America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important ERAs to understand today's ERA The professor knows his material, the pictures/images are outstanding, video would be my suggestion. Without covering the content, the reason I valued this course is the importance of going from Civil War/Reconstruction to Post Reconstruction to Gilded Age to Progressive Age. One must understand these ERA's to then understand our nationalism/isolationism in the world wars, to the New Deal - how we got to focus on community versus the individual, which ramped up in the 60's and where we are today. To understand the chaos we have today and the divide so extreme, critical to understand the stages our country has gone through, and no doubt we will eventually go through another, like back to community and less individualism. So for me, these videos provided an excellent foundation for understanding some 200 hundred years of our history.
Date published: 2020-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Look Through Many Lenses As a musician, I really enjoyed that Dr. O'Donnell examined the Gilded Age from numerous angles including the arts! It was illuminating to see the connection between The Academy of Music and The Metropolitan Opera as representative of many of the philosophical and social changes of the era. This course is a great starting point for those interested in deeper research, and also as a way to get a broad based understanding of the conflicting beliefs within and about the Gilded Age. This is a time period that deserves continued examination and analysis so we can accurately understand which culturural aspects were beneficial and which needed (or still need) to change.
Date published: 2020-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from America's Guilded Age This is the best of the many Great Courses I've encountered in terms of the clarity and energy of Professor O'Donnell's presentation as well as the interesting vignettes, internal photographs and videos. The Gilded Age period is fascinating and comparable to the present with massive income disparity resulting in class and political conflict. l.
Date published: 2020-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course A fascinating course about a fascinating period of history. The lectures were well-paced, the themes were well-selected, and there were lots of interesting stories and examples presented in an engaging fashion. The course held my interest from start to finish. I would very much like to take another course with this professor.
Date published: 2020-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Timely subject The thematic presentation was excellent. The topics (race relations, income ineqaulity, immigration, women's suffrage) are so relevant to current day issues and he puts them the proper historical perspective. Professor O'Donnell lectures are most informative and entertaining, and I wish the course was longer. The visuals used were outstanding, providing substantial support for his topics. This one the best courses I have taken.
Date published: 2020-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging speaker I studied American history at McGill University and I wish this professor had taught a course on the Gilded Age.
Date published: 2020-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well done! Almost done listening and have been enjoying the course for it's organization and expertise.
Date published: 2020-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A course well worth the time. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity of "attending" the course. The presentation was both energetic and enthusiastic, and the time very well spent. I gained from the course numerous facts of which I was not aware, was reminded of much that I had forgotten over the years, and heard perspectives on events that certainly added depth to my overall understanding of that period of time in America's history.
Date published: 2019-10-16
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America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Course Trailer
1865: "Bind up the Nation's Wounds"
1: 1865: "Bind up the Nation's Wounds"

Begin to investigate the key historical forces that characterized the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, and the competing ideals that defined these eras. As a starting point, take account of the U.S. in 1865, and the extraordinary social, political, and economic changes unleashed by the devastation of the Civil War....

32 min
The Reconstruction Revolution
2: The Reconstruction Revolution

The era of Reconstruction following the Civil War was a turbulent and divisive period in American life. Learn about governmental policies and legislation that were enacted to safeguard the welfare of former slaves and average citizens, and how these policies were then progressively dismantled, ultimately returning the South to white-dominated rule....

30 min
Buffalo Bill Cody and the Myth of the West
3: Buffalo Bill Cody and the Myth of the West

Examine the complex and fascinating story of the conquest of the American West. First, assess key myths surrounding the West and how it was settled. Explore the motives and realities of westward migration, the components of the western economy, and the conflicts with Native Americans that led to violence and tragedy....

29 min
Smokestack Nation: The Industrial Titans
4: Smokestack Nation: The Industrial Titans

Trace the process by which the U.S. rose from developing nation status in 1865 to become the world's greatest industrial power by 1900. Study the unfolding of the American industrial revolution; the advent of big business in the railroad, steel, and oil industries; and the concurrent explosion of consumerism and advertising....

