Tag Archives: Vice

New Book: Sport of Kings, Kings of Crime

A new book, The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime: Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865-1913 by Steven A. Riess, fills a long-neglected gap in sports history, offering a richly detailed and fascinating chronicle of thoroughbred racing’s heyday and its connections with politics and organized crime.

Thoroughbred racing was one of the first major sports in early America. Horse racing thrived because it was a high-status sport that attracted the interest of both old and new money. It grew because spectators enjoyed the pageantry, the exciting races, and, most of all, the gambling.

As the sport became a national industry, the New York metropolitan area, along with the resort towns of Saratoga Springs (New York) and Long Branch (New Jersey), remained at the center of horse racing with the most outstanding race courses, the largest purses, and the finest thoroughbreds.

Riess narrates the history of horse racing, detailing how and why New York became the national capital of the sport from the mid-1860s until the early twentieth century. The sport’s survival depended upon the racetrack being the nexus between politicians and organized crime.

The powerful alliance between urban machine politics and track owners enabled racing in New York to flourish. Gambling, the heart of racing’s appeal, made the sport morally suspect. Yet democratic politicians protected the sport, helping to establish the State Racing Commission, the first state agency to regulate sport in the United States.

At the same time, racetracks became a key connection between the underworld and Tammany Hall, enabling illegal poolrooms and off-course bookies to operate. Organized crime worked in close cooperation with machine politicians and local police officers to protect these illegal operations.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Young Al Capone: Scarface in New York

Many people are familiar with the story of Al Capone, the “untouchable” Chicago gangster best known for orchestrating the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. But few are aware that Capone’s remarkable story began in the Navy Yard section of Brooklyn. Tutored by the likes of infamous mobsters Johnny Torrio and Frankie Yale, young Capone’s disquieting demeanor, combined with the “technical advice” he learned from these insidious pedagogues, contributed to the molding of a brutal criminal whose pseudonym, “Scarface,” evoked fascination throughout the world.

Despite the best efforts of previous biographers lacking true insider access, details about Capone’s early years have generally remained shrouded in mystery. Now through family connections the authors of Young Al Capone: The Untold Story of Scarface in New York, 1899-1925, William and John Balsamo, were able to access Capone’s known living associates. Collecting information through these interviews and rare documents, the life of young Al Capone in New York comes into greater focus.

Among the revelations in Young Al Capone are new details about the brutal Halloween Night murder of rival gangster “Wild Bill” Lovett, grisly details on how Capone and his Black Hand crew cleverly planned the shootout and barbaric hatchet slaying of White Hand boss, Richard “Peg Leg” Lonergan, insight into the dramatic incident that forced Capone to leave New York, and more.

Bill Balsamo, considered by some to be one of the premier Capone historians, has invested more than twenty-five years in researching and writing this book. He is the author of Crime, Inc. (now in its fifth printing). John Balsamo worked on the Brooklyn waterfront for more than thirty years while compiling extensive material regarding the life of young Capone.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

National Sporting Library and Museum Grants

The National Sporting Library & Museum (NSL&M) offers the John H. Daniels Fellowship to support researchers at the Middleburg, Virginia research center for horse and field sports, for periods of up to one year. Disciplines include history, literature, journalism, art history, anthropology, area studies, and history of sport.

Applications are due February 1, 2011 for the 2011-2012 fellowship year. Application criteria and instructions are included in the 2011-2012 fellowship brochure. Contact Elizabeth Tobey, Director of Research & Publications at fellowship@nsl.org or 540-687-6542 x 11 if you have further questions.

Located in western Loudoun County just 42 miles from Washington, D.C., Middleburg, Virginia is located in the heart of horse country and is a destination for shopping, dining, and equestrian events.

The program began in 2007 in honor of sportsman and book collector, John H. Daniels (1921-2006), a longtime supporter of the Library. Since 2007, the fellowship has supported fifteen researchers-in-residence at the NSL&M from all regions of the United States and four foreign countries.

