Choose one of the following topics and write an essay. Some areas for you to consider including in writing your essay are provided – you are not limited to these. Post your essay as a New Thread by Thursday.
Industrialization, immigration, and urbanization
- Consider the fact that the light bulb and the telephone were invented only three years apart. Although it took many more years for such devices to find their way into common household use, they eventually wrought major changes in a relatively brief period of time. What effects did these inventions have on the lives of those who used them? Are there contemporary analogies in your lifetime of significant changes due to inventions or technological innovations?
- Industrialization, immigration, and urbanization all took place on an unprecedented scale during this era. What were the relationships of these processes to one another? How did each process serve to catalyze and fuel the others?
Labor, Unions, and the Captains of Industry (factory owners)
- Describe the various attempts at labor organization in this era, from the Molly Maguires to the Knights of Labor and American Federation of Labor. How were the goals, philosophies, and tactics of these groups similar and different? How did their agendas represent the concerns and grievances of their members and of workers more generally?
- Describe the various violent clashes between labor and management that occurred during this era. What do these events reveal about how each group had come to view the other?
The New Industrial Order
- How did the new industrial order represent both new opportunities and new limitations for rural and working-class urban Americans?
- How did the emergent consumer culture change what it meant to be “American” at the turn of the century?
- What triumphs did the late nineteenth century witness in the realms of industrial growth, urbanization, and technological innovation? What challenges did these developments pose for urban dwellers, workers, and recent immigrants? How did city officials and everyday citizens respond to these challenges?
Evolution in the New Industrial Order
- What were the effects of urbanization on the working, middle, and elite classes of American society? Conversely, how did the different social classes and their activities change the scope, character, and use of urban spaces?
- How do you think that different classes of city dwellers would have viewed the City Beautiful movement? What potential benefits and drawbacks of this new direction in urban planning might members of each class have cited?
- How was Darwin’s work on the evolution of species exploited by proponents of the industrial age? Why might they have latched on to this idea in particular?
History through Art
- Historians often mine the arts for clues to the social, cultural, political, and intellectual shifts that characterized a given era. How do the many works of visual art, literature, and social philosophy that emerged from this period reflect the massive changes that were taking place?
- How were Americans—both those who created these works and those who read or viewed them—struggling to understand the new reality through art, literature, and scholarship?