Walking to Work: Tramps in America, 1790-1935

By Eric H. Monkkonen | Go to book overview

bulletin boards of the various substrata of society. Geographers have shown us how to use newspapers to map communication fields in the United States. Could not historians use newspapers to map cultural and class regions and the circulation consequences of residential mobility and tramping? Several of the articles in this book show that the more we look, the more articulate the "inarticulate" appear to have been. While messages in the labor press inquiring of the location of travelers may not make a direct statement of values, they certainly show one function of the labor press in tying together the complex world of workers.

Mobility, then, whether of whole households or of individual tramps, poses a major challenge to social historians. It may be a challenge which goes unanswered. Certainly the difficult fact of residential mobility has lurked behind various studies in social history for almost a half century without provoking any significant historical questions. So too tramping has never been a big secret, yet we have failed to incorporate it into any larger framework of United States history. Although somewhat different phenomena, both tramping and residential mobility seem almost to be answers looking for questions. The research reported in this book, we hope, has begun to provide some of the appropriate questions.


Notes
1.
For the McCook-Aspinwall correspondence see John J. McCook The Social Reform Papers of John J. McCook ( Hartford: The Antiquarian and Landmarks Society of Connecticut, 1977). For an entertaining, anecdotal book which reproduces some of the livelier material, including photographs, from the McCook Collection, see Roger A. Bruns, Knights of the Road: A Hobo History ( New York: Methuen, 1980).
2.
Max Weber, The City ( New York: Free Press, 1958).
3.
Georg Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life," in Donald N. Levine, ed., Georg Simmel: On Individuality and Social Forms ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 324-39.
4.
For a clear diagram of this tendency to deviance, see Brian J. L. Berry, Comparative Urbanization: Divergent Paths in the Twentieth Century ( New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), 16.
5.
Thomas Bender, Community and Social Change in America ( New Brunswick,

-245-

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