New Book: The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City by Kevin Baker

Kevin Baker’s latest book on the broader cultural significance of baseball in New York City, “The New York Game: Baseball and the Emergence of a Modern Metropolis,” delves into the narratives of baseball and New York City’s evolution. Baker explores the rich histories of both the sport and the city, shedding light on their complex relationship.

Kevin Baker asserts that baseball is synonymous with New York, as it is the birthplace of the sport’s fundamental elements such as the diamond layout, the bunt, and the curveball, as well as the site of the inaugural home run. According to Baker, the city birthed the game’s original luminaries and served as a hub where enthusiasts congregated to either participate in, or witness, the sport. Described as a “vibrant, dual coming-of-age tale” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff, “The New York Game” narrates how the city and its favorite pastime reflect each other’s journeys—expanding, grappling with adversity and misconduct, and emerging from these challenges with renewed resilience.

Fine more details about the book here.


Clippers and Quilts: Living New Deal Book Award Winners for 2023

The Living New Deal has named two co-winners of the annual New Deal Book Award, which recognizes outstanding nonfiction works about U.S. history in the New Deal era (1933-1942), a period spanning the depths of the Great Depression through the nation’s entry into World War II. 

This year’s book award is shared by Brooke L. Blower, Associate Professor at Boston University specializing U.S. History and political culture, for Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper, (Oxford University Press) and Janneken Smucker, professor of History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania specializing in digital and public history and material culture, for A New Deal for Quilts (International Quilt Museum, University of Nebraska Press).

The co-winners will be honored at a ceremony on June 22 at the Roosevelt Reading Festival at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, NY. Each will receive a $1,000 prize.

In Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper, Blower tells the story of the New Deal and World War II through the lens of the 1943 crash of Pan American Airway’s flying boat, the Yankee Clipper. Tracing the biographies of the Clipper’s passengers—Broadway stars, savvy entrepreneurs, swashbuckling pilots and skilled diplomats in the 1930s and early 1940s, Blower illustrates the important role that noncombatants played in the war, despite the U.S.’s isolationism in the decade prior to Pearl Harbor. Grounded in archival research, the book tells a riveting tale, bringing readers along for the ride on the Yankee Clipper.

A New Deal for Quilts by Janneken Smucker (International Quilt Museum, University of Nebraska Press) offers a fresh perspective on how policies designed to combat the Great Depression shaped the daily lives of ordinary Americans—especially women—and how, in turn, domestic practices, such as quilting, influenced those very policies. Smucker explores how quilts became tangled up with ideas and myths about America’s past even as they became central to a variety of New Deal work-relief programs. She introduces us to government photographers, oral historians and artists who documented quilts as vital historical artifacts, and the thorny interplay between federal agencies, politicians and the public. Smucker’s expertise, combined with the book’s many striking photographs from the 1930s and color images of the quilts themselves make this an exceptional contribution to the study of the New Deal.

Author Derek Leebaert took second place for his book Unlikely Heroes: Franklin Roosevelt, His Four Lieutenants and the World They Made (St. Martin’s Publishing Group).

New Deal Book Award winners are chosen by a distinguished Review Committee. The award was established in 2021 to encourage scholarship and authorship about the New Deal. Nominations come from publishers, librarians, historians and the author’s colleagues. Seventeen books were nominated for 2023.

“The range of books is impressive,” said Kimberley Johnson, professor of Metropolitan Studies at New York University and Chair of the Living New Deal’s 2023 Review Committee. “I think we all were happy to see such an interesting variety of ways to think about the New Deal.”

Richard Walker, director of the Living New Deal, expressed appreciation to all participants, adding that, “It is immensely satisfying to see so much high-quality scholarship being done on the New Deal, revealing new dimensions of its contributions that still call out to us ninety years later.”

Past winners are Scott Borchert, author of Republic of Detours, How the new Deal Paid Broke Writers to Rediscover America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) about the Federal Writers’ Project; and Victoria W. Wolcott for Living in the Future: Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement, (University of Chicago Press), which explores the New Deal’s influence on the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

Read the Committee’s full reviews of the 2023 winning books.

Read the synopses of the 17 books nominated for the 2023 award.

New Dealish: May 13, Saint Frances Perkins Annual Feast Day

Emblem honoring Frances Perkins at St Andrews Episcopal Church near the Perkins’s homestead in Newcastle, Maine.

Emblem honoring Frances Perkins at St Andrews Episcopal Church near the Perkins’s homestead in Newcastle, Maine.
Photo by Susan Ives

Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve as a US Cabinet Secretary and the nation’s longest-serving Labor Secretary, serving the entirety of FDR’s presidency (1933-45). A witness to New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in which 146 young women perished, Perkins became a life-long advocate for worker’s rights. Despite hostile pushback from industry and Republicans in Congress, as she nevertheless boldly shepherded legislation establishing worker safety standards, child labor regulations, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage and Social Security.

“If American history textbooks accurately reflected the past, Frances Perkins would be recognized as one of the nation’s greatest heroes— as iconic as Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine,” says Yale Law School Professor Adam Cohen.In 1944, a piece portraying Frances Perkins in Collier’s magazine described her accomplishments over the previous twelve years as “not so much the Roosevelt New Deal, as … the Perkins New Deal.”

In recognition of her good works and enduring faith and exemplary contributions to the well-being of all people, in 2009 the Episcopal Church designated May 13 as an annual feast day in Perkins’s honor.
Perkins summed up her work simply: “I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen.”

