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A Progressive Era for Whom?

African Americans in an Age of Reform, 1890-1920

Michelle Kuhl, Series Editors Joel M. Sipress, and David J. Voelker

Publication Date - 24 July 2020

ISBN: 9780197519196

144 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Encourages your students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past


Embracing an argument-based model for teaching history, the Debating American History series encourages students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past. Each book poses a question that historians debate--How democratic is the U.S. Constitution? or Why did Civil War erupt in the United States in 1961?--and provides abundant primary sources so that students can make their own efforts at interpreting the evidence. They can then use that analysis to construct answers to the big question that frames the debate and argue in support of their position.

A Progressive Era for Whom? poses this big question: Was the early 20th Century a Progressive Era for African Americans?


  • Organized around a big question about which historians themselves disagree: Was the early 20th century a Progressive Era for African Americans?
  • Exposes students to rival positions about which they must make informed judgments
  • Asks students to judge the relative merits of rival positions on the basis of historical evidence
  • Requires students to develop their own positions, for which they must argue on the basis of historical evidence
  • Offers an alternative to the "coverage model" that has dominated History classrooms since the late nineteenth century, and which has consistently fallen short of its own goals since its inception
  • Concise and flexible format allows for inclusion in a variety of classroom settings
  • Each title in the series is edited by Joel M. Sipress and David J. Voelker, award-winning teachers who have published and lectured extensively on reform in the teaching of History
  • The enhanced ebook offers short video clips, flashcards, animated maps, interactive timelines, and additional primary sources

About the Author(s)

Michelle Kuhl is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.


"A Progressive Era for Whom? provides a great foundation for discussing the issues surrounding the Progressive Era as it pertains to African Americans. The 'big question' will help drive a lecture, class discussion, or instructional activity to help students form an understanding about this time period."--Tramaine Anderson, Tarrant County College

"The 'Guiding Questions' and 'Drawing Conclusions' features are superior to those I see in similar kinds of sourcebooks."--Thomas W. Devine, California State University, Northridge

Table of Contents

    List of Figures, Tables, and Maps
    About the Author
    Series Introduction

    The Big Question


    Historian's Conversations

    Position #1: The Nadir
    Position #2: Laying a Foundation

    Debating the Question
    Did African American leaders Think They Were Making Progress in the Progressive Era?
    1.1 Mary Church Terrell, "The Progress of Colored Women"
    1.2 Booker T. Washington, "On the Race Problem in America"
    1.3 W.E.B. DuBois, "An Appeal to England and Europe"
    1.4 Charles Chesnutt Turns Down Du Bois's Appeal

    Data on Black Life
    2.1 Black Farm Owners by Divisions, 1900-1910
    2.2 Black Homes (Non-Farm) Owned in Southern States, 1900-1910
    2.3 Black Religious Bodies, 1890-1906
    2.4 Literacy Rates
    2.5 School Attendance Rates in the South
    2.6 Life Expectancy at Birth, for Selected Three-Year Averages
    2.7 Black Persons Employed in Selected Professional Occupations for Selected Years
    2.8 Number of Black Businesses for Selected Years
    2.9 Number of African American Members in Congress

    3.1 Thomas Dixon, Jr. on Education
    3.2 Kelly Miller Criticizes Thomas Dixon, Jr.
    3.3 "A Negro Student at Hampton"
    3.4 School Children in the South
    3.5 Mary McLeod Bethune Starts a School
    3.6 Bethune with a Line of Girls
    3.7 W.E.B DuBois on a University Education

    4.1 The AFL Accuses Black Workers of Being "Cheap Men" in the American Federationist, 1901
    4.2 "The Negro and Labor Unions" by Booker T. Washington from the Atlantic Monthly, 1913
    4.3 George H. Peters, Union Fireman, Writes to the Locomotive Firemen's Magazine, 1902
    4.4 Unnamed Union Fireman from Louisiana writes to the Locomotive Firemen's Magazine, 1902
    4.5 Upton Sinclair's The Jungle
    4.6 Samuel Gompers on Black Strikebreakers
    4.7 Women's Local in the Stockyards
    4.8 Mining Jobs in Seattle, Washington

    5.1 A Judge Measures White and Black Life
    5.2 Thomas Nelson Page on Lynching
    5.3 Mary Church Terrell Rebuts Thomas Nelson Page
    5.4 Teddy Roosevelt on Lynching and Rape
    5.5 Jane Addams on Lynching
    5.6 Ida B. Wells Responds to Jane Addams
    5.7 Tuskegee Press Release on Lynchings for 1914

    6.1 Speech of Senator Benjamin R. Tillman, 1900
    6.2 1904 Republican Party Platform, 1904
    6.3 1904 Democratic Party Platform, 1904
    6.4 Attorney General Letter to President Roosevelt, July 5th, 1904
    6.5 Reverend McPherson on Roosevelt
    6.6 Oswald Garrison Villard on Federal Segregation

    Two Girls in 1900
    7.1 Gathering Cotton on a Southern Plantation in Dallas, Texas
    7.2 Daughter of Thomas E. Askew


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