U.S. social history

For an illuminating view of life in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, check out Richard Candida-Smith’s Fall 2012 UC Berkeley course History 124A: The United States from the Late 19th Century to the Eve of World War II (reading-list, video, iTunes audio).

A few of the topics covered so far:

  • The beginnings of the Jim Crow regime in the American South.
  • The rise of the modern research university.
  • How the United States changed from a “workers republic” to a “middle-class republic.”
  • How philanthropic foundations like the Rockefeller foundation worked to influence public policy.

My favorite knowledge tidbit so far is about how ethnic groups achieved a lock on certain occupations and types of factory work in the late 19th century. Typically a factory would contract with a work boss, who would supply the requisite number of workers, usually from his ethnic community. If a different ethnic community tried to take those jobs, there would often be violent confrontations. Henry Ford was one of the first to break a system when he insisted on hiring workers individually. For more on this topic, check out lecture 12.

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One Response to U.S. social history

  1. baxter wood says:

    Dara. I too have been enjoying this. He has a knack for finding details we have never heard of.

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