Over the past thirty years, a number of historians, preeminently Morton Keller of Brandeis University, have created a new field of historical study that reinvigorates political history by incorporating the study of legal, economic, religious, and cultural institutions into a broadly conceptualized history of American public life. The essays in American Public Life and the Historical Imagination, all written by former students of Keller, illuminate this new field while also offering a rich appreciation of the complex and diverse American experience.
By applying a variety of critical historical strategies and methodologies to the study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American public life, contributors to this volume unearth fascinating chronicles in American history. The alliance of the Anti-Saloon League and the Klu Klux Klan in the early twentieth century, hurricane control as a paradigm of twentieth-century institutional life, Native Americans as historians of the United States, and the difficulties that a legal theorist of the 1930s found in describing the functions of marriage, are just some of the topics covered. These essays explore an enlarged vision of American public life, one that incorporates all the institutions identified with American society, politics, and economy.