Category Archives: Am Writing

Ask the Universe

I’ve been doing a lot of online historical research recently. I am left with a bunch of questions I have not yet found quick answers for. So I am posting them here, both as a reference to myself for later, and on the off chance that someone might just happen to know one of the answers and supply it.

  • Are there any good books documenting life  at the turn of the century (1900-WWI) for middle-class (white color, not factory floor, not Carnegie) urban-dwelling Americans? Any historical fiction that covers this category?
  • In terms of housing, where would these residents have lived? Is there any way to track “class-flight” over time as the upper incomes followed the transit lines (and eventually car routes) into further removed boroughs?
  • Any good books describing urban flight (any time period) from the perspective of the lower-status people who inherited the neighborhood? (I’m less interested in cases like modern Detroit which does not have a population moving in to replace current exodus, leaving extended vacancies.) I am curious as to how this played out in a new-immigrant-rich city as people attempted to balance their desire for newer/fancier newly vacated “rich” houses with the social pull of staying put in a more culturally familiar neighborhood.
  • Private school information for Boston for this same time period. It seems that many of the Boston elites were sending their sons to boarding schools. Where were their daughters going to school?
  • Meanwhile, it seems that Boston public schools were still pretty popular with the middle class, with the poorest children still unable to attend school at all. Mention is made of public schools at that time still having a “nondenominational” (Protestant) religious education aspect to them. What would that have looked like?
  • Catholic schools were forbidden funding because of a state amendment, and seemed(?) to have a reputation for being academically inferior. By 1900, it seems statistically that many of them were comprised of primarily Italian immigrants. Would older Irish immigrants have still wanted to send their children to these schools? Or were there different Catholic primaries in the city to serve different languages/”ethnicities”?

P.S.– If you’d asked me five or ten years ago if I’d ever write a historical novel, I would have vehemently sworn up and down “no way, it’ll never happen. Too much work.”  My mind on that second point hasn’t changed. But apparently my willingness to tackle said work had changed considerably. I can tell already that this story is going to be amazing, and that makes all of this totally and excitingly worth it.

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