APPLICATION GUIDELINES for 2011-2012

Who is eligible

University faculty (both current faculty [tenure-track, tenured, as well as adjunct] and retired/emeritus) and graduate students- museum curators and librarians- and writers and journalists are encouraged to apply. U.S. citizens and legal residents may apply for fellowships for periods of 12 months or less. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda may visit for 180 days or less without a Visa. Citizens of countries that participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Waiver Program may apply for periods of 90 days or less (see website for list of countries).

Fellowship on Field Sports and Conservation

The National Sporting Library & Museum is committed to supporting scholarship and research in the subject area of traditional field sports as well as the connection between field sports and conservation, and invites applications from both academic and independent researchers.

At least one fellowship award each year will be reserved for a topic exploring the intersection of field sports with the evolution of conservation thought, such as methods of game keeping, the role of the naturalist from the sixteenth century forward, or the origins of the modern principles of conservation prior to the mid-twentieth century. Recent scholarship in environmental history has demonstrated that historically, hunters and anglers were often at the forefront of efforts to preserve wildlife and the natural environment.

The procedures for applying are the same as for a regular Daniels Fellowship, although applicants should specify in their cover letter interest in the conservation fellowship.

Fellows will receive

• Monthly stipend (max. $2,000/month) and complimentary housing near the Library.

• Workspace and access to computer and photocopier..

To Apply

Applications must be postmarked by February 1, 2011. Applicants will be notified of a decision by late March 2011. Detailed descriptions of the book collections, including a full list of archives and manuscript collections (with box descriptions) and a partial list of current and historical periodicals and with instructions for searching and a link to the card catalog, can be found online. The website also contains a page with links to articles about highlights of the collections.

Two useful booklets, Treasures of the National Sporting Library and This is the National Sporting Library contain descriptions and essays about some of the most important individual works and collections, and free copies of the latter publication may be obtained by contacting Lisa Campbell, Librarian, at lcampbell@nsl.org or 540-687-6542 x 13 or the fellowship coordinator at fellowship@nsl.org or 540-687-6542 x11.

Walking Tour Explores the Mafia in America

A new walking tour examines the roots of the Mafia in America including the often overlooked early lives of such criminal heavyweights as Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Al “Scarface” Capone, Giuseppe Morello, Joe “The Boss” Masseria, Meyer Lansky, “Bugsy” Siegel, and more.

The weekly walking tour with guide Eric Ferrara is hosted by the Lower East Side History Project and runs every Saturday and Thursday at 2:00 pm, through March 2011. The cost is $20 per person.

The tour details the Sicilian and Italian immigrant experience and conditions which led to organized gangsterism in America. From the arrival of Sicilian Black Handers and Neapolitan Camorra to New York in the 1890s, to the forming of the Mafia Commission in 1931, tour participants visit the early homes, headquarters, hangouts and assassination locations of some of the most powerful criminals in American history, and explore the wars which shaped the future of organized crime.

Sites visits include “Black Hand Block,” headquarters of the “first family” of the American Mafia- the headquarters of Paul Kelly’s notorious Five Points Gang, the gang responsible for breeding the likes of Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, “Lucky” Luciano, and hundreds more- the home of prohibition era’s “Boss of Bosses-” and the childhood homes and teenage haunts of “Lucky” Luciano, “Bugsy” Siegel and Meyer Lansky.

Ferrara deciphers the myths and realities of the Mafia in Hollywood, including Boardwalk Empire and The Godfather series. Ferrara is a published author, educator, and founder of the Lower East Side History Project and the first museum in America dedicated to gangsterism. He is a fourth generation native New Yorker with Sicilian roots in Little Italy dating back to the 1880s, and has assisted several movie, tv, and media projects world wide, including HBO, SyFy, History Channel and National Geographic.

Ferrara says that he has consulted the families and estates of crime figures discussed on the tour, as well as law enforcement agents, collectors, authors and historians to provide unique first-hand accounts, images and documents in over five years of research.

For more information visit the Lower East Side History Project online.

A Livingston Family Secret: Arsenic and Clam Chowder

Arsenic and Clam Chowder recounts the sensational 1896 murder trial of Mary Alice Livingston, a member of one of the most prestigious families in New York, who was accused of murdering her own mother, Evelina Bliss.

