Recent Submissions

  • The Collapse of the Confederacy: Class Dissent, Unionism, and Desertion

    Hendel, Adam; The College at Brockport (2/15/2009)
    The following is a study of the collapse of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. This· study focuses on class dissent, unionism, and desertion in the Confederate Army as the major contributing factors to the collapse of the Confederacy. The South during the American Civil War was a deeply divided region with poor whites fighting against the planter elites. These deep social tensions caused many within the South to abandon the Confederate cause. Throughout the South before and during the Civil War there were large pockets of people who never supported the Confederacy. In East Tennessee, Arkansas, and West Virginia Unionists waged a violent and brutal guerrilla war in an attempt to destroy the Confederacy. In addition to Unionists, many Southerners who supported the Confederacy at the start of the war carried these social tensions from the home front into the army. By the second year of the war desertion in the Confederate Army was becoming a major problem. The common Confederate soldier quickly realized that they were fighting a rich man's war. The wealthy planters were not willing to do their part by either fighting or support the families of those soldiers who were blooding the battlefields. In the end, the Confederacy sealed its fate even before the first shots of the war were fired since they were never able to get all Southerners to back ·their cause.
  • "When Bridget is Good She is So Very good ... When She is Bad, She is Horrid": Portrayals of Female Irish Immigrants in America during the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

    Smith, Cara; The College at Brockport (8/1/2008)
    During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Irish women accounted for more than half of all Irish emigrants to leave Ireland. A great portion of these women settled in urban centers on the East coast of the United States where a large percentage took jobs as domestic servants. The great number of Irish women involved in domestic service led to the emergence of the negative stereotype of the Irish maid "Bridget," in popular entertainment and literature. Further research into the literature and data of the time shows positive contemporary descriptions of Irish women involved in American domestic service. These positive descriptions add an opposing view of Irish-American identity that stands in contrast to the common negative stereotypes. These positive descriptions, along with examples of hard data show how the reality of Irish women in America often stood in sharp contrast to the stereotype presented by way of the Irish maid "Bridget." By looking at the involvement of Irish women in the American workforce one can trace the rather rapid move towards Americanization from the first generation into the second and third. Irish-American women quickly distanced themselves from the negative connotations present in domestic service and began to follow the employment patterns of native-born American women as well as adopting American values and culture. Through education, industriousness, and the willingness to adapt, Irish women helped bring a large portion of the Irish-American community into the American middle-class.
  • The American Obsession: The Continuing Influence of the American Civil War on Popular Culture and the Evolution of Lost Cause Mythology

    Latella, David; The College at Brockport (1/1/2009)
    America is obsessed with its Civil War. Within months of its end, those who won and lost the war began fashioning their own mythologies as to its cause and the reasons for its outcome. Of these, the Myth of the Lost Cause is, perhaps, the best known Civil War myth. Lost Cause mythology provides a framework which both explains or refutes the acknowledged causes for the American Civil War and disputes the causes for the war's end. Lost Cause mythology deifies the Southern soldier and idealizes the Southern way of life including its "peculiar institution" of slavery. The Myth of the Lost Cause and other Civil War mythologies are not confined to dusty shelves and arcane historical studies, however. In fact, the Civil War is a part of every-day American life. It influences the American zeitgeist with its pervasive presence in popular culture, literature, film, and television. The effects of this influence, however, and their extent, have changed over the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. The Lost Cause mythology, so popular at the beginning of the twentieth century, has faded from prominence. While many continue to cling to its beliefs, Lost Cause mythology is waning in popular culture. It has been replaced in two ways. First, the Civil War has become a trope, a storytelling device used in everything from car chase movies to cooking shows. Second, the "what if' question that wonders why the South.lost-the hidden core of the Lost Cause mythology-has become mainstream. The Civil War is, now, as much an exercise in speculative and alternative history as it is an example of traditional historical study.
  • Rochester Coughed The 1918 Influenza Epidemic in Rochester, New York

