Prof. Daniel Czitrom latest book New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Movement reveals several key themes that resonate today. He will uncover them during his talk here at the mansion and autograph copies of his book during an accompanying Victorian tea.
Czitrom will open with the explosive charges leveled against the New York Police Department and Tammany Hall by the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst in 1892. Two years later, Parkhurst’s crusade forced the first sensational political investigation of the modern era and kick-started the Progressive movement.
Established by the New York State Senate, the Lexow Committee heard testimony from nearly 700 witnesses, representing all walks of New York life. It revealed in shocking and unprecedented detail how the police force managed New York’s lucrative vice economy, extorted payoffs from respectable businesses and enjoyed immunity from charges of police brutality.
The narrative unfolds amidst the larger contexts of machine politics, national elections, the depression of 1893, vote fraud and vote suppression, and police violence. The effort to root out corrupt cops and crooked politicians morphed into something much more profound: a public reckoning, messy and contentious, over what New York—and the American city—had become since the Civil War. The speaker will dig into the research challenges that he faced in conceiving and writing his book.
Czitrom is Professor of History on the Ford Foundation at Mount Holyoke College, with special interest in the history of New York City and 20th century America. He is also the author of Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn of the Century New York (2008); Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan (1982); and co-author of Out of Many: A History of the American People (9th ed., 2019), a best-selling college survey textbook.
He served as Historical Advisor for the BBC America historical drama Copper (2011-13) set in Civil War era New York. And he has appeared as a featured on-camera commentator in numerous documentary film projects, including Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People (PBS/American Masters, 2019); The Rise and Fall of Penn Station (PBS, 2014); New York: A Documentary Film (PBS, 1999); American Photography: A Century of Images (PBS, 1999). Since 2009 he has been a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
The Summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks presented every Tuesday until September 10 are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.
Tickets for the Czitrom talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event. Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited. For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.