United States History since 1877 Dr. Charlene Mires

HIS 1001-002 / 1001-003 cmires@email.vill.edu

Villanova University Spring 1998 Office: SAC 223, MW 2:30-4 pm

American identity:

What does it mean to be an "American"? Who is included, and who is excluded? By whom? Why?

How has technology shaped American life?

What is America's role in the world?

Welcome to United States History since 1877. As we survey this period in U.S. history, we will pay particular attention to the questions above and how the answers to these questions have changed over time. Along the way, we will undoubtedly pose additional questions.

In this class, we will do some of the things you probably already associate with the study of history -- we will read a textbook and try to gain an understanding of key events and trends in American history. However, we will do many things that may be new to you. We will explore history as a process of interpretation -- that is, not only as a series of names and dates, but also as a process of figuring out what those names and dates mean. As often as possible, we will use our class time as a history "lab" -- a time for dissecting documents, examining artifacts, and discussing important ideas.

Materials to buy:

Faragher, John Mack et. al., Out of Many, Volume 2 (second edition)

Breen, The Power of Words, Volume 2

Mintz and Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions (also on reserve in the library)

Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History

You will read part or all of three other books of your choice in connection with your paper for this class.

Course requirements:

Midterm and final exam (each 25% of grade).

Informal writing assignments (10% of grade). For details, see page 2.

Family history paper, 6-8 pages minimum (40% of grade). In this paper, you will place your own family history in the larger context of American history. Details on separate handout.


The course will have a midterm and a final exam. Each exam will have two parts:

Short-answer questions that assess your historical literacy. The class will participate in deciding which historical "facts" are the most important to know and, therefore, should be included.

Short essay(s) that ask you to draw interpretive conclusions based upon historical evidence. These essays will be based on the study questions in The Power of Words.

The final exam will cover only the material covered since the midterm.


Throughout the semester, you will be asked to do a series of short, informal writing assignments. These assignments are intended to keep everyone up-to-date with the reading and to develop skills that will help you succeed on the exams for this course. Please get a folder to save your informal writing assignments in. You are responsible for keeping all of your work so that it can be evaluated at the end of the course.

All of the informal writing will receive a cumulative grade at the end. However, on each day that an assignment is due, a random portion of the class (sometimes everyone) will be asked to turn in that day's assignment. If you do not have the work done, or if you are absent that day, this part of your course grade will be reduced. (If you are absent, but you have done the work for the day, you may fax it to: 215-925-6919.)

These assignments may be hand-written if your writing is legible. Otherwise, please type.

Each week, by Monday (unless specified otherwise): You are required to write an informal response to the assigned reading for the week. The requirements are:

You may do this in any way you wish. Here are some approaches that are likely to contribute to your success on exams in this class (you may vary your approach from week to week):

Reflect on what you learned from the reading that you did not know before.

Comment on the relationship between history and individual experience.

Select one or more questions in the documents book, and answer it/them using both the documents and the textbook. (Or, similarly, choose one or more questions from the textbook.)

Describe how you would teach this material to a high school or elementary school class (specify which).

Make up a quiz that covers the material.

Reflect on connections between what you have read and the themes of our course. Comment on how the reading for this class connects to other classes you are taking or have taken.

Comment on how the reading connects to your own family history.

Discuss ways that current events relate to the history we are studying.

Answer questions in the on-line study guide for the textbook (you can e-mail your work from the study guide to yourself, so you can print them out).

Create a glossary of terms that you want to remember in the future. In your definitions, include why these terms are significant.

Attendance To be successful in this course, you must attend regularly. We will often spend our class time discussing documents, an experience that cannot be duplicated by getting someone's notes. Lectures will strive to add to the reading, not duplicate it. Finally, if you are not in class to turn in an informal writing assignment, you risk a reduction in your grade for that part of the course. 

Also note: For freshmen, attendance is required.

Preparation Thorough preparation is expected. Unless otherwise noted, reading assignments must be completed by Monday of the week they are assigned. Quizzes may be added if lack of preparation is widespread.
Deadlines LATE PAPERS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. This applies to informal writing assignments as well as all assignments related to the family history paper. Exceptions will be made only in cases of unanticipated, unavoidable, documentedemergency.
Where to turn things in Bring your work to class. DO NOT slide papers under office doors or leave them in the History Department. If you must miss class on a day when an assignment is due, you may fax it to: (215) 925-6919. The fax must be received the same day as the class meeting.
Makeup exams Midterm: Makeup exams will be given only in cases of conflict with university activities or in cases of documented emergency. The makeup will be given during a scheduled History Department makeup exam period; this may be substantially later than the regular exam time. The makeup will be different from the exam taken by the rest of the class. 

Final: Alternative exam times will be arranged only in cases when you have two exams at the same time or three on the same day. The makeup will be after the scheduled final exam time. Under no circumstances will an earlier final exam be arranged so that you can begin your summer vacation early.

How to contact the professor Office hours: St. Augustine Center 223, Mondays and Wednesdays, 

2:30-4 p.m., and other times by appointment. Please don't hesitate to ask. 

Best method otherwise: E-mail to cmires@email.vill.edu. Feel free to e-mail at any time with your questions or comments. 

Office phone / voice mail: 519-6935.



