The United States from the Late 19th Century to the Eve of World War II

History 124A

Fall 2018
145 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tue/Thu 9:30–11am
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the American Cultures Requirement.
  • For individuals born at the end of the Civil War in 1865 and living through the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, their 76 years of life would have witnessed profound technological, social, and ideological change. Innovations such as the telephone, airplane, and automobile transformed American business and reoriented social life. As the power of businesses grew, factory workers and farmers responded with uneven success. Masses of Americans quit laboring on the farm and moved the cities, women gained the right to vote and entered the paid workforce in greater numbers, while African Americans mostly remained trapped in low-paying occupations and segregated neighborhoods. At the same time, immigrants arrived in droves until the “golden door” banged shut. As America became more racially and ethnically diverse and income and wealth inequality grew, various ideologies developed to justify or critique these changes.

    This class will explore these numerous transformations by focusing on three key themes: (1) Rights Contested, (2) Boundaries, Bridges, and Intersections, and (3) Modern Times. We will particularly study how race, ethnicity, class, gender, citizenship, and place shaped major developments in American history from the end of the Civil War until the onset of World War II. We will structure our study of these themes and factors by dividing the course into three chronological segments: (1) A Time of Rapid Change: From Civil War to New Century, (2) An Age of Reform and Reaction: New Century to World War I, and (3) Building Bridges and Walls: Interwar America.