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History 252
America Since 1865
Fall 2016

Instructor: Steve Estes
Class: T/Th 8-9:15 a.m.
Classroom: International Hall 105
Office: Stevenson 2070D
Office Hours: W: 10:45-11:45;
and Th: Noon-2:00
Phone: 707.664.2424

This course is an introduction to the history of the United States since 1865. Though this is primarily a lecture course, there will be frequent discussions concerning the outside readings. This dual format reflects the two aims of the course. First, I hope that the lectures, readings, and examinations will impart an understanding of the people and events that have shaped the course of recent American history. Second, I hope that the readings, discussions and writing assignments will provide students with the skills necessary to interpret and analyze the past, so that they can be informed and active citizens.

Bill Bryson, One Summer: America 1927
James W. Davidson and Mark H. Lytle, After the Fact (Volume II) (5th or 6th edition, no CD)
Alice Echols, Scars of Sweet Paradise
Steve Estes, Charleston in Black and White
Eric Larson, The Devil in the White City

This course meets twice a week. Regular attendance is crucial, because I have not assigned a textbook that gives a comprehensive overview of the course. For students who feel that a textbook would be helpful, however, I have placed America: A Narrative History by George Tindall and David Shi on reserve in the library. The midterm test and the final exam will be based on information covered in course lectures, discussions, and outside readings. There will also be six short quizzes on the outside readings, which will be factored in with classroom participation. On the first day of the course, students will choose to do an in-class presentation or an oral history project.

Students with Special Needs:
If you are a student with special learning needs and you think you may require accommodations, your first step is to register with the campus office of Disabled Student Services, Salazar 1049, phone 664-2677. DSS will provide you with written confirmation of your verified disability and authorize recommended accommodations. You then present this recommendation to the instructor, who will discuss the accommodations with you.

Assignments & Exams:
Class Presentation or Oral History Project: Students will choose whether to do an in-class presentation on a historical figure/event in the first half of the course OR a paper based on a family history project that is due at the end of the course.

Presentation: Students who choose this option will pick a presentation topic from the list on the course schedule and will give a ten-minute presentation on the historical figure or event they choose during the designated class period. For historical figures, do a biographical sketch that covers year and place of birth as well as the historically significant actions taken by the person and their political and social beliefs. For events, describe the timing of the event, what occurred, and the individuals or groups involved. You should conclude with a clear, concise analysis of the individual or event’s significance to American history, usually as it relates to themes of the days lecture. Turn in a 1-2 page presentation outline as well as a one-page annotated bibliography with three websites that are not on-line encyclopedias (e.g. NOT Wikipedia,,,,, etc.) and two scholarly books (published by university presses). An annotated bibliography includes a three or four sentence description of each source and its usefulness for your presentation. It should explain the slant (or bias) of the source and arguments of the author.  Notes should explain who wrote the website or book and why they published it.  Presenters MUST meet with me during office hours before they are scheduled to speak to the class.

Oral History Project: If you don't do a presentation, you will write a paper based on: 1) an oral history interview, 2) two additional primary sources (newspaper, magazine article, film, song, letter, diary, etc.) from the time period that you are studying, and 3) two scholarly secondary sources (scholarly books or journal articles accessed through the library journal databases). Do NOT use history textbooks or on-line encyclopedia sites (e.g. NOT Wikipedia,,,,, etc.). This paper should be 5-7 pages long, double-spaced, and it should focus on how a significant event in recent American history affected your interviewee. For example, you might ask a family member how the civil rights movement or the feminist movement affected their lives. The counter-culture of the 1960s, the boom, immigration to America, or military service would also be possible topics. Whatever you choose to write about, you should run the idea by me well before the paper is due. The paper should be divided into two parts. The first section should be an essay using primary and secondary sources to provide historical context for understanding your interviewee’s experiences. Include a few quotes from your interview in this first section. Above all, your first section should have a thesis or central argument and evidence from your research and interview supporting that argument. The second part of the paper should be an edited section of your interview transcript that reveals (in the interviewee’s own words) how they experienced the historical event. 

Quizzes/Discussions: There will be six in-class discussions of the outside readings over the course of the semester. Students should have completed the assigned sections of each reading before the discussion and should be prepared to contribute to a conversation about the major themes covered by the author. At the beginning of each in-class discussion, there will be a short quiz of multiple-choice questions about the book. The grades on these quizzes and quality of discussion participation determine students’ grades for this portion of the class.

Mid-Term and Final Exam: These exams are broken into two parts. The first section requires students to answer four out of seven short answer questions describing historical figures, organizations, and events covered in lectures, presentations, or outside readings. On the second section of the exams, students will choose one of two essay questions that cover larger themes addressed in the course. The essays on the final exam are cumulative.

All assignments will be graded on a 100-point scale. The grading breakdown will be:
Presentation/Oral History Project 15%
Midterm 25%
Final Exam 30%
Quizzes/Discussion 30%

Course Schedule

Section I: Reconstruction to the Roaring Twenties






Course Introduction & Presidential Reconstruction

Andrew Johnson



Radical Reconstruction

Discuss Reading

After the Fact, “View from Bottom Rail”


Redemption & Jim Crow

Homer Plessy



Native America: How the West Was Lost

Crazy Horse



Go West Young Man!

William Cody



Robber Barons: The Rise of Big Business

John Rockefeller



Rebels: Populists, Trade Unionists, and Socialists

Mother Jones



The Promise and Problems of Urbanization

Discuss Readings

Devil in the White City (Quiz)


Immigration, the City and Progressive Reform

Jane Addams



Dam Yosemite: Progressive Environmentalism

John Muir



Documenting Despair

Discuss Readings

After the Fact: “Mirror with a Memory” & “USDA” (Quiz)


Manifest Destiny’s Child: American Imperialism

Queen Liliuokalani



World War I & the Red Scare

Discuss Cartoons



The Twenties

Harlem Renaissance



The Roaring 20s Discussion & Midterm Review

Discuss Reading

One Summer—excerpts (Quiz)



Take Midterm

Study Notes & Books

Section II: The Great Depression to the Present






The Great Depression & First New Deal

Discuss Reading

After the Fact:“Dust Bowl”


The Second New Deal & World War II

Eleanor Roosevelt



War on the Home Front

Zoot Suit Riots



Origins of the Cold War

Discuss Reading

After the Fact: Decision to Drop the Bomb”


The Suburbanization of America

Discuss Reading

After the Fact: “From Rosie to Lucy” (Quiz)


Make-up Day




We Shall Overcome: The Movement (Part I)

Fannie Lou Hamer



Beyond Black & White: The Movement (Part II)

Cesar Chavez



Vietnam: War Without, War Within

Discuss Reading

After the Fact: “Where Trouble Comes”


Tune In: Counterculture, Music, & History

Discuss Reading

Scars of Sweet Paradise—Skip Chs. 3,7, and 8 (Quiz)


Research Day

No Class



Thanksgiving Break

No Class



The Republican Revolution

Ronald Reagan



Globalization & Its Discontents

The Yes Men

Oral History Paper Due



Discuss Reading

Charleston in B&W—Skip Chs. 5 & 7 (Quiz)


Final Exam Review


Study Notes & Books


Final Exam (8:00 — 9:50)


Study Notes & Books