforzheimer Foundation director of the Schlesinger Library has been leading these efforts, with the help of her partner, Marilyn Dunn, who is the executive director of the Schlesinger, and their expert staff. Jane is an historian of early America, the Atlantic World, and the Age of Revolutions, with a particular interest in the history of families. And I want to thank Jane and her team for organizing today's event. And in just a moment I will invite Jane up to introduce our panelists and our moderator. But first let me tell you how things will work today. After the panel discussion, we will open the floor for your questions. We'll be placing a microphone in the center aisle. We invite you to come up, introduce yourself first. That's important for us all to know who's speaking. Ask your question. And then the next person will have a turn. After the Q&A, I invite you all to join us next door for a reception in the Sheerr Room of Fay House. Now please extend a warm welcome to Jane Kamensky. [APPLAUSE] - Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome on behalf of the Schlesinger Library, about which Liz just said such very nice things. When we sponsor events, we try to keep several goals in view. We embody Radcliffe's commitment to bring cutting edge thinking to the public, and to advance the work of scholars, exploring topics related to women, gender, and sexuality. We also use events like this to expose our collections and the kinds of work they do, and to build relationships with people whose papers we hope to collect in future. And today's panel discussion, Hidden in Plain Sight, or HIPS, as the staff has taken to calling it, does all of these things. The conversation that brings together these four amazing panelists under the direction of our gifted moderator has a high concept premise, and I wanted to take a few moments to describe it before introducing our guests. So Hidden in Plain Sight borrows the title of a wonderful book by the Rutgers University sociologist, Eviatar Zerubavel-- a study of what Zerubavel calls, the social structure of irrelevance. He's interested in what gets noticed, what counts as figure in art history terms, and what gets reduced to field or background. He writes that nothing is inherently figure-like or background-like. Instead, we make judgments about what gets seen and what stays hidden. And the book's cover features the work-- a different image-- but the work of this artist, Liu Bolin, whose art plays with exactly this issue. So this slide is Liu's Instillation, Hiding in The City Number 110. And though the artist is standing right in front of us, we have to really be looking for him to see him. We're conditioned to see the detritus of consumer society, this work argues, and that conditioning makes it increasingly impossible for us to see human relationships. In other words, for Liu and for the sociologist, Zerah Bible, what hides in plain sight shows us a lot about who we are and how we think. Our panelist Alice Echols notes that psychologists have another word for this unknown knowledge-- those half-seen truths that haunt most American families-- nescience, they call it. That feeling just short of consciousness. And so to American families, a core, as Liz said, of Schlesinger Library collections. All of us have family secrets-- issues big and small, that hide in plain sight in our families, known but unseen, or seen but unknown. Collections of family papers are full of nescience. Most times these have no importance beyond the family circle. Like, for example, the fact that my paternal grandmother claimed on her marriage license to have wed at 17, but was shown on her birth certificate to be only 14. This is true. And this was secret, but it's not a secret that opens a new vista onto American history. The family truths our panelists hold to the light in the four projects they're discussing this afternoon are of a different order. Big questions in American and even in global history determine what truths needed to be hidden by members of the Calhoun and Faludi and Davis and Wagner families-- what could be seen and what stories would be told? The ways their families organized field and background in turn shaped the broader history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Before turning the panel over, I'll introduce the panelists in the order they'll speak, which is alphabetically by last name, and say way too little about each of their projects. First up will be author Gail Lumet Buckley, whose three books all center, to some degree, on a trunk of papers kept by her grandfather, Teddy Horne, and passed down through the family, including his famous daughter, Gail's mother, the actor and musical icon, Lena Horne. Gail, who was an honors graduate of Radcliffe College and a journalist, is also a biographer who has published in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Vogue, Playboy, and People, among others. And she has reckoned with that family legacy through much of her writing life. Her first two books, The Hornes: An American Family, and American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm spring in parts directly from Teddy Hornes' trunk. She'll talk today about her most recent book, The Black Calhouns, which takes her storied family back into the days of slavery and reconstruction, where their history braided with the family of John C. Calhoun and his brother, Andrew. The black Calhouns were oppressed, but not hidden, Buckley emphasized when the panels spoke by phone a couple of weeks ago. Their lives were entwined with the broadest outlines of American history, including slavery, war, and the long Civil Rights Movement-- institutions and events and movements that they shaped in turn. Speaking second is Alice Echols, who holds the Barbara Streisand Chair of Contemporary Gender Studies and is also professor of history at the University of Southern California. Echols is one of the foremost historians of American culture in the post-war era. Her books include, the field-defining, Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967 to '75, which followed the lives and thought of many of the activists whose papers eventually landed at the Schlesinger. But Echols wrote about them before their archives were anywhere, preceding largely by interview to map a story that nobody else had managed to recover, much less make sense of. Her subsequent books, each of which has won various forms of acclaim, include, Scars of Sweet Paradise, a biography of Janis Joplin, and Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture. Shortfall, the project about which she'll talk today is in many ways a departure for her. It's a family history, centering on the life and times of her grandfather, a savings and loan founder who was, she explains, the very opposite of Frank Capra's beloved George Bailey. Echol's family wrapped Davis, her mother's father, in silence. When she began to note that absence and dig for what was hidden in plain sight, she stumbled on a treasure trove, not so unlike Teddy Hornes' trunk, and also in the attic, some 70 boxes of papers stashed in her childhood home. As she sifted the contents of those boxes and continued the sleuthing beyond them, she recovered not only the predatory lending and fraud at the heart of her grandfather's rise and fall, but a fresh picture of an era of boom and bust and hollow gilded fortunes, built on the backs of ordinary people, chasing their slices of American home ownership. Susan Faludi's family secret went hunting for her, rather than the other way around. In the summer of 2004, her father, from whom she had been distant for more than two decades, sent her an email with the subject line, Changes. Stephen Faludi had been reborn following gender transition surgery as Stephanie. The revelation was shocking, but not entirely surprising, in that throughout her childhood, Faludi had experienced her father as remote, somehow invisible, she writes. He seemed permanently undercover. Stephanie's gender transition made her visible to her daughter, but it's only in the course of Faludi's marvelous excursion into family and global history that Stephanie becomes legible. As a Jewish boy amidst the trauma of central Europe under the shadow of the Holocaust, as a volatile and unhappy man amidst the gendered prison of post-war American suburbia, and finally as an exuberant yet not quite reliable narrator in the topsy turvy world of post-communist Hungary. Faludi, who's pioneering long form journalism probed the fruits of feminism in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, and the perils of modern masculinity in Stiffed: The Betrayal of American Men, creates in, In the Dark Room, an intimate epic of identity and history, which was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, winner of the Kirkus Prize, and one of the New York Times Book reviews top 10 books last year, and