Published Date

January 30, 2016

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom


Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora, Social

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


United States

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project.


By Kimberly Hill
Institution: University of Texas at Dallas
Location: Dallas, TX


A survey of social history, focusing upon the American experience. The course explores changes in the family, work, sex roles, mobility, migration, urbanization, and industrialization. Prerequisite: HIST 1301 or HIST 1302 or HIST 2301 or HIST 2330 or HIST 2331 or equivalent.


The United States has often been called a “nation of immigrants.” This course traces mass migrations within and from the U.S. for insight into definitions of “American civilization.” Within this broad topic, you will have several opportunities to consider how historians determine the characteristics of social groups. The travelers we will study include enslaved workers, soldiers, homemakers, entertainers, political exiles, businesspeople, and missionaries. We will discuss various types of research techniques within social history and develop academic responses to current controversies regarding immigration.

Rather than a broad survey, the class schedule focuses on analyzing specific migrations from the increasing European immigration and domestic slave trade in the 1830s through immigration reform and military deployment in the 1960s. While comparing the strategies of social historians, we will trace the creation and development of civilization theories. You will also practice social history by analyzing primary sources in participation activities, short essays, one test, a media-based assignment, and one research paper. These assignments will prepare you to articulate and defend a unique interpretation of American civilization in your final essay.


This course will help you develop skills useful in history and other professions. Successful students will:

  • Gain understanding of the evolution and influence of the United States from the 1830s through the 1960s
  • Analyze the effects of social, political, economic, cultural, and global forces on the development of American society
  • Gain experience in using a variety of resources to learn about the American past and develop answers to history-based questions
  • Analyze various interpretations of major developments in United States history
  • Gain the ability to differentiate and analyze documentary and statistical historical evidence and differing points of view
  • Improve their writing skills


  1. King, Desmond. Making Americans: Immigration, Race, and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. ISBN: 0674000889.
  2. Takaki, Ronald. A Larger Memory: A History of Our Diversity, with Voices. New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 1998. ISBN: 316311626.
  3. Tyrell, Ian. Reforming the World: The Creation of America’s Moral Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780691162010.
  4. Wilkerson, Isabel. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. New York: Vintage Books, 2010. ISBN: 0679444327
  5. Additional articles or book chapters will also be posted on E-Learning and e-reserves.


  1. Participation in class discussions and/or activities: 12%
  2. 1-1.5 pages of Short Answers to an online activity on forced migration in the 17th -18th centuries (due Sept. 8): 5%
  3. 2 page Analysis Essay evaluating a primary source and relating it to a broader historical context (due Oct. 1): 10%
  4. Key Term Review Test and In-Class Response Essay analyzing class details and a relevant current event (due Oct. 15): 20%
  5. 4 page Media Assignment using a primary and a secondary source to explain how a certain image, object, sound, etc. helps you link American civilization to migration experiences (due Nov. 19): 13%
  6. 10-11 page Final Research Essay analyzing a specific aspect of U.S. social history using at least six primary and secondary sources and identifying your research strategy (due Dec. 12th): 40%


The assigned readings are available in the required books or as hyperlinks on the E-Learning site (marked ONLINE). This schedule is subject to change during the semester, but changes will be announced in advance. The semester is divided into categories representing civilization theories.

Civilization Theory: Manifest Destiny

1) Aug. 25-27: Course Overview, Intro to Theories of Civilization

  • Tues: Frederick Jackson Turner, “Significance of Frontier in American History” (provided in class)
  • Thurs: Takaki, A Larger Memory Part 3 (p. 47-60)

2) Sept. 1- 3: Slave Trade and European Immigrants, 1830s-1850s

  • Tues: Takaki, A Larger Memory Part 3 (p. 79-88, 112- 116)
  • Thurs: John Bailey, The Lost German Slave Girl (New York: Grove Press, 2003) p. 1-19 ONLINE

3) Sept. 8-10: Free Soil, Emancipation, and Migration (1850s-1860s)

  • Tues: “Voices of Labor in the Atlantic World” ONLINE
  • Tues: Lee Chew in Takaki, A Larger Memory Part 3 (p. 133-138)
  • Thurs: Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, Ch. 3 ONLINE
  • Thurs: “Former Slaves Seek to Reunite Their Families” ONLINE
  • Read the “Voices of Labor” website, print out your responses to embedded questions, and submit responses in class DUE THURSDAY

Civilization Theory: Social Darwinism vs. “The Melting Pot”

4) Sept. 15-17: Chinese Exclusion and Immigration Politics (1870s-1890s)

  • Tues: Aarim-Heriot, Chinese Immigrants, African Americans, and Racial Anxiety in the United States, Ch. 9 (p. 156-171) ONLINE
  • Tues: Kee Low in Takaki, A Larger Memory Part 3 (p. 139-144)
  • Thurs: King, Making Americans, introduction (p. 1-7)

5) Sept. 22-24: Immigration and Urban Settlement (1880s-1900s)

