Volume 52, Number 4 (Nov/Dec 2017)

Changing Course on Freedom of Information: The 1911 Typhoid Records Case

by David Ress

pp. 385-411


A request for information about New York City's typhoid outbreak of 1911 prompted one of the first court rulings to reverse the nineteenth-century trend of opening access to government information. In the background was a fundamental shift in the political theory of American local government and a clash of two different approaches to reform of municipal government: that of the outside gadfly versus the approach of working within the institution. The case In the Matter of Allen set a pattern for freedom of information law of narrowing a statutory right in order to protect institutions of government.

David Ress is an honorary associate of the School of Humanities of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and a newspaper reporter now working in Virginia. He has a BA in economics from McGill University and an MA and a PhD in history from UNE.

Erich Salomon's Candid Camera and the Framing of Political Authority

by Annie Rudd

pp. 412-435


This essay examines the cultural, technological, and political significance of the candid camera in the interwar press. Concentrating on Erich Salomon's photojournalism, as well as discussions of the work of the photo journalist and the relationship between the press and politics, it contends that the candid camera signaled a reframing of political authority in terms readers were encouraged to understand as "humanizing." Yet the candid camera's privileging of relatable detail had its complications: it was subject to a tacit set of guidelines governing appropriate representation, and its tendency to frame political authority in terms of the familiar could elide dangerous power imbalances.

Annie Rudd is an assistant professor of critical media studies at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on the history of photojournalism, documentary photography, and vernacular photographies. She received her PhD in communications from Columbia University in 2014.

Disinfecting the Mail: Disease, Panic, and the Post Office Department in Nineteenth-Century America

by Ryan Ellis

pp. 436-461


The 1878 Mississippi Valley yellow fever outbreak was one of the worst disasters in US history. During the epidemic, quarantines attempted to thwart the spread of the disease. Quarantines, however, not only limited the movement of people and goods but also threatened the flow of information. This article explores the epidemic's impact on postal communication. A close examination of the outbreak highlights the ongoing importance of postal communication in the United States during the late nineteenth century, and it foregrounds the importance of a set of overlooked informational practices—"postal disinfection"—that were essential to maintaining complex communication networks during periods of epidemics.

Ryan Ellis is an assistant professor of communication studies at Northeastern University. Prior to joining the department, Ryan held fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School and at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He received a PhD in communication from the University of California, San Diego.

"As Popular as Pin-Up Girls": The Armed Services Editions, Masculinity, and Middlebrow Print Culture in the Mid-Twentieth-Century United States

by Alex H. Poole

pp. 462-486


Produced between 1943 and 1947, the Armed Services Editions comprised 1,322 titles and 122,951,031 books. A central part of middle-brow culture's institutionalization, they democratized reading for servicemen, setting the stage for a massive consumption of middlebrow print culture postwar. Further, the Editions illuminate the ways in which this culture dovetailed with anxieties about masculinity. While the Editions shored up GIs' morale, they helped revitalize long-standing concerns about men's reputed softening and even effeminacy. In consuming middlebrow print culture, critics argued, men opted for the weak and spurious instead of the virile and vigorous—a dereliction of duty in Cold War America.

Alex H. Poole is assistant professor at Drexel University's College of Computing and Informatics. His work has been published in the Journal of the Society for Information and Technology, Digital Humanities Quarterly, the American Archivist, Archival Science, and the Journal of Documentation. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Calvin Pease Award from the Society of American Archivists.

This issue can be found on Project MUSE