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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Industrialization and Expansion (1877-1913) (x)

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The American Frankenstein

Supported by government funds, railroad building boomed after the Civil War. There were only 2,000 miles of track in 1850; by 1877 there were nearly 80,000 miles in use. Railroad owners controlled tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of [...]

Background Essay on Iron Horses and Indians

This essay discusses the impact of the transcontinental railroad on Native American life. It focuses on the role of buffalo hunters in the federal government's policy of Indian removal. This essay, and the related Iron Horse vs. the Buffalo [...]

An African-American Socialist Lends His Support to Railroad Strikers

A nationwide rebellion brought the United States to a standstill in the summer of 1877. Eighty thousand railroad workers walked off the job, joined by hundreds of thousands of Americans outraged by the excesses of the railroad companies and the [...]

1877: The Grand Army of Starvation Vocabulary (for chapters on "The Centennial Exposition" and "The Railroad")

This is a vocabulary list for chapters on "The Centennial Exposition" and "The Railroad" in the 1877: The Grand Army of Starvation documentary.

Background Essay on San Francisco's Chinatown (short version, with text supports)

This essay describes the origins of San Francisco's Chinatown, as well as some of its major economic, political, and social features. The essay also describes the challenges San Francisco's Chinese community faced from the city's white politicians [...]

Active Viewing: 1877: The Grand Army of Starvation

In this activity, students watch a short clip from the ASHP documentary 1877: The Grand Army of Starvation to learn about the impact of railroad expansion on Americans and the nation as a whole. After watching the clip, students complete the [...]

Chiricahua Apache Prisoners, Including Geronimo

The U.S. Army and the Apache tribe (who called themselves N’ne, meaning “the people”) engaged in armed conflict in the U.S. Southwest from 1851 through 1886. On September 4, 1886, the famed Apache leader Geronimo (or Goyahkla) surrendered to [...]

Waiting for the Reduction of the Army

A massive labor strike in 1877 shook the very foundations of American politics and society. Starting with a spontaneous railroad strike in West Virginia, the “Great Uprising” spread rapidly across the country. In many cities, entire [...]

Diners Describe the first Chinese Restaurants in America (with text supports)

The first Chinese restaurants in America sprang up in 1850s California and catered to Cantonese miners and railroad laborers. Known as "chow chows" (Chinese slang for anything edible), they were identified by yellow triangle signs. By the 1880s San [...]

The Theater Draws Immigrants and Tourists to Chinatown (with text supports)

During the 1870s and 1880s, San Francisco's Chinatown included as many as four theater companies that regularly performed Chinese operas and other entertainment. Tickets to evening performances usually cost 20-25 cents for Chinese (50 cents for [...]

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