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South Side Girls


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Table of Contents

Preface  ix

Acknowledgments  xiii

Introduction. I Will Thank You with All My Heart: Girls and the Great Migration  1

1. Do You See That Girl? The Dependent, the Destitute, and the Delinquent Black Girl  19

2. Modesty on Her Cheek: Girls and Great Migration Marketplaces  59

3. The Possibilities of the Negro Girl: Black Girls and the Great Depression  96

4. Did I Do Right? The Black Girl Citizen  130

Conclusion. She Was Fighting for Her Father's Freedom: Girls after the Great Migration  167

Notes  175

Bibliography  215

Index  233

About the Author

Marcia Chatelain is Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University.


“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. . . . Recommended for civil rights, gender and women’s studies, environmental, and social science scholars." 
*Library Journal*

“[N]otable for its flowing attention-holding writing. . . .  Included are many entertaining stories the author has plumbed from diaries, African American newspapers, and archives.”
*Foreword Reviews*

“Referencing girls’ letters and interviews, Chatelain shares these unknown stories (enhanced by 13 images) and thus offers a glimpse into this understudied population to the Great Migration’s complex narrative.”
*Philadelphia Tribune*

“Many scholars have studied the great migration of African Americans from the South to the North.  Most often, the subject focuses on men.  Chatelain asks ‘What about girls?’ … An excellent companion to works such as James Grossman's Land of Hope and Nicholas Lemann's The Promised Land. Highly recommended. All public and academic levels/libraries.”

“Chatelain exhibits a particularly deft reading for the girls’ voices. …  In writing that is accessible and conceptually generative, [she] demonstrate[s] not only that black girls existed, but that they mattered—an important challenge to the implicit and ongoing view that girlhood is a whites-only space.”
*Women's Review of Books*

"South Side Girls renders a fascinating interpretation of the African American migration. Marcia Chatelain has produced an engaging study that challenges historians to re-conceptualize ideas about urban migration, African American reform, and black girls’ thoughts about family and community, consumer culture, and religion.... South Side Girls is an innovative work that illuminates the voices and narratives of a dynamic group of underrepresented urban citizens: black girls."
*American Studies*

"[An] elegantly-written monograph about African American girls seeking education, autonomy, and opportunity in early and mid-twentieth century Chicago.... In South Side Girls, Chatelain has made important contributions to existing scholarship about Chicago, the Great Migration, African American and women's history, and the rapidly developing, dynamic field of girlhood studies."
*Journal of Illinois History*

"Marcia Chatelain’s South Side Girls offers an intriguing and unique view of black girls in Chicago during the Great Migration from 1910 to 1940."
*American Historical Review*

"Chatelain makes creative use of sources as she searches for and finds black girls who have been invisible and unaccounted for in previous histories of the Great Migration. . . . South Side Girls ... demonstrate[s] the ways that consideration of black girls’ experiences provides richer and more nuanced historical narratives . . . [and] provide[s] important context and foundation for the conceptions of black girlhood that we have inherited."
*Public Books*

"Marcia Chatelain’s South Side Girls focuses on the lives of young African Americans who left direct and indirect traces in the archives—in interviews and through their interaction with institutions. Chatelain makes a major contribution by engaging black girls’ experiences, not just academic conceptions of black girlhood. Indeed, she critiques American society and African American communities for being more interested in black girlhood than with the quality of black girls’ lives."
*Journal of American History*

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