Early 20th Century Urbanization (1890-1916)


Historical context

The Second Industrial Revolution radically altered the United States. Millions of immigrants moved to America to escape war and poverty, or to seek better jobs and education. New technologies changed manufacturing and increased the gap between the wealthy and the poor. Rural Americans moved to urban areas, and some cities became overcrowded. The dangerous working conditions in many workplaces led to new reforms in child labor, workplace safety, sanitary conditions, and limitations on a workers' schedule. The pattern of urbanization has continued since the early 20th century, as rural areas decline in population and urban and suburban areas grow, due to migrating Americans and increases in immigration.

Culturally relevant pedagogy considerations

Depending on where you teach, these documents could feel very familiar or very foreign to your students. The tack you take with this set will rely on the ways students can connect and find significance in these documents. To what degree can you as the teacher let go of your role as "keeper of knowledge" and allow students to craft the inquiry surrounding these documents? What structure do they need from you to support their investigation, in terms of skills and processes rather than content knowledge? How can you help them focus on the most significant connections they make?


Urban population

Date: 1890
Creator: United States Census Office
Type: Chart

Tenement Maps

The Tenement-House Committee maps

Date: 1895
Creator: F.E. Pierce
Type: Map

Tenement Yard

New York, NY, yard of tenement

Date: 1900-1910
Creator: Detroit Publishing Co.
Type: Photograph


The tenement - a menace to all

Date: 1901
Creator: Udo J. Keppler
Type: Cartoon


Noon hour in a furniture factory, Indianapolis

Date: 1908
Creator: Lewis Hine
Type: Photograph


Newsgirl and boy selling around saloon entrances

Date: 1910
Creator: Lewis Hine
Type: Photograph

Girls wanted cartoon

Girls Wanted

Date: 1916
Creator: Henry Glintenkamp
Type: Cartoon


Meghan Davisson (meghan.davisson@mnhs.org), grant director

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