The bizarre instrument of death, an arsenic-laced pail of clam chowder, had been delivered to the victim by her ten-year-old granddaughter, and Livingston was arrested in her mourning clothes immediately after attending her mother’s funeral.

In addition to being the mother of four out-of-wedlock children, the last born in prison while she was awaiting trial, Livingston faced the possibility of being the first woman to be executed in New York’s new-fangled electric chair, and all these lurid details made her arrest and trial the central focus of an all-out circulation war then underway between Joseph Pulitzer’s World and William Randolph Hearst’s Journal.

The story is set against the electric backdrop of Gilded Age Manhattan. The arrival of skyscrapers, automobiles, motion pictures, and other modern marvels in the 1890s was transforming urban life with breathtaking speed, just as the battles of reformers against vice, police corruption, and Tammany Hall were transforming the city’s political life.

The aspiring politician Teddy Roosevelt, the prolific inventor Thomas Edison, bon vivant Diamond Jim Brady, and his companion Lillian Russell were among Gotham’s larger-than-life personalities, and they all played cameo roles in the dramatic story of Mary Alice Livingston and her arsenic-laced clam chowder.

In addition to telling a ripping good story, the book addresses a number of social and legal issues, among them capital punishment, equal rights for women, societal sexual standards, inheritance laws in regard to murder, gender bias of juries, and the meaning of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Harlem Vice: Playing the Numbers

In New York City during the 1920s, an employee of the New York Clearing House, an august downtown financial institution composed of the city’s elite banks, would descend every day and mark three numbers on a chalkboard, each of which was meant as a general economic indicator to be used by the financial industry. Two of these numbers were immediately copied down by a different sort of employee and phoned uptown to a different sort of bank, one whose doings possessed a good deal more relevance for the hundreds of thousands of African Americans who had recently transformed the sleepy neighborhood of Harlem into a budding “black metropolis.”

The uptown bankers, known colloquially as “kings” and “queens,” dealt not in stocks and bonds but in millions of paper slips, each one marked in pencil and each one representing a one, five, or maybe a ten-cent bet placed by a resident on the outcome of a three-digit number derived via a set formula from that day’s Clearing House results. “Playing the numbers” was a cultural institution in Harlem, one that about half the neighborhood’s population seems to have engaged in each day, one that tied them in strange ways to the city’s licit economy, but one that has been strangely understudied by scholars, who in the past have trained their focus largely on the high-cultural manifestations of Harlem’s remarkable flowering.

Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars takes a different tack, utilizing the authors’ remarkable research to tell a story that illuminates the lives of the ordinary Harlemites who most often form little more than a colorful backdrop to accounts of the Harlem Renaissance. For a dozen years the “numbers game” was one of America’s rare black-owned businesses, turning over tens of millions of dollars every year. The astronomical success of “bankers” like Stephanie St. Clair and Casper Holstein attracted Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, and organized crime, fresh off Prohibition and in need of a new hustle, to the game. By the late 1930s, most of the profits were being siphoned out of Harlem. All in all, Playing the Numbers reveals a unique dimension of African American culture that made not only Harlem but New York City itself the vibrant and energizing metropolis it was.

Interestingly, the authors of Playing the Numbers are four Australian academics who received a grant from their government to research this remarkable phenomenon. You can get a taste of the data itself on an innovative website they’ve produced called Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930, which won the Roy Rosenzweig Fellowship for Innovation in Digital History this year from the American Historical Association.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

During Prohibition my grandfather’s brother Denis Warren, a veteran of some of the bloodiest American battles of World War One, was left for dead on the side of Route 9N south of Port Henry on Lake Champlain. He was in the second of two cars of friends returning from Montreal with a small supply of beer. Going through Port Henry local customs agents gave chase and the car he was in hit a rock cut and he was badly injured in the accident. Figuring his was dead, or nearly so, and worried he would go to prison, one of Denis’s best friends rolled him under the guardrail, climbed into the other car, and sped off.

