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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Topic: MemoryTopic: ProgressTopic: PeopleTopic: PowerTopic: Empire
Topic: Memory: Civil War Memory and American Nostalgia
Toolbox Overview: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Resource Menu: Memory
Text 1. Winslow Homer
Text 2. Hamlin Garland
Text 3. Joel Chandler Harris
Text 4. Jane Addams
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Text 5. Robert G. Ingersoll
Text 6. Re-Union and the Railroad
Text 7. Visions of the West
Text 8. Owen Wister

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Reading Guide
Jane Addams, 1907
Addams, 1907
Jane Addams, "Influence of Lincoln," Ch. 2 of Twenty Years at Hull-House, 1910

If Homer's Veteran and Garland's Private Smith carried the memory of the Civil War back to rural America, Jane Addams carried it back to the city. Born in Cedarville, Illinois, in 1860, Addams graduated from Rockford College in 1882. She began medical studies but had to give them up because of ill health. In 1887, on a trip to London, she witnessed the success of Toynbee Hall, an institution that provided education and social services to the poor. When she returned to the United States, she founded a similar institution, Hull-House, in Chicago in 1889. She was active in progressive politics and wrote widely on social issues. In 1931 she won the Nobel Peace Prize. She died in 1935.

In this chapter from Twenty Years at Hull-House Addams shows us how, during her childhood, the War wove itself into the fabric of daily life. It came to Addams through a living-room shrine honoring the "Addams guard," through stories of local heroes, and through the reminiscences of adults. Above all, however, it came to her through the image of Abraham Lincoln, "an epitome of all that was great and good . . . the conscience of his countrymen." Lincoln is not often seen as a symbol for the Progressive Era, yet, as Addams shows us, his personal characteristics and achievement made him one. Indeed, no less a progressive than Theodore Roosevelt embraced him as a model, holding him in such high honor that on his inauguration in 1913 he wore a ring containing a lock of Lincoln's hair. A good selection to use with students. 7 pages.

Discussion questions
  1. How was the Civil War interpreted to Adams as a child?
  2. What lessons did Addams draw from it?
  3. How did Lincoln become a model for reformist, progressive politics?
  4. What lessons did Addams take from Lincoln's life?

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Topic Framing Questions
  •  In the aftermath of the Civil War, how did Americans look back and look forward?
  •  During this period, how did Americans promote the re-union of the nation?
  •  How did they reconceptualize their sense of national identity?

Toolbox: The Gilded and the Gritty: America, 1870-1912
Memory | Progress | People | Power | Empire

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