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Dream Books and Gamblers Virtual Book Launch: Elizabeth Schroeder Schlabach in conversation with LaShawn Harris

Event Type
University of Illinois Press
wifi event
Oct 24, 2022   4:00 pm  
Originating Calendar
University of Illinois Press Events Calendar

Join Elizabeth Schroeder Schlabach and LaShawn Harris for a virtual event celebrating the release of Schlabach's new book Dream Books and Gamblers: Black Women's Work in Chicago's Policy Game on October 24 at 4pm CT.

About the book:
Ubiquitous illegal lotteries known as policy flourished in Chicago’s Black community during the overlapping waves of the Great Migration. Policy “queens” owned stakes in lucrative operations while women writers and clerks canvased the neighborhood, passed out winnings, and kept the books. Elizabeth Schroeder Schlabach examines the complexities of Black women’s work in policy gambling. Policy provided Black women with a livelihood for themselves and their families. At the same time, navigating gender expectations, aggressive policing, and other hazards of the informal economy led them to refashion ideas about Black womanhood and respectability. Policy earnings also funded above-board enterprises ranging from neighborhood businesses to philanthropic institutions, and Schlabach delves into the various ways Black women straddled the illegal policy business and reputable community involvement. Vivid and revealing, Dream Books and Gamblers tells the stories of Black women in the underground economy and how they used their work to balance the demands of living and laboring in Black Chicago.
Learn more:


Betsy Schlabach is an Associate Professor of History at Lawrence University. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Saint Louis University. She is the author of Along the Streets of Bronzeville: Black Chicago’s Literary Landscapes published by the University of Illinois Press in 2013 and Dream Books and Gamblers: Black Women’s Work in Chicago’s Policy Game published by the University of Illinois Press in November, 2022. Her work also appears in the Journal of African American Studies and Southern Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the South. Betsy offers courses in 20th Century American History, African-American History, and Urban History.
LaShawn Harris is an Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University and Assistant Editor for the Journal of African American History (JAAH). Harris’s scholarly essays have appeared in The Journal of African American History, Journal of Social History, Journal of Urban History, and SOULS: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. Her first monograph Sex Workers, Psychics, and Number Runners: Black Women in New York City’s Underground Economy was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2016.  In 2017, Sex Worker, Psychics, and Numbers Runners won the Organization of American Historians (OAH) Darlene Clark Hine award for the best book in African American women's and gender history, and the Philip Taft Labor Prize from The Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA). Harris is an Organization of American Historians’ (OAH) prestigious Distinguished Lectureship Program. Her next book, Say Her Name:  Eleanor Bumpurs, Police Violence, and The Crime that Changed New York City, will be published by Beacon Press.   
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