  • Tues: King, Making Americans, Ch. 2 p. 11-32
  • Tues: W.F. Fonvielle, “The Taint of the Bicycle” (1902) in Carroll Pursell, Hammer in Their Hands (p. 101-105) ONLINE
  • Thurs: John McGreevy, Parish Boundaries ch. 1

Civilization Theory: Protestant Moral Empire

6) Sept. 29-Oct. 1: American Cultural Expansion (1880s-1910s)

  • Tues: Tyrrell, Reforming the World, intro and Ch. 1 (p. 1-27)
  • Thurs: Beveridge, “March of the Flag” (1898) ONLINE

7) Oct. 6- 8: 100% Americanism (1900s-1920s)

  • Tues: King, Making Americans, Ch. 3 and Ch. 5
  • Thurs: Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives excerpts ONLINE
  • Thurs: Choose Americanization Bulletin excerpts ONLINE

8) Oct. 13-15: The Missionary Impulse and Patriotism (1880s-1920s)

  • Tues: Tyrrell, Reforming the World, Ch. 3 (p.49-71)

9) Oct. 20-22: Imperialism (1890s-1910s)

  • Tues: Tyrrell, Reforming the World, Ch. 5 (p. 98-119)
  • Thurs: Tyrrell, Reforming the World, Ch. 6 (p. 123-145)

Civilization Theory: Consumerism and Scientific Management

10) Oct. 27-29: Technology of Work, Play, and War (1890s- 1930s)

  • Tues: Takaki, A Larger Memory Part 4 (p. 155-184)
  • Thurs: “The Automobile” Section in Carroll Pursell, Hammer in Their Hands (p. 211-219) ONLINE
  • And Your Choice of ONE:
    • Sandra Opdycke, The Flu Epidemic of 1918: America’s Experience in the Global Health Crisis, Ch. 3 p. 39-54 ONLINE
    • Steve Wurtzler, Electric Sounds – Technological Change and the Rise of Corporate Mass Media, Ch. 4 p. 169-197 ONLINE
    • Dennis Abrams, The Invention of the Moving Assembly Line, Ch. 8-9 p. 71-89 ONLINE

11) Nov. 3-5: The Great Depression (1930s)

  • Tues: Craig Kaplowitz, LULAC, Mexican Americans, and National Policy, Ch. 1 p. 11-27 ONLINE
  • Tues: Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, Part 1 to Part 2 (p. 3-35)
  • Thurs: In-Class Film: “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940)

Civilization Theory: The American Dream

12) Nov. 10-12: World War II and Japanese Internment (Available on the E-Learning site):

  • Tues: Takaki, A Larger Memory, Part 4 p. 188-221
  • Thurs: Browse Database of WW2 propaganda and music ONLINE

13) Nov. 17-19 The Great Migration

  • Tues. and Thurs: Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, Part 2-Part 4 (p. 160-241)

14) Nov. 24-26: Fall Break. Enjoy your THANKSGIVING holiday

15) Dec. 1-3: Conformity and Suburbia

  • Tues: Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, Part 2- Part 4 (p. 242-301)
  • Thurs: Takaki, A Larger Memory, “Shanti,” p. 282-291
  • Thurs: Betty Freidan, The Feminine Mystique, Ch. 10 excerpt, p. 233-238 ONLINE

16) Dec. 8 Immigration Reform and Vietnam War Escalation

  • Tues: King, Making Americans, Ch. 8 and Ch. 10


My Responsibilities: I will do my best to provide informative lectures, fruitful discussion topics, and academic guidance throughout the semester. Each class will begin with a lesson outline to guide your note taking. Though I cannot provide lecture notes, I will remain accessible during office hours and by e-mail to discuss history, class work, research, and college resources. Unless there is an emergency, I will check e-mail twice a day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. except for weekends. Your assignments will be graded and returned within two weeks of the due date.

Your Responsibilities: You are expected to uphold the UTD standards of student conduct. Come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings, ask questions, and take notes. You should attend every class session because lectures will include information not covered in the readings. Also, we gain a better understanding of the American past from listening and responding to each other’s diverse perspectives.

Copy the lesson outlines for each class session. Ask a classmate for notes if you miss a class. If you have trouble understanding the assigned readings or class discussions, ask Dr. Hill for help and sign up for on-campus tutoring.

As a courtesy to other students, please sit near the door if you need to leave class early. Do not cross the front of the classroom if you arrive late; choose a seat near the side or the back. Please step outside if you must call or text and keep cell phones off or on vibrate during class.


Call my office or email me ahead of time if you must miss a class or assignment deadline. An unexcused absence on a due date will result in zero credit for the assignment. No late essay assignments will be accepted without prior notice by phone or in writing. The grades for late essays will be reduced by one letter grade for each additional day. Do not plagiarize others’ work; your entire course grade may be withheld. If you need to drop the course, contact the Registrar’s office for the appropriate forms. I will not drop students from this course based on attendance.