Modern America (1914-1929)
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After World War I a "Red Scare" broke out as anxieties about political extremists and radicals led to widespread demonization and political persecution of leftists and immigrants. A series of high-profile events from the late-nineteenth century on, such as the Haymarket Square bombing and the assassination of President McKinley by Leon Czolgosz,…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1919

Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, to a poor Swedish immigrant family. After leaving home at the age of thirteen, Sandburg drifted, working odd jobs, traveling as a hobo, and serving in the Spanish-American War. A fellow soldier convinced him to enroll in Lombard College, where he attracted the attention of Professor Phillip Green…

Item Type: Fiction/Poetry
Date: 1916

The poetry of Carl Sandburg often documented the lives of ordinary working people in his adopted city of Chicago. Here he contrasts the backbreaking work and simple lunch of a railroad laborer with the comfortable lives and fine food enjoyed by the passengers on a first-class dining car rushing by. Despite the use of the pejorative term "dago" (an…

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Item Type: Fiction/Poetry
Date: 1916

Carl Sandburg's free verse celebrated ordinary people and American landscapes both rural and urban. Sandburg, the son of Swedish immigrants, was active in Socialist politics and saw himself as the poet of working people.

Item Type: Fiction/Poetry
Date: 1916

In 1925, seven years after the end of World War I, the Army War College undertook a study to evaluate the fitness of black soldiers for service in a future war. The study's recommendations emphasized the importance of white officers and strict segregation of black troops; it was generally dubious about the prospects of black soldiers serving…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1925

The steel strike of 1919 saw some 350,000 workers walk off the job, temporarily bringing the steel industry to a halt. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor investigated, interviewing striking steelworkers such as Slavic immigrant Andrew Pido. In his testimony to the committee, Pido tells of his abuse at the hands of local police, the…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1919

The United States acquired the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in 1898 after its victory in the Spanish-American War. After a period of limited local autonomy, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans American citizenship in 1917. The arrival of large, U.S.-backed sugar plantations of the island displaced many erstwhile subsistence farmers, creating a rural…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1918

This booklet is curriculum support for the American Social History Project's 30-minute documentary Up South: African-American Migration in the Era of the Great War. The viewer's guide contains background information on issues raised by the documentary as well as additional primary source materials for use in the classroom.

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Item Type: Viewer's Guide
Date: 2007

Progressive social scientists, like economist Alvin S. Johnson, disagreed with those who held Mexican and other immigrants as racially inferior an undesirable. Instead, he and his peers claimed that Mexican government and culture were "inferior" and welcomed the opportunity to "Americanize" Mexican migrant workers.

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Item Type: Article/Essay
Date: 1916

Ernestine Alvarado, of New York's YWCA, sharply criticized Americans who disparaged Mexico and did not welcome Mexican immigrants. She defended Mexican immigrants, calling them "bold dreamers," and castigated nativist stereotypes and unwelcoming labor unions.

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1920