"Harriet Jones, Black Womanhood, and Black Entrepreneurship During the Great Depression"

In this presentation Betsy Schlabach will present material from her recent book, Dream Books and Gamblers: Black Women's work in Chicago's Policy Game. This presentation will introduce audience members to the incredible story of Harriet Jones, Chicago's most famous policy queen. Jones was the leader of a multimillion-dollar gambling operation that helped feed the hungry, build the South Side of Chicago's first African American owned department store, and support Provident Hospital, Chicago's only Black owned and operated Hospital. Jones' story shows that the informal economy provided many with the means to survive segregation and the Great Depression.

About the Speaker:

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 2022. Her work also appears in the Journal of African American History, 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. Betsy grew up in Northern Michigan.


This is part of the History and Legacy of Black Entrepreneurship in the US Speaker Series

Who can attend?

Open to the public, the campus community, students, postdocs, research scholars, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Registration is required.