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Love and the Working Class : The Inner Worlds of Nineteenth Century Americans - Karen Lystra

Love and the Working Class

The Inner Worlds of Nineteenth Century Americans

Author: Karen Lystra

Narrated by: Lisa S. Ware

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Published: 7th May 2024

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Love and the Working Class is a unique look at the emotions of hard-living, nineteenth-century Americans who were often on the cusp of literacy. These laboring folk highly valued letters and, however difficult it was, wrote to stay connected to those they loved. This book displays the personal expression of factory hands, manual laborers, peddlers, coopers, carpenters, lumbermen, miners, tanners, haulers, tailors, seamstresses, laundresses, domestics, sharecroppers, independent farmers, and common soldiers and their wives. Entering the "anonymous corners" of these people's lives through letters, we can see their humor, grit, hope, heartache, and endurance, and grasp what they believed and felt about themselves, their kinfolk, and their friends. Using letters written to parents, siblings, husbands, wives, friends, and potential mates between 1830 and 1880, Karen Lystra identifies the shared conceptions of love and practices of courtship and marriage within a racially diverse population of free working-class people born in America. We can listen to their voices as they flirt, act as intermediaries in hometown courtships, express non-romantic love to their mates, and voice their hopes for the future. Through these letters, poor, minimally schooled Americans show us how they felt about love and how they created meaningful attachments in their uncertain lives.


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