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Making Men, Making Class

The YMCA and Workingmen, 1877-1920

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the United States transformed from an essentially agrarian society into an urban, industrialized economy. In Making Men, Making Class, Thomas Winter explores the impact of these profound changes on constructions of manhood, using the YMCA’s new efforts to reach out to railroad and industrial workers as a case study.

Starting in the 1870s, the leaders ("secretaries") of the YMCA sought to reduce political radicalism and labor unrest by instilling new ideals of manliness among workers. By involving workingmen in a range of activities on the job and off, the YMCA hoped to foster team spirit, moral conduct, and new standards of manhood that would avoid conflict and instead encourage cooperation along the lines of a Christian, pious manliness. In their efforts to make better men, the secretaries of the YMCA also crafted new ideals of middle-class manliness for themselves that involved a sense of mission and social purpose. In doing so, they ended up "making" class, too, as they began to speak a language of manhood structured by class differences.

208 pages | 15 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Religion: Christianity

Sociology: Social History

Table of Contents

1. The YMCA, Gender, Class, and Social Change, 1877-1920: An Introduction
2. "A Zeal for Religious Work and an Open Door of Opportunity": YMCA Secretaries and Nineteenth-Century Ideals of Manhood
3. "We Have Only to Step in and Occupy the Land": The YMCA, Labor Conflict, and the Rise of Welfare Capitalism
4. "To Aid in the Upbuilding of Character": The YMCA, Welfare Capitalism, and a Language of Manhood
5. "A Most Effective Ally in the Work of Labor Advancement": Workingmen and the YMCA
6. "None of Your Milk-and-Water Sops, Flabby-Handed and Mealy-Mouthed, for Dealing with Such Men": The YMCA, the Secretaryship, and Professionalization
7. Personality, Character, and Self-Expression: The YMCA and a Language of Manhood and Class

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