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A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers

Found in: social studies, 9-12

A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers is a resource for grade 9-12 history teachers to guide students as they explore the American economic system and issues workers face. The curriculum is divided into eleven periods that correspond to unit divisions found in many textbooks. Each period lists labor issues, events, and important events and suggests how to integrate labor history. Documents, handouts, ten lessons are provided. The curriculum is maintained on the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine (scroll to find the lessons on this page).

Thomas Jefferson hoped America would remain an agricultural society because he was convinced an industrialized society would erode democracy and equality. The Growth of a New Nation: 1789-1830 examines the struggle between agrarian democrats and industrial interests. Lesson 2: The Millworkers Strike of 1828 is a strike simulation. Students organize in small groups and build Lego towers while a teacher imposes rules until groups refuse to work.

Expansion and Sectionalism: 1830-1850 looks at a period of reform during which ten-hour movement sought to limit the hours employees were required to work. In Lesson 5: Problems Facing Workers, students use Documents to discover problems workers faced during the 1830s and 1840s.

The Civil War and Reconstruction: 1850-1877 considers the economic conflict between Northern labor leaders and industrialists and Southern slave owners as a cause of the Civil War. In Lesson 8: Cost of Living 1851 students determine the article writer’s point-of-view and discover the economic situation of workers. Questions are provided on the handout.


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