deservedly so. Finally, Alex Wagner will give us a preview of her first book, Futureface, a family mystery, an epic quest, and a search for belonging, which will be out next fall from Random House's One World Imprint. Wagner will be familiar to many of you as a print, radio, and television journalist. Currently she appears as a CBS News correspondent and as the co-host of CBS This Morning Saturday. Before joining CBS, Wagner was a senior editor at The Atlantic, where her beat included politics, culture, and social trends, and where she remains as a contributing editor. In her journalism and in her advocacy work against mass atrocities, she had traveled to various global hotspots, including Burma, whence her mother emigrated to the United States. The entwining of her mother's and father's families, and the idea of bloodlines as story and destiny, is the subject of Futureface. The title comes from a Time Magazine article, "the New Face of America," which a very young Alex read in 1993. The computer generated composite face, a post-racial hybrid, looked like her, she noticed, as a sophomore in high school. In the course of analyzing her membership in what she calls, the polyglot tribe of all, Wagner explores the stories Americans tell themselves about themselves-- stories of immigration and integration about who are our people and what makes them so, as she puts it. Her journey into Wagner family stories, what she calls her ancestor quest, uncovers a variety of embellishments, suppressions, and outright lies. When she finds, as she writes, a snag in the carefully woven story on either side of her family tree, she pulls it. Doing so, she delves, not only into her own family history, but also into the nature of the need to know who we are-- a search for identity that has become as American as apple pie, cutting across, as Wagner writes, both red state American exceptionalism and blue state ethnic transcendence. After Buckley, Echols, Faludi, and Wagner each introduce their projects, Annette Gordon-Reed will facilitate a conversation across the panel. Gordon Reed, a Radcliffe Institute Professor, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History-- hang on, cause she's got a lot of titles-- at Harvard Law School, and my colleague in the Harvard History Department has won too many honors and awards for me to begin to name them here. As a scholar over many books of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and the impacts both the white and black Jeffersons have had on US history, she investigates the relationship between black slavery and white liberty, which is arguably the primal family secret in all of American history. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] OK. We will proceed in alphabetical order. Everyone will take about eight minutes, give or take. And then we will have questions-- well actually, we will have questions from me, and then we will have questions from you. And please remember to identify yourself before you ask the questions. So we will start with Gail. Hello. Before I start, I need to give two sentimental disclosures. The only A I ever got at Harvard was from professor Schlesinger. [LAUGHING] And he later on married one of my best Radcliffe friends. So I'm doubly honored and happy to be here, in support of the Radcliffe Institute and the Schlesinger Library. Thank you. When I was growing up in the 1940s and '50s, African-Americans had not yet discovered Africa. Nor, more important, had they discovered their true role in American history. They lived in a sort of historical limbo, because both histories were too terrible to contemplate. On the one hand, the slave trade, on the other hand, slavery itself. From a sense of guilt, and a wish to avoid the awful truth, white America, in the south in particular, perpetuated the myth of the happy slave. Most Negroes, as African-Americans were then called, refused to believe that the happy slave ever existed. What I discovered through the black Calhouns however, was that while there may not have been many happy slaves, there were, hidden in plain sight, some lucky slaves. As slavery went, the black Calhouns' extended family who centuries long story I tell, from 1865 to 1964, South and North, were not exactly happy, but they were certainly lucky. They were an intact family. They could read and write. They'd been house slaves. They had lived in a town, not on a plantation, and they had a rich and quasi-benevolent owner. They also benefited from a secret, hidden in plain sight. The photographs-- there's a photograph of Moses, yes, my great-great-grandfather, taken some 20 years after the war, about the time that the Atlanta Constitution called him, the wealthiest colored man in Atlanta. And my great-grandparents-- Moses' eldest daughter, Cora, aged 22 at the time of her 1887 marriage to Edwin Horne, who was born free in Indiana. Moses was lucky because his owner, Dr. Andrew Bonaparte Calhoun, important enough to need a literate butler had him educated, despite laws to the contrary. Dr. Calhoun, part owner of Georgia's only gold mine, and the first man to sign George's Article of Secession, was a cousin of John C. Calhoun, arch white supremacist and slavery's most famous apologist. The black Calhouns had a sort of family business with the white Calhouns. Moses was the Butler. His mother was the cook, and his sister, something of a beauty, with the nursemaid. And Calhoun was a benevolent owner. In 1870 he deeded an acre of land to Moses' mother and sister. And therein lies a typical antebellum secret. The black Calhouns and the white Calhouns are probably related. No one knows for sure, but the white Calhouns, who I met in Atlanta on my book tour, believed it was true, because the gift of land was extraordinary for someone who was merely a slave. Moses waited until he was free to marry. In 1865, at the age of 36, he found a wife, who was 15 years younger, came from New Orleans, had always been free, and looked white. They had two beautiful daughters, Cora and Lena. Possibly helped by Dr. Calhoun, Moses opened a grocery store and catering establishment. He later opened a small boarding house. Because he was educated, Moses had a leg up in peace time. More important, war-torn Atlanta now presented level playing fields for whites and some lucky blacks. No one, white or black, had much of anything. Along with equality of condition, there was a new equality of law. The new miracle of Reconstruction was made for Moses. He registered as a Republican voter, opened an account in the Freedman's Savings Bank, whose last CEO was Frederick Douglass, and became a pillar of the first Congregational Church. He now saw that his daughters were educated. So-called missionary schools, today's historically black colleges, were created throughout the old Confederacy to train the first black teachers in the south after a century or more of enforced illiteracy. The modern Civil Rights Movement began in these 19th century schools, established by northern white philanthropists, and staffed by northern white who instilled confidence as well as rigorous academics into young people who have been told for so long that they were inferior beings, and now were told exactly the opposite. Atlanta had two important missionary schools-- the Storrs School for younger children, and Atlanta University, the Storrs' graduates. The head of both schools was a young Yale Divinity School graduate named Asa Ware who became an abolitionist at the age of 15 after reading, Uncle Tom's Cabin. When asked how he could live among blacks, Ware explained that it was easy because he was colorblind. According to the Atlanta Constitution in 1871, the Storrs School [INAUDIBLE] the extremely color-conscious citizens of Atlanta. To see colored boys and girls reading in Greek and Latin, and demonstrating correctly, problems in algebra and geometry, and seemingly understanding what they demonstrated, appears almost wonderful. When Ware died, age 48, after 20 years at Storrs in Atlanta, his will stipulated that he be buried in a black cemetery. The city of Atlanta denied his wish, but compromised by allowing him to be buried in the middle of the road that divided the black and white section of the cemetery. Cora Calhoun had attended Atlanta, but her younger sister Lena left home for another missionary college, Fisk, in Nashville, Tennessee, named for a Union general. Lena's 17-year-old classmate, Willie Du Bois of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, whose family had lived free in the Berkshires since colonial times, fell hopelessly in love with her, as W.E.B. Du Bois later wrote about the rosy apricot beauty of Lena Calhoun. Willie Du Bois had been an all-around star at Great Barrington high school, where the only other black students were his cousins. He had already been accepted at Harvard, but Harvard sent him to Fisk for academic acclamation. Du Bois