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An 1839 poster urges citizens to rally against the coming of the railroad to Philadelphia. As the poster suggests, industrial technology and "progress" have not always been greeted with universal acclaim. The anonymous author(s) of this broadside warn of the danger to life and limb posed by the new technology (in fact a number of disasters did…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1839

These verses memorialize Annie Lillie, a 16-year-old victim of the North Pennsylvania Railroad disaster, known as "The Great Train Wreck of 1856." The worst railroad accident in history up to that time, the disaster occurred when two trains collided head-on, killing approximately 60 people, many of them Sunday school children on a picnic excursion.…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: Circa 1856

The optimism and hope of "The Age of Progress" is expressed in these song lyrics published in 1860 by H. De Marsan. In typically grandiloquent Victorian style, the author extols recent technological advancements, including the Pacific Railroad and the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, under construction at the time of the song's composition and…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: 1860

Native American warriors in the 19th century attacked the various people and institutions that threatened their way of life on the Great Plains. In these speeches to federal agents during the Indian Wars of the 1860s, Indian leaders attempt to explain the sources of conflict.

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1866

Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota chief, led a two year war against white settlers and railroad outposts between 1866 and 1868. Red Cloud's War, sometimes called the Powder River War, took place in parts of the Wyoming and Montana territories that were the traditional homelands of Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples. Spotted Tail, who refrained from…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1867

From 1835 to 1907, the Currier & Ives printmaking company produced over a million lithograph illustrations of events, portraits, and scenes from American life. In the era before photography and the widespread use of illustrations in newspapers, people could buy these inexpensive and widely available images of events and places they had never seen.…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: Circa 1868

An 1869 poster announces the grand opening of the first Transcontinental Railroad. In an elaborate ceremony in Promontory Summit, Utah, the Union Pacific met with the Southern Pacific, linking the eastern United States with California for the first time. While the poster emphasizes the line's luxurious accommodations, the Transcontinental Railroad…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: Circa 1869

The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad is celebrated with a handshake, a bottle of champagne, and the laying of a golden railroad spike in Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10th, 1869. After years of speculation, government backing, corporate scandal, and arduous physical labor, the Union Pacific line met the Southern Pacific, linking the…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: 1869

This cartoon from the May 29, 1869 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper celebrates the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad linking the eastern and western halves of the United States, but its caption also hints at the hope for a deeper reconciliation. For a country just beginning to heal from the division of the Civil War, the…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1869

Native American warriors in the 19th century attacked the various people and institutions that threatened their way of life on the Great Plains. As these reports from various federal agents, including the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and General Custer, show, white leaders agreed with Native Americans on two points: the railroads would destroy…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1872