Men on the Move


In 1923 was published The Hobo, a sociological monograph about the homeless man. I mention this because I wish here to say a word about that book which I have not been permitted to forget. This year I was asked to revise The Hobo, but that assignment turned out to have no pertinence to the present problem of migrant people.

Perhaps when The Hobo appeared in 1923 its readers bad reason to label it a good piece of reporting. It was a subject about which I had some personal knowledge then, and I thought to turn that knowledge to good account. To so many others, although it need not have been so, the hobo was a character of romance and perhaps of mystery. He was a stranger to my professors. For me, then, it was an ideal subject for a Master's thesis.

I have never understood why The Hobo was never convincing to me. Perhaps it colored up too much the culture of the homeless in Chicago's Hobohemia. Perhaps I was too well aware of so much that was left unsaid. Perhaps it was praised too much by reviewers, and I'll admit it began to pall on me to be introduced year after year in this wise: "You know -----, author of The Hobo?" Then some person put on the spot would try to make conversation about a book he may not have heard of. Perhaps, too, I began to weary of being asked to speak before this group or that, always on the same subject.

In time, unable to live down The Hobo, I began to be cynical about the subject. In 1931 when it looked as though . . .

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • William H. Yarbrough
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Chicago
Publication year:
  • 1940


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