Friday, August 10, 2012

The Modernization of America, 1865-1930

2012 - 2013 Book Groups and Primary Source Workshops for Hartford and Claremont

How did economic, social, and cultural changes that occurred during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century create the America we live in today?


Claremont: Tuesdays, 4:15 - 6:15 p.m., Stevens High School
September 25, October 23, November 27, December 11, January 8, February 5, March 12, April 9, May 21
Facilitator: Alan Berolzheimer, Flow of History

Hartford: Tuesdays: 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., Hartford Middle School
September 25, October 23, November 13, December 11, January 8, February 5, March 12, April 9, May 21
Facilitator: Walt Garner, Tunbridge Central School

For Dummerston groups, click here

This year’s program focuses on the momentous changes that occurred in the United States following the Civil War, which propelled the country to global dominance and established the parameters of how we live in the 21st century. The emphasis will be on economic development and political economy, and we will use a regional lens to explore how America became the nation it is today and the meanings of modernization.

The course will meet monthly and include a mixture of reading and discussion sessions and primary source workshops. We will investigate local dimensions of national developments and consider the relationship of Vermont and New Hampshire to the rest of the nation in this era of rapid modernization. Reading strategies and the inquiry process will be modeled throughout the year, and we will consider how these tools and approaches connect with the new Common Core standards. The year will culminate with a student work session when all teachers will share a primary source activity and examples of student work and assessment from their classrooms.

Session 1: The Rebirth of a Nation: Post-Civil War Transformations
Book Discussion: Excerpts from Walter Licht, Industrializing America: The Nineteenth Century; and Edward L. Ayers, Southern Crossing: A History of the American South, 1877-1906
Perhaps no other development characterized and changed life in the United States after the Civil War as much as massive industrialization. Why did it happen? How did it happen? What were the regional variations? What were the real-life consequences of industrialization for workers, farmers, merchants, families, and communities? The American South faced distinctive challenges in the aftermath of the Civil War. How were developments in the Southern economy both different from and similar to those occurring elsewhere in the country?

Session 2: A New South Emerges
Book Discussion and Primary Sources: John M. Barry, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America; Sharecropping primary sources

This session will focus in greater depth on the economic changes occurring in the South and the accompanying political dynamics as people adapted to the end of slavery and the transition to an industrial age. The background to the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927, and later in the course, the events of the flood itself, provide a window into the social and economic impacts of modernization in America.

Session 3: Modern Metropolis
Book Discussion: Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
On the eve of the Civil War, Chicago was a small frontier city of 30,000 people. By 1890 its population had reached 1 million and Chicago rivaled New York as a commercial, financial, and industrial giant. It was the gateway to the West and the exemplar of a modern metropolis. Larson’s book about the World’s Columbian Exposition is an engrossing meditation on the intertwined wonders and evils of modernism that together would define the 20th century.

Session 4: A Company Town: Manchester, the Amoskeag, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism Book Discussion: Tamara Hareven and Randolph Langenbach, Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American Factory-City

Manchester, New Hampshire, was the epitome of a company town. Founded along with the city in 1837, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was the largest textile plant in the world in the early 20th century. This collection of oral history interviews connected by brief background essays highlights many key issues of the post-Civil War era: industrialization, immigration, the changing world of work, the rise of Big Business, unions and corporate welfare, modern family life.
Session 5: Demographic Change in Vermont and New Hampshire Communities
Primary Source Workshop

We’ll follow up our discussion of Amoskeag with an exploration the changing demographics and economic profiles of our own communities through the late 19th century and into the early 20th century. Can we see the traces of out-migration, immigrant families, railroads, industrialization, and increasing integration into the national economy? What happened to farming? How did our towns change as America modernized?

Session 6: “Emblematic of the Age”: The Great Floods of 1927—Part 1: The Mississippi Delta Book Discussion: Barry, Rising Tide

The second half of Rising Tide tells the story of the most epic Mississippi River flood in all its naked truths. Barry pulls back the curtain and reveals the behind-the-scenes machinations of business leaders, the race relations context of the disaster and its aftermath, the politics of science, and how this catastrophic event reverberated throughout the nation.  

Session 7: “Emblematic of the Age”: The Great Floods of 1927—Part 2: Vermont
Primary Source Workshop; background reading: Michael Sherman,
et al., Freedom and Unity: A History of Vermont, 421-432

Vermont also experienced a catastrophic flood in 1927. We will examine the impact of the Flood of 1927 on Vermont communities through contemporary primary sources. As in the Mississippi Delta, this natural disaster of unprecedented scale occurred as the region was poised to fully enter the modern age, and it accelerated that process. How did the 1927 Flood change Vermont, and what does the event tell us about the state’s history and place in the nation? What can we learn from considering Tropical Storm Irene in the context of the 1927 Flood?

Session 8. Final presentation: A Nation of Consumers, Alan Berolzheimer, Flow of History 

America became a nation of consumers in the 20th century, and that fact is a central feature of our society today. Flow of History historian Alan Berolzheimer will discuss the underlying economic transformations of mass production, distribution, and consumption between 1870 and 1930, and the accompanying social and cultural changes.

Session 9. Student Work Session

$400 stipend to teachers who participate in all nine sessions. Stipends will be awarded after submission of a relevant lesson plan and participation in evaluation activities. Participants will receive 18 hours of recertification credit. Evaluation activities include pre- and post- participant surveys and interviews. The survey is a measurement of the program--individual answers are not seen by project staff. Follow-up support in the classroom will be available as teachers implement lesson plans.

REGISTRATION: Free, all books are provided
To register, go to:
Under course name, type: Flow of History
Under location, enter the group you wish to join
TAKE NOTE: Book groups are limited to 12 participants, first come/first served.

Registration Deadline: September 4, 2012

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