Mount Union Faculty Member Publishes Book

April 22, 2010

Recent scholarship by Mount Union College faculty includes a new book by Dr. John Louis Recchiuti, professor of history, titled Civic Engagement: Social Science and Progressive-Era Reform in New York City (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

In his book, Recchiuti weaves together intellectual, educational and political history to reconstruct the history of a vibrant community of men and women who built an expansive network of reform organizations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that not only changed a city but to a considerable extent, the nation as well.

Focusing on racism, poverty, labor relations, political corruption and the 1912 presidential election, Recchiuti tells the story of a community of scholar-activists who, trained in the social sciences ' as economists, political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists and political economists ' helped frame the high-stakes issues of their day and formed many of the most important organizations of social reform in the era.

Members of this lively community of scholarship included men and women of remarkable range and diversity of background, among them George Edmund Haynes, Columbia University's first African-American Ph.D.; Frances Perkins, the future U.S. Secretary of Labor; W.E.B. Du Bois; Frances Kellor; Franz Boas; Florence Kelley and Charles Beard.

'It was a labor of love,' said Recchiuti. He began the book while teaching at Columbia University. Earlier, for a short time, he had himself been a labor union organizer for District 1199 Health Care Workers.

'I am fascinated by the relationship between intellectuals, ideas, politics and culture,' he said. 'I was teaching Columbia's core course in the history of philosophy and political thought on the one side,' he recounted, 'and on the other side I had studied social and labor history at Warwick University in England, and had this long standing interest in issues of poverty, race, labor and politics.'

The two interests came together in his research for the book.

'Here was a group of young Americans, men and women, black and white, who were not only applying themselves in the study of social science, but were working in concert, in myriad ways, to improve America; heirs of the secular, scientific Enlightenment, they were not only interpreting the world but changing it. It fascinated me,' he said.

His book is available at the Mount Union College bookstore and through other leading booksellers.

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