The USA 1865-1895

Sites and documents exploring Reconstruction, Redemption, the Gilded Age and the intensification of industrialisation.

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Reconstruction: A Statistical Look at Southern Recovery
Reconstruction: A Statistical Look at Southern Recovery
Teaching site exploring the economic rebirth of the American South after the Civil War.
Harpweek: Presidential elections 1860-1912
Harpweek: Presidential elections 1860-1912
Overviews, analysis and contemporary comments and cartoons from leading weekly journals covering presidential elections. As the site notes, the use of racially hostile language was part and parcel of the time so users should be prepared for offensive language.
Calisphere: The Transcontinental Railroad
Calisphere: The Transcontinental Railroad
Site with source material exploring the significance of the Transcontinental railroad and its completion in 1869.
Development of U.S. Railroads - 1830 to 1950
Development of U.S. Railroads - 1830 to 1950
Distinctly lo-fi set of scans tracing the growth of rail in the USA. Still, useful for seeing the post-war transcontinental boom of the 1870-90.
The 1877 Railroad Strike
The 1877 Railroad Strike
This page from the University of Nebraska site 'Railroads and the Making of Modern America' contains newspaper accounts, images and photographs to detail the strike that bought America to a standstill, and violence to Pittsburgh & Baltimore.
First Person Narratives of the American South
First Person Narratives of the American South
This compilation of printed texts from the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill documents the culture of the nineteenth-century American South from the viewpoint of Southerners. It includes the diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives of not only prominent individuals, but also of relatively inaccessible populations: women, African Americans, enlisted men, laborers, and Native Americans.
The Making of America
The Making of America
Cornell & Uni. of Michigan's collection of periodicals and books from c. 1840-1900. All fully searchable. A great resource for exploring the public and political culture of the United States in the nineteenth century. This is the Cornell site - contains links to more material at Michigan.
Stanford: the Spatial History Project
Stanford: the Spatial History Project
Richard White has led a research team at Stanford into producing this fascinating array of animated resources charting the expansion of transport infrastructure in the West and its impact on costs, mail, stocks, shares, unions. Also contains a photo archive. A serious resource for people who already know the terrain.
Chinese Exclusion Act (May 6th, 1882)
Chinese Exclusion Act (May 6th, 1882)
The first piece of major legislation restricting immigration to the United States.
Calisphere: Chinese Exclusion Act
Calisphere: Chinese Exclusion Act
A set of primary resources exploring the move toward Chinese exclusion in the 1880s.
The Haymarket Affair Digital Collection (1886)
The Haymarket Affair Digital Collection (1886)
The Haymarket Affair started as a protest and march for workers' rights. At some point during the proceedings, as Chicago police moved to break up the rally, someone threw a bomb. The guilty person was never identified, but seven policemen and an unknown number of civilians were killed by the blast. Eight known anarchists were detained and four executed despite the lack of hard evidence. This archive from Chicago Historical Society explores the events surrounding Haymarket using source materials from the period.
Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (1890)
Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (1890)
The full text with photographs of Riis' landmark study of social conditions on the Lower East Side of New York. A scathing critique of housing and labor conditions and the effect they had on the large immigrant population.
LoC: Homestead Strike: Newspaper frontpages (1892)
LoC: Homestead Strike: Newspaper frontpages (1892)
11 historic newspaper frontpages relating to the events at the Pittsburgh which pitted striking workers against the economic and political power of the Carnegie Steel Company.
"The Significance of the Frontier in American History" (1893)
"The Significance of the Frontier in American History" (1893)
While the historical analysis might now be considered flawed, the cultural and political impact of Frederick Jackson Turner's thesis was enormous. What did 'the closure' of the frontier mean, and what was supposed to replace it as the crucible of key aspects of American identity?