Thursday, March 6, 2014

Organized crime, Blackfoot redemption, and illicit Puritan sex: history books for genealogists

Books I'd like to read, as reviewed in the American Historical Review 119(1) February 2014:

Robert M. Lombardo (Loyola University Chicago), Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013). According to reviewer Robert C. Donnelly of Gonzaga, this book treats a sensational subject sensibly. It "deflates the theory that organized crime in the United States was imported from Italy, and . . . provides ample evidence to prove that organized crime in the city evolved from social structure, frontier immorality, and political corruption." (p. 195)

William E. Farr (University of Montana, Missoula), Blackfoot Redemption: A Blood Indian's Story of Murder, Confinement, and Imperfect Justice (Norman: University of Oklahoma Pres, 2012). Convicted in 1880 Montana for a murder in Canada, Spopee (Turtle) spent more than three decades in an insane asylum in Washington, DC, before being discovered by a Sioux delegation and pardoned. The story and its context are grim (Spopee could not communicate at all with his lawyers); reviewer Blanca Tovias of the University of Sydney describes the writing as "knowledgeable, attentive to detail, and vivid." (p. 187)

M. Michelle Jarrett Morris (University of Missouri), Under Household Government: Sex and Family in Puritan Massachusetts (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013). This book draws on 500 court cases in Suffolk and Middlesex counties between 1660 and 1700. According to reviewer Gloria Main (University of Colorado, Boulder) it is also distinguished from its predecessors by "using genealogical means to uncover the kinship relations of the principals and witnesses in criminal trials involving illicit sex." Main also has a genealogical complaint: "Genealogical research succeeds only when individuals can actually be traced, but surviving records favor those owning land, paying taxes, joining a church, and baptizing children. Morris has combed local archives, but among those she left undisturbed, regrettably, are church records." (p. 169)

Harold Henderson, "Organized crime, Blackfoot redemption, and illicit Puritan sex," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 6 March 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Marian Pierre-Louis said...

These all look good but the puritan is particularly relevant for me! Thanks for your summary!