    Cody, Daniel D.; The College at Brockport (8/15/2010)
    A massive war engulfed the world in 1918. Enormous armies of men laid waste to each other with appalling casualties. However, all of mankind was threatened by an invisible killer much deadlier than any war. This menace to humanity killed more people in a shorter time period than any other event recorded in history. Millions died in just a little over a year. This massive killer was influenza. As the Great War held the attention of the world, influenza circled the globe spreading infection and death everywhere. The science of man was unable to identify it and therefore unable to combat it. Comfort care and prayer were the tools that most people resorted to when influenza invaded their homes. Rochester, New York was no exception to the pandemic in 1918. The citizens of Rochester read about the influenza outbreak just outside of Boston and watched in horror as it spread like a spider web across America. Rochester knew influenza was coming. Influenza invaded Rochester, killed hundreds, and then abruptly left. For a few deadly weeks in the fall of 1918, Rochester was held captive by this invisible killer. This is the story of influenza in Rochester, New York in 1918. A human face is put on the tragedy that grasped Rochester. This is the story of the battle the people of Rochester fought against influenza. There were winners and losers. A massive volunteer effort brought the full resources of the population to bear down on influenza, people helping people regardless of class or status. This is the account of hard work, long hours, fear, perseverance, and community. This is when Rochester coughed.
  • Editing the Past: How Eisenstein and Vertov Used Montage to Create Soviet History

    Priest, Douglas Michael; The College at Brockport (10/1/2008)
    This study examines montage according to Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov and how their theories changed due to the political and social upheaval of the Cultural Revolution (1928-1931). In the case of both directors, montage also led to revisionism of Soviet History. By closely analyzing the writings of both directors regarding their film theories, and comparing them with the films they subsequently created, the following discussion demonstrates that both directors made conscious choices about the structure of their films that led to historical revisionism both before and after the Cultural Revolution. Their writings and films existed within the context of Soviet authority and thus reflected its ideals, yet created historical revisionism in a distinct way, in spite of political pressure. Eisenstein's intricate development of montage gave him the ability to include it in his films both before and after the Cultural Revolution in a variety of ways. Vertov's focus on documentary film as the medium to which montage was applied allowed him to continue to assert himself well into the 1930s. As a result, both film makers retained a degree of artistic freedom throughout the repressive regime of Stalinism.
  • The Political, Socioeconomic, and Cultural Impact of the Implementation of Rural Free Delivery in Late 1890s US

    Torre, Jose R.; Leslie, Bruce; Littlejohn, Judith M.; The College at Brockport (7/1/2013)
    The United States Postal Service’s 1896 adoption of Rural Free Delivery modernized rural America: it promised efficiency in communication, undermined traditional practices, and diminished rural isolation by providing farm families with reliable access to daily newspapers, political newsletters, commercial catalogs, and homogeneous consumer goods. Beyond the farm, the establishment of official RFD routes affected village shopkeepers, spurred the Good Roads Movement, initiated changes in daily life and social patterns, changed the structure of Post Office employment, influenced shifts in the parcel delivery industry, and created increased distribution of mass media through the post. This thesis examines the significance of RFD through the sleigh used to deliver mail on the first RFD route in New York State. Drawing on material culture, contemporary newspaper articles, advertisements, government records, and written accounts of postal delivery in the US, this thesis traces the resistance to and advocacy of the implementation of Rural Free Delivery; it analyzes the political, socioeconomic, and cultural impact of the shift from farmers traveling into town to retrieve their mail, to a US postal worker delivering the mail regularly to the farms. The sleigh represents a conscious effort to provide rural Americans with equal access to information via the postal service, initiating a broader transformation of rural culture through consistent, timely access to mass media regardless of geographic location, class, race, or gender.
  • Hunting for Harmony: The Skaneateles Community and Utopian Socialism in Upstate New York - 1825-1853

    Torre, Jose R.; Torre, Jose; Moyer, Paul; Jones, Mitchell (5/13/2020)
    The Skaneateles Community was a utopian socialist commune that existed from 1843 to 1846 in Mottville, New York. Abolitionist lecturer John Anderson Collins founded the community on the non-resistance and no-government principles of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Collins and his Skaneateles followers, so-called communitists, sought to live in a godless, harmonious, communist utopia, free of both chattel and wage slavery. They eschewed private property, declared the virtues of communitism and shared everything. The Panic of 1837, the first major depression of the Market Revolution made the 1840s a period of unprecedented socialist agitation and utopian practice. People sought a system that promised security and safety from the perils of speculation and market fluctuation. The Panic of 1837 aligned the material interests of the laboring class and the business class. Upstate New York became the "Volcanic District" of the socialist movement inspired by French thinker Charles Fourier. Fourierism’s doctrine of harmony between capital and labor made it attractive to both workers and businessmen affected by the depression. The Skaneateles Community found favorable conditions in Upstate New York because of their comradeship with Fourierists. Unlike the Fourierists, the Skaneateles Community advocated the abolition of all private property. Though the Fourierists thought them too radical, but they encouraged the Skaneateles communitists and wanted them to succeed.
  • Wild West in Upstate New York: Native American Culture, Performances, and Public Debates about Indian Affairs, 1880s-1930s

