This book provides the first account of the invention of the tramp as a social type in the United States between the 1870s and the 1930s. Tim Cresswell considers the ways in which the tramp was imagined and described and how, by World War II, it was being reclassified and rendered invisible. He describes the "tramp scare" of the late nineteenth century and explores the assumption that tramps were invariably male and therefore a threat to women. Cresswell also examines tramps as comic figures and looks at the work of prominent American photographers which signaled a sympathetic portrayal of this often-despised group. Perhaps most significantly, The Tramp in America calls into question the common assumption that mobility played a central role in the production of American identity.
“This is an effective, and sometimes touching, account of how a social phenomenon was created, classified and reclassified. The quality of the writing, the excellent illustrations and the high production standards give this reasonably-priced hardback a chance of appealing to a general audience . . . an important contribution to American studies, providing new perspectives on the significance of mobility and rootlessness at an important time in the development of the nation. Cresswell successfully illuminates the history of a disadvantaged and marginal group, while providing a lens by which to focus on the thinking and practices of the mainstream culture with which they dealt. As such, this book represents a considerable achievement.”—Cultural Geographies
“An important book. Cresswell has made an important contribution to a homelessness literature still lacking a more sophisticated theoretical edge. Clearly written, beautifully illustrated and with a strong argument throughout, the book deserves to be widely read by students and practitioners alike.”—Progress in Human Geography