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New York UndercoverPrivate Surveillance in the Progressive Era$
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Jennifer Fronc

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226266091

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226266114.001.0001

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Race Mixing, Investigation, and the Enforcement of Jim Crow

Race Mixing, Investigation, and the Enforcement of Jim Crow

(p.95) FOUR Race Mixing, Investigation, and the Enforcement of Jim Crow
New York Undercover
University of Chicago Press

Marshall's Hotel was a famous gathering place for members of New York's black cultural elite such as W. E. B. DuBois. Yet the Committee of Fourteen kept Marshall's Hotel under surveillance because it suspected the establishment of permitting race mixing, which it considered as an indicator of disorderliness. The Committee used the vagaries of excise and disorderly house laws to conduct surveillance and regulate saloons and cabarets, especially those owned and frequented by the city's African Americans. The debate surrounding Marshall's Hotel and how its proprietor was viewed by the Committee of Fourteen reflects the way the Committee perceived and used race as a marker of morality, and shows how a private organization imposed segregation in a state known for its strong anti-discrimination laws. The Committee wanted to create separate black and white drinking establishments and to solve the city's “Negro problem.” By working together (and around New York State's civil rights laws), both black and white Progressives and their undercover investigators helped to usher in Jim Crow.

Keywords:   Marshall's Hotel, undercover investigators, race mixing, Jim Crow, New York, W. E. B. DuBois, Committee of Fourteen, African Americans, segregation, Negro problem

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