this project has two births. Its empathy for the unrespectable is a pen-
chant of my own—arguably bred into me but unwittingly nurtured by women
in my family.Women determined and sharp enough to not simply get by, but
also to push past obstacles and effectively get over. Its subject matter, however,
came from my interaction with a group of students in Muncy, Pennsylvania.
Just as I am grateful to the women in my immediate family, I find myself
also indebted to the women at sci-Muncy for teaching me more than I ever
taught them.
The History Department at the University of Pennsylvania profoundly
tested and honed my resolve. My committee, Mary Frances Berry, Kathleen M.
Brown, and Farah Jasmine Griffin, provided invaluable training and guidance
throughout the dissertation process. I also thank the many scholars, peers,
and friends who enhanced my education: Luther Adams, Jackie Akins, Giselle
Anatol, Elijah Anderson, Erica Armstrong, Jessica Davis-Ba, Ed Baptist, Her-
man Beavers, Deborah Broadnax, Stephanie Camp, Drew Faust, Rhonda
Frederick, Leticia Hernandez, Ross Johnson, Tanaquil Jones, Robin Leidner,
Marie Manrique, Murray Murphy, Leslie Patrick, James Peterson, Kirby Ran-
dolph, John Roberts, Nichole Rustin, Barbara Savage, Thomas Sugrue, Hayley
Thomas, Rhonda Williams, and Rafael Zapata.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission supported my re-
search with grants in 1997 and in 2001. It is not an exaggeration to say that
without these grants and the assistance of the Commission’s archivists, this
project could never have been completed. A special thanks to Judy Duritsa,
Ruth Hodge, Anne Marie Ickes, Karen James, Linda Ries, Michael Sherbon,
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