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Provincial Lives
Middle-Class Experience in the Antebellum Middle West

$36.99 (C)

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

$ 36.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Provincial Lives 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 with social, immigration, gender and urban history, Mahoney examines how a succession of settlers from "good" society--farmers, entrepreneurs, 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.

    • 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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    Reviews & endorsements

    "[P]athbreaking...Mahoney's Provincial Lives sheds a great deal of light on how the middle class grew and declined outside of big-city America...The book is a model for those who write about the history of urban regions in that it demonstrates the importance of social values and cultural ideals to the existence and maintenance of regional economies." Andrew C. Holman, Bridgewater State College, Urban History Review

    "Professor Mahoney has written a valuable and challenging book." American Studies

    "...Provincial Lives lays bare the overarching regional structures and processes that help us place local communities into a broader context. Serious students of the Midwest will want this on their bookshelves, as will scholars of nineteenth-century Iowa and Illinois. Its length and use of social science terminology may limit its appeal to the general reader or undergraduate, but advanced students will find much of value. Its strongest contribution is to the urban history of the period, because it moves us beyond nostalgic portraits of Main Street to consider the implications of the shift in power from the river town to the metropolis." The Annals of Iowa

    "Provincial Lives is a book that cannot be ignored by anyone interested in the Midwest or nineteenth-century society." Tamara G. Miller, The Journal of American History

    "The strength of the book lies in its details. Timothy Mahoney uses local history, but does not confine his studies to a single location. By studying a few locations and families intensively he is able to write a history of the region. Autobiographies, family papers, handbills, and other such sources provide the raw materials that Mahoney uses to paint a vivid picture of what life was like in the antebellum Midwest." Journal of Economics

    "This is an important book for those who seek to understand the antebellum Midwest. Writing in solid prose that draws upon exhaustive research, Timothy R. Mahoney clearly traces the institutional, social, and economic development of the greater Mississippi River Valley between American Bottom, Illnois, and the southern Wisconsin lead region. His book is especially valuable because it moves beyond case studies of a particular analyze the larger forces that shaped regional development....well worth reading and consulting." Michigan Historical Review

    "Mahoney's methodology (is) intricate and colorful...the more compelling aspects of the book is its appeal to social scientists outside the historical profession." American Historical Review

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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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