Season 2: Episode #43: How should we define female friendships in the 19th century? with Dr. Alison Efford
In this Episode, Kelsie and Brooke chat with Dr. Alison Efford about two women who's intimate relationship in the Civil War era has helped historians to understand female sexuality in the period. He research explores the correspondence between Mathilde Franziska Anneke, a German American abolitionist and suffragist, and her intense, cohabiting romantic friendship with Mary Booth. Join us!
Dr. Alison Clark Efford (PhD, Ohio State, 2008) is an historian of immigration and the nineteenth-century United States. Questions of race and power stand at the center of her work, which typically intertwines cultural, social, and political analysis.
Her first book, German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (Cambridge University Press, 2013), explored how German Americans contributed to the rise and fall of white commitment to black rights. In collaboration with Viktorija Bilić (Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee), Dr. Efford recently published Radical Relationships: The Civil War–Era Correspondence of Mathilde Franziska Anneke (University of Georgia Press 2021). The volume presents edited and translated letters by the important German American abolitionist and suffragist, featuring her intense, cohabiting romantic friendship with Mary Booth. Other essays and articles have appeared in journals such as The Missouri Historical Review, the Journal of the Civil War Era, several edited collections, and the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee.
Dr. Efford is currently working on a project that uses the heavily documented phenomenon of immigrant suicide to apply new insights from the history of emotions to the question of immigrant suffering. With case studies of German, Jewish Eastern European, Japanese, Polish, and Italian immigrants, her book both examines intensely personal feelings of despair and addresses “expert” discussions immigrant emotions. Ultimately, American interpretations of immigrant emotions contributed to the movement to exclude certain groups from the United States.