    Davila, Carl; Spiller, James; Moyer, Paul; Indovina, Alexander (8/10/2019)
    From the 1880s to the 1930s, Americans flocked to public performances by Native Americans. As this thesis examines, these events –Wild West shows, dances, living museum exhibits, mock battles with torturing, and so on—were just as popular in upstate New York as around the nation. Focusing on the Rochester area, managers variously portrayed Native Americans as savage, vanishing, or noble, depending on the prevailing ideologies of the day. Many Natives were divided on participating in these events, although some joined for economic reasons or as chances to modify their traditional cultures outside the pressures of assimilationists in their communities to abandon them. Most New York policymakers, meanwhile, continually pressed for jurisdictional control over the Haudenosaunee and their assimilation as shows gained in popularity. The attention gathered by such performances, however, increased discussions among Natives and whites of the supposed virtues of Native cultures. More people sought to learn about, support, or imitate Native cultures and correct stereotypes of Native identity evident in the shows. Although numerous tropes remained, many Natives and whites used public performances by Natives as a medium to discuss Indian affairs as a whole, which ultimately aided in fostering the public sentiment necessary to transition Indian policies away from assimilation towards more culturally sensitive, yet still problematic, ones, such as the Indian Reorganization Act (1934).
  • A History of Computer Technology and its Impact on Academics at SUNY Brockport

    Jennings, Thomas L.; The College at Brockport (2/15/2010)
    A history of academic computing at SUNY Brockport; while administrative computing shares some common history but is only examined here in the broader context of academic computing capability; their histories occasionally intertwine but are distinct. The history of SUNY Brockport's management of the academic computing revolution containing success stories and shortcomings; It is presented in decades starting with the 1960s when computer technology was not an essential part of the campus and ends in the 21st century when computers are an integral part of the campus.
  • The Lost Cause: An Examination of the Defeat of the Confederate States of America

    Vigneri, Thomas; The College at Brockport (1/15/2009)
    This study examines the Lost Cause of the Confederacy and the reasons for the defeat of the Confederate States of America. The Confederate States of America was created with propaganda, lofty ideals and unbridled optimism. With the outcome of the American Civil War known, this study seeks to answer the question, was the South's defeat predetermined, or was it a victim of its own leadership? On the surface the Confederacy seemed unprepared for war with the North in 1861. The Confederate leadership suffered from unreasonable and delusional expectations without any realistic plan for success. The South was partially a victim of its own propaganda and the propaganda was also misused and ill timed. The cause of the Confederacy was in many ways a comedy of errors. The dreams of success and independence held by the Confederacy were unlikely to be realized given the lack of manpower, infrastructure, economic diversity, industry, political strength, political alliances, and unity. In addition to the tangible deficits of the South, the Confederacy was also engaged in a struggle to create a nation while simultaneously waging war against an established nation. Each of these tasks was daunting by itself, but to tackle all together was an incredibly difficult undertaking. Such an undertaking would only be possible if the entire Confederate nation was united in ideology and purpose, however, it was not.
  • This Fearful Slaughter: The Impact of Civil War Deaths on Rochester, New York

    Martin, Morag; Daly, John P.; Leslie, W. Bruce; Bradford, Adam T.; State University of New York College at Brockport (9/9/2016)
    The American Civil War brought about death on an unmatched scale. While scholarly estimates vary and range from 620,000-850,000 wartime male deaths, the understanding of the significance of these deaths and how they impacted society varies as well. Civil War deaths destroyed the antebellum concept of the “good death” and created new societal norms and practices. This thesis studies these changes by examining periodicals from the city of Rochester and noting how the newspapers report about the death, carnage, and sickness during the war. How frequently graphic accounts of the battlefield deaths occur and how prevalent calls for aid for sick, wounded, and dying soldiers appear in these papers suggest the immense importance and significance the increased number of deaths had on the city. The antebellum version of the “good death” had to change as the Civil War made it impossible for most soldiers to depart in that manner. As Rochesterians sought to understand this new form of death and dying, they created aid societies, periodicals dedicated to helping the sick and wounded, and published elaborate accounts of how the fallen died so as to help the bereaved better cope with not only the loss of their loved ones but also the loss of their conceptions of a good death. They struggled to build a new idea of what a good death was as the casualty reports poured in. Finally, by the conclusion of the war and with time for the nation to heal, monuments and memorialization of the fallen could try to make up for the aspects of the antebellum “good death” that had proved impossible to adhere by during the conflict.
  • From Denial to Acceptance: How the Confederacy Came To Terms with the American Civil War

