21H.102 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate

American History Since 1865


[F] = Foner, Eric. A Short History of Reconstruction: Updated Edition. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2015. ISBN: 9780062370860. [Preview with Google Books]

[P] = Polenberg, Richard D., ed. The Era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933–1945: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2000. ISBN: 9780312133108.

[T] = Trachtenberg, Alan. The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age: 25th Anniversary Edition. Hill and Wang, 2007. ISBN: 9780809058280. [Preview with Google Books]

[W]= Williams, Robert F. Negroes with Guns. Foreword by Gloria House. Introduction by Timothy B. Tyson. Wayne State University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780814327142. [Preview with Google Books]

Note: All readings are required unless otherwise indicated.

Unit 1 – A New Birth of Freedom? Legacies of the Civil War And Reconstruction
1 Introductions No readings assigned 
2 Reconstruction, Race, and Reunion

[F] “Preface.”

[F] Chapter 1: The World the War Made.

[F] Chapter 4: Ambiguities of Free Labor.

[F] Chapter 5: The Failure of Presidential Reconstruction, pp. 92-103.

[F] Chapter 6: The Making of Radical Reconstruction.

[F] Chapter 9: The Challenge of Enforcement.

Blight, David W. “The Civil War in American Memory.” National Park Service.

Coates,Ta-Nehisi. “Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?” The Atlantic: The Civil War Issue, 2011.

3 Analyzing Primary Sources: Reconstruction

Anderson, Jourdan. “To My Old Master,” August 7, 1865. Letters of Note.

Krauthamer, Barbara, and Chad Williams, eds. “Captain Charles Soule, Northern Army Officer, Lectures Ex-Slaves on the Responsibilities of Freedom,1865.” Chapter 10.3 in Major Problems in African American History. 2nd edition. Cengage Learning, 2017. ISBN: 9781305639942. 

———. “Harriet Hernandes, a South Carolina Woman, Testifies Against the Ku Klux Klan, 1871.” Chapter 10.6 in Major Problems in African American History. 2nd edition. Cengage Learning, 2017. ISBN: 9781305639942. 

Mississippi Black Codes (1865). History is a Weapon.

Address of the Colored Convention to the People of Alabama [Mobile, Al; 1867]. Red as Folk.

Edward Crosby Testimony Regarding the KKK, 1872. Scribd.

Douglass, Frederick. “Why Reconstruction Failed [August 1, 1880].” Marxists Internet Archive.

4 Screening: Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement - The Battle Against American’s First Blockbuster No readings assigned. Work on Essay #1.
Unit 2 – Incorporating America in the Gilded Age
5 Conflict and Conquest in The Frontier West

[T] “Preface.” [Preview with Google Books]

[T] Chapter 1: The Western Route. [Preview with Google Books]

Turner, Frederick Jackson. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” 1893. (PDF) National Humanities Center.

Chew, Lee. “Life of a Chinese Immigrant (1903).” W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.


Lee, Erika. “The Chinese Exclusion Example: Race, Immigration, and American Gatekeeping, 1882–1924.” Journal of American Ethnic History 21, no. 3 (2002): 36–62.

Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. “Railroad Space and Railroad Time.” Chapter 3 in The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century. University of California Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780520282261. [Preview with Google Books]

6 Capital, Labor, and the Standardization of Work

[T] Chapter 2: Mechanization Takes Command. 

[T] Chapter 3: Capital and Labor. 

Jones, Rev. Jesse H., and I.G. Blanchard. “Eight-Hours.” Marxists Internet Archive.

Taylor, Frederick Winslow. “The Principles of Scientific Management,” 1910. (PDF) National Humanities Center.


Marx, Karl. “The Limits of the Working Day.” Chapter 10.1 in Capital, Volume I: A Critique of Political Economy. Translated by Ben Fowkes. Penguin Classics, 1992. ISBN: 9780140445688. 

Hughes, Thomas P. “The System Must be First.” Chapter 5 in American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870–1970. University of Chicago Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780226359274. 

7 Turning Points: 1893 and 1894

[T] Chapter 7: White City.

Allen, Jon. “Capital Versus Labor: The Pullman Strike Showdown.” Political Affairs, September 28, 2007.

Unit 3 – The Search for Order at Home and Abroad
8 Becoming a World Power

Brewer, Susan A. “The ‘Divine Mission’: War in the Philippines.” Chapter 1 in Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199753963. [Preview with Google Books]

Silva, Noenoe K. “The 1897 Petitions Protesting Annexation,” 1998. The Annexation Of Hawaii: A Collection Of Documents, University of Hawaii at Manoa Library.

Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League. Modern History Sourcebook: American Anti-Imperialist League, 1899. Fordham University.

