The Progressive Era

Moderators: Larry Ambs & Dean Poli
Role of participants: Each seminar participant will make a presentation and lead a discussion on some aspect of the Progressive Era from the 1890’s until the early 1920’s.  A list of potential topics will be available at the Spring Preview.
Number of participants (including the moderator): 18
Time: Mondays, 10:00 am–noon
Place: UMass Transit Facility, Commonwealth Avenue, Amherst
Parking: Parking free in adjacent Lot 45; directions will be given

In this seminar we will examine the changes that took place in society as a result of the arrival of the Progressive Era. We will focus on individuals and events that played significant roles in the Progressive Movement from 1895 to the early 1920’s.

In the period from the 1890’s to the beginning of the 1920’s, America changed from a country of small family farms and rural communities to a more modern society of densely populated cities, large corporations and big factories.  Industrialization, urbanization and sizeable internal and external migration along with urban political corruption and increasing union control would set the stage for dramatic changes in the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of the citizens of our country. In this seminar we will examine the changes that took place in society as a result of the arrival of the Progressive Era. These new developments had dramatic consequences for urban American labor, economics, politics, religion, and social and intellectual life that often produced conflict that reached its peak in the cities of the Gilded Age.

Format: Seminar

Resources: Although various texts are available describing the Progressive Era, participants can easily find material in libraries and on the internet.  Of particular significance is:

  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin (2013)

In addition other specific references are:

  • A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920 by Michael McGerr (2005)
  • America in the Progressive Era, 1890-1914 by Lewis L. Gould (2001)
  • The Tyranny of Change: America in the Progressive Era, 1890-1920 by Professor John Whiteclay II Chambers Paperback – (2000)
  • Standing at Armageddon: A Grassroots History of the Progressive Era by Nell Irvin Painter (2013)

The moderators: Both moderators have been interested in the interaction of technology and society for several years.  Since joining LIR they have moderated many seminars dealing with culture and society in the U.S., South America and Europe.

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