Sex workers, psychics, and numbers runners : Black women in New York City's underground economy / LaShawn Harris.

By: Harris, LaShawn, 1974- [author.]Material type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooksNew Black studies series: Publisher: Urbana : University of Illinois Press, [2016]Description: 1 online resource (ix, 260 pages)Content type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780252098420; 0252098420Additional physical formats: Print version:: Sex workers, psychics, and numbers runners.DDC classification: 331.4089/9607307471 LOC classification: HD6057.5.U52 | N4843 2016Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
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Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
HD6057.5.U52 N4843 2016 (Browse shelf) Available ocn934383021

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Online resource; title from digital title page (viewed on May 09, 2016).

Reviews provided by Syndetics


This outstanding first monograph by historian Harris (Michigan State Univ.) continues Deborah Gray White's 1987 call for historians to reclaim the voices of African American women lost in the margins. This most recent addition to the New Black Studies series analyzes a rich primary source base that includes vice records, the classified sections of major urban dailies and weeklies, and Federal Writers' Project (FWP) interviews to examine three categories of informal female labor. The underground economy of New York City during the first three decades of the 20th century created opportunities for black women to earn money off the books, albeit in unlicensed and unlawful work that raised issues of propriety among reform-minded community members. Using a feminist approach, Harris stresses that women like the "Queen of Numbers" Madame Stephanie St. Clair were not victims of circumstance, but instead intelligent in their exploitation of New York's informal labor market, which allowed for their autonomy. Black women who worked in sex work, gambling, and as spiritualists capitalized on the tumultuous nature of a society plagued by race, gender, and class inequality. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --Erika K. Jackson, Colorado Mesa University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

LaShawn Harris is an assistant professor of history at Michigan State University.

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