    Martin, Morag; Daly, John P.; Moyer, Paul; Stachowski, Ann E. (5/18/2013)
    This thesis seeks to answer one of the fundamental questions of history: how did the people, in a given place and time, view their world? This work addresses Confederates, or those Southerners who supported the secession movement and the Confederate States of America, during the American Civil War, 1861-1865. This work seeks to offer a nuanced view into the minds of Confederates over the course of the war by framing their experience with the Five Step Grieving Process. This process, first described by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, identifies the five major emotions a person experiences while suffering a loss. These emotions are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This framework allows greater insight into the Confederate culture because it does not force people’s lived experiences into a cause, process, effect format. Instead, it allows flexibility in understanding the human condition as many different people faced the loss of a way of life. The five stages of the Grieving Process provide the structure for this thesis. Research rooted in the diaries, letters, newspapers, and sermons of Confederates allows their lived experience, told in their own words, to illustrate the usefulness of the five-step grieving process as an analytical framework. This approach brings together voices from women, men, soldiers, civilians, government officials and journalists from across the Confederacy. Class lines and geographical boundaries only enhance the efficacy of the framework as the Confederates worked toward accepting the doom of the American Civil War.
  • "Nervous Diseases" and the Politics of Healing in America, 1869-1919

    Bessette, Matthew; The College at Brockport (8/15/2011)
    This paper follows the discourse of "nervous diseases" in America as it was articulated and contested by various lay, religious, and medical healers from the late nineteenth-century through the First World War. Specifically, it inquires into how their various diagnoses, treatments, and regimens either shaped or reinforced the structure of the social order and the individual's designated role within it. On the one hand, while dissenting interpretations and healing modalities challenged this discourse, their underlying ideological agreement with it, in crucial respects, accounts for why they failed to alter or decenter it. On the other hand, a majority of neurologists, psychiatrists, psychopathologists, psychotherapists, and social workers, along with a number of lay healers, theorists, and journalists, attenuated, and ultimately suppressed, the subversive implications of alternative theories and healing proposals. In both these ways, a dominant set of interpretations and treatments cohered which, by the second decade of the twentieth century, stabilized the prevailing order and translated into new structures of control.
  • Violence and Social Unrest: Implications of the Reconstruction Amendments for African Americans in the Post Civil War South, 1863-1877

    Cross, Alana Brooke; The College at Brockport (5/15/2011)
    Freedom, citizenship, and manhood suffrage became rights promised by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution. These rights became part of the social, political, and economic fabric of America after a long and bloody Civil War. Though Democrats and Republicans differed dramatically on their principles of equality for African Americans, these rights became part of the Constitution and propelled a nation and its citizens into a protracted and racialized civil war that lasted into the l 960's. The Reconstruction Amendments granted former enslaved persons rights and privileges that were previously reserved for whites only. However, rights on paper were far different from the realities faced by many African Americans and their white Republican allies. White southern Democrats challenged these amendments, and eventually nullified them in practice, with the objective of repressing and re-enslaving African Americans inside the post Civil War South. Violence, Black Codes, and economic as well as political oppression inflicted through literacy tests and poll taxes ushered in a new era of American slavery by 1877. Between 1865 and 1877, African Americans who had fought for freedom from chattel slavery and had won emancipation were being targeted because of the laws guaranteed by the Constitution. The Reconstruction Amendments along with the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and 1875 challenged the racial hierarchy of the South and white supremacy. Due in large part to white fears and attitudes, the implications of the Reconstruction Amendments had lasting effects on both Northern and Southern Black communities that carried over and into the 20th century. The violence and social unrest of Reconstruction were an extension of the Civil War and its consequences had a direct and profound impact on the Civil Rights era which came to fruition almost one hundred years later. This thesis will argue that the Reconstruction Amendments while promising rights and equality on paper did little to help African Americans facing violence, discrimination, and segregation in the post Civil War South. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments made the volatile situation in the South worse for African Americans because the Federal government established no groundwork and provided little meaningful enforcement of the vague principles it guaranteed in the Constitution. These guarantees had no practical application and only served to inspire violence and facilitate white racism. What was needed were reforms and enforcement, on both federal and state levels, which promoted economic independence. While it is important to remember the positive potential of rights granted during Reconstruction by the Federal government and the Constitution, these laws propelled white supremacists into violent and malicious actions that had far reaching and devastating consequences for not only African Americans but the country as a whole.
  • The Ambition of Cincinnatus

