March 2022

Volume 48, No. 1, March 2022

The March issue contains articles by Carolina Velloso, Victoria M. Grieve, Anna Popkova, Betto van Waarden, and Mackenzie Weinger. Interested in reading these articles? Get information on subscribing here.

Article Abstracts

“A True Newspaperwoman: The Career of Sadie Kneller Miller,” Carolina Velloso (podcast)
This article examines the life and career of Sadie Kneller Miller, a journalist who enjoyed a thirty-year career as a baseball reporter, national and international correspondent, and photojournalist at the turn of the twentieth century. Her many accomplishments include being one of the first women to cover a sports beat for a newspaper, covering armed conflicts in Spanish-controlled Morocco, and obtaining exclusive interviews with figures such as Pancho Villa. Miller’s career was also distinct in several important ways from those of most women journalists of her time, particularly in how she negotiated her professional ambitions with traditional gender roles. Miller earned a prominent contemporary reputation and left behind a rich collection of print and visual journalism, but her career has largely been lost to posterity. Using an unexplored and unprocessed archival collection, this article reconstructs Miller’s career, emphasizing her most significant work in each journalistic function she performed, and shows the ways Miller both challenged and conformed to norms and expectations of women journalists of the period.

“Advocacy Journalism, Labor Feminism, and the Timber Worker, 1936-1940,” Victoria M. Grieve (Teaching Essay)
Julia Bertram worked as a journalist for the Timber Worker, the newspaper of the International Woodworkers of America, from 1936–1940. For three of those years, she also served as the president of the women’s auxiliary of her local union. This study examines Bertram’s work in both of these roles as crucial to the union’s success, and argues that Bertram’s combination of union activism and journalism embedded working-class feminism within the developing progressive labor agenda represented by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the 1930s. Bertram’s work offers an example of how working-class White and immigrant women shaped the labor movement prior to World War II by expanding the scope of appropriate political activities in which women participated. As a journalist for the Timber Worker, Bertram frequently reminded her readers that women were unionists and equal members of the working-class struggle. This combination of activism and journalism has been overlooked in discussions about the rise of labor feminism, which tend to focus on female-dominated industries and unions rather than on the press. Female journalists in the labor press and in union auxiliaries deserve more attention if historians hope to understand the rise of labor feminism in the 1930s, as women carved out space in the fledgling CIO and its unions.

“Imagining the Russian Community: Novoye Russkoe Slovo, the First Red Care, and the Palmer Raids, 1919-1920,” Anna Popkova (Podcast)
The years 1919 and 1920 were challenging for the Russian immigrant community in America. The already existing atmosphere of the First Red Scare escalated during and after the Palmer Raids. This study examines how the Palmer Raids were covered on the pages of one of the oldest and most influential Russian ethnic newspapers in the United States, Novoye Russkoe Slovo (New Russian Word). Through the textual analysis of news reports, opinion pieces, feature stories, and letters to the editor published in Novoye Russkoe Slovo from November 1919 to January 1920, this article demonstrates that the newspaper helped build and sustain an imagined community of Russian immigrants during profound political and social challenges. The article shows how the newspaper skillfully combined the “fact” and “forum” functions of the press in its different sections to help readers make sense of the raids, support each other, and maintain community ties.

“The Many Faces of Performative Politics: Satires of Statesman Bernhard von Bülow in Wilhelmine Gernmany,” Betto van Waarden
While historical and contemporary thinkers have described politics as theater, this article moves beyond this representation of politics to understand how performance was central to politics around the turn of the twentieth century. It does so through an analysis of a large volume of hitherto unstudied caricatures of the German statesman Bernhard von Bülow. While historians usually describe satire merely in a complementary or illustrative manner, this article analyzes it in a structural manner. This analysis does not serve to understand Bülow personally nor his politics, but constitutes a case study that demonstrates broader changes in the nature of politics. The article argues that caricaturists used metaphors of different types of performances, which built on tradition and played into new lifestyles, to reflect on how mass communication became constitutive of modern politics. Moreover, this metaphorical stage on which politicians performed represented the platform of the mass press in politics itself.

“’To Terrorize the Public Mind’: How the British Press Reported the Fenian Dynamite Campaign, 1881-1885,” Mackenzie Weinger
This study examines the coverage in the British print media of the Fenian dynamite campaign of 1881–1885. By examining a selection of the newspaper reporting done in the immediate days following the bomb blasts in urban centers, it can be seen that the press framed the campaign as a dramatic threat to the British people—but one they would overcome, even in the face of a frightening, unpredictable technological innovation that could put civilians in jeopardy. The metropolitan newspapers helped to shape how the British people understood the urban terrorist attacks. The press delivered to their readers vivid details about the novel and extraordinary nature of the dynamite threat, while also framing the shocking news to make their own political message and establish the narrative that even though it was under threat, Britain would triumph and hold fast to its place in the world—and onto its empire.