9 Progressive Reform

Gordon, Linda. “Birth Control and Social Revolution.” In Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality. Edited by Kathy Peiss. Houghton Mifflin, 2001. ISBN: 9780395903841. 

McGerr, Michael. “Class, Gender, and Race at Home: The Birthplace of American Progressivism.” In Major Problems in American History, Volume II: Since 1865. 3rd edition. Edited by Elizabeth Cobbs-Hoffman, Edward J. Blum, and Jon Gjerde. Cengage Learning, 2011. ISBN: 9781111343163. 

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “A Feminist Challenge to the Privatized Home.” In Modern American Women: A Documentary History. Dorsey Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780534110192.

“Social Worker Jane Addams Advocates Civic Housekeeping, 1906.” In Major Problems in American History, Volume II: Since 1865. 3rd edition. Edited by Elizabeth Cobbs-Hoffman, Edward J. Blum, and Jon Gjerde. Cengage Learning, 2011. ISBN: 9781111343163. 

“I Am Almost a Prisoner”: Women Plead for Contraception. History Matters.

10 Culture and Conflict in the 1920s

Susman, Warren I. “Culture and Civilization in the Nineteen-Twenties.” Chapter 7 in Culture as History: The Transformation of American Society in the Twentieth Century. Smithsonian Books, 2003. ISBN: 9781588340511. 

Students will be assigned ONE of the following articles:

Ngai, Mae M. “Nationalism, Immigration Control, and the Ethnoracial Remapping of America in the 1920s.” OAH Magazine of History 21, no. 3 (2007): 11–15.

Glickman, Lawrence B. “Rethinking Politics: Consumers and the Public Good during the ‘Jazz Age’.” OAH Magazine of History 21, no. 3 (2007): 16–20.

Dumenil, Lynn. “The New Woman and the Politics of the 1920s.” OAH Magazine of History 21, no. 3 (2007): 22–26.

Unit 4 – The Global Crises of the 1930s and 1940s
11 The Great Depression and the New Deal

[P] Chapter 1: FDR as President, pp. 39–44.

[P] Chapter 2: The New Deal, pp. 68–89.

[P] Chapter 4: Documenting the Depression: The Photographs of Dorothea Lange, pp. 108–13.

[P] Chapter 5: Right…and Left…Face, pp. 114–119.

[P] Chapter 6: Race, Ethnicity, and Reform, pp. 142–56.

Selections from Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters from Children of the Great Depression. Edited by Robert Cohen. University of North Carolina Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780807854136. [Preview with Google Books]

12 The Second World War

Dower, Jon W. “Race, Language, and War in Two Cultures: WWII in Asia.” Chapter 7 in The War in American Culture: Society and Consciousness during World War II. Edited by Lewis A. Erenberg and Susan E. Hirsch. University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780226215129. 

Terkel, Studs. “Rosie: Peggy Terry.” In “The Good War”: An Oral History of World War II. New Press, 1997, pp. 108–13. ISBN: 9781565843431. [Preview with Google Books]

Korematsu v. United States: The U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Internment. History Matters.


A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans & the U.S. Constitution. Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

13 The United States and the Creation of Three Worlds

Westad, Odd Arne. “Creating the Third World: The United States Confronts Revolution.” Chapter 4 in The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. Cambridge University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780521703147. [Preview with Google Books]

Luce, Henry R. “The American Century.” In The Ambiguous Legacy: U.S. Foreign Relations in the “American Century”. Edited by Michael J. Hogan. Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780521779777. [Preview with Google Books]

Unit 5 – The Cold War And The Color Line
14 Cold War Culture and the Quest for Security

May, Elaine Tyler. “Explosive Issues: Sex, Women, and the Bomb.” Chapter 8 in Recasting America: Culture and Politics in the Age of Cold War. Edited by Lary May. University of Chicago Press, 1988. ISBN: 9780226511764. 

Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government (1950).” Frontline.

15 Space, Place, and Race in Postwar America

Sugrue, Thomas J. “Introduction.” In The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9780691162553. [Preview with Google Books]

Spigel, Lynn. “Outer Space and Inner Cities: African Americans Respond to NASA.” In Welcome to the Dreamhouse: Popular Media and Postwar Suburbs. Duke University Press Books, 2001. ISBN: 9780822326960.


Cohen, Lizabeth. “From Town Center to Shopping Center: The Reconfiguration of Community Marketplaces in Postwar America.” American Historical Review 101, no. 4 (1996):1050–81.

16 The Long Civil Rights Movement

[W] House, Gloria. “Forward.”

[W] Tyson, Timothy. “Robert F. Williams, ‘Black Power,’ and the Roots of the African American Freedom Struggle.”

Gage, Beverly. “What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals,” New York Times Magazine, November 11, 2014.

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past.” Journal of American History 91, no. 4 (2005): 1233–63.

