But to the lit­erary scholar Carla Kaplan, Josephine — who com­mitted sui­cide in 1969 — deserves to be remem­bered not just as the stage mother from hell she is usu­ally depicted as, but as a bold if some­times awk­ward pio­neer at the fron­tiers of Amer­ican thinking about racial identity.

She pushed the bound­aries of the pos­sible,” Ms. Kaplan said during a recent visit to Edge­combe Avenue to talk about her new book “Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renais­sance,” to be pub­lished Tuesday by Harper. “For a woman of her social milieu and class, what she did wasn’t just breaking taboos. It was lit­er­ally unthinkable.”

And Josephine wasn’t alone. In the book, Ms. Kaplan draws on a wealth of far-​​flung archival evi­dence to illu­mi­nate the lives of white women who might have arrived in Harlem as slum­mers and tourists but stayed as patrons, activists, host­esses and wives, courting — and some­times deserving — sus­pi­cion and ridicule from both sides of the color line.

Read the article at The New York Times →