Encyclopedia Of The Gilded Age And Progressive Era Essay

In the decades after the Civil War, urbanization, industrialization, and immigration marked the start of the Gilded Age, a period of rapid economic growth but also social upheaval. Reformers responded to the social and economic chaos with a “search for order,” as famously described by historian Robert Wiebe. Most reformers agreed that one of the nation’s top priorities should be its children and youth, who, they believed, suffered more from the disorder plaguing the rapidly growing nation than any other group. 


Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era explores both nineteenth century conditions that led Progressives to their search for order and some of the solutions applied to children and youth in the context of that search. Edited by renowned scholar of children’s history James Marten, the collection of eleven essays offers case studies relevant to educational reform, child labor laws, underage marriage, and recreation for children, among others. Including important primary documents produced by children themselves, the essays in this volume foreground the role that youth played in exerting agency over their own lives and in contesting the policies that sought to protect and control them.


  • “By presenting this scholarship from the burgeoning subfield of childhood and youth studies in such an engaging manner, Marten has made an original and useful contribution to the literature on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.” 

    The Journal of American History

  • "The two-part book ('Shaping the Future' and 'Managing Change') has some excellent articles, and accompanying documents include a memoir of a Native American boarding school student, high school newspaper articles, and juvenile court documents."


  • "The essays that comprise this outstanding collection make an important contribution to scholarly understandings of the Progressive era. They feature an abundance of historical actors engaged in a variety of activities that together paint a picture of the period's complex, inconsistent, and contradictory conflicts over the changing notions of childhood and youth."

    —Miriam Forman-Brunell, author of Babysitter: An American History

Notes on Contributors vii

Introduction: Gilded Excesses, Multiple Progressivisms 1
Christopher McKnight Nichols and Nancy C. Unger

Part I OverviewDefinitions, Precursors, and Geographies 5

1 Reconstructing the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 7
Heather Cox Richardson

2 Precursors to Gilded Age and Progressive Era Reforms 21
James M. Beeby and Brian M. Ingrassia

3 Urban America 31
Michael B. Kahan

4 The South 44
Amy Louise Wood

5 The Midwest and Far West during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 58
Thomas J. Jablonsky

6 Environment: Nature, Conservation, and the Progressive State 71
Benjamin Johnson

Part II Sex, Race, and Gender 85

7 Gender 87
Kimberly A. Hamlin

8 Inventing Sexuality: Ideologies, Identities, and Practices in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 102
Leigh Ann Wheeler

9 African Americans 116
Omar H. Ali

10 From Dispossessed Wards to Citizen Activists: American Indians Survive the Assimilation Policy Era 124
Alexandra Harmon

11 Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity 137
Julie Greene

Part III Art, Thought, and Culture 149

12 Art and Architecture 151
Alan Lessoff

13 Religion in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 165
Matthew Bowman

14 Journalism 178
Bruce J. Evensen

15 Popular Culture 19
Julia Guarneri

Part IV Economics, Science, and Technology 203

16 American Capitalism: From the Atlantic Economy to Domestic Industrialization 205
Noam Maggor

17 Nonprofit Organizations, Philanthropy, and Civil Society 215
David C. Hammack

18 Labor and Class in the GAPE: Fruitful Opposition and the Specter of the Middle Class 229
David Huyssen

19 Science and Technology 243
Alan I Marcus

20 The Rise of a Modern Concept of “Health” 255
David G. Schuster

Part V Political Leadership 269

21 Gilded Age Presidents 271
Justus D. Doenecke

22 Political Movers and Shakers 284
Karen Pastorello

23 Changing Interpretations of Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era 296
Kathleen Dalton

24 Woodrow Wilson 308
Lloyd E. Ambrosius

Part VI Government, Politics, and Law 321

25 Pivotal Elections 323
Sidney M. Milkis and Anthony Sparacino

26 Congress in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 339
Mark Wahlgren Summers

27 Revising Constitutional History 350
Logan E. Sawyer III

28 Radicalism and Conservatism 362
Cristina V. Groeger

Part VII The United States and the World 379

29 Connections, Networks, and the Beginnings of a Global America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 381
Ian Tyrrell

30 Empire, Expansion, and Its Consequences 399
Allan E. S. Lumba

31 The United States in the World during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 410
Katherine Unterman

Part VIII Major Works and Contemporary Relevance 421

32 Decades of Upheaval and Reform 423
Maureen A. Flanagan

33 Influential Works about the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 437
Robert D. Johnston

34 Why the Gilded Age and Progressive Era Still Matter 450
Michael Kazin

Bibliography 454

Index 507

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