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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag"

In 1959, at the age of seventeen, Joe McDonald joined the Navy. After his discharge three years later, he enrolled in a Los Angeles college where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1965, McDonald moved to Berkeley, California just [...]

"The Age of Progress"

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 [...]

"Verses on the Death of Miss Annie Lillie"

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 [...]

Tags: railroads
Item Type: Music/Song
"Poor Pat Must Emigrate"

A.W. Auner of Philadelphia was among the most prolific printers of "broadside ballads," cheaply-produced topical songs and poems that were widely available throughout the nineteenth century. "Poor Pat Must Emigrate," published by Auner sometime in [...]

"I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier"

By 1915, Americans began debating the need for military and economic preparations for war. Strong opposition to “preparedness” came from isolationists, socialists, pacifists, many Protestant ministers, German Americans, and Irish Americans (who [...]

Item Type: Music/Song
"No Irish Need Apply"

The Irish often faced discrimination when seeking jobs upon their arrival in the United States. Although historians have been hard-pressed to identify an actual sign bearing the notorious legend "No Irish Need Apply," contemporary newspaper [...]

"Jesus is a Rock in a Weary Land"

The lyrics and audio recording presented here are from an interview with Wallace Quarterman conducted in 1935, at Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia. These interviews were part of the Works Progress Administration, and documented the [...]

Item Type: Music/Song
"Wanted, a Substitute"

This Civil War-era song sheet refers to a provision in the draft laws passed by Congress in March of 1863 which allowed men to either pay $300 or provide a substitute to avoid serving in the Union Army. The provision was a source of resentment for [...]

"Over There"

Reproduced below are the lyrics to America's best-known World War I song, "Over There." Written by George M. Cohan, the song was widely performed by various artists (initially by Charles King) from its publication in 1917. Cohan later recalled that [...]

Item Type: Music/Song
"The Belle of Manilla"

During the 1890s, popular songs and sensationalist news coverage played a large role in drumming up support for U.S. intervention and the Spanish-American War. "The Belle of Manila," written in 1898, was one of many pro-war songs that were played in [...]

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