Posted: May 12th, 2021

History discussion | English homework help


Relying on Chapters 4 and 6 of the Constructing the American Past textbook (linked in the left hand menu) this discussion takes a closer look the at turn of the twentieth century. Begin by reading the historical context and first-hand descriptions of immigrants to the United States during the late 19th century. Documents 1, 3, and 5 in Chapter 4 come from Jacob Riis’s book How the Other Half Lives and focus on the experiences and communities of different ethnic groups who had recently arrived in American cities. Riis exposed the living conditions and joined other “Muckrakers” of the era to bring awareness and inspire reform. Upton Sinclair was another well-known muckraker, and Document 1 in Chapter 6 comes from his famous book The Jungle, which exposed the horrible conditions of the meat packing industry. Progressive reformers, like Theodore Roosevelt, read these books and used them to improve the living and working conditions in America as well as the safety of industrial factories and urban housing. This context is important as you read the primary source documents from this era. As you respond to one of the prompt below, you should refer to specific documents from Chapter 4 and 6 of Constructing the American Past in your posts and replies (cite document number and its author) to help justify and explain your views. I am looking for you to engage with the perspectives provided by these historical authors as you offer your own analysis of the past.

Discussion Prompts (choose one of the following)
  1. Consider Documents 2, 4 and 6 from Chapter 4 of Constructing the American Past. How did Corresca, Chew, and Schneiderman differ in their memories of their homelands? In their attitudes toward America? What do you think accounted for the differences? How did they feel about other immigrants? Be sure to include specific examples from the documents as evidence to support your views.
  2. After reading Chapter 6 of Constructing the American Past, interrogate the commonalities and differences among the descriptions of the meatpacking industry offered by the historical authors. Do you think Upton Sinclair exaggerated the conditions in Packingtown in Document 1? How does his description in The Jungle (Document 1) and letter to President Roosevelt (Document 3) compare with the report in Document 4? How does it compare to Kaztauski’s story in Document 2? Be sure to include specific examples from the documents as evidence to support your views.
  3. The primary sources in both Chapter 4 and 6 of Constructing the American Past attempt to bring awareness to different problems in American society. Do you notice any similarities in the perspectives provided by the document in each chapter? For example, how does Antanas Kaztauski’s Story in Chapter 6 compare with that of the immigrants in Chapter 4? What do these documents reveal about the working conditions of Americans during this period? Be sure to include specific examples from the documents as evidence to support your views.

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