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Love Across the Color Line Paperback – May 9, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (May 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558490248
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558490246
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #605,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Like a good love story that crosses class, race, and defies social mores? Then you'll want to have a look at Love across the Color Line.... This book examines a collection of letters written by a white working-class woman to her African American lover in 1907 and 1908.... Primary sources dealing with working-class sexual mores are uncommon enough; the added dimension of interracial intimacy makes these documents unique.

(Feminist Bookstore News)

While its focus rests unmistakably on the letters themselves, the volume includes three essays that help to place them and the stories of their writer and recipient in historical context.... Love across the Color Line reminds us that the story of race relations in the United States is more vast, and the task of recovering it more varied, than we have imagined.

(Women's Review of Books)

Of interest not only to the historian and the social scientist, but also to the lay reader, the letters and essays that explore them bring to life the common and uncommon experiences of ordinary people who, without such evidence of their thoughts and concerns, would have been forever lost to the past.

(Virginia Quarterly Review)

The letters provide a rare glimpse into interracial love among the working class of western Massachusetts.... This work is a pedagogical mint in research methodology.

(Journal of Women's History)

This work is more than a carefully documented study of relationships; it is also an excellent work of historical detection. A valuable source for training historians, especially African American and women's historians, in the use of local records and the development of historical context.


About the Author

Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz teaches American studies and history at Smith College. Her books include Alma Mater and The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas.

Kathy Peiss teaches history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on March 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
While renovating an old house, a person found a lace stocking filled with love letters from a woman to a man. Also enclosed is a photo of a black woman. Instead of being correspondence between two blacks, it turns out that these letters were written by an Irish-American woman to her black male lover.

History buffs and amateur genealogists should love this book. Outside of the interracial context, this book answers how do you find more information when you come upon a historical artifact. The answer is to look at old census documents, old maps, old magazines. Also, let people know what you found and see if someone may know helpful third parties. Just as modern techniques show that we leave our DNA everywhere, for approximately 150 years or so, Americans have left photographs and writings everywhere. Your reality can be found, even a century after the fact.

The editor of this book said that the contributors knew this book must be a collaboration from the start. I actually think a historian with a background in women's history, African-American history, and local Massachusetts history could have written this book all by her- or himself.

The extant letters were written by Alice to Channing; there is no existing two-way correspondence here. However, the book stated that when relationships fell apart, women often asked their paramours for their letters back. So while I thought that Channing may have kept these letters, it was actually Alice who did so. In that same vein, the book uncovers much more about Alice than Channing. In fact, it stands out that the chapter devoted to her is deep whereas the one devoted to him is scant. Still, you gotta work with whatcha got.
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