Religion at the Urban History Association Conference

Karen Johnson 

This year, the Urban History Association is hosting its seventh biennial conference in Philadelphia from October 9-12.  I've put panels that might be of interest to blog readers below, excerpted from the program. 

Session 36: Religion and Migration in the Post-World War II North American City
Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University,“Liberal Judaism and the Creation of Metropolitan Urbanism in Postwar Detroit”

Elaine Pena, George Washington University,“Religion on the Move: Sacred Spatiality and Civic Engagement in Nuevo Laredo”

William Schultz, Princeton University,“The Making of Jesus Springs: Colorado Springs and the New Geography of Evangelicalism”

Commentator & Chair: Sarah Barringer Gordon, University of Pennsylvania

Session 44  Religion, Race, and Suburbanization
Peter Borg, Doctoral Candidate, Marquette University,“Milwaukee’s White Urban Churches in the Age of Suburbanization”

Karen Johnson, Wheaton College,“Religion and Suburban Integration”

Erik Miller, Case Western Reserve University,“The Fields Are Black Unto Harvest:” The Rise of Evangelical Inner City Ministries and the Remaking of Christian Conservatism in the Age of the Religious Right, 1976-1989”

Chair and Commentator:  Darren Dochuk, Washington University in St. Louis

Session 77: Tenant Organizing in the Urban North: Empowering Residents to Improve Housing
Tracy E. K’Meyer,  University of Louisville, “The AFSC and the East Garfield Park Community Union: Organizing for Democratic Communities"

Jeffrey Helgeson, Texas State University-San Marcos, “Fighting Planners’ Blight: Renters, the Black Power Movement, and Urban Development in Chicago”

Charles F. Casey-Leininger, University of Cincinnati,“’Not the Most Dramatic of Slum Properties’: The Standish Apartment Rent Strike, Community Organizing, the Civil Rights Movement, and Civil Unrest in Cincinnati, 1964”

Chair: Amanda Seligman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Comment:  Brian Purnell, Bowdoin College

For those who want to exercise a little at lunch while learning about religion and the city, check out these tours:

The Woodlands and West Philadelphia
This tour will begin at the Woodlands, the estate (turned cemetery) of early national Philadelphia’s preeminent connoisseur of plants, William Hamilton.  Hamilton’s mansion (ca. 1770-1795) is among the most important works of Federal Style domestic architecture in the United States and makes use of the surrounding landscape in ways reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  After walking briskly through open areas of the house, we will stroll out into the surrounding Woodlands Cemetery, one of Philadelphia’s first “rural” cemeteries and the final resting place of Thomas Eakins, Paul Cret, and Napoleon III’s dentist.  Proceeding out the front gate, we’ll visit clusters of mid-19th c. suburban villas built on land that once belonged to Hamilton, then make our way to Penn’s campus, where St. Mary’s Church and Hamilton Walk reconnect us to the Hamilton story.

Beyond the Post-industrial City: Camden in Transition

Known nationally as one of the nation’s poorest cities, Camden has struggled for years to overcome structural restraints on its revitalization. Joining historian Howard Gillette, Mayor Dana Redd (invited) and Camden Redevelopment Director Saundra Johnson will point out elements of the city’s renewal, including neighborhood reinvestment in the shadow of an expanding health complex associated with Cooper Hospital, senior housing sponsored by Antioch Baptist Church, and a newly opened Kroc recreational center in East Camden, near a Hope VI site that has been expanded with the cooperation of the St. Joseph’s Carpenter Community Development Corporation.

Revisiting Du Bois' Seventh Ward

Walk the streets and alleys of the Old Seventh Ward, the neighborhood W.E.B. Du Bois studied for his 1899 classic, The Philadelphia Negro, and learn how the area that was once home to blacks, immigrants, and US-born whites across social classes has become one of Center City's most expensive residential areas. Led by social worker and planning professor Amy Hillier, director of The Ward: Race and Class in DuBois’ Seventh Ward project, highlights of this walking tour include a visit to Mother Bethel, the first African Methodist Episcopal Church founded by Richard Allen in 1794, and the story behind the painting of the mural "Mapping Courage" honoring Du Bois on South Street. We'll also hear a tale of murder, participate in a group poetry reading, and look at manuscript census records to learn more about the people of this historic neighborhood. We'll grab lunch along the way at one of South Street's many hip take-out restaurants.


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