30 min
Andrew Carnegie: The Self-Made Ideal
5: Andrew Carnegie: The Self-Made Ideal

This lecture examines the notion of the "self-made man" as it pervaded Gilded Age America. Investigate why this idea took on unprecedented popularity in the 19th century, how it was strongly promoted by figures from Horatio Alger to Andrew Carnegie, and explore how the ideal became entwined with social Darwinism. ...

30 min
Big Business: Democracy for Sale?
6: Big Business: Democracy for Sale?

In the late Gilded Age there was wide agreement that troubling trends threatened the young republic. Explore rising public anxiety over the power of big business and the era's economic inequality, governmental corruption, and violent conflict between labor and capital. Take account of how business leaders responded to critics and reformers....

29 min
The New Immigrants: A New America
7: The New Immigrants: A New America

Here, learn how widespread immigration during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era transformed U.S. society. Delve into the diverse factors underlying immigration, and the perceived threats and social problems posed by immigrants. Observe how society at large reacted to the influx, and grasp the ways in which immigrants fundamentally changed the nation....

34 min
Big Cities: The Underbelly Revealed
8: Big Cities: The Underbelly Revealed

The huge growth of cities was a hallmark of the Gilded Age. Study the forces leading to massive urbanization, such as industrialization, migration and immigration, and revolutionary technologies. Then track the serious social problems that resulted, from crime and disease to political corruption, which spurred intense scrutiny from reformers. ...

31 min
Popular Culture: Jazz, Modern Art, Movies
9: Popular Culture: Jazz, Modern Art, Movies

Take a wide-ranging look at the transformation of American art and entertainment during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Chart the accomplishments of the Ashcan School of painting and realist fiction. Witness the birth of ragtime, blues, and jazz, and the rise of spectator sports, stage entertainment, and the new medium of film....

30 min
New Technology: Cars, Electricity, Records
10: New Technology: Cars, Electricity, Records

Technological changes in late 19th-century America radically changed the country and the world. Track the evolution of electrical power, and the impact of both electric lighting and electrified machinery. Grasp the economic and social changes brought about by the automobile and the cultural effects of recorded music as big business....

31 min
The 1892 Homestead Strike
11: The 1892 Homestead Strike

Travel into the world of American workers, and view the poignant social problems that accompanied industrialization. Learn how technological changes in industry affected living conditions for workers, and follow the rise of labor movements, violent strikes, and intense conflict between labor unions and management. ...

32 min
Morals and Manners: Middle-Class Society
12: Morals and Manners: Middle-Class Society

Discover how the American middle class was a direct product of industrialization and the new employment categories it created. Investigate the key features of the new middle class lifestyle, encompassing suburban living, consumption, and leisure. Also identify defining middle-class values, from respectability and manners to personal hygiene and the "cult of domesticity."...

29 min
Mrs. Vanderbilt's Gala Ball
13: Mrs. Vanderbilt's Gala Ball

Take the measure of the new breed of multimillionaire industrialists that emerged in the Gilded Age as a visible public presence. Contrast the earlier American mindset of republican simplicity with the new rich who displayed and flaunted their wealth through vast estates and European-style aristocratic living. ...

30 min
Populist Revolt: The Grangers and Coxey
14: Populist Revolt: The Grangers and Coxey

Follow the dramatic rise of the Populist movement, which aimed to address broad economic suffering. In particular, study the phenomenon of the People's Party, a political party that demanded major governmental changes to curb injustice and oppression, lighting a fire that lived on in the reforms of the Progressive Era....

30 min
Rough Riders and the Imperial Dream
15: Rough Riders and the Imperial Dream

Delve into the complex process by which the U.S. reversed its longstanding policy of isolationism to become actively involved in global affairs. Investigate the core ideas that built a case for American internationalism, as they manifested in the events of the Spanish-American War and the building of the Panama Canal....

31 min
No More Corsets: The New Woman
16: No More Corsets: The New Woman

The lives of American women changed in far-reaching ways during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Trace late-19th-century social trends that led to more public roles for women and emerging ideas of women's rights. Learn about the women's suffrage movement and its embattled crusade to gain voting rights for women. ...

