WEEK 2: STUDY GUIDE
Overall themes of course:
• People (Monday classes)
o Who are “Americans?”: Immigration, mobility, race/ethnicity, gender
• Money (Wednesday classes)
o How have Americans lived?: The changing modes of production and
consumption; wealth and poverty
• Power (Friday classes)
o How have Americans governed?: The growth of federal government; rise
of US power in world
Specific topics this week: 1900-1920 IMMIGRATION, PROGRESSIVISM,
IMPERIALISM, AND WAR
• Monday People: Controversies over Who Can Be an “American”?
• Wednesday Money: Capital, Labor, and Government in the “Progressive Era”
• Friday Power: Controversies over US Empire in 1900 and Entering World War I
Reading/Writing assignment for this week:
Assignment: Read LEP, Chapt. 21 and Chapt. 22
Section Assignment: Documentary film: 1911 Disaster: Triangle Shirtwaist
• In this assignment you will analyze how historians use primary sources.
Primary sources are accounts that come from the time: memoirs,
newspaper accounts, photos, interviews, etc. The craft of the historian is
to use primary sources to narrate and interpret the past. Your job is to
critically analyze this process. [See “Analyzing Visual Images and
Primary Documents” guide on the website.]
• Go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/triangle/.
Browse through the primary materials provided on this website (photos,
newspaper accounts, biographical stories, etc) and watch the 50 minute
film on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 (this film played on the
PBS program American Experience.) As you watch the film, analyze its
composition and meaning:
o What is the overall message this film seeks to convey? (ie what is
its interpretation of the Fire and its meaning?)
o How does it use primary sources to support its interpretation?
(what sources does it use and how does it use them to construct
o How does this account of the Fire exemplify our themes:
immigration (PEOPLE), business/labor relations (MONEY), and
“progressive”-era government regulation (POWER)?
o What were the strengths and weaknesses of the film’s
presentation and choice of sources to present? (ie crtically
examine the history in this film)
• Class sections will discuss these questions, so come prepared to
• Short Analysis due: Write a Short Analysis [see the end of the syllabus
for description of expectations for a Short Analysis] of how the 50 minute American Experience film on the Fire uses primary sources to construct
its interpretation. This should be a thesis-driven critical analysis. Refer to
specific examples of scenes in the film when developing the argument
you wish to present. HINT: do NOT summarize the film or the event; your
paper should analyze (by presenting some central thesis) the various
ways in which it uses sources to present history.
Study guide: This provides you with guidance on what you should be learning
from the textbook and the lectures. Quizzes in discussion sections in Week Three
will come from Sections I or II.
I. IDENTIFICATIONS: (be able to identify each term in a sentence and then provide a
few sentences describing its SIGNIFICANCE in terms of the themes of the “overall
themes of the course,” given above.)
Muckrakers- Muckrakers are journalists who criticized the horrible aspects of American
life. Their purpose was to inform the public to take action about the state of political,
economic, and social affairs. They exposed the government’s corruption, economical
monopolies, and moral decay in the American life. Muckrakers increased the American
middle class’s interest in realism. Progressivism was formed around the idea of the
abuses the muckrakers exposed.
Progressive movement- The progressive movement, also known as Progressivism, was
a reform movement. The Progressive Era revamped the government and society. The
movement advocated measures to deal with problems of industrial capitalism by using
the power of the government. It was concerned on the greater government regulation of
the new corporate / industrial order and the elimination of corruption and moral
improvement of citizens. It also created new professions to improve society.
Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906- The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906 and
regulated health and safety. The act protected people from fraudulently marketed and
dangerous food and medications. The government had a certain responsibility to keep
food and drugs safe, so that the public isn’t victimized by privateers, and to keep the
people safe. The act also established systems of inspections and approvals for food and
Child labor laws- Child labor laws were enforced by the government after the Triangle
Shirtwaist Factory fire. The government had responsibility to regulate working conditions.
The laws put regulations on wages and hours on children workers. Congress initiall