During the 1890s, an unprecedented number of strikes and labor actions shook the United States. Few were bigger than the Pullman Strike of 1893. Below are two points of view from both George Pullman and the striking workers. Continue reading →
On March 25, 1911, a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City killed 146 workers, mostly young women. The accounts of the survivors and witnesses, along with the unsafe conditions which prevented more of the workers from escaping the blaze helped fuel industrial safety regulations during the Progressive era. Continue reading →
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) was one of the pioneers of the birth control movement. Her writings, as seen here with her magazine The Woman Rebel caused her to run afoul of postal authorities who were bound by laws at the time to confiscate and destroy any material sent through the mail that was judged “obscene.” Continue reading →
One aspect of the Progressive Era was the popularity of eugenics—selective reproduction to improve humanity. Indiana was the first state in the United States (and one of the first places in the world) to establish laws to determine whether or not the physically and mentally ill or disabled should be allowed to reproduce. This law was controversial from its inception. Signed into law by Indiana Governor J. Frank Hanly, its enforcement was blocked by the subsequent governor, Thomas R. Marshall. The law was found unconstitutional by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921. Continue reading →
For the United States, entry into World War I came at the close of the Progressive Era. One feature of this period was an emphasis on social control–using the power of government and other powerful institutions to manage people’s behavior. Continue reading →
Throughout the Cold War, Harding College (now University) produced a number of films which promoted “American” values in the face of perceived pressure from “un-American” ideologies. This short animated film, “Make Mine Freedom” is an early example of these films. As you watch it, think about the goals the filmmakers had in creating this cartoon and who the cartoon’s audience might have been.
During the 1950s, some American thinkers expressed concern that deviation from accepted behavior, would contribute to a weakening of American society. This educational film from 1958 addresses some of the perceived consequences of premarital sex. While premarital sex was certainly not invented in the 1950s, concerns about “proper” behavior were enhanced by the tensions of the Cold War.