Book Review: Americans in a World at War

Review by Victoria Wolcott

Blower, Brooke L., Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan
Am’s Yankee Clipper
, Oxford University Press

Publication Date: August 29, 2023

Blower’s masterfully researched book, Americans in a World at War, tells the story of the New
Deal and World War II in original and surprising ways. Through the lens of the 1943 crash of
Pan American Airway’s Yankee Clipper Blower illustrates the important roles that
noncombatants played in the war. Tracing the biographies of the Clipper’s passengers back in
time Blower uncovers seldom-told stories of Broadway stars, savvy entrepreneurs,
swashbuckling pilots, and skilled diplomats in the 1930s and early 1940s. And despite the United
States’ isolationism in the decade prior to Pearl Harbor, she demonstrated the global connections
that linked her historical actors to a network of internationalists. Finally, while grounded in the
historiography of the period as well as extensive archival research, Blower tells a riveting tail
bringing her readers along for the ride on the Yankee Clipper.

Book Review: A New Deal for Quilts

Review by Scott Borchert

Janneken Smucker’s A New Deal for Quilts, University of Nebraska Press

Publication Date: December 2023

Janneken Smucker’s A New Deal for Quilts poses a question few might think to ask: what would happen if you organized a study of the New Deal and the Great Depression entirely around the theme of quilts and quilting? This illuminating, surprising, and beautifully designed book is the answer. With skill and nuance, Smucker explores how, during the Depression era, quilts became tangled up with ideas and myths about the American past—even while they became central, as material objects, to a variety of New Deal programs. She takes us into the WPA sewing rooms and FSA home economics classes where women produced quilts as part of a broader work-relief strategy, and she introduces us to the government photographers, oral historians, and artists who documented quilts as vital historical artifacts. She focuses, too, on the thorny interplay between federal agencies, politicians, and the public, by examining some memorable examples of quilts as thread-and-fabric expressions of political commitments and aspirations. A New Deal for Quilts offers a fresh perspective on how policies designed to combat the Great Depression shaped the daily lives of ordinary Americans—especially women—and how, in turn, domestic practices such as quilting influenced those very policies. Smucker’s clear prose and expert knowledge, combined with the book’s sumptuous visual design—featuring many striking black and white photographs from the 1930s alongside full color images of the quilts themselves—make this an exceptional contribution to the study of the New Deal.A New Deal for Quilts

LND Featured on NPR’s Marketplace: The New Deal’s Legacy

The Living New Deal was featured on National Public Radio’s Marketplace. Natalie McDonald, Living New Deal Research Assistant, spoke about the built legacy of the New Deal and the work of the Living New Deal does to document this era. The podcast examined how the New Deal changed the relationship between the government and the economy. If before the New Deal there was “the government and the economy,” after the New Deal, we had “the government in the economy.” Listen to the segment here.


A NEW LOOK FOR LIVINGNEWDEAL.ORG

The livingnewdeal.org website has been transformed, the culmination of two years of planning, design, programming and feedback. The new design is receiving rave reviews for its sleek and roomy look and ease of use— navigating via buttons rather than menus and scrolling. An additional benefit is the greater ease of searching New Deal sites through the database and map. The improvements also make it easier to use the site on laptops and phones. Our immense thanks to webmaster Lisa Thompson and programmer Tod Abbott, and to Dick Walker for design input and to team members, advisors and associates for feedback.

NEW DEAL BOOK AWARD FOR 2022

The Living New Deal presented our second Annual New Deal Book Award to Victoria Wolcott (University of Buffalo). The award ceremony took place at the Roosevelt Reading Festival at FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. LND team members Gray Brechin and Jeff Gold attended the event. Professor Wolcott discussed her book, Living in the Future, Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement, (University of Chicago Press-2022). Living in the Future reveals the unexplored impact of utopian thought on the major figures of the Civil Rights Movement. A LND webinar featured Dr. Wolcott in dialogue with Professor Kimberly Johnson (New York University). Dr. Johnson, a member of the Living New Deal Research Board, is the new chair of the New Deal Book Award selection committee for books published in 2023. Many thanks to Professor Eric Rauchway (University of California, Davis) for leading the committee over the past two years.

NEW YORK CHAPTER UPDATE

Our New York City Chapter led a New Deal tour of Central Park in May and presented a very impressive webinar on Social Security in June. They partnered with Roosevelt House at Hunter College on two other webinars, one in March on transforming the nation’s food system and another in October on New Deal-era Labor Secretary Frances Perkins and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. They also joined in the commemoration at the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company near Manhattan’s Washington Square, where a tragic fire in 1915 sparked Perkins’s lifelong dedication to aiding women and other workers.

NEW DEAL 90TH ANNIVERSARY EVENTS

 Led by Susan Ives, the Living New Deal produced two impressive events celebrating the 90th anniversary of the New Deal. The first was held at Muir Woods National Monument in Mill Valley, California, where the Civilian Conservation Corps did extensive work during the New Deal. Our partner, the National Park Service, showed the work currently underway to restore  Coho salmon habitat and upgrade historic trails in this renowned redwood park.  

More than a hundred guests attended a New Deal anniversary celebration at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The museum, built by the WPA, features recently restored murals, mosaics and sculptures commissioned under the Federal Art Project.

Historian and political commentator Heather Cox Richardson was the keynoter who, along with Judge Charles Breyer, LND’s founder Gray Brechin, and the San Francisco historian and author Gary Kamiya, recalled the impact of the New Deal and its relevance today. Aaron Peskin, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, presented a Proclamation to the Living New Deal on behalf of the City. Our thanks to our partners, the San Francisco Maritime Historical National Park Association, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the National Park Service, which provided hourly tours of the building’s architecture and artworks throughout the day. Greenbelt, Maryland and Roosevelt University in Chicago also hosted events honoring the New Deal’s 90th anniversary.

View photos of the San Francisco Maritime Museum event.