Industrialization and Progressive Reform
Grades/Subject: 8-12 U.S. History, N.C. History
Related Subjects: Art
- Students will understand the Revival in the context of industrialization
- Students will identify the economic factors that shaped the Revival
- Students will reflect on the working conditions in industrial facilities
- Students will evaluate historical sources for validity
This lesson should take three block schedule periods.
Instructors will need to examine the Craft Revival website to gain a familiarity with the information available. Instructors will need to read sections of All That is Native and Fine and Selling Tradition and excerpt appropriate passages for students reading (have longer or shorter selections depending on the students).
- Selections from Jane Becker’s Selling Tradition.
A. Have students read the “The Story“ and “Revival in Context” sections of the website storyboard and answer the questions on the provided introductory handout. This will serve to introduce students to the idea of the Craft Revival as part of a larger movement and a reaction to the process of industrialization.
B. Optional Involvement Activity:
Students will identify a favorite hobby or activity that they practice in their spare time (outside their profession as a student!). They will develop a plan for utilizing this activity as a moneymaker. They will create a daily schedule of the work required to become a professional at whatever their activity may be. An example might be how to become a professional basketball player. The student would plan the number of hours each day that would be devoted to practice, weightlifting, stretching, cardiovascular training, etc. They should consider the work required in becoming a professional, as well as the work required to maintain it as an occupation (in this case the intensive travel time, constant media exposure, etc.). Students should then complete a reflective journal entry or other writing activity exploring the impact of the changes necessary to transform their hobby into an occupation. Have students consider the following questions:
- Would their personal practice of this activity change? If so, how?
- Would the pursuit of this activity for economic gain alter the enjoyment of the activity?
- What external conditions (a demand/marketplace) would have to exist in order to make this feasible?
- Would they have control over the final product they produce?
- Who controls access, marketing, and distribution of the final product?
- Do these external factors change the practice or enjoyment of the activity?
- What do current professionals in this field get paid?
- What would be the minimum amount that the student would accept as desirable pay?
In essence this activity is an opportunity-cost analysis.
This section serves as a way to bring students closer to the ideas and problems that Craft Revival leaders and craftsmen encountered in their efforts to find meaningful work.
1. Have students search the Craft Revival database for pictures of craftsmen at work. Have them write descriptions of the environments where craftsmen are shown working. Where were the workplaces? Were there large production centers? What were the crafts being produced? What craft is most often represented in production? Students should gain a sense of the focus in the Revival on creating work for mountain families that did not remove them from the agricultural/rural setting that leaders saw as essential to the “mountain character.”
This activity may require a discussion regarding photographs as historical evidence and the interpretation of primary sources in general. Many of the Doris Ulmann photographs appear staged, and as such are a constructed vision of the working conditions of Revival craftsmen. The instructor may wish to lead a discussion about the analysis of primary source documents, documentary photography, and the complexities of their interpretation.
2. Have students compare the work settings in images in the Craft Revival database with images found on websites depicting working conditions for industrial centers of the era. Have them examine Lewis Hines’ photographs at http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/. An analysis of Jacob Riis’ photographs might also serve as an example of the urban conditions (although most of his photographs show living conditions rather than working conditions) that Revival leaders were reacting to. This can lead to a discussion of the role of muckrakers in the Progressive Era reforms.
3. Introduce students to the findings of the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau during 1933-1934 provided in Becker’s Selling Tradition. Information on the types of craft production centers analyzed can be found on pages 126-130, 144-149 for wages earned, 150-152 for working experiences/conditions. This fairly dense, academic work may need some summary and selection by the instructor based on the abilities of the students. David Whisnant’s All That is Native and Fine also provides valuable information. The story of Hayden Hensley found on pages 160-161 and supplemented with information on page 172 can serve as a useful illustration of the complexities encountered by Revival era craftsmen and their reactions. Through the analysis and comparison of working conditions students should develop an understanding of the difficulties of poor Americans in securing “meaningful work.”
4. As a culminating activity, students will write a fictional diary entry of a Revival-era craftsman who has previously worked in a southern textile mill. They should reflect on the similarities and differences in the work and working conditions experienced. Students should include an argument or opinion (still writing as the craftsman) about which work is more desirable. Have students draw from their knowledge about factory working conditions and wages as well the information they have gained about Revival-era working conditions and wages. An additional diary writing for a Craft Revival leader may introduce students to the idea of positionality and frame of reference for historical events. Students will be forced to recognize and empathize with the different experiences and beliefs that these two disparate parties would bring to the table.
Alternative Assessment: Formal essay along the same criteria as the diary entry.
- Students will complete the introductory worksheet
- Students will complete a plan for pursuing an interest as an occupation
- Students will complete a reflective journal entry
- Students will complete two formal “in character” journal entries
- NC History Objective 5.01, 5.04
- US History Objective 5.01
- David E. Whisnant. All That is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1983.
- Becker, Jane S. Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of an American Folk, 1930-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
- Lewis Hines photographs. www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor
- Patrick Velde