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Why we left : untold stories and songs of America's first immigrants

Author: Joanna Brooks
Publisher: Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, [2013]
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"Joanna Brooks's ancestors were among the earliest waves of emigrants to leave England for North America. They lived hardscrabble lives for generations, eking out subsistence in one place after another as they moved forever westward in search of a new life. Why, Brooks wondered, did her people and countless other poor English subjects abandon their homeland to settle for such unremitting hardship? The question leads  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Joanna Brooks
ISBN: 9780816681259 0816681252 9780816681266 0816681260
OCLC Number: 816563870
Description: ix, 213 pages ; 23 cm
Contents: Introduction : Brave men run --
No land of opportunity : folk ballads and the story of why we left --
Murder the brother who killed the tree : fratricide and the story of deforestation --
Two sisters and a beaver hat : desire and the story of colonial commodity culture --
To sink it in the lonesome sea : betrayal and the story of indentured servitude --
Seduction of the house carpenter's wife : abandonment and the story of colonial migration --
Epilogue : Ballad of the laboring poor.
Responsibility: Joanna Brooks.

Abstract:

"Joanna Brooks's ancestors were among the earliest waves of emigrants to leave England for North America. They lived hardscrabble lives for generations, eking out subsistence in one place after another as they moved forever westward in search of a new life. Why, Brooks wondered, did her people and countless other poor English subjects abandon their homeland to settle for such unremitting hardship? The question leads her on a journey into a largely obscured dimension of American history. With her family's background as a point of departure, Brooks brings to light the harsh realities behind seventeenth- and eighteenth-century working-class English emigration--and dismantles the long-cherished idea that these immigrants were drawn to America as a land of opportunity. American folk ballads provide a wealth of clues to the catastrophic contexts that propelled early English emigration to the Americas. Brooks follows these songs back across the Atlantic to find histories of economic displacement, environmental destruction, and social betrayal at the heart of the early Anglo-American migrant experience. The folk ballad "Edward," for instance, reveals the role of deforestation in the dislocation of early Anglo-American peasant immigrants; "Two Sisters" discloses the profound social destabilization unleashed by the advent of luxury goods in England; "The Golden Vanity" shows how common men and women viewed their own disposable position in England's imperial project; and "The House Carpenter's Wife" offers insights into the impact of economic instability and the colonial enterprise on women. From these often tragic ballads Brooks uncovers an archaeology of the worldviews of America's earliest immigrants, presenting a new and haunting historical perspective on the ancestors we thought we knew."--Jacket.

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"Why We Left draws creatively on early folk ballads of England and America to make a surprising, bold, and altogether brilliant contribution to our understanding of why people crossed the Atlantic to Read more...

 
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