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America at 1900 (PBS)

America 1900 presents a comprehensive picture of what life was like in the United States at the turn of the century.

The program also explores key themes such as the impact of technology, the rise of racism, immigration and the search for a national identity, and the rise of America as a world power.

Program Description
A synopsis of the film, and film credits

Enhanced Transcript
The broadcast program transcript with additional information


Interview Transcripts
Extended interviews with program participants

1. Walter LaFeber is Noll Professor of History at Cornell University and a leading expert on United States foreign policy.

America as a World Power
America's Economic and Industrial Expansion
The China Market
The Importance of San Francisco
President William McKinley
McKinley's Manipulative Power
The First White House Press Room
The Importance of the Philippines
The Fight for the Philippines
The Decision to Annex the Philippines
"Civilizing" the Filipinos
Anti-Imperialism in the United States
The Open-Door Policy
American Missionaries in China
Revolution in China
The Boxer Rebellion
William Jennings Bryan's Campaign Strategy
Vice Presidential Nominee: Theodore Roosevelt
The "Hidden Hand" Presidency
The Pacific Century

2. David Levering Lewis holds the Martin Luther King, Jr., University Professorship at Rutgers University.

America at the Turn of the Century
The Plight of the African American
W.E.B. Du Bois
The Importance of Education
An "Aristocracy of Color"
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
George White
Lynching of African Americans
The Imperial Experiment

3. Donald Miller is the John Henry McCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

America at the Turn of the Century
Change in America
Bituminous and Anthracite Coal Mining
The Men Who Mined the Coal
The Breaker Boys
The Dangers of Mining
Living in a Company Town
Organizing a Miner's Union
John Mitchell-The Union Organizer
The Need for a Strike
The Strike
The Layers of Control
The Results

4. Max Morath is an entertainer and writer whose specialty is American life and music at the turn of the century.

The Year in Music
Sheet Music
Popular Music
The Piano
Lyrics at the Turn of the Century
Ragtime Music
Ragtime Composer-Scott Joplin
Racism in Vaudville
The Advent of the Phonograph
The "Descriptive Piece" of Piano Music
The American Renaissance

5. Margaret Washington is an Associate Professor of History at Cornell University.

The Feeling of Optimism in America
The Aspirations of African Americans
Obstacles Faced by African Americans
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois
African American Congressman-George White
Paul Lawrence Dunbar-The People's Poet
"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
The New York City Riot
The Portrayal of African Americans in Song

6. Laura Wexler is Associate Professor of American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies at Yale University.

Frances Benjamin Johnston
The Photographer of America's Court
The Gender Rebellion
The Paris Exposition
Johnston's Photographs of Women
Johnston's Photographs of African Americans
Johnston's Photographs of American Life
The Spirit of the Age

Further Reading

A list of books, articles, and Web sites relating to the program topic

Primary Sources

Documents, speeches and political cartoons from the year 1900.


• Elijah McCoy
• Emiliano Aguinaldo
• Susan B. Anthony
• Clara Barton
• W.E.B Du Bois
• Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin)
• William Jennings Bryan
• Nannie Helen Burroughs
• J. Francisco Chaves
• Fanny Jackson Coppin
• Leon Czolgosz
• Admiral George Dewey
• Paul Laurence Dunbar
• Charles Alexander Eastman
• President McKinley and American Expansion
• Charles Dana Gibson and "The Gibson Girl"
• Mark Hanna
• John Hay
• Frances Benjamin Johnson
• John Mitchell
• J.P. Morgan
• John Muir
• Carrie Nation
• Jacob Riis
• Theodore Roosevelt
• John Philip Sousa
• Mary Church Terrell
• Maggie Lena Walker
• Booker T. Washington
• Andrew Carnegie Preaches the Gospel of Wealth
• Congressman George White
• Scott Joplin and Ragtime


• The African American Press
• African American Higher Education
• African American Military Service
• The Boxer Rebellion
• The Fight for Women's Suffrage
• The Galveston Hurricane
• The General Allotment Act
• The Idle Rich
• Mexican Railroad Labor
• Mining Disaster in Scofield
• The Paris Exposition
• Rise of Anarchism
• The Sapho Affair
• Summing Up, Looking Forward
• War in the Philippines

Primary Sources

1. Speeches

"Cross of Gold", William Jennings Bryan, campaign speech, 1896
First Inaugural Address, William McKinley, 1897
First Annual Address of the National Negro Business League, Booker T. Washington, 1900
Second Inaugural Address, William McKinley, 1901
The Last Speech of William McKinley, Buffalo, NY, 1901
Eulogy in Memory of William McKinley, by Hon. John W. Griggs, 1901

2. Documents

1898 Treaty of Paris
Political Cartoons (Cartoons courtesy of The Ohio State University Department of History)
Advance of Imperialism
The Imperialism Stunt
The Manila Correspondent and the McKinley Censorship
McKinley and the Philippines
The Republican Circus
The Republican Pig Pens
The Trust Giant's Point of View

3. Song Lyrics

"Lift Every Voice and Sing", James Weldon Johnson, 1900

Using the Web Site (Teachers' Guide section)

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Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | Lesson 3

In this section you'll find lessons which use the special features of the America 1900 Web site.