Industrialization and Urbanization

Children in Urban America: A Digital Archive, James Marten, Marquette University

This website offers more than 4,000 primary sources, including newspaper stories, photographs, statistics, oral histories, and personal narratives, related to children and childhood in urban America, specifically in the greater Milwaukee area, from 1850 to 2000. The search page is the most direct route to these sources and is accessible by clicking on the purple kite in the top, right corner of some pages. On other pages, “search entire site” in the footer is the only link. The site is organized around five sections—Work, Play and Leisure, Schooling, Health and Welfare, and “Through Children’s Eyes.” Each section offers a 150-word introduction, a gallery of five to 40 images, and approximately five “Special Topics” that combine a background essay (300 to 500 words) and a collection of five to ten relevant primary sources. This website is useful for studying childhood and urbanization during a time when what it meant to be a child was changing rapidly.

California as I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California’s Early Years, 1849–1900, American Memory, Library of Congress

The 190 works presented on this site—approximately 40,000 written pages and more than 3,000 illustrations—provide eyewitness accounts covering California history from the Gold Rush through the end of the 19th century. Most authors represented are white, educated, male Americans, including reporters detailing Gold Rush incidents and visitors from the 1880s attracted to a highly-publicized romantic vision of California life. The narratives, in the form of diaries, descriptions, guidebooks, and subsequent reminiscences, portray “pioneer experience, encounters between Anglo-Americans and the diverse peoples who had preceded them, the transformation of the land by mining, ranching, agriculture, and urban development; the often-turbulent growth of communities and cities; and California’s emergence as both a state and a place of uniquely American dreams.”

Chinese in California, 1850–1925, American Memory, U.C. Berkeley; California Historical Society

More than 8,000 items—photographs, letters, diaries, speeches, business records, legal documents, pamphlets, sheet music, cartoons, and art work—document the immigrant experience of Chinese who settled in California during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Access is provided through nine galleries with introductory essays. Four galleries present materials on San Francisco’s Chinatown—its architectural space; business and politics; community life; and appeal to outsiders. Additional galleries deal with Chinese involvement in U.S. expansion westward, communities outside San Francisco, agricultural, fishing, and related industries, the anti-Chinese movement and Chinese exclusion, and sentiment concerning the Chinese.

Edward S. Curtis’s “The North American Indian, American Memory, Library of Congress and Northwestern University Library

This website presents all 2,226 photographs taken by Edward S. Curtis for his work The North American Indian. These striking images of North American tribes are considered some of the most significant representations of “the old time Indian, his dress, his ceremonies, his life and manners” ever produced. This site also features a 12-item bibliography and three scholarly essays discussing Curtis’ methodology as an ethnographer, the significance of his work to Native peoples of North America, and his promotion of the 20th-century view that American Indians were a “vanishing race.”