later said that he was happy with Harvard's decision. If he had gone to Harvard first, he said, he might have tried to make friends with white students, and been hurt by their rebuffs. He'd experienced no racism in Great Barrington. But after Fisk, he wrote, "a new loyalty and allegiance replaced my Americanism. Henceforth I was a Negro." Du Bois also gave the name to his fellow missionary schoolteachers to be, calling them the talented 10th-- the 10% of the Negro race, who were expected to uplift the other 90%. Edwin Horne, Cora Calhoun's husband became a success, partly because of another secret in plain sight. His father was a white Englishman, and his mother was a Native American. Edwin chose to call himself colored, because in Indiana, whose wartime governor was an ardent abolitionist, it was better to be black than Indian. As a young colored man, he stood out as a teacher and journalist, writing for both the white and black Evansville, Indiana papers. In 1875, the white Evansville journal reported, "at the close of the written examination of the second intermediate schools, it was discovered that the pupils of the colored school of that grade, taught by Edwin F. Horne, had the highest general average in the city." In 1881, Jim Crow, named for an 1830's era minstrel song was officially born in Tennessee, the birthplace of the KKK. It was soon spread throughout the south, the border states, and much of the north. In 1883, Senator Charles Sumner's great Civil Rights Act of 1875, a cornerstone of Reconstruction, was declared unconstitutional. Black despair followed. By 1896, when the Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson entrenched separate but equal, Cora and Edwin Horne had moved to New York. They would have four sons, two born in the south and two born in the north, were Edwin, the former colored Republican, now known as the Adonis of the Negro press, became a Democrat and a Tammany man. As an active member of black Tammany in 1910, Edwin ran for the New York City Council and lost on the Tammany ticket. But Tammany rewarded him for writing The 1910 pamphlet that swayed the black males in New York to elect a Democrat as governor for the first time since the Civil War. 1910 in New York saw the black peril menace, in which blacks were not permitted to appear on Broadway, although Bert Williams, a black superstar, was allowed to appear in the Ziegfeld Follies, or to attend any midtown theater or restaurant. In 1912, the NAACP successfully sued the city to overthrow the edict, which is clearly more southern than northern. That same year, an editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer succinctly explained the southern position. "This objection of the Negro politically and the separation of the Negro socially, are paramount to all considerations in the south, short of the preservation of the republic itself. Meanwhile, the family of Moses Calhoun's sister has stayed in the south to become pillars of black Atlanta society, and leaders of the community. As principal of a black school, Catherine's husband was fired, refusing to let his pupils march in a mandated parade of schoolchildren to honor the remains of Jefferson Davis, as they passed through Atlanta. But he had the last laugh when he became the first black licensed real estate broker in Atlanta, and a very wealthy man. He had four daughters and one son. His youngest daughter married a young captain in a World War I Medical Corps, who became the father and grandfather of doctors, and when he died was the longest practicing black doctor in Georgia, and the longest practicing doctor of any race in Atlanta. In the north, Cora Horne remained Republican. Influenced by Tammany, however, she made a quasi-death bed conversion from congregationalism to Catholicism, when she was pregnant with her fourth son, and named him for the priest who converted her. Cora was a spiritual seeker, and in her lifetime journeyed from Congregationalism to Catholicism to ethical culture and finally to Bahai. After her fourth child, Cora discovered another secret. Edwin had a white mistress in Manhattan, who shared his nightlife, while Cora and the boys were at home in Brooklyn. Cora's revenge was to refuse to speak to Edwin from then on. They communicated via notes passed by their youngest son, and to throw herself into activism. At the time of her death, Cora was listed as having been an active member or board member of the following organizations-- the YWCA, the Red Cross, the Mayor's World War Victory Committee, the NAACP, Urban League, the Big Brother and Big Sister Organizations, where she mentored young Paul Robeson, the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities, the National Association of Colored Women, the Brooklyn Urban League, the New York branch of the Women's International League of Peace, the Foreign Policy Association of the International Council of Women of the Darker Races, founded in 1922 by Women Corps among them, from the US, Africa, Haiti, the West Indies, and Ceylon. In addition, she was corresponding secretary of the Eastern Division of the National Republican Women's Auxiliary, and on the National Speaker's Bureau of the Republican Party. Introducing activism to the family in 1919, she enrolled her granddaughter, my mother, Lena Horne, as a lifetime member of the NAACP at the age of two. [LAUGHING] I began this project when my mother died, and I found family papers of the southern side of the family, collected by my Atlanta-based library genealogist cousin, Catherine Nash Harris, who did all the hard work. I had the fun job of putting the family into historical perfection and hunting down gossip. Hidden in plain sight in Atlanta was a world I never knew existed. A business culture rather than a planter culture, Atlanta never punished black financial success. Although politically and socially oppressed, Atlanta's black middle class nevertheless led happy and successful lives by looking inward to family, business, schools, clubs, and church. Their northern counterparts clearly had more choices, but also more failed marriages, more adultery, more alcoholism, et cetera. The success, wealth, and for want of a better term, mental health at the Atlanta black middle class was both a secret and a very pleasant surprise. Du Bois wrote that the problem of the 20th century was a problem of the color line. Clearly it will continue to be a problem in the 21st century. But the story of the 20th century black middle class has lessons to teach about fortitude and perseverance, in the secret corners of race, sex and politics. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] OK. I am here to talk about this book. It's just out on the New Press. It's called, Shortfall: Family Secrets. It's a huge subtitle, probably inadvisedly so-- Family Secrets, Financial Collapse, and a Hidden History of American Banking This is a book that exposes secret histories of my family, of the place they were from, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and of American capitalism. Hidden in plain sight describes all too well the secrets that I write about. The very first bits of my archive emerge actually not from those boxes in the attic, although those certainly featured later in it, but from a very beautiful but very battered Louis Vuitton trunk, that sat in my family's rec room, closed but unlocked, for nearly 50 years. And I used to spend tons of time in that rec room, and I never opened it. Ah. And when it comes to the financial history that I chronicle here, which is the cratering of our country's building and loan industry-- a very important industry, by the way, during the depression-- that too was hiding in plain sight. One can find mention of it and the fraud that sometimes caused the failure of individual building and loans or BNLs as I will be calling them here. Indeed, I found, I think, the very first reference to such failures in Elizabeth Cohen's, Making a New Deal. But the secondary literature on the thrift industry generally boasts of its remarkable resilience, in fact its goodness during these years. One scholar calls them, banks with a soul. And the idea that fraud was in any way associated with them really seems unthinkable in these texts. Now Shortfall uses the failure of the BNL industry, a history it tells in microcosm through the firestorm that enveloped Colorado Springs, in order to think about the relationship between property, class, and politics in America, and with, I think a lot of relevance to today's America. You could say that the book exposes the underbelly of American capitalism, as I sometimes have, but that suggests something more discreet, more delimited than the bloated underbelly I discovered. I often wondered, as I researched this history, that it really I think captures quite nicely, the space where dreams and scams commingled. Where does the underbelly end? And I can tell you, it