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Websites to Themes in U.S. History, 1876-1916

Compiled by Clarice Stasz, Ph.D.

Jack London lived during a time of major change, when industrialization and urbanization were becoming dominant. Jim Crow and "separate but equal", along with Chinese exclusionary laws and Indian genocide put racial differences in the forefront of people's minds. With the wave of immigrants from Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe, some people grew anxious over labor competition and even the health of the society.

At the same time, workers movements responded to unhealthy conditions, long hours, and low pay. Women sought the right to vote. Pacifists arose to condemn America's overthrow of Hawaii and colonization of the Philippines. Reformers attacked a variety of concerns, including lack of sanitation, prostitution, birth control, overcrowded housing, public health, and more. Socialism developed as a viable third party, providing support of reform causes, along with demands for public ownership of utilities and control of monopolies.

All was not so conflicted, of course. A genuine American literature, art, and architecture flourished. The public became better educated, and a middle-class emerged. For a passionate temperament such as Jack London's, there was much to react to, and he did. These websites were selected as part of the training of K-12 teachers at the NEH sponsored workshops in the summer of 2007 held at Sonoma State University.

NEH Edsitement
This wonderfully rich site provides lesson plans for American art ,culture, literature, history, and social studies. Search on "Jack London" and find a variety of results! One can search by topic, curriculum subject, and grade level as well.

19th Century America, Kingman College Library
Each decade gets a page, with special emphasis on the culture and society of the time. Brief paragraphs describe key people, events, and themes, which are further linked.

Digital History
An exceptional entree to lesson plans, handouts, documents, media, and much more, for the entire of U.S. history.

History Matters
Another gateway to lesson plans by the Social History Project. Better suited to high school and above.

America in the 1890s.
Bowling Green University's site that provides a separate page description to each year during the 1890s, with a variety of further links on each.

American History Timelinee
The entry into Learning Page materials from the Library of Congress American Memory Site. Lesson plans are linked to primary sources suitable for students at various age groups.

People, Places, and Politics of the Progressive Era
From the Public History Resource Center, descriptions of key websites for the period.

American Authors
Scholar Donna Campbell provides an outstanding portal to American literature from 1620 to 1920. Includes author pages, explanations of literary terms and genres, timelines, and more.

Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia 1876
The nation's birthday, the year of London's birth. The Free Library of Philadelphia shows why this was a significant event.

Emergence of Advertising in America; 1850-1920
London wrote during the Golden Age of Magazines, and advertising comprised half the content. Ads offer a fascinating look at the culture of the time.

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
From Ferris State University, a wealth of imagery and artifacts that illustrate the proliferation of anti-Black stereotypes. Good material for a lesson plan on racism.

Liberty Hyde Bailey/Country Life
When London established his Beauty Ranch, he exemplified the ideals of the Country Life Movement. Bailey was a key figure in this back-to-the-land argument in the early 1900s.

The Chinese in California: 1850-1925
A Library of Congress collection of documents and photographs.

Bernarr MacFadden and Physical Culture
MacFadden was a key figure in the development of physical exercise and the body beautiful during the Progressive Era.

Lewis Hine: Child Labor in America, 1908-1912
An extensive collection of Hine's revealing photography of children at work in factories and elsewhere that helped the cause of child advocates. These could provoke some interesting discussions and the basis for assignments.

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
Documents, photographs, and even a few films on all aspects of San Francisco history. No descriptions on the entries, and unsophisticated design, but the sources are very informative.

Women Working, 1800-1930
From Harvard University, this collection includes thousands of sources, along with Teachers Resources on such themes as Immigration and Whiteness, or Making a Cleaner Society.

Temperance and Prohibition
History and links to key sites on this major movement of the era.

The Age of Imperialism
Readings and a lesson plan, Including material on Hawaiian overthrow, Social Darwinism, the Monroe Doctrine, and more.

The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920
An extensively hyperlinked time line of the movement, from the Library of Congress. Match this with "All Gold Canyon."

The 1898 Gold Rush
Teacher and student materials to accompany the PBS American Experience program on the rush.

Youth's Educator, 1896
This manners book of the period helps understand what was expected of children when London was writing to that audience. Another good source for comparing to today!