Joe Kennedy, never really enthusiastic about World War One, spent the war as an assistant general-manager of Bethlehem Steel and used the opportunity to buddy up to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was then Assistant Secretary of the Navy. During Prohibition Kennedy went to England and with the help of FDR’s eldest son James Roosevelt secured the exclusive American rights for Gordon’s Dry Gin and Dewar’s Scotch. Contrary to rumors, Kennedy wasn’t a bootlegger, he imported his British booze legally under a permit to distribute medical alcohol. Kennedy was of course, the father of John F. Kennedy.

The story of these two Irish-Americans serves as a kind of microcosm of the story of Prohibition, when all of America seemed upside down. “In almost every respect imaginable, Prohibition was a failure,” Daniel Okrent writes in Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. “It deprived the government of revenue, stripped the gears of the political system, and imposed profound limitations on individual rights. It fostered a culture of bribery, blackmail, and official corruption. It also maimed and murdered, its excesses apparent in deaths by poison, by the brutality of ill-trained, improperly supervised enforcement officers, and by unfortunate proximity to mob gun battles.”

The medical exemption to Prohibition, along with the sacramental wine exemption, and the fruit exemption for homemade wine and cider, meant that Prohibition was fairly doomed from the start according to Okrent. In fact it’s a wonder that Prohibition even got started. In the late nineteenth century drinking was at an all time high, a central part of American life. But immigration was also at an all time high, along with the Protestant Christian reformers, xenophobia, and racism. An unlikely alliance emerged to battle “Demon Rum” that included racists (including the Klan), progressives, suffragists, and populists.

Okrent lays out the story of this coalition in a readable way, avoiding much of the political minutiae, while still illuminating the personalities – people like Mother Thompson, Frances Willard, axe-wielding Carry Nation, bible-thumping Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan (who helped bring the Democratic party on board), Wayne Wheeler (the long-forgotten man considered the father of Prohibition), and Mabel Willebrandt (the Assistant US Attorney General despised by the nation’s drinkers).

The usual suspects are all here: the rise of organized crime from scattered minor street gangs, the rum runners contributions to boat design, the rise of Sam Bronfman’s Seagrams empire. The most interesting parts of the book however, detail how leading suffragists sought the vote after being denied leadership positions in the temperance movement and then used that vote to secure first the income tax (considered crucial to weaning the government off the alcohol excise tax teet) and finally Prohibition. Okrent also clearly presents the brewers’ failure to band together with the distillers, and their lack of action against the Prohibitionist until it was too late. Mostly German-Americans, World War One sealed their fates.

Also illuminating is Okrent’s telling of how the Eighteenth Amendment, which along with the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery is the only constitutional amendment to deal with personal property and the only one to have been repealed, came to be reversed. Last Call chalks it up to a few primary factors. The ease of access to booze which was no longer regulated, and so could be found everywhere, not just at bars (the old joke went “Remember before Prohibition? When you couldn’t get a drink on Sunday?”). The presidential campaign of solidly wet New York Governor Al Smith (defeated by mostly dry anti-Catholics) that changed the political mood of the country’s immigrants [video]. The Great Depression, and the need for the billions in excise tax (which helped fund the New Deal) that gave Repeal a push. But the biggest factor was perhaps the right-wing wealthy anti-tax (and future anti-Roosevelt) Pierre S. DuPont who believed so profoundly that Repeal would mean an elimination of the income tax that he bankrolled the fight himself. Fundamentally though, it was the Democratic title-wave that swept FDR into office [music] that changed the make-up of the Congress that allowed the crucial Repeal vote.

Okrent avoids the obvious comparisons to today’s Drug War, but even the causal reader, can’t miss them. The seemingly limitless supply, the institutionalized hypocrisy of legal tobacco and alcohol while pot smokers go to overcrowded prisons. The overzealous and expensive enforcement on the one hand (particularly in the inner cities), alongside marijuana buyers clubs and lax enforcement that amounts to a defacto local option.

It took about 10 years to understand that Prohibition only increased lawlessness, corruption, greed, and violence. Last Call leaves the astute reader wondering how long it will take us to come to the same conclusion about the War on Drugs.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

A New Biography of One of Americas Greatest Surgeons

In April 1882, on a kitchen table, a doctor worked feverishly over a jaundiced 70-year-old woman. He had determined that she had an infection of the gallbladder and that only emergency surgery could save her life. Dr. William Stewart Halsted performed the successful surgery – the first known operation to remove gallstones – and brought his mother back from the brink of death.