extended all the way to Main Street. And this is not the way I know that it's meant to be in America. In America, Main Street exists as a kind of refuge from bad capitalism. Case in point go back to the Democratic primaries and the ways in which Sanders and Clinton would answer questions about capitalism. Now it's this fairy tale version of Main Street capitalism as a site of honesty, transparency, and fairness that animates Frank Capra's 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life. And, you know, this is an iconic image from that movie. How many of you have seen this movie? OK. Many, many, many. All through the 70s and 80s because it fell out of copyright. And here, this is an image in which the selfless BNL operator George Bailey, beleaguered as well, and his long suffering, even more beleaguered wife, Mary, are putting an end to a bank run that's been engineered by the town's fat cat banker, by distributing their very own honeymoon money. But here we have another couple. This is Walter and Lula Davis, and they were my maternal grandparents. And I think it's fair to say that my grandparents would not have distributed their honeymoon money to distressed depositors. [LAUGHING] Even to stop a bank run. Walter Davis became briefly famous across the country as a bankster, as in gangster. It was a fairly typical nomenclature in the Depression years when the banksters were really reviled and hated. He went on the lam in 1932, just before the authorities discovered that his building and loan had suffered a shocking $1.25 million shortfall. That's nearly $22 million in today's dollars. Now, one big challenge in writing this book for me-- and there were many-- was figuring out what made these people tick. That meant grappling with the class consciousness of my maternal grandmother, a young woman looking for any way to escape where she had come from, a sodden, tubercular hollow, where she lived with her parents and older-- I know it's a bit over-- [LAUGHING] And older brothers, all of them working backbreaking jobs, which was true. And all of them-- I mean, when I discovered this, it was quite a discovery-- all of them dead by the time she was 10. She was orphaned at the age of 10. And you know, you look at this woman and you wouldn't think that that was her past. And also I wanted to understand the consciousness of my grandfather, a son of a barber who hoped he could reinvent himself as a lawyer in Colorado Springs-- even printed up cards that called himself a lawyer, when he moved, to have them on the ready when he moved to Colorado, and ended up a loan shark, before successfully deploying that particular business model in the BNL industry. And then also my mother, who at the end of her life described her family to me as nobodies, come from nowhere. And she included herself in that. And she also said, not from good stock. That was the phrase used. So for me, class, how it works on us, how we work it, as we push its levers, to paraphrase Barbara and Karen Fields, that's the kind of spine of the book. And in a certain way, one of the reasons that I was interested in doing this kind of a book and in exploring this kind of class consciousness is that I'd been very affected by some of the scholarship of the British working classes that one might associate with Caroline Steedman, Seth Koven, and others. And it's a kind of class consciousness that US historians, particularly of the '30s, haven't lingered on, shall we say, because of the preferences for heroic collectivist, solidarity forever kind of class consciousness. Now Shortfall is a braided history. And its most central braid is the BNL industry. As I said, this was an industry that was once really a key important part of America's financial landscape. It was a vehicle-- it was meant to be-- for working class home ownership. These BNLs were originally known as poor man's banks. But by the '20s they were increasingly being taken over by unscrupulous characters like my grandfather. And the consequences ultimately when the Depression hit were really quite calamitous. And I spent a lot of time in the book documenting this. Now property looms very large in Shortfall. And I think my book reveals, as does the subprime mortgage crisis in the Great Recession of our own time, that owning property can in fact be one's undoing as well as ones making. Certainly for the working classes, home ownership became a much riskier proposition with this new BNL business model. Something else may have happened as well, which is that I think-- and I go out on a limb a bit here-- buying a house was, I think, less likely to be a community endeavor supported by one's neighbors, as it had been when BNLs were part of the fabric of the country's co-operative movement in the 19th century. And it became much more of an individual achievement, and one that in certain circumstances may have oriented homeowners politically to the right. This shift may help explain how it is that so many ordinary Americans, including Americans of the white working classes came to embrace self-reliance, which I think over time became racially coded, and to look skeptically upon government programs as a solution to social problems. I found this in Colorado Springs. When BNL depositors, pissed off about being defrauded, organized. But they organized in a very interesting way. They were led by leaders of a local tax limitation movement. And the similarities that I discovered between the taxpayers associations of the Great Depression-- and these are very under-studied. They're worthy of much more study-- and the Tea Party of our own Great Recession. It was really quite striking. A tax on government and its bureaucrats for subsidizing, "losers," antipathy to regulation, faith and self-reliance and free enterprise, and the politics of aggrievement that really fueled both of these movements. Over the past year, people have puzzled over why even ordinary Americans are so tax averse, and why conservatism appeals to some among the white working classes. I'll tell you, this doesn't surprise me because I've spent a long time now studying what happened in the '20s and '30s. And let's just say this has been a long time in the making. Ultimately, Shortfall asks why it is that we are so forgiving of capitalism, and so unforgiving of those who fall behind, or who, by virtue of systemic inequality, have always been behind. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you so much. It's really great to be back at Radcliffe, and to be a part of this incredible group of writers. I actually started writing this book here, kind of on the QT, while I was on a Radcliffe fellowship. I was supposed to be working on something else. But that's how it works at Radcliffe. So to be invited back to talk about it, feels like a sentimental return. This is a book I couldn't not write. It's about a part of my life that was, indeed, hidden in plain sight, even for me, Which is why I had to write it. I couldn't go forward honestly with my public feminism without coming to grips with this event in my private life. But writing it also helped me grapple with some big questions about gender and identity that are roiling in our current political landscape. So in my eight minutes, I want to tell you first about my father's transformation and how that played out for her and in our complicated relationship. But I also want to touch on a larger political drama that was going on in the time I was visiting my father, which is highly relevant, unfortunately, to the present moment in this country. So as Jane pointed out, I was sitting at home in 2004, minding my own business. Actually I was sorting through notes on my last book about the masculinity crisis, when I received this email from my father. And it began, "Dear, Susan, I've got some interesting news for you. I have decided that I have had enough of impersonating a macho aggressive man that I've never been inside." Well this interesting news, illustrated with several attached selfies, was that my father, without telling anyone in the family, had flown all alone to Thailand to have gender reassignment surgery. To make matters more complicated, my father at the time was 76-years-old, and we had been estranged. My father and I had barely spoken in more than a quarter century. That was because when I was growing up, my father was indeed a, "macho aggressive" man, also autocratic, domineering, bullying, and violent, all of which fueled my early feminism. Well, a couple of months after that email, and at the invitation of my father to write about her, I got on a plane to Hungary, which was where my father was living, because in 1990, my father had returned to the country where she had grown up. And by the way, if you're wondering why I'm saying my father instead of my parent, it's because that's what she wanted. I'm still your father, you know, she liked to say to me. Well, that