Shantyboats and Roustabouts: The River Poor of St. Louis

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Shantyboats and Roustabouts: The River Poor of St. Louis by Gregg Andrews

Shantyboat dwellers and steamboat roustabouts formed an organic part of the cultural landscape of the Mississippi River bottoms during the rise of industrial America and the twilight of steamboat packets from 1875 to 1930.

Nevertheless, both groups remain understudied by scholars of the era.

Most of what we know about these laborers on the river comes not from the work of historians but from travel accounts, novelists, songwriters, and early film producers.

As a result, images of these men and women are laden with nostalgia and minstrelsy.

Gregg Andrews’s Shantyboats and Roustabouts uses the waterfront squatter settlements and Black entertainment district near the levee in St. Louis as a window into the world of the river poor in the Mississippi Valley, exploring their daily struggles and experiences and vividly describing people heretofore obscured by classist and racist caricatures.

About the Author

Gregg Andrews is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Texas State University and the author of several books, including Thyra J. Edwards: Black Activist in the Global Freedom Struggle.

Product Specifications

Published by LSU Press, 2022.  Hardback, 336 pages.