A history of dress and the 'New Negro' of Chicago, c.1890-1915

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2012
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- As a popular and viable destination for prospective black migrants of the South, Chicago soon became a major cultural hub for the 'New Negro' around the turn of the 20th century. This thesis investigates the contentious, often heated, discussions found within black newspapers circulated in Chicago during this time surrounding the relationship between dress and modern values that were integral to the make-up of the New Negro, including respectability, social distinction, modesty and restraint, and appropriate fashionability. This thesis also addresses the period known as the Antebellum era that directly preceded the New Negro, where the genesis of such a doctrine can be found during the mid-to-late-19th century. Along with the development of the modern American fashion industry around this time, this thesis also discusses its democratising effects on public consumption practices in the urban black marketplace. This thesis argues that the construction of the New Negro and its dress discourse shared an in separable link with the construction of modern America, on both economic and social levels. Lastly, as understandings of liberalism, individuality, democracy and social mobility began to shape much of the nation's growth in the early-20th century, this thesis examines closely the creation of this New Negro identity that was formed autonomously by the black Chicagoan community, influenced by, though nonetheless independent from, pre-existing tropes once shaped and created by the dominant white mainstream.
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