first visit was a real life test of my feminism. And believe me, the ironies were not lost on me. You know, here is my father whose patriarchal belligerence really sparked my feminist fervor, who was going on about Maybelline lip gloss, giving me the grand tour of her Marilyn Monroe wardrobe, and singing the praises of housewifery. "You write about the disadvantages of being a woman, she told me, but I've only found advantages." And yet, as she settled into herself, she dropped the caricature persona of vavoom vamp and hausfrau, and over time she became more comfortable with who she was, which was a person much more complex and interesting than the cardboard cutout that she had originally promoted. Which is one reason why I love this photo. It's from 2010, and of the two of us on the old siklo. It was this cute little incline train that goes up to the top of Castle Hill, which my father had many happy memories about this little train. But because she-- as you can see, she's just-- she's not wearing any of the fancy stuff, and is just comfortable with herself. And I also came to see, over time, how she and I, in many ways, were on a similar path, each struggling to free ourselves from the constraints of gender. So in the end, my father's transformation affirmed my bedrock feminist belief that gender is infinitely varied, that we are all much more than the sex roles that society imposes on us. My father wanted me to chronicle only her new gender identity. Anything from the past she dismissed as, "irrelevant" and, quote, "ancient history." But her gender life was inextricably tied to her past, and in particular to her religious and political past experience. My father grew up Istvan Friedman, an only child of wealthy Jewish parents in Budapest, and lived a life of privilege until World War II, when large numbers of our family would perish in the Holocaust. And this is a photo of my great grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary in 1943, their Golden Jubilee. Six months later, all but three of the people in this picture were murdered. My teenage father survived-- by the way, my father is right there on the top row. My father survived as an urchin on the streets in Budapest, passing as a Christian with false identity papers and a stolen fascist armband. One time my father used that armband to impersonate a Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross office, so as to rescue my grandparents from a, quote unquote, protected house, whose residents were about to be taken down to the Danube and shot into the river, which was a fate for thousands of Budapest's Jews in the winter of 1944. After the war, my father went on to other identity reinventions-- swashbuckling filmmaker in the Brazilian outback, alpine mountaineer an ice climber, All-American commuter dad in Westchester County, and high-end commercial photographer in Manhattan, whose specialty was altering images. People often see identity as singular and stable. But what I saw with my father was an identity that was multiple and fluid, and had many threads that were tangled in her mind. As much as she tried to seal away the past, when she talked to me about her gender transformation, she inevitably would return to her Holocaust trauma. Now, as I visited my father, I found myself caught up in another identity drama. Hungary was undergoing its own identity crisis, one that would lead it to the brink of a neo-fascist state. I first encountered that crisis when I was nearly mowed down on the street in Budapest by a militia of men in black uniforms with four red on white stripes. This was the Magyar Guard, which was then the paramilitary wing of the far right Jobbik Party, which was openly advocating throwing Jews out of the country and rounding up Roma in, quote unquote, detention camps. The militiamen would go on to terrorize Roma communities, beat up Jewish worshippers, and desecrate Holocaust memorials. That four-stripe insignia, by the way, is a near replica of the 1940s Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross insignia. Well two years after that encounter, the rightest Fidesz Party swept into power in 2010 elections, by showcasing this confabulated Magyar identity of martyred and chest-beating nationalism-- a sort of, Make Hungary Great Again campaign. The new government quickly undermined the independence of the courts, the central bank, and the media. It rewrote the Constitution to curtail civil liberties and declare Hungary a Christian nation. And, oh yeah, built a razor wire wall along Hungary's southern border to keep out refugees. Let me just end with this quick thought that part of what my book explores is the Janus-faced nature of identity-- the way that identity can be either liberating, as with LGBT rights, civil rights, or feminism, or it can be nationalistic and xenophobic. The first identity search seeks self-awareness, understanding, self-discovery. The second is an attempt to paper over painful realities by retreating into a fantasy identity based on scapegoating, self-pity, and the embrace of an authoritarian strongman, all of which probably sounds pretty familiar. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] - In the interest of time, I'm going to try and keep this succinct SO we can get to the discussion. And I'm going to stay right here to do that. OK. If I could get the first slide up. I'm Alex Wagner. I am the only child of a Burmese-American union that began, and for that matter ended in Washington D.C. Growing up, I was acutely aware of my mother's family history. This is my mother and my grandmother in 1964, on their way to America, leaving Burma for the last time. And my mom is the one obviously on the left, trying to do her best Jackie Kennedy impression. I was told growing up, a series of incredibly romantic stories about life in Burma, that our family had lived this incredibly cosmopolitan life, that everyone was well educated, that we had one of the first Dodge motor cars in Rangoon, that my great aunts were educated in university, which was a fairly progressive thing in 1930s Burma. There were constant references to leaders in Africa or great works of English literature or exotic foodstuffs that you wouldn't normally find in a Burmese household. This was all evidence of how special we were. And I grew up believing all of it. My mother and my uncle and my grandmother fled the country in the early 1960s to come to America, and I'm told they never looked back. My grandmother worked at the Library of Congress in the East Asian Books Department. My grandfather adapted frighteningly quickly to suburban American life and ate chard steaks and worked on his car and became an American, for all intents and purposes. My mother, who was college-aged, went to Swarthmore, where she got a full scholarship and became enamored of left wing politics as one would in the 1960s and '70s, and eventually moved to Washington D.C., where she met my father. They were both organizing labor unions, as one did in the late 1960s and '70s in Washington D.C. In many ways my mother's story was the quintessential story of 20th century migration-- men and women fleeing political persecution, coming to America to seek freedom. On the other side was my dad's family. That's my dad, the smaller of the two brothers. He grew up in Northeastern Iowa in a tiny town on the Mississippi River called Lansing, Iowa. And in many ways, his story was the quintessential story of late 19th century immigration. His people had come from western Europe, seeking greater or at least better fortunes here in the West. His grandfather, a man named Henry Wagner, or at least we thought his name was Henry Wagner, but more on that later-- he moved here from the tiny town of Esch-Sur-Alzette in Luxembourg. I had no idea where that was, and I didn't particularly care growing up. I just knew it was cool to have ancestors from Luxembourg. They somehow ended up in Lansing, and he became the proprietor of a local saloon and grocery, and had 14 children-- a Catholic boy done good. These were the divergent branches of my family tree, and I was raised with them in the back of my mind. They were pleasant boughs to hang from, but not much more than that. And if anybody asked, I couldn't tell anybody more than the general outlines that I was a Luxembourgian Burmese, and that seemed to be enough. As a mixed race Asian American, I took pride in the exoticism of those lineages. No one in Washington D.C. Or anywhere on the planet as far as I could tell, could boast of Burmese-Luxembourgian bloodlines. But that was it. I didn't really know much more about Burmese life before my family had left. I didn't really know much about Henry Wagner and what had pushed him west. Instead, in the late '90s and early 2000s, as I came into adulthood and left adolescence, I took pride in being vaguely indiscriminately brownish. And as Jane so eloquently