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Ballots and Bibles: Ethnic Politics and the Catholic Church in Providence (Cushwa Center Studies of Catholicism in Twentieth-Century America)

Sterne, Evelyn Savidge

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ISBN 10: 0801474973 / ISBN 13: 9780801474972
Published by Cornell University Press
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0801474973 Brand new as issued in illus. paperback, mild crease on front cover panel, NO marks! Large books require more International postage. Bookseller Inventory # 081122348

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Title: Ballots and Bibles: Ethnic Politics and the ...

Publisher: Cornell University Press


Book Condition:New

About this title


By the mid-nineteenth century, Providence, Rhode Island, an early industrial center, became a magnet for Catholic immigrants seeking jobs. The city created as a haven for Protestant dissenters was transformed by the arrival of Italian, Irish, and French-Canadian workers. By 1905, more than half of its population was Catholic―Rhode Island was the first state in the nation to have a Catholic majority. Civic leaders, for whom Protestantism was an essential component of American identity, systematically sought to exclude the city's Catholic immigrants from participation in public life, most flagrantly by restricting voting rights. Through her account of the newcomers' fight for political inclusion, Evelyn Savidge Sterne offers a fresh perspective on the nationwide struggle to define American identity at the turn of the twentieth century.In a departure from standard histories of immigrants and workers in the United States, Ballots and Bibles views religion as a critical tool for new Americans seeking to influence public affairs. In Providence, this book demonstrates, Catholics used their parishes as political organizing spaces. Here they learned to be speakers and leaders, eventually orchestrating a successful response to Rhode Island's Americanization campaigns and claiming full membership in the nation. The Catholic Church must, Sterne concludes, be considered as powerful an engine for ethnic working-class activism from the 1880s until the 1930s as the labor union or the political machine.

From the Back Cover:

"Evelyn Sterne's book about immigration, labor, religion, and politics in modern Rhode Island is one of the finest examples of the new history of American Catholicism being written today by a talented generation of younger scholars. Sterne presents ethnic parishes--her reach includes all Providence's immigrant Catholic communities--as lively centers of civic education and engagement, where lay men and women worked together with their priests and nuns to create community, to define and defend their interests, and to enjoy each other's company. This is a rich and exciting study."--Robert A. Orsi, Warren Professor of American Religious History, Harvard Divinity School

"Ballots and Bibles is part of an exciting new trend among social historians to bring religion from the margins to the center of the story of working-class America. It is a fascinating look at how crucial Catholic parish life was to the shaping of politics and culture in a multicultural city. Succinctly written, it rightly pays special attention to how Catholic women negotiated what it meant to have an American identity without losing one's faith or ethnic loyalty. I highly recommend Evelyn Savidge Sterne's book to those looking for a fuller perspective on the dynamics of urban America."--Colleen McDannell, University of Utah

"Ballots and Bibles offers us a portrait of Providence's working people that is grounded in the lived complexity of their lives. By taking seriously their religious faith, Evelyn Sterne restores the rich context through which they in fact joined unions, created families, and engaged in political action. This insightful and sensitive book will appeal to readers with a wide range of historical interests."--Nick Salvatore, Maurice and Hinda Neufeld Founders Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations, Professor of American Studies, Cornell University

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