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The American Gilded Age and The Populist and Progressive Era
Reading Group

This is a friendly group of people interested in reading great books about the American Gilded Age and The Populist and Progressive Eras c.1877 to 1920. It includes the American World War I home-front.

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Thank you for your interest.

Our Current Book and Reading

Current Book Reading Schedule :: Week and Chapter

  1. Introduction Dreaming of Rebirth

    Thought Questions: (continued in Chapter 1)
    - In what says did the Civil War shape the Gilded Age and Populist Progressive Era?
    - In what ways did the Civil War effect the North and South differently?
    - In what ways did the Civil War effect people differently based on age and gender?
    - In what ways did age and gender create commonalities transcending North and South?

    Primary Sources
    - Presidential Inaugural Address - 1877

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Begin The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  2. Chapter One The Long Shadow of Appomattox

    Thought Questions:(continued from Introduction)
    - In what says did the Civil War shape the Gilded Age and Populist Progressive Era?
    - In what ways did the Civil War effect the North and South differently?
    - In what ways did the Civil War effect people differently based on age and gender?
    - In what ways did age and gender create commonalities transcending North and South?

    Primary Sources
    - Presidential Inaugural Address - 1881

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  3. Chapter Two The Mysterious Power of Money

    Thought Questions
    - In what ways did the development of financial capitalism and the displacement of commodity based capitalism effect Americans?
    - In what ways did financial capitalism create a breach between labor and those that controlled money and production?
    - How did the Civil War and the resulting political imbalance effect the development of finance capitalism differently in the North, South and West?

    Primary Sources
    - Presidential Inaugural Address - 1885

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  4. Chapter Three The Rising Significance of Race

    Thought Questions
    - How did emancipation create new racial divisions in America?
    - How did different Americans react to emancipation?
    - How did racial issues effect non-white/black Americans?
    - How did the West act as a "safety value" for racial and economic tensions?
    - In what ways did the North - South division before the Civil War transform into an East - West division in the post Civil War era?
    - How did social Darwinism, "scientific eugenics" and "racial regeneration" effect American race relations?
    - How did religious differences effect racial attitudes and relations?
    - How did class consciousness effect racial attitudes and relations?

    Primary Sources
    - The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
    - April 4, 1882: Veto of the Chinese Exclusion Act
    - The National Origins Act of 1924
    - 1889: Harrison Inaugural Address

    Articles
    - Presidential Key Events - Benjamin Harrison - Miller Center

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  5. Chapter Four The Country and the City

    Thought Questions
    - How did the Hamilton - Jefferson dispute renew itself after the Civil War?
    - How did the Urban - Rural divide in America effect race relations after reconstruction?
    - How did the crop lien system effect southern and midwestern farmers?
    - How did rural farmers work to overcome the crop lien system?
    - How did immigration change the sectional demographics after the Civil War?
    - What was the "Beef Trust" and how did it symbolize the integration of city and country?
    - What myths did rural Americans hold about urban Americans and What myths did urban Americans hold about rural Americans

    Primary Sources
    - Grover Cleveland First Inaugural Address
    - Grover Cleveland Second Inaugural Address

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  6. Chapter Five Crisis and Regeneration

    Thought Questions
    - How did turn of the century utopianism manifest itself in the United States?
    - How did capitalism and labor change in the United States during the populist and progressive eras?
    - How did the economy of the 1890s effect the developing post civil war American middle class?
    - What was the Sherman Silver Purchase Act?
    - How were William Jennings Bryan and J.P. Morgan representatives of factions?
    - What was Coxey's Army and what was their purpose?

    Primary Sources
    - Sherman Silver Purchase Act
    - Grover Cleveland, Message on the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act - 1893

    Articles
    - Jacob S. Coxey Brief Biography

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
    (We will read the Education of Henry Adams during our next book)
  7. Chapter Six Liberation and Limitation

    Thought Questions
    - Who was Henry Adams and what was his role in American history?
    - How was the Chicago World Fair a symbol of Gilded Age America?
    - How was the life of Harry Houdini symbolic of life in Gilded Age America?
    - What is "Scientific Management" and "Business Rationalization" and how did it reform business in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era?
    - What was "Positivism"?
    - What cultural changes occurred in the Gilded Age and how was this reflected in literature and education?
    - Who was William James, what was Modernism and Empiricism and how were they related?
    - Who was Charlotte Perkins Gilman and how did she impact American culture?
    - What was Christian Science, how did it develop from Gilded Age empiricism and what was the "gospel of the body"?