summarized in her intro-- you did a much better job than I ever could with my book. When Time Magazine ran that 1993 magazine cover-- incidentally, it's amazing how many people remember that Time Magazine cover, right, proclaiming the new face of America, the future face, if you will, the person on the cover looked equally indiscriminately brownish, just like me. So future face was me, and I was future face. That would be the posture I adopted for much of my late adolescence and early adulthood. I was indiscriminately brown and was that not fantastic? The not knowingness of it all. I was like some kind of exotic bird that had flown in from overseas-- a toucan in Washington D.C., a flamingo in New York City. But As as grew up, and as I grew older, and as circumstances and politics around me changed, this not knowing and this embrace of the general gave way to a desire for the specific, for a tribe, for a place to belong, a feeling of loneliness that wasn't going to be satisfied with friendship or collegiality. I wanted to know who my people were. And I think a lot of Americans want to know who their people are, which is why we are seeing a boom in the ancestor search industry to the tune of $1 billion. My book is about a quest to find my people. I won't give away the endings, because really the mystery is what's going to sell you guys on it. But basically I interviewed family members, from whom I'd been estranged in many cases. I unraveled a series of family mysteries. I traveled back to ancestral homelands and got very familiar with Esch-Sur-Alzette and Rangoon, Burma. I went on several wild goose chases. I took many, many DNA-based ancestry tests. I had family members take many, many ancestry-based DNA tests. I spoke with Luxembourgian genealogists and Burmese archivists, and I pissed a lot of people off in the process. Really what I found is that much of what we've been telling ourselves about who we are, and who we were, are lies. And that the construct of one's people is not really what we think it is. I embarked on this voyage not solely to get at the truth of who my family was, but also to better understand the immigrant story, to unpack that well-worn narrative of coming to America. Coming to America, not as in the Eddie Murphy story, although I suppose that movie is also relevant to this. The idea of leaving one place and starting a new in another is mostly recounted using a very gauzy filter. That the Old World was left behind and the New World beckoned us with freedom and opportunity. But in reality, immigration is hard and it is complicated and it is full of terrible, terrible choices, and broken hearts. And in reality, the place that we left behind, very often has quite a bit in common with the place where we arrived. Today there is a furious debate in the public sphere over who is American and who is not. Blood and soil nationalism is resurgent. So what better time to re-examine one's own blood and step foot on one's own soil, and examine the stories we have spun for decades, if not centuries, about what makes us decidedly American and of this place. That's my book. [APPLAUSE] - OK. So we'll do some questions, and then we'll get to you guys as quickly as possible. But I wanted to ask-- because I would never think about writing about my family. I write about other people's families-- people dead long ago. Susan, I understand you said that you felt that you had to write this story. Why did you have to write this story? And I'll ask the other people as well. Did you feel that you had to write your stories? You can go first. - Can you hear me? - What would have happened if you didn't do it? - Well, you know, I tried many years not to. I kept going over to Hungary, doing this sort of half, I wouldn't say charade, but I had all of my notebooks and tapes and was going through the show of interviewing my father for this book that she wanted me to write. But for many years, it was about our reconnection. And that the way we could-- really the only way we could reconnect was through my interviewing her. And we, over time sort of developed a relationship that we hadn't had in more than a quarter century. So for a long time I thought that's what I was just sort of working out, reconciling to the degree one ever reconciles with one's parents, through this process. But at the same time, I could see how, to be writing as a feminist in this era, and particularly as, thankfully, trans questions came to the mainstream, that I needed to grapple with that in my own life, and not sort of quarantine it away from my public self. And so I took the step of going out. I mean, it was uncomfortable for me because I'm not somebody who writes personally. But it was greatly liberating in many ways. - I'll just say that-- so I have to do a TV show. I get to do a TV show every week, not have to. And I just had my first child. And I cannot tell you how incredibly uncomfortable it made me, being pregnant on television, and being sort of forced to acknowledge this amazing thing that was happening. But to talk about it and acknowledge it in any kind of public way made me really uncomfortable. So I'm dealing with that at the same time that I'm working on this book that is exposing deep family secrets and all kinds of transgressions. And at a certain point, I thought, my god, Alex, if you have a hard time talking about being pregnant on TV, how the F are you going to deal with the fact that this book is going to come out and everybody's going to think and understand very intimate details about your family. And I guess one of the ways I sort of overcame that or I've rationalized that-- the book isn't out yet, right-- It's coming out in April of next year, is, all of the stories and the transgressions and the sins, if you will of my family, dovetail with national sins. And in many ways every story is discrete, right, but there are lessons in all of this that apply to the current political climate, and the ways in which we think about our sense of place and our sense of country. And I think in that way it felt like, OK, it's going to be painful when Aunt Kathy calls me and says, this is bullshit. But at the same time, it's good for us and it's good for the conversation to be talking about this. - Did they know what you were going to say? I mean, are there are sort of things that they figured you would have to cover and say don't-- - The legal department at Random House has been very thorough about me going over the more controversial parts. I think I'm fair in the end. It's tough to write about people who are still alive, mostly because everybody has an idea about how they want to be written about. Right? But I think I'm fair, and I went through the more difficult passages with those who are still alive. My father actually passed away before the book was finished. But for those who are still alive, I think they'll be OK with it. Like I said, the book is not out yet, so the full fallout, we'll see in the spring of next year. - Well, you know, I would say that for me, once my father told me a kind of sanitized version of the family scandal-- and keep in mind, I was middle-aged by that point. I was in my early 40s. So this had been a deeply hidden secret. Once that happened-- I mean, I kind of had a stew of emotions about that. I mean, I found it fascinating, but I was also kind of angry about the fact that they somehow imagined I was so fragile emotionally that they had-- I mean, that's the way that-- I'm not sure if that's true, but that's the way that I internalized it or absorbed it. - Do you think they could of been embarrassed? - Oh, yes. - It's about fragility. I mean, not just-- - I mean, this was my initial reaction-- began, as I researched it, I began to think that they really imagined that they were being protective. And I think that they were embarrassed. I mean, keep in mind that my parents grew up at a point in time when there were these eugenicist ideas out there. And my mother only told me that she was Irish in the final days at her nursing home. I said, what? You're what? What? She said, yes, well it wasn't a good thing to be dear, then in Colorado Springs, you know, in the 1910s. Yeah, that was something. So that I would say that for me, why I felt driven to write it had actually more to do with the intellectual challenge of it. I had a story that was a great story to entertain people with at dinner parties. You know. I had this philanderer grandfather. He was an embezzler. His life did not come to a good end. I want you to buy the book, so I'm not going to tell you what happened. - Did you know him? - No. No, no, no. I did not know my grandparents. - Do you think you could of done this if you did? - Well, that's a very interesting question. And I think it would have been a much harder book to write. Even as it was, I mean, it could be-- when I saw my grandfather's final letter that he ever wrote to his