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Provincial Lives
Middle-Class Experience in the Antebellum Middle West


  • Date Published: March 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521025430

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About the Authors
  • Provincial Lives, first published in 1999, tells the story of the development of a regional middle class in the antebellum Middle West. It traces the efforts of waves of Americans to transmit their social structures, behavior, and values to the West and construct a distinctive regional middle-class culture on the urban frontier. Intertwining local, regional, and national history, as well as social, immigration, gender and urban history, the author examines how a succession of settlers from 'good' society - farmers and entrepreneurs, followed by capitalists, professionals, and 'genteel' men and women from the urban East - interacted with, accommodated, and compromised with those already there to construct a middle-class society and culture. Provincial Lives explores social change through the lived experience of the actors themselves as they employed their understandings of self, gender, class, and culture to construct social order and contribute to the development of a western urban middle class while still remaining members of a national society and playing a role in shaping the emergence of middle-class culture across the United States.

    • Explores social history from a regional perspective
    • Emphasizes social experience based on primary sources
    • Middle West history placed in a broader national perspective
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521025430
    • length: 348 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.495kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 6 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The structure of provincial society: Native American, French, and American interaction in the Upper Mississippi River Valley
    2. Family migration and social development on a 'Near Frontier'
    3. 'A Common Band of Brotherhood': migration, male subcultures, the booster ethos, and the origins of urban middle class
    4. The gentility system in the West
    5. 'Brethren of the bar': professional culture among lawyers and the regional process of elite aggregation
    6. Boosters and railroad men: constructing a regional society
    Selected bibliography

  • Author

    Timothy R. Mahoney, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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