South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration

Duke Univ. Mar. 2015. 264p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780822358480. $84.95; pap. ISBN 9780822358541. $23.95; ebk. ISBN 9780822375708. HIST
This engaging read deftly examines the experiences of African American girls and young women as they undertook the vast emotional and physical paradigm shifts of the Great Migration era, with a specific geographical focus on migrants to the South Side of Chicago. Chatelain (history, Georgetown Univ.) brings to light the ways girls' and young women's migration experiences are singular in the larger mobility narrative of American Exceptionalism. The meanings of "girlhood" and how migrant African American children did or did not fit into established types or expectations are discussed. Much is also made of the women who variously championed these girls in their new environments. Through somewhat chronological chapters on the girls as delinquent and dependent, consumers, during the Depression, and as citizens in the larger physical landscape, readers are offered insight into how aspirations for the wider migrant community were represented both for and by a girl's experiences. Despite voluminous research providing hopeful examples of educational and community engagement for migrant girls, pervasive racism bore impacts of sorrow and disappointment.
VERDICT Recommended for civil rights, gender and women's studies, environmental, and social science scholars.

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