Dr. Halsted, considered a father of modern surgical technique, was also a man with a raging cocaine and morphine habit. Born in New York City just before the Civil War, Halsted introduced the fundamentally important use of sterile gloves, surgical anesthesia, the residency program every medical student undergoes, the mastectomy, the hernia repair, local anesthesia and contributed towards important advances in thyroid and vascular surgery.

According to the publishers of a new book on this intriguing doctor, “Every single hour, of every day, across the globe, caregivers of every type are using the methods of Dr. Halsted.” Unfortunately, they also call him “a real life Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” whose “tale of brilliance and the bizarre” is told by Gerald Imber, MD, in Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted.

Imber goes to great length to immerse the reader in the look and feel of New York life during the later part of the 19th century, and there is plenty here to placate those interested in medical history. The book’s failure to understand the real workings of drug use in the period – here cocaine and morphine – leave the reader wanting more, particularly from a book which touts that drug use as “bizarre”. To be sure, Imber, the author of several books and articles who appears regularly on network TV, has crafted a readable biography of William Stewart Halsted. His portrayal of Halsted’s habit however, suffers from tired and worn stereotypes.

Halsted was born in New York City in 1852, a time when only half the children born in the United States would live to the age of five and more New Yorkers were dying from disease each year than were being born.

In 1874, Halsted enrolled in Manhattan’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, which like all medical schools of the day, was a business, and basically a trade school. Students chose whether to attend lectures or not- no laboratory or clinical work was required. Halsted, however, sought out the best teachers and worked diligently, ultimately focusing on anatomy and surgery- dissecting and studying his extra cadavers beyond the levels required of students.

Halstead was quick to recognize the anesthetic possibilities of an exciting new drug, cocaine alkaloid, which Sigmund Freud began experiments with in early 1884. He experimented by injecting himself at first and then used cocaine successfully for dental surgeries. Halsted then tried morphine which was used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and sleeplessness and as an antidote for alcoholism and became slowly addicted to both drugs.

Unfortunately, the book does not provide adequate context for the use of cocaine and morphine in the late 1800s. For example, in 1885 Parke-Davis sold cocaine in various forms and promised it would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and …- render the sufferer insensitive to pain.” It was sold in neighborhood drugstores and its use was encouraged for laborers and even by Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott who took cocaine with them to Antarctica. It wasn’t until 1903, when the American Journal of Pharmacy argued that cocaine abusers were mostly “bohemians, gamblers, high- and low-class prostitutes, night porters, bell boys, burglars, racketeers, pimps, and casual laborers,” that attitudes about the drug began to change. The book would have been served well by putting the broader context of shifting public perceptions, based on race and class, into the biography of a man described in the subtitle as living a “bizarre double life.”

Although the focus is somewhat misdirected to an out of context connection to Halsted’s drug use, Gerald Imber’s Genius On the Edge shows in fascinating detail a time when sanitary practices were unknown. Doctors performed surgery with unwashed hands and the ubiquitous wound infections made elective surgery rare. For modern readers, descriptions of the hospitals and procedures of Halsted’s day are the truly bizarre and terrifying story. It was Halsted who was responsible for the transition to modern surgery. Scrub suits and sterile rubber gloves began in his operating room, along with his operations for breast cancer and hernia- he made local and spinal anesthesia a reality and was a pioneering vascular surgeon and endocrine surgeon. So great a surgeon was Halsted, that he was mentor to many of the greatest surgeons in history, including Harvey Cushing and Walter Dandy, the fathers of neurosurgery. Perhaps the focus on his personal foibles is only the work of overzealous publishers trying to find an angle, but it detracts from the work and life of highly successful and innovative man who used drugs for over 40 years to aid his brilliant career.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Books: Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville

Cultural historian and journalist David Freeland has published his latest book,Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan’s Lost Places of Leisure, a rediscovery of the historic remnants of New York City’s leisure culture, including bier gartens in the Bowery, music publishers on Tin Pan Alley, jazz clubs in Harlem, and other locations throughout the city that remain partially intact, but obscured by the city’s development.

