Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

This course is a seminar on the history of institutions and institutional change in American cities from roughly 1850 to the present. By exploring a selection of primary and secondary documents, students learn to see the institutions that impact cities from a varied historical perspective. Among the institutions to be looked at are political machines, police departments, courts, schools, prisons, public authorities, and universities. The focus of the course is on readings and discussions. Students are also expected to write a term paper on the subject of their choice (within the scope of the course) using a variety of primary and secondary documentation.


  • Attend class each week
  • Complete each week's readings
  • Participate in class discussion
  • Write a research paper on a topic of the students' choice that deals with American urban history and relies largely on primary sources

Syllabus Archive

The following syllabi come from a variety of different terms. They illustrate the evolution of this course over time, and are intended to provide alternate views into the instruction of this course.

Spring 2010, Robert Fogelson (PDF)

Spring 2008, Robert Fogelson (PDF)

Spring 2005, Robert Fogelson (PDF)