April 6, 2006
Bourgeois Nightmares: Suburbia, 1870-1930
One of the things that I'm hoping to do a little bit during my guest stint here is to comment on recent property scholarship, particularly monographs. I've already commented some on Lindsay Robertson's important book on Johnson v. McIntosh, Conquest by Law.
I urge you to check out Robert Fogelson's Bourgeois Nightmares: Suburbia, 1870-1930, which has just appeared from Yale University Press. It's already scooped up some good reviews--and particularly look for Laura Underkuffer's exceptionally thoughtful review coming to the Law and History Review.
Property professors will be particularly interested in this because Fogelson uses restrictive covenants as a gauge of what Americans wanted. What a brilliant way to read those nearly ubiquitious sources. Of course, racially restrictive covenants have a lot to say about Americans' attitudes towards property and neighbors. Fogelson makes ample use of those sources; and he uncovers that it wasn't just African Americans who were unwelcome. Other racial and religious groups were unwelcome in some housing developments--Jews, Catholics, Greeks, Italians, Irish, Asians. But there's more the in covenants, like the size of houses, the absence of stores, the size of lots. In short, how people will live.
This one is worth a read this summer. And I think some of your students will like this one, too.
Alfred L. Brophy
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