From the lights that never go out on Broadway to its 24-hour subway system, New York City isn’t called “the city that never sleeps” for nothing. Both native New Yorkers and tourists have played hard in Gotham for centuries, lindy hopping in 1930s Harlem, voguing in 1980s Chelsea, and refueling at all-night diners and bars. The island is packed with places of leisure and entertainment, but Manhattan’s infamously fast pace of change means that many of these beautifully constructed and incredibly ornate buildings have disappeared, and with them a rich and ribald history.

David Freeland serves as a guide to uncover the skeletons of New York’s lost monuments to its nightlife. With an eye for architectural detail, Freeland opens doors, climbs onto rooftops, and gazes down alleyways to reveal several of the remaining hidden gems of Manhattan’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century entertainment industry.

From the lights that never go out on Broadway to its 24-hour subway system, New York City isn’t called “the city that never sleeps” for nothing. Both native New Yorkers and tourists have played hard in Gotham for centuries, lindy hopping in 1930s Harlem, voguing in 1980s Chelsea, and refueling at all-night diners and bars. The slim island at the mouth of the Hudson River is packed with places of leisure and entertainment, but Manhattan’s infamously fast pace of change means that many of these beautifully constructed and incredibly ornate buildings have disappeared, and with them a rich and ribald history.

Yet with David Freeland as a guide, it’s possible to uncover skeletons of New York’s lost monuments to its nightlife. With a keen eye for architectural detail, Freeland opens doors, climbs onto rooftops, and gazes down alleyways to reveal several of the remaining hidden gems of Manhattan’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century entertainment industry.

From the Atlantic Garden German beer hall in present-day Chinatown to the city’s first motion picture studio—Union Square’s American Mutoscope and Biograph Company—to the Lincoln Theater in Harlem, Freeland situates each building within its historical and social context, bringing to life an old New York that took its diversions seriously.

Freeland reminds us that the buildings that serve as architectural guideposts to yesteryear’s recreations cannot be re-created—once destroyed they are gone forever. With condominiums and big box stores spreading over city blocks like wildfires, more and more of the Big Apple’s legendary houses of mirth are being lost.

Three Outstanding History Blog Series

Here at the New York History blog, I follow hundreds of history oriented blogs, good and bad, from around New York and around the nation. Some of the best have focused their work through regular posts on unique topics – call it “serial blogging.” Here are three of the more outstanding examples:

The Bowery Boys: Know Your Mayors
According to the Bowery Boys, their regular series “Know Your Mayors” is a “modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City.” Recent posts have covered “Philip Hone, the party mayor,” and “Hugh Grant, our youngest mayor” – he was just 31. Check out the entire series here.

Bad Girl Blog: Why I Started Chasing Bad Girls
Brooklynite Joyce Hanson describes her Bad Girl Blog as “a chronicle of my research, experiments and studies about wild women in both history and the present–and my struggle to be more like them.” Hanson’s series “Why I Started Chasing Bad Girls” offers a little insight into the author herself and women she’s hoping to emulate (at least a little more). Posts have included Isabelle Eberhardt who Hanson describes as “A Russian Jew who converted to Islam, Isabelle Eberhardt ran off to the Sahara Desert in 1899 when she was 22, served as a war correspondent for an Algerian newspaper, dressed as a man and called herself Si Mahmoud, slept with Arab boys, routinely smoked kif, and drank absinthe and chartreuse until she fell asleep on the dirt floor of whatever random cafe she happened to be passing through.” Hanson has also written about Bessie Smith, Empress Theodora of Constantinople, and Victoria Woodhull. You can read all the posts in the series here.

Early American Crime: Convict Transportation
Independent scholar Anthony Vaver’s blog Early American Crime only began in September, but he has already staked some substantial bloggy ground with what he calls “an exploration of the social and cultural history of crime and punishment in colonial America and the early United States.” Vaver’s short series on convict transportation to the American colonies has covered “Early uses of Convict Transportation,” “The Transportation Act of 1718,” and “The Business of Convict Transportation.” You can read the entire series here.