wife, to my grandmother, that was very affecting. And even some of the telegrams that passed between them, because they tended to communicate via telegram, which is its own story. I can remember a conversation with my agent who said, well, Alice, telegrams, hmm. Kind of hard to write a book around telegrams. It turns out not to be true actually. But what I really wanted to do was to-- I think it was Liz-- it was either Liz or Jane who talked about opening up new vistas onto US history. And, you know, the first few drafts of this book were pretty crappy. And my agent didn't like it, and some of my friends didn't even like it. One of them is here in the audience. And so my task became, OK, what are the bigger stories here? I knew that there was something in his story, and in my grandparents story that would allow me to re-narrate key parts of American history. And that's what I wanted to do. And damn it, was going to do it if it killed me. - Gail? - Well actually, I wrote the book, all three of my books because I'm really in love with American history, probably because of professor Schlesinger's A, but also because my grandfather's trunk. In this there was a letter from Benjamin Harrison to my great grandfather. I'm like, Benjamin Harrison. There were telegrams for my grandfather going to the fight to see Jack-- anyway. Great prizefighters. And going on July 4th, 1929 going somewhere, going to speakeasies. There was a speakeasy card that said, to Mr. Teddy Horne, when does this expire? Never. And I thought, this is really very, very-- I mean, I don't know this stuff, and I think it's interesting. So I wrote my book because I thought it was interesting. It was certainly interesting to me. - A part of American history as well. - Yes. - I think we should go to questions from you guys. And remember to say who you are. - Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for this great panel. I'm Lauren Williams. I'm a fellow here at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and I'm an editor at Essence Magazine in New York. And I have two questions. The first is for Alice, and it touches on the question that you sort of ended with about why we are so forgiving of capitalism, and so not of systemic inequality. And it's something that my fellow journalists and I talk about all the time, especially in the Trump era. Why this poor white Midwesterner sees more in common with Trump than they do with the poor black Midwesterner in this phase of economic anxiety. And I think black journalists feel like there's a little more nuance there. There's something else going on. So I just want to know if you, in your work, found any sort of answers to that question? - Well, it's really fascinating-- I mean, it is I think one of the central areas for scholars to be to be working in. What I found when I was doing research on the depression, and I was looking at letters that people wrote, particularly to the governor of Colorado, who was a Democrat, but not a New Dealer-- a guy named Big Ed Johnson. I mean, I was shocked by the amount of resentment, the politics of resentment, that were directed towards other white people actually mostly, who were on relief. And I think that in the Depression years, some of that initial sort of antagonism towards the government that was really a pretty sizable movement, this anti-tax movement in the late '20s and early '30s, which eventually sort of subsides. And it subsides because more and more white working people-- and whites more generally are benefiting from New Deal programs. Right. And so that kind of initial feeling that there are these people feeding at the public trough that need to be gotten rid of-- they need to be eliminated from the rolls. You know, this tax payers league in Colorado actually opposed the old age pension. Right. I mean they were really punitive towards other people, and towards their neighbors. It was quite shocking to me. But I think, again, the New Deal sort of wins them over for a period of time until it gets to the point where the welfare rolls begin to shift and it begins to be, it's not the case that, oh, well-- there's the whole rhetoric of welfare queens that you begin to find in the '60s and the '70s and beyond, and especially under Reagan. Right. I think during this period of time, relief, government programs come to be understood as racialized, and self-reliance comes to be even more understood as white. That's the best I can do off the cuff right here. But I think it's a central, central question that we need to be grappling with and thank you for asking. - Yeah, of course. - Just really quickly, my second question is for Ms. Buckley, and then also you, Annette. The work that you guys do in sort of unearthing truth about American history, specifically about black Jeffersons and black Calhouns, I'm sure has been met with much pushback from other scholars and historians who don't want these stories to be real or to be in the public sphere. So I just wanted to know how that resistance informs the work you do-- this sort of pushback you get about the legitimacy of these stories, if you could talk about that at all? - I never got any pushback back. In fact, the amazing thing to me was meeting the white Calhouns in Atlanta, who said, yes, of course, we're all related. You know what so and so and so. So I thought, OK. They accepted it. They probably would not have accepted it in 1888, but they accepted it in 2016, and were quite pleased about it. - Well, I mean, I got a little bit of pushback from people. - Yeah. - But, I mean-- no. I mean, people write to other people. They never write to me. No, seriously, that's what it is. I mean, people write to people about me, not to me directly. So I got pushback, but that sort of went away as much when Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation sort of got on board with it. But people still write, you know, Annette Gordon-Reed is the devil books, but they don't write directly to me about it. - My name is Susanna Grannis, and I graduated from Radcliffe 58 years ago. And I haven't been back. I must have been back, but I don't remember it. And I was so pleased to walk into the Radcliffe Yard and see that it was the same. That's really wonderful. I'm here because there is a family secret that has been uncovered in our family, oddly enough all these years later by three grandchildren of my grandfather named Armfield Franklin VanBibber-- a very unfortunate name, because Franklin and Armfield were leading slave traders between Alexandria and Louisiana for many years. They became very wealthy. So we're going into it. We went to a little museum in September that was the slave pens of the Armfield office in Alexandria. So my question is seeking advice. I'm reading about this, I'm learning about this. My brother is as well. And we are so obsessed. But where do we go? Where do you go with this information about your family and what people in your family have done that is so horrible? What does one do with something like that? So anybody who would like to answer, I would appreciate it. Thank you. - Well, that's a tough one. Share it with the rest of your family. Share it with the rest of your family. Share it with your friends. You can become involved in organizations that are trying to improve the community-- things for recompense in a way to take to pay it forward in a way. I think it would be enough-- a good beginning, the fact that you're grappling with it yourself, and you're being honest with it. Because there are so many people who wouldn't be involved with it at all. So that's a step in the right direction. Do other people have other ideas other than making it a part of your family's story, and making sure that other people know about it as well? You might write something about it? Joshua Rothman is a young historian who has been writing about this-- - [INAUDIBLE] - Yeah. