December 15, 2018

Primary Source Learning: Gilded Age Teaching Resources & Strategies


This morning I saw a tweet mentioning primary sources related to immigration in the Gilded Age and I began to wonder . . . What learning activities related to the Gilded Age could we imagine using Library of Congress primary sources? What other teaching resources and strategies are available on LOC.gov and elsewhere? See the results below and feel free to comment on learning activities and resources that you’ve created or uncovered in the Speak Your Mind section. H/T to @oswego98 for the inspiration.

Teaching ideas

Read “A Political Satire of the Gilded Age” (Library of Congress), then use the illustrations and political cartoons from Puck magazine (1871-1918) to consider differing viewpoints on issues of the time.

Have students compare and contrast song lyrics about high society with those about poverty. Alternatively, you might have them consider the portrayal of ethnic groups in song lyrics from 1870-1885.

Have students compare and contrast America at work and America at leisure in films from 1894-1915. How does this particular set of primary sources reinforce or alter their understanding of this era in history?

Have students read The Gilded Age (Project Gutenberg) by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner and compare passages in the book to information presented by different primary sources. Alternatively, you might choose to have students “illustrate” the book with various primary sources and provide justification for their choices in an illustrator’s edition foreward.

Have students read these Gilded Age Ideology documents compiled by Dr. Kathleen A. Brown (St. Edward’s University). Next, have them answer the suggested questions, then consider how other primary sources support or refute the claims or purpose of these documents.

Have students watch the video or read the transcript of author and historian Steve Fraser on Gilded Ages (PBS). Then have them look for historical and modern-day primary sources that support or refute the views Fraser presents.

Lesson plans

Collection Connections: teaching resources & strategies

More resources 

Use the information provided in the sources listed below to gain background information and to uncover ideas for targeting your search for primary sources in American Memory, Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers, and across the Library.

Speak Your Mind

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