The cover of James Barrett’s reflective and penetrating book features a Lewis Hine photo titled “Tenement Child with a Blank Wall to Stare At,” a haunting and powerful image sure to evoke emotion and inspire empathy. Whether or not the author selected the picture, it was an apt choice. The photo points to the heart of History from Bottom Up and Inside Out’s purpose: to encourage creative thinking about what it meant to exist within the working class. The small child’s innocent eyes and apparent curiosity direct the reader to this very mission. While the material and structural components of working-class history remain as critical as ever for Barrett, he argues that the personal and emotional contribute a fuller understanding of how workers endured economic insecurity and hardship.

Barrett’s collection of essays is a wonderful book, a model for effective historical method. Students of history, whether practicing scholars or...

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