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Unit 2: The Early Twentieth Century


Five key themes of the early 20th Century comprise the content for Unit 2: Progressivism, National Parks, Homesteaders, Counterculture, and Organized Labor and Class Conflict.

We will continue to delve into the local and regional expression of these national themes, and we encourage you and your students to engage in thinking about how the story changes depending on the scope and scale of the focus. Of particular note is the research on the Dixon-Wanamaker efforts toward Indian Citizenship detailed in Weeks 6 and 10.

Web resources

Unit 2 Intoduction and Overview
Professor Jeff Wiltse

Click on Jeff for a streaming video/audio presentation.

Click here for audio only

Key Questions for Unit Two
Keep these 'key questions' in mind as you go through the content for The Early Twentieth Century.

  1. Many of the topics in this unit show a disconnect between the intentions of certain actions or policies and their unintended results (positive or negative). How can we assess such subjects as Progressivism, Indian assimilation and allotment, labor movements and conflict, and the expansions of technology into everyday life in a way that reflects the original intentions and recognizes the conflicting results without judging history or historical figures by modern standards or values?
  2. Some of the people we discuss in this unit seemed to understand the possible disconnect between intention and results, while others did not. Which actors fall into which category, and why do they view the world in the way that they do? Is it possible for one person to belong to both categories?
  3. Some of the actors in this unit have what we would view to be conflicts of interest, but most would never have viewed their lives or their actions in those terms. Who are these people and why do we see some of their interests as in conflict with other interests? How would they explain these "conflicts" as being in harmony? How can you teach these complicated lives without simplifying their values and actions?