Tag Archives: Industrialization

"Bridging The Golden Gate"

“Footbridge ropes stretch across the Golden Gate during the construction of the bridge, September, 1935”

The wonderful people over at the California Historical Society have a free eBook–Bridging the Golden Gate: A Photo Essay–that follows the creation of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Follow this link to get your FREE copy downloadable through iTunes.

This photo essay and the digital collection at Calisphere provide amazing views of the bridge’s construction. Showing perilous catwalks workers used to navigate between towers and the enormity of the undertaking.

“Looking towards Marin County from Fort Point in San Francisco, as the floor of the Golden Gate Bridge takes shape, October, 1936”

For the elementary school classroom (or even the high schoolers to make them smile) try this great book, Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting.  The story follows Robert’s father and his adventures as a “skywalker” building the bridge.


Bike Your Way Through May

National Bike Month is halfway over, but there is still time to join in!  This week we bring you ideas for “drop-in” lessons or ways to incorporate this fun and approachable topic into your classroom.

Engage students in a discussion of technological advancements of the 19th century. With the communication and transportation revolution coupled with the emergence of the factory and more sophisticated farming equipment, how did these changes transform life for ordinary citizens? See this lesson from EDSITment! for suggestions on activities and documents. For more primary sources on the early bicycle visit “Gearing Up for Bike Month with Primary Sources” from the Library of Congress.

Saturday Evening Post ad for National Bicycle Week, “This is happiness week” 1921

Ad for Columbia Bicycle Co., Hi-Wheeler, 1886.

“Washington Meet of the League of American Wheelmen” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1884.




Women Factory Workers

Women and Work series, part 2

Continuing the discussion of women and work, today we take a look at women in factories. As soon as the first mill or factory opened its doors, women found themselves a part of this revolutionary new approach to production.  The growing need for a two (or three or four) income household as the nineteenth century unfolded meant that women joined the labor force in droves.  By 1900, 5.7 million women participated in the wage earning system in non-agricultural jobs. On average, their pay was one third of their male counterpart’s.

An excellent place to begin a discussion of female factory work is with the Lowell Mills.  Named after Francis Cabot Lowell, a leader in the sponsoring merchant group, these mills were one of the first successful large scale efforts toward American made textiles. One of the draws to mill work was the potential for independence from their fathers and brothers.

Lowell women at the loom.

By the turn of the twentieth century, factories became crowed, unhealthy, and dangerous places to work. The cartoon below is a commentary on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 that killed 146 women, many of them leaping to their deaths from ninth floor windows.  Owners of the factory locked workers in the building to ensure productivity, but after a fire broke out in the highly flammable workshop, the workers were unable to escape. This incident sparked fervent protest and increased calls for legislation to protect workers.

Workers in a Philadelphia factory, 1902


Cartoon: ‘Harvest of Death’ 1911.


Cartoon: A woman worker facing poverty, 1915.

Check out these great resources for more on the working conditions of wage workers:


Let's talk about baseball…and history

“The American National Game of Baseball.” The 1862 World Series

The World Series is right around the corner and may provide an avenue to tap into students’ interest in sports to engage in a conversation about history. If you want to connect to the Civil War, currently in it’s sesquicentennial, you might have students look closely at this Currier and Ives depiction of the 1862 World Series and see if they notice anything different (i.e., the pitcher is pitching underhanded). To go deeper into the Civil War consider making use of resources in the primary source set, Baseball Across a Divided Society created by the Library of Congress.

New York boys playing baseball in an alley, 1910. Beginning in the 1890s there was increasing agitation for small parks and playgrounds to get the city’s children off the streets.

For industrialization in the early 20th century have students consider this Lewis Hines photo of children playing baseball in a new York City alley and how it contrasts with this one from around the same time of children playing baseball in Central Park. What do these two images tell us about society during this time?

What are some ways you tap into your students’ interests like sports, music, etc. to get them engaged about history? Tell us about it here.

Topics & Themes Provide a Lens for Analysis

Christmas sketch for Harper's Weekly, 1902

One of the options for browsing the Marchand Archive is to use the  “Topic/Theme” menu on the right side of the Image Collection page. Most of the “Topic/Themes” were identified by the historians who contributed to our collection, in particular, Roland Marchand. The title of the topic or theme and the selection of the images filtered by historian can provide some insight into how they used them when teaching. In today’s post, we invite you to check out  three images of Uncle Sam at Christmas simultaneously organized under the topics “Symbols, U.S.  Nationalism,” and “Industrialization.” Considering the three images representing 1802, 1852, and 1902,  provides some food for thought on how Americans were thinking about themselves and what they considered to be their nation’s achievements over course of the Nineteenth Century.

Uncle Sam celebrates Christmas, 1802, with a toy carriage and agricultural products in a stocking

Uncle Sam in 1852 with gold from California, a small train and telegraph pole.

How would you guide students’ analysis of this series of images in your classroom? Share your thoughts here.