Dudziak, Mary. “Brown as a Cold War Case.” Journal of American History 91, no. 1 (2004): 32–42.

Ogbar, Jeffrey O.G. “The FBI’s War on Civil Rights Leaders,” January 16, 2017. Daily Beast. 


HBO. “King In The Wilderness Official Trailer (2018) | HBO.” March 7, 2018. YouTube.

Eyes On The Prize - (Part 1) Awakenings 1954–1956.” April 13, 2016. YouTube.

17 The International Black Freedom Struggle

[W] Note: Read the entire book.

Gaines, Kevin. “A World to Win: The International Dimension of the Black Freedom Movement.” OAH Magazine of History 20, no. 5 (2006): 14–18.


Negroes with Guns.” July 9, 2017. YouTube.

Unit 6 – Revolutions at Home and Abroad
18 Vietnam and the New Left

Hall, Mitchell K. “The Vietnam Era Antiwar Movement.” OAH Magazine of History 18, no. 5 (2004): 13–17.

Lubar, Steven. “‘Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate’: a Cultural History of the Punch Card.” Journal of American Culture 15, no. 4 (1992) pp. 43–53.

Savio, Mario. “And End to History,” 1964. History is a Weapon.

King, Jr., Martin Luther. “Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam (1967).” Declaration Project.


Lawrence, Mark Atwood. “Escalation.” Chapter 4 in The Vietnam War: A Concise International History. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780199753932. [Preview with Google Books]

———. “War on Many Fronts.” Chapter 5 in The Vietnam War: A Concise International History. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780199753932. 

19 Power, Protest, and the Politics of Identity

Black Panther Party Platform, Program, and Rules.” History is a Weapon.

The Black Panther 2, no. 2 (1968). (PDF - 3MB) It’s About Time - Black Panther Party Legacy & Alumni. (skim)

Strait, Guy. “What is a Hippie?,” 1967. (PDF)

Sinclair, John. “Rock and Roll is a Weapon of Cultural Revolution.” In Guitar Army: Rock & Revolution with The MC5 & the White Panther Party. Process, 2007. ISBN: 9781934170007. 

New York Radical Women. “No More Miss America!,” August 22, 1968. Redstockings.

Hanisch, Carol. “The Personal is Political,” February 1969. CarolHanisch.org. (skim the January 2006 introduction)

American Indian Center. “Seizure of Alcatraz Island,” 1969. Digital History.

Young Lords Party. “13 Point Program and Platform,” October 1969. Latino Education Network Service.

Whittman, Carl. “Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto (1970).”  Chapter 11.137 in The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition. Edited by Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Campbell McMillian. New Press, 2003. ISBN: 9781565846821. 

Third World Gay Liberation. “What We Want, What We Believe (1971).” Chapter 11.139 in The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition. Edited by Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Campbell McMillian. New Press, 2003. ISBN: 9781565846821. 

20 Visit to MIT Archives and Special Collections

No readings assigned.


MIT: Progressions (1969).” July 18, 2017. YouTube.

Unit 7 – A Nation Divided
21 The Silent Majority and the Crises of the 1970s

Farber, David, ed. “The Silent Majority and Talk of Revolution.” Chapter 10 in The Sixties: From Memory to History. University of North Carolina Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780807844625. 

Schrag, Peter. “The Forgotten American.” In A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America. 8th edition. Edited by William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, and Beth Bailey. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199763641. 

22 Research Paper Workshop No readings assigned. Work on the final paper.
23 Conservatives in Power and the Long Life of “Law and Order”

Thompson, Heather Ann. “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History.” Journal of American History 97, no. 3 (2010): 703–34.

Carter, Dan T. “The Rise of Conservatism Since World War II.” OAH Magazine of History 17, no. 2 (2003): 11–16.

24 The Rediscovery of the Market and the Rise of a Digital Age

Metcalf, Stephen. “Neoliberalism: The Idea that Swallowed the World,” The Guardian, August 18, 2017.

O’Mara, Margaret. “The Future of Work: The Technology Industry is Changing the Rules.” Pacific Standard, October 16, 2015.

Barlow, Jack Perry. “Jack In, Young Pioneer!” Keynote Essay for the 1994 Computerworld College Edition. Electronic Frontier Foundation.


Cumings, Bruce. “Silicon Valley: A New World at the Edge of the Sea.” Chapter 16 in Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power. Yale University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780300168006. 

Unit 8 – Toward a History of the Present
25 Growing Up in the Twenty-First Century

Silva, Jennifer M. “Coming of Age in the Risk Society.” Chapter 1 in Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty. Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780190231897. [Preview with Google Books

Sherry Turkle: Connected, But Alone?” TED Talk, 2012.

26 Closing Thoughts No readings assigned. Prepare mini-presentations on final papers.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2018
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples
Lecture Notes