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Next to Godliness: Confronting Dirt and Despair in Progressive-Era New York City Hardcover – April 17, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Burnstein's interpretation of reform activities . . . rehabilitates the reputation of the Progressives and inspires readers seeking to reshape political debates over social issues."--Journal of Social History



 

"In this little book brimming with big ideas, the author seeks to draw lessons for our times by indicating. . . . the old Progressives' linkage of moral and family values to communitarian ends."--Historian


 

"The book raises good questions . . . about the challenges contemporary historians continue to face in making sense of the dual nature of reformers and reform movements."--H-SHGAPE

Book Description

Civic sanitation and Americanizing immigrants

 

To many Progressive-Era reformers, the extent of street cleanliness was considered an important gauge for determining whether a city was providing the conditions necessary for impoverished immigrants to attain a state of "decency"--a level of individual well-being and morality that would help ensure a healthy and orderly city. The struggle for enhanced civic sanitation significantly reinforced the broader movement to improve urban social and environmental conditions and influence the individual behaviors considered crucial to personal advancement and societal health.

 

Daniel Burnstein's Next to Godliness examines prominent street sanitation issues in Progressive-Era New York City--ranging from garbage strikes to pushcarts to "juvenile street cleaning leagues"--as a way of exploring how reformers amassed a base of middle-class support for social reform measures to a greater degree than in practically any other period of prosperity in U.S. history. Linking social reform concerns with practical politics and with compelling urban environmental and public health issues, Burnstein stresses an ethos of mutual obligations in discussing reformers' attitudes toward individual and governmental responsibility, individual character and its relationship to the social and physical environment, and the integration of immigrants into the broader society.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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