31 min
Trust-Busting in the Progressive Era
17: Trust-Busting in the Progressive Era

Witness how the Progressive movement took shape in the late 19th century, fueled by alarm over the unbridled power of large corporations. Grasp the era's new definition of American economic freedom, and examine actions taken under presidents Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson to dismantle railroad, meatpacking, and oil trusts, and to reform banking and taxation....

32 min
The 1911 Triangle Fire and Reform
18: The 1911 Triangle Fire and Reform

Learn about reformers' efforts to address the miserable living and working conditions of industrial workers, and new labor laws that followed the galvanizing events of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the Bread and Roses Strike. Also study the movements to eradicate child labor and to federally regulate food and medicines....

30 min
Theodore Roosevelt, Conservationist
19: Theodore Roosevelt, Conservationist

Trace the origins of the conservation movement in the 19th century, and its early initiatives to establish federal protection of wilderness in the face of staunch opposition from commercial interests. Grasp the astonishing conservation record of President Theodore Roosevelt, whose efforts created a wide spectrum of national parks, wildlife preserves, and national forests....

29 min
Urban Reform: How The Other Half Lives
20: Urban Reform: How The Other Half Lives

Study how progressive reformers responded to the troubles of big cities through urban planning, new thinking about poverty, and the establishment of "settlement houses" and social work to aid the urban poor. Also learn about activism to address alcohol abuse and prostitution, as well as governmental actions to reform housing, urban sanitation, and public health....

30 min
The 17th Amendment: Democracy Restored
21: The 17th Amendment: Democracy Restored

Sweeping progressive reforms changed the face of American politics. Observe how initiatives at the city level began the eventual transformation of urban political machines into players in political reform. Examine major political reforms at the state and federal levels, culminating in the civil service system, popularly elected senators, and voting rights for women....

28 min
Early Civil Rights: Washington or Du Bois?
22: Early Civil Rights: Washington or Du Bois?

Discover how African Americans fought racism and violence in the early 20th century. Study the system of white supremacy called Jim Crow, and its economic, social, and political oppression. Review significant civil rights activism and legal victories that laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s....

29 min
Over There: A World Safe for Democracy
23: Over There: A World Safe for Democracy

As the Progressive Era ends, follow the complex events that led the United States into World War I. Learn how an initial federal policy of neutrality changed to one of "preparedness" and then intervention, amid conflicting public sentiments and government pro-war propaganda. Also trace the after-effects of the war on U.S. foreign policy....

31 min
Upheaval and the End of an Era
24: Upheaval and the End of an Era

Finally, take account of the period of national turmoil that followed World War I. Study the wave of labor strikes, anti-radical hysteria, and race riots of the early post-war years. Grasp the economic, political, and social factors that gave way to a climate of renewed isolationism and conservatism during the Roaring 20s....

32 min
Edward T. O'Donnell

One central idea I try to communicate in my courses is that history is the study of choices. It follows no predetermined script. History is determined by the choices made by people both famous and unknown.


Columbia University


College of the Holy Cross

About Edward T. O'Donnell

Dr. Edward T. O'Donnell is Associate Professor of History at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. He earned his Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University. Since 2002 Professor O'Donnell has worked extensively with the federal U.S. Department of Education program Teaching American History. He has served as the lead historian for several grants and has led hundreds of workshops and seminars and delivered multimedia lectures designed to help teachers devise innovative methods for teaching American history. Active in the field of public history, Professor O'Donnell has curated major museum exhibits on American history and has appeared in several historical documentaries. He has also provided historical commentary and insight for The History Channel, ABC, PBS, the BBC, and the Discovery Channel. A popular public speaker, he has delivered more than 100 invited talks and conducted more than 2,000 walking tours of various historical American neighborhoods. Professor O'Donnell is the author and coauthor of several works dealing with a broad range of American history, including Visions of America: A History of the United States and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about Irish American History.

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