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Herb - social history for every classroom

menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Capitol Design Competition: Guidelines

In 1792, with the new nation in need of a physical structures to house its newly-elected government, Thomas Jefferson decided that the design for the Capitol building should be chosen by an open competition. In a newspaper announcement of the [...]

Traitorous Scoundrels, with White Faces

Many Americans, including those in the North, were not opposed to slavery and saw no reason for the federal government to interfere with the expansion of slavery into western territories. After John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry, people expressed [...]

Slavery is Guaranteed by the Constitutional Compact

To counter abolitionist attacks in the antebellum era, Southern slaveowners and politicians found it necessary to justify the institution--both morally and politically. On the moral front they argued that enslaved African Americans were inferior to [...]

A Love of Freedom and Right

Depending on where they stood on the slavery question, Americans viewed John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry as either a brilliant, if aborted, act of martyrdom for a noble cause, or a horrifying reminder of the potential for a slave uprising and an [...]

The Brooklyn Consumers' League Takes on Sweatshops

Women, who did most of the shopping in turn-of-the-century households, used their purchasing power to push forward many Progressive reforms. They organized local and national consumers' leagues to boycott businesses that employed unfair labor [...]

"The Story of Sadie Frowne, A Brooklyn Sweatshop Girl"

Sadie Frowne's story is in many ways typical of the immigrant worker in New York's Lower East Side.  Her story was originally published the New York Independent, a reform-minded newspaper, and later collected into the 1906 book The Lives of [...]

African-American Laundry Women Go on Strike in Atlanta

In July 1881, African-American laundry women in Atlanta formed the Washing Society and organized a strike to gain higher wages and respect for their labor. Utilizing door-to-door canvassing and with the support of black churches, the Society quickly [...]

A Letter to the Editor Attempts to Explain Crime in Five Points

This letter to the New-York Daily Times, published on June 14, 1854, attempts to explain the high rate of criminality among Irish immigrants in terms of environment rather than temperment. The Irish-surnamed writer argues that the Irish are not [...]

A Chinese Immigrant Tells of Labor in a New Land

Since their arrival in the United States in the 1850s, Chinese immigrants confronted social, political, and economic discrimination. Many Americans believed that the Chinese posed a threat to white workers and should not be eligible for citizenship. [...]

Student Writing from Freedom School Newspapers

These short pieces, written by young people, appeared in newspapers published by Freedom Schools in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964. These Freedom Schools were part of a larger effort that summer, organized by the Student Nonviolent [...]

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