Grades will strictly adhere to Villanova University's grading criteria. As a reminder, an "A" is defined as:

"the highest academic grade possible; an honor grade which is not automatically given to a student who ranks highest in the course, but is reserved for accomplishment that is truly distinctive and demonstrably outstanding. It represents a superior mastery of course material and is a grade that demands a very high degree of understanding as well as originality or creativity as appropriate to the nature of the course. The grade indicates that the student works independently with unusual effectiveness and often takes the initiative in seeking new knowledge outside the formal confines of the course."

For other grade criteria, consult the University Catalog.


Out of Many (abbreviated in the schedule as "Text"): This book will give you the basic narrative of American history since 1877. It is your responsibility to come to class knowing the highlights of this narrative. You don't have to know everything. Concentrate on those aspects of the chapter that seem to you to be the most significant. If this is the last American history course you ever take, what will you want to remember in the future?

Out of Many on-line study guide: http://www.prenhall.com/faragher/

This is available on the Web for you to use however you wish. For each chapter, it offers multiple-choice and short-essay review questions as well as links to interesting related Web sites.

The Power of Words (abbreviated in the schedule as "Docs"): This is a book of writings from the time period we are studying. Each chapter begins with a public document, such as a speech by a political figure, and moves to increasingly personal writings by individuals. As you read these, think especially about the ways that public events affect personal experience. Each chapter has review questions at the end. Your reading will be enriched if you look at these questions first, then keep them in mind as you do the reading. Some of the study questions will be used as essay questions on exams.

Domestic Revolutions (abbreviated in the schedule as "DR"): This book about the history of the family is for you to use with your family history paper. It will not be covered by exams, and you do not have to read it in conjunction with the other assigned readings. However, if you would like to read this together with the other books, the related chapters are noted on the schedule.

NOTE: Assignments related to family history paper are explained in greater detail on a separate handout.
Week Reading 

Assignments must be completed by Monday unless otherwise noted.

Due dates / 

other things to remember

Jan. 12 By Friday: 

Text Ch. 18, "Conquest and Survival" 

Docs Ch. 2, "The West"

No reading response required for this week.
Jan. 19 Text Ch. 19, "The Incorporation of America" 

Docs Ch. 3, "Labor and Capital" 

(DR, Ch. 4 and 5) 

Reading response due Monday. 

Note: Please consider attending Martin Luther King Day events on campus this week. These will increase your understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, which we will study later in the semester.

Jan. 26 Text Ch. 21, "Urban America and the Progressive Era" 

Docs Ch. 4 and 6, "Urban Society" and "Progressivism" 

(DR, Ch. 6)

Reading response due Monday.
Feb. 2 Text Ch. 20, "Commonwealth and Empire" 

Docs. Ch. 5, "Imperial Power and Domestic Unrest"

Reading response due Monday. 

By Friday: Submit plan for doing your family history paper.

Feb. 9 Text Ch. 22 and 23, "World War I" and "The Twenties" 

Docs Ch. 7, "Corporate Society" 

This would also be a good time to thoroughly read the writing pamphlet, "A Pocket Guide to Writing in History."

Reading response due Monday.
Feb. 16 Text Ch. 24, "The Great Depression and the New Deal" 

Docs Ch. 8, "The Great Depression and the Rise of the Welfare State" 

(DR, Ch. 7) 

For Friday's class, prepare the following informal writing assignment: 

What do you think are the three or four most significant topics covered so far in this course? 

For each of your topics, write a short-answer question (answerable in three or four sentences). 

Complete the following: "I would feel foolish in later life if I did not know ... " 

We will discuss this assignment in class as a means of preparing for the midterm exam.

Reading response due Monday. 

For Friday: Prepare the additional informal writing assignment described at left.

Feb. 23 No new reading this week.  Midterm exam: 

Mon., 2/23: Part 1, short-answer questions. 

Wed., 2/25: Part 2, essay question(s). 

Friday: Workshop on conducting family history interviews. 

March 9 By Wednesday: 

Text Ch. 25, "World War II" 

Docs Ch. 9, "World War II" 

(DR, Ch. 8)

Reading response due Wednesday. 

By Friday, submit a progress report on your family history paper (see separate handout for details).

March 16 Text Ch. 26, "The Cold War" 

Docs Ch. 10, "The Culture of Prosperity" 

(DR, Ch. 9)

Reading response due Monday.
March 23 Text Ch. 27 and 28, "America at Midcentury" and "The Civil Rights Movement" 

Docs Ch. 11, "Demand for Civil Justice"

Reading response due Monday.
March 30

Text Ch. 29, "War Abroad, War at Home" 

Docs Ch. 12, "The Vietnam War" 

(DR, Ch. 10) 

Reading response due Monday.
April 6 Docs Ch. 13, "Multicultural America" Reading response due Monday. 

By Wednesday: If you would like feedback on a partial draft of your family history paper, submit it Wednesday. 

No class Friday (Easter break)

April 13 No new reading; read ahead for next week and work on family history papers No class Monday (Easter break)
April 20 Text Ch. 30 and 31, "The Overextended Society" and "The Conservative Ascendancy" 

Docs Ch. 14, "Republican Hegemony" (Optional: Docs Ch. 15, "The End of the Cold War") 

(DR, Epilogue)

Reading response due Monday. 

Also Monday: All informal writing from throughout the semester will be collected. 

Friday: Family history paper due (including notes and other research materials).

April 27 Docs Ch. 16, "Toward Postindustrial Society"  No reading response required for this week. 

For Wednesday: Prepare the same informal writing assignment described on the week of Feb. 16 (your topics should cover only the material since the midterm). 

Wednesday is the last day of class..