    Lane, Kenneth Allen; The College at Brockport (7/26/2011)
    George Washington was a deliberate political actor, motivated by a desire for self-aggrandizement and social status. He operated within the strictures of a patronage system, advancing his personal interest through the employment of a deferential and disinterested persona. Washington gained preferment and position at a steady pace by offering loyal service to numerous patrons, concealing his ambitions in accordance with the etiquette of Virginian politics. The maintenance of his persona developed into the superintending care of Washington's early career, as it became a prevalent trope within his letters. A combination of youthful overconfidence and numerous frustrations and failures in the field occasioned the slow deterioration of that persona. Washington tactlessly quarreled with his primary patron over issues of his proper recognition and status, causing a breach in that relationship. He eventually resigned, declaring the primary motivations for his service were rank and salary. Contravening a narrative consensus in the modem historiography, The Ambition of Cincinnatus concludes that Washington was an inventive political actor who crafted a persona of deference and disinterested service to advance his selfish ambitions.
  • "Thirty Thousand Half-breeds" and "Negroes With Guns": The Violent Formulation of Race in 1950s North Carolina

    Cook, Andrew M.; The College at Brockport (4/1/2006)
    In January of 1958, over a thousand Lumbee Indians of Robeson County, North Carolina dispersed a gathering of one hundred and fifty Ku Klux Klansmen under the leadership of James "Catfish" Cole. In the aftermath, national newspapers and magazines published feature articles applauding the Indian confrontation with the Klan. Only two weeks earlier, Robert F. Williams, president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had organized an armed confrontation with the Ku Klux Klan that received no national media coverage. The disparity of media attention given to the two events was due to the ideologies and motivations of two very different groups. The Lumbees resisted the imposition of a Klan doctrine that was foreign to the majority of Indian and White residents of Robeson County and to the actual racial infrastructure at the time. Williams, on the other hand, used violence to attack the racial fo undations of Southern society-the political, social and economic stratification of society along racial lines. In both cases, non-White groups used violence in an attempt to redefine what it meant to be Indian or Black. This study explores the ways that North Carolinians used violence to create and define race. Chapter One examines the ways in which race is constructed through violence and the memory of violence. Chapter Two provides background on the Ku Klux Klan and the way that it used violence to enforce racial restrictions. Chapter Three presents the case of Robert Williams and the NAACP's most militant local chapter. Chapter Four explores the evolution of the tripartite racial system of Robeson County and the ways that the Lumbees interacted with their White and Black neighbors. Throughout, this history focuses on the use of violence to create, enforce and redefine racial conventions. It also examines the distribution of stories, pictures and souvenirs as ~method of spreading the impact of racial violence.
  • The Lived Experience of the Black Death

    Webb, Megan; The College at Brockport (5/1/2012)
    During the late Middle Ages, the experience of plague pervaded the discourse of the body and influenced such disparate subjects as anatomy and art. These cultural motifs were expressed in a variety of ways that correlated the experience of plague with the mortification of the flesh required for Christian martyrdom. Similar ideas were expressed in how medical practitioners conceptualized and justified postmortems and university dissections. The somatic nature of Christian spirituality resonates through the images of plague saints with those of anatomical illustrations of dissected figures. It links together the bodily experience of saints, dissected criminals, and sufferers of plague. This theme culminates in the time when the influences of the physical experience of plague are most visible : following the Italian epidemic of 1477- 79. During this period the Italian peninsula experienced the swift advent of the cult of St. Roch, a sudden shift in the presentation of St. Sebastian, and the rise in anatomical research and dissection culminating in the publication of Berengario da Carpi ' s "Isagogae Breves" in 1 523 . The history of plague and the history of anatomy are intimately linked. The purpose of this essay is to explore the common thread of Christian ideas about physicality and suffering that arise in both plague narratives and medical texts, a theme that remains under-examined in current historiographies of both plague and medieval medicine .
  • The Villa and Agricultural Economy of Late Roman Sicily: An Archaeobotanical Perspective