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Yeah, he's been writing about this. Get in touch with him. I mean, there are all kinds-- what had happened with the Jefferson thing is that members of the family have been together different places and they have gone and spoken about what this means. And they sort of grappled with it very publicly. I don't know if you're a public person in that way, but that's one way that those descendants have dealt with it. - I would just second the idea that you have to weave the truth into the family narrative and keep handing it forward into future generations. And the thing that I found at the end of this is, finding your people in the past is a really tricky concept, because the community that we have in the present is really the tribe that we should be focused on. And I think too often and we look backwards instead of looking around us, especially in this particular moment in time. Reinforcing the threads of community or kind of the urgent task at hand. - Next. - Hi. My name's Edward Ball. I'm a write. I wrote some five books that each has a family history strands. Probably the one that's better known than the others is called, Slaves in the Family. - Oh yeah. - Which I'll get to in a moment. But family history used to be a form of public relations. It was the idiots genre of storytelling and of historiography. Fortunately it's no longer that. And our panel is good evidence of it. It seems to me to involve-- my experience is that doing family history involves a degree of psychoanalysis, not only psychoanalysis on one's subjects but psychoanalysis on one's self. And in analysis one uncovers motives in oneself such as exhibitionism, aggression, and other uncomfortable pieces of one's identity. I wonder if some of the panelists have considered this analogy of their project to a form of psychoanalysis? What one does is look at symptoms in one's own family-- places of conflict and trauma and picks at them. That's one thing I wanted to observe. But about the last speaker, the last questioner who talked about being descended from the slave trading firm run by Isaac Franklin during the mid-19th century. Franklin and Armfield, I would suggest trying to tell that story in a public way. There is a cathartic and important-- this probably gets us back to analysis. There is an effect of catharsis and relief in telling stories of historical trauma and injury in a public way. - OK. OK. - For those who are here and also for those to tell those stories. - Yeah. - Yeah. - Anybody want to go? - Oh I just wanted to say that I think I would be fascinated to read the story, because I don't know about it. I don't know about these people. Because when I was in Charleston, just for no other reason, the big tourist place is the slave-- this is the slave market. Come and see the slave market. So I would love to read about your family. And I think you don't need to apologize. You do need to apologize, but it's not you that did it. So it would be interesting. - Anyone want to talk about psychoanalysis? - Oh, well. [LAUGHTER] - All right, I'll go. - You'll go and then one more question. - To psychoanalysis that is. Yeah, you know, there are many-- well, I was going to say there are many times I felt I needed to be in intensive therapy to get through this book project. I think I was also a therapist for my father, who was utterly opposed to any form of psychoanalysis or psychology or counseling, unfortunately. And to get approval to have gender reassignment surgery, she needed two letters from mental health professionals. And she went and saw two different people once, and she tossed aside the one letter that said that they thought she had troubles with identity more generally, but after one session she couldn't say for sure that it was gender. And the other psychologist didn't actually write a letter till later. So my father then went out and made up a letter from a friend-- a female friend and wrote it in this sort of feathery font, thinking that that would make it look more authentic or something and sent it off to the surgeon from my father's email account. And the surgeon went ahead and said, fine. So the surgeon I had an interesting conversation about that later. Although, as it turns out, you know, my father never regretted the surgery and it was one of the few things that she was happy with until the day she died. So this is not actually an indictment of the surgeon, although-- Well, I'll leave it at that. Incidentally, Susan, you, at the end of your remarks noted that some of the common threads-- a strong man-- if we're talking about strong men faking medical letters, I seem to remember a moment last year where we were treated to Donald Trump's personal physician's letter. Just putting that out there. [LAUGHTER] I'm just saying. Yeah. - Not saying, just saying. - OK. I think we have-- yeah, go ahead. - Oh, I'm Rayshauna Gray. I coordinate the gender initiative over at the business school, and I'm a historical researcher at Tufts. So I'm writing the story of the last two centuries of my family's history through the lives of my six direct female ancestors, or the six most recent ones and then me. And it feels overwhelming. And I'm, of course, unearthing a whole bunch of unfortunate, tense topics like enslavement, like failed Reconstruction and the like. How did you all know that you did your ancestor's justice when you wrote about them? And if you did, how did you know? Were you even aiming for it? - This is an interesting question. Thank you. I mean, I heard from another historian recently, a labor historian, Nelson Lichtenstein, who really loved the book. And he said to me in this email, I wish I had been able to do for my forebears what you've done for yours. And I wrote him back and said, well, I'm not sure that that's the way that they would feel, however. And I guess that for me-- mine is a very different story. Right? I mean, I'm exposing something that my grandfather did that was venal. And so perhaps my response to your question would be very different from that of other panelists. But I never saw it as doing them justice. That was never my goal. I wanted to be fair. I wanted to be fair. And I struggled with that. I struggled with, am I hyper-correcting her because of what I've read about my grandfather and maybe I should be more sympathetic? Or am I being too sympathetic towards the women? Because I had more evidence of their suffering. But doing justice doesn't quite capture what I was up to. I really wanted to-- as I said, it was about re-narrating American history. - Also, our ancestors have been doing themselves justice for a long time. So maybe it's our job to hold their feet to the fire a little bit. Don't worry too much about it is my advice. - Thank you. - With my extended family, they were glad that someone was pulling together the threads of family history. And were actually glad that I was trying to figure out this incredible enigma of my father. So I had a fair amount of support from my father's extended family. - Hi, I'm Caroline. I'm a public history graduate student. And there's actually several of us here. So I'm thinking about in the spaces that we tell stories about American history that tend to be more simplified or tell a linear narrative-- you know, museums, textbooks, really the public history-- venue. Obviously all of your stories complicate these, the narratives that we've been telling about the past. So do you have any vision for what can be done? Or what does this mean for how we talk about the past, say like, within an exhibit panel or places where you can't tell a book length story? - I'll just say really quickly, one of the ways I feel like the past can help change the narrative is by re-examining current events in a different light. So for example in Burma there's a mass ethnic cleansing being undertaken in part of the country. The Rohingya are a marginalized ethnic tribe in Burma. And the current military government has waged a very bloody campaign. 463,000 of them have fled to nearby Bangladesh. And everyone sort of looks at this moment and says, well, how is it that a Buddhist nation is killing its own, throwing babies into fires, displacing hundreds and thousands of innocent men and women? And the truth is-- and I discovered this in my research-- Burmese Buddhist nationalism has been a scourge on Burmese society for over 100 years. And it's part of my family's own story, and it dovetails with the history of the nation. And I think once you have that information about Burmese nationalism and the fact that its roots stretch back much further than we think, one can re-examine what's happening in the country in the present day, and almost sort of rewrite history to be more accurate in real time. That's a discrete example, but I think that's one of the ways in which the past and the present interconnect. - Well, thank you very much, the panelists. With that, we will wrap up. Thank you guys for coming. [APPLAUSE]



Primary election

Los Angeles mayoral primary election, May 6, 1919[1][2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Meredith P. Snyder 23,368 37.28% -7.02%
Republican Frederick T. Woodman (incumbent) 19,504 31.12% -19.55%
Independent Sylvester Weaver 13,864 22.12%
Independent Gesner Williams 4,316 6.89%
Independent Irene Smith 1,516 2.42%
Independent Henry E. Small 116 0.19%
Total votes 62,684 100.00

General election

Los Angeles mayoral general election, June 3, 1919[3][2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Meredith P. Snyder 26,779 63.22%
Republican Frederick T. Woodman (incumbent) 15,578 36.78%
Total votes 42,357 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

References and footnotes

  1. ^ "Los Angeles Mayor - Primary". Our Campaigns.
  2. ^ a b Officially all candidates are non-partisan.
  3. ^ "Los Angeles Mayor". Our Campaigns.

External links

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