    Primary Sources
    - The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    Articles
    - Henry Adams Brief Biography
    - Charlotte Perkins Gilman Brief Biography
    - William James Brief Biography
    - Mary Baker Eddy Brief Biography

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  8. Chapter Seven Empire as a Way of Life

    Thought Questions
    - What ways did the new class of American finance capitalists attempt to recreate an American version of European gentry?
    - How did Americans come to view their Imperialism as different from old world European colonialism?
    - Describe the events surrounding the separation of Panama from Colombia and the canal zone treaty?
    - Who were John Hay and Henry Adams and how did they represent the new American Imperialism?
    - How did the United States interfere in the governments of the Caribbean island nations?
    - What were the circumstances around the border conflicts between the United States and Mexico in the post civil war era?
    - How was American Imperialism expressed in East Asia and how was it different from and similar to its expression in the Caribbean and Latin America?
    - Who was William Stead and what role did he play during the expansion of American culture?
    - What was the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and what were its effects?
    - What frontier themes from Manifest Destiny are expressed in American Imperialism?
    - How did the rise of American Imperialism shadow the experience of Jeffersonian Republicanism?
    - What were the "Trusts" and how did they contribute to American Imperialism?
    - What major Progressive Reforms were passed in turn of the century America?
    - How did government and private finance capital work together and work against American economic development in the early 20th century?
    - What were the objectives, organizations and philosophies behind American agrarian populism?
    - What were the objectives, organizations and philosophies behind American Progressives?
    - How did Populism collapse and how was it replaced by Progressivism?
    - How were American Populism and Progressivism similar and different?
    - Who was William Jennings Bryan?
    - In what ways was Woodrow Wilson a hold over from a different age and how did he evolve over the time of his presidency?
    - Describe the series of events that began moving United States towards involvement in World War I

    Primary Sources
    - The Americanization Of The World; Or, The Trend Of The Twentieth Century by W.T. Stead
    - Inaugural Address Of Theodore Roosevelt Saturday, March 4, 1905
    - Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes and Home Made Candy Recipes
    - White Fang by Jack London
    - A Collection of Short Stories by Jack London
    - Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    - The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    - The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    - March 4, 1913: Wilson's First Inaugural Address
    - April 17, 1917: Wilson's Message Regarding World War I
    - January 8, 1918: Wilson's "Fourteen Points"

    Articles
    - The History of Count Ferdinand DE Lesseps And The Panama Canal
    - Hay Herman Treaty
    - The Panama Canal Historical Museum
    - Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, 1904
    - Teddy Roosevelt Biography - Miller Center
    - William Jennings Bryan Brief Biography
    - Woodrow Wilson Brief Biography - Miller Center

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Continue The Gilded Age by Mark Twain
  9. Conclusion

    Thought Questions
    - How does the author tie together the different strands of social transformation discussed in the previous chapters to complete the narrative of an American "rebirth"?

    Primary Sources
    - X

    Articles
    - X

    American Literature Supplemental Reading
    - Finish The Gilded Age by Mark Twain

American Gilded Age and The Populist and Progressive Era Group Reading List

  1. Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 by Jackson Lears
  2. American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 by H.W. Brands
  3. The Response to Industrialism, 1885-1914 by Samuel P. Hays
  4. The Populist Vision by Charles Postel
  5. A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920 by Michael McGerr
  6. Over Here: The First World War and American Society by David M. Kennedy
  7. The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America by Lawrence Goodwyn
  8. Greenbackers, Knights of Labor, and Populists: Farmer-Labor Insurgency in the Late-Nineteenth-Century South by Matthew Hild
  9. The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas
  10. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
  11. The Devil Is Here in These Hills: West Virginia's Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom by James Green
  12. Black and Brown: African Americans and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920 by Gerald Horne
  13. American Nightmare: The History of Jim Crow by Jerrold M. Packard
  14. At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 by Erika Lee
  15. The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Black Cavalry in the West by William H. Leckie and Shirley A. Leckie
  16. Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930 by Karen V. Hansen
  17. Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists by Jean H. Baker
  18. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by George Chauncey
  19. The Good Years: From 1900 to the First World War by Walter Lord
  20. Teddy Roosevelt Trilogy by Edmund Morris

After the first books listed above we will select the next books we read from the list below. Provide us feedback and suggestions for our next book by clicking here.

To view the books on our American Gilded Age, Populist and Progressive Era History Reading List click here