    Walter, Katherine Clark; Ramsay, Jennifer; Carl, Davila, Chair, Graduate Program; Broida, Jonathan; The College at Brockport (9/15/2019)
    The purpose of this study is to highlight the important role recovered plant materials can play in helping to create a broader understanding of Sicilian villas as centers for production during the Late Roman period (400-476 CE). The heart of the investigation requires a multivariate approach that compares findings from Gerace with aspects of written and archaeological record and provides in-depth analysis of the production and economic features of Roman villa settlements. Key to the study will be preserved plant remains found on specific villa sites across the Roman world. Hidden in the sediment are clues to Sicily’s ancient past and evidence for its agricultural productivity that was an important part of the Roman world. Helping to uncover this evidence is part of the diverse field of environmental archaeology, the analysis of which unfortunately which has not been carried out at many sites, leaving an incomplete record of important features of the ancient environment.
  • Hoboes and Vagabonds: The Cultural Construction of the American Road Hero

    Brown, Jeffrey S.; The College at Brockport (7/1/1992)
    From the early traditions of Natty Bumppo and Huck Finn to the more modern images drawn from John Dos Passos and Jack Kerouac, the journey motif has long been a stable of American literature. This thesis explores the origin of the modern road hero in American culture at the turn of the twentieth century along two divergent lines. The first is the configuration of the hobo as a heroic rebel, and the second is the making of the bohemian/intellectual vagabond. The first part of this investigation, by considering a diversity of cultural forms and viewpoints, attempts to paint a broad backdrop from which more focused study may proceed. As such, disparate phenomena such as the undertone of ambiguity behind the "tramp menace," the image of the comic tramp in popular culture, and the generation and resonance of an indigenous hobo subculture will be examined coextensively. The second section grapples with the formation of the hobo as hero, beginning with the writing of Walter Wyckoff and Josiah Flynt and proceeding with the work and persona of Jack London. This is followed, in section three, by a discussion of the intellectual vagabond. Reaching back to consider the spiritual forebear of this genre, Walt Whitman, the section culminates with an exploration of Richard Hovey, Bliss Carman and the "Vagabondia" poetry. The final section addresses the consolidation of the two major images already delineated. More suggestive than comprehensive, this discussion links the germination of the modern road hero to the parallel politicization of the hobo and the bohemian/intellectual vagabond during the first two decades of the twentieth century.
  • Opera Houses of the Genesee Country: Perceived Indicators of Economic and Cultural Success

    Oakes, Jane E.; The College at Brockport (5/17/2003)
    During the half-century following the end of the Civil War, over fifty opera houses were built across the Genesee Country of New York State- a region extending from the western edge of the Finger Lakes to the eastern border of the Niagara region. Although little different from their earlier counterparts, called 'halls', the conscious choice to call a newly built or acquired entertainment hall an opera house reflected a desire on the part of both town and builder to be thought of as appreciative of higher culture and the arts, and of having the financial stability to create and support such a venue. These opera houses were what I believe to be perceived indicators of a town's cultural and economic progress: that is, they were understood on the part of the financier and community at large to be visible evidence to outsiders of the town's cultural sensitivity and financial security. In addition, the construction of an opera house conferred on the builder/financier a secure place within the town's social hierarchy as that of benefactor and promoter of the common good. Eloquent speeches outlining the town's gratitude for such a place of entertainment were often a major part of opening night ceremonies at the new opera house. Thus, the perception of an opera house as being representative of economic and cultural success exists on a dual level- that of the political entity and its inhabitants, and that of the individual builder. Leisure time was increasing during the last part of the 19th century, due to changes in technology and labor laws, and in many social circles attending performances at the local opera house was considered to be preferable to attending those at vaudeville theaters, burlesque houses, circuses, or taverns. Opera houses were perceived as offering a higher, more morally desirable quality of entertainment than many other venues- a perception often utilized by acting companies and theater managers in their advertising. By studying the plays, touring and local acts, newspaper advertisements and playbills associated with local opera houses, it is possible to further our understanding of how a community's opera house reflected cultural transitions during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These changes were happening nationally as well, as an agrarian society changed to one more urban- and industrially- based. New technologies, economic growth, and increasingly more complex national rail infrastructure influenced the rise in popularity of the opera house both in the study region and on the national level. Conversely, all these factors also played a role in the demise of the opera house as cultural icon. Still, even though their heyday has long since passed, many citizens of towns which possessed one of these structures have spoken with pride in the fact that their town once had one. More than a century after these structures were built, the perception that an opera house represented their town's elevated level of prosperity and cultural achievement still exists in this region today.

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