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Reconstructing Reconstruction: A Historical Analysis of How Textbooks Tell the Story of the Post-Civil War Era: Grades 11-12

New Grammar School History of the United States
New Grammar School History of the United States By McMaster, John Bach, 1852-1932 (Book - 1903 ) Full text available via HathiTrust »

Annotation:Primary source - although written as a secondary source on U.S. History, this text is classified as a primary source because it is being used to show how textbooks reflected a significantly biased viewpoint. This point of view often did not accurately reflect the actual events which took place during Reconstruction. The point of view stresses the importance in quickly unifying the United States after the Civil War, while portraying African Americans and many Republicans as delaying this process. McMaster focuses on the political aspects of Reconstruction and the simultaneous economic struggles which the United States went through during the Reconstruction era. A key question is what aspects of Reconstruction are not included in this textbook?

A School History of the United States
A School History of the United States By Mace, William Harrison, 1852-1938 (Book - 1904 ) and more… Available by request Availability details

Annotation:Primary source - although written as a secondary source on U.S. History, this text is classified as a primary source because it is being used to show how textbooks reflected a significantly biased viewpoint. This point of view often did not accurately reflect the actual events which took place during Reconstruction. The point of view stresses the importance in quickly unifying the United States after the Civil War, while using extremely negative stereotypes of African Americans and many Republicans, seen as delaying the process of healing the United States. Since the book's format is similar to that used by The Americans, Mr. Mace's text is a good comparative piece. A key question is how can this text be so similar to The Americans in format, but so different in content?

The Building of Our Nation
The Building of Our Nation By Barker, Eugene Campbell, 1874-1956 (Book - 1937 ) Available by request Availability details

Annotation:Primary source - although written as a secondary source on U.S. History, this text is classified as a primary source because it is being used to show how textbooks reflected a significantly biased viewpoint. Reading the book, one would not know that Reconstruction ends with the election of Hayes as president in 1876. However, the book does discuss carpetbaggers and scalawags, albeit from a biased viewpoint. Henry Steele Commager is one of the book's three authors. A key question would be why the noted liberal historian Henry Steele Commager takes such a conservative view of Reconstruction.

A History of the United States
A History of the United States By Adams, Ephraim Douglass, 1865-1930 (Book - 1931 ) Available by request Availability details

Annotation:Primary source - although written as a secondary source on U.S. History, this text is classified as a primary source because it is being used to show how textbooks reflected a significantly biased viewpoint. The point of view unfairly negatively depicts Northern Republicans and African Americans during the Reconstruction Era. The chapter's structure is more in line with the format of recent textbooks, including a section near the end of the chapter, which discusses the election of 1876 and the "quiet bargain" made to give the election to Rutherford B. Hayes. A key question is how is this text part of the bridge in the evolving Reconstruction narrative?

Out of the Past
Out of the Past A Topical History of the United States By Gawronski, Donald V. (Book - 1975 ) In-library use only in some locations

Annotation:Primary source - although written as a secondary source on U.S. History, this text is classified as a primary source because it is being used to show how textbooks reflected a significantly biased viewpoint, even as late as 1969. This source is unusual in how it organizes history, in a thematic manner, which is different than most textbooks, including current monographs. Regarding the narrative of Reconstruction, the textbook literally ends its discussion with the demise of the Ku Klux Klan by 1880. A key question is why the source does not include the last five years of Reconstruction from 1872-1876?

Liberty and Union
Liberty and Union A History of the United States By Wilson, Raymond Jackson (Book - 1971 ) In-library use only in some locations

Annotation:Secondary source - although this textbook was published in 1971, it is useful because its format and narrative on Reconstruction most closely resemble that found in U.S. History textbooks used by current high school students. The language is much more reflective of modern sensibilities and its approach to the story of Reconstruction is much more even handed, without vilifying Radical Republicans and African Americans. A key question is how is this textbook blazing a new path for students' understanding of Reconstruction?

Annotation:Secondary source - a truncated online version of the New York State The Americans textbook. This link goes directly to the chapter on Reconstruction. This version contains the essential information about Reconstruction, with some of the current interpretations of the Reconstruction era. A key question is how does this textbook's telling of Reconstruction differ from versions seen in the first 50 years of the twentieth century?

Annotation:Secondary source - this online history of the United States is a good substitute for an actual U.S. History textbook. While representing history, the website's section on Reconstruction also debunks some of the myths involving the post-Civil War era, such as the portrayal of carpetbaggers and scalawags. A key question is how does this site dispel the myths of Reconstruction?

Stereotypes, Distortions and Omissions in U. S. History Textbooks
Stereotypes, Distortions and Omissions in U. S. History Textbooks A Content Analysis Instrument for Detecting Racism and Sexism, Supplemental Information on Asian American, Black, Chicano, Native American, Puerto Rican, and Women's History (Book - 1977 ) and more… In-library use only in some locations

Annotation:Secondary source - for a discussion of Reconstruction, this source has three pages within its chapter on African Americans that is useful in examining what the title says - stereotypes, distortions, and omissions. The African American Textbook Checklist in the back of the book provides a more nuanced view in examining aspects of African American history within the Reconstruction era. A key question is why textbooks distort and omit certain aspects of Reconstruction?

America Revised
America Revised History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century By FitzGerald, Frances, 1940- (Book - 1979 ) In-library use only in some locations

Annotation:Secondary source - this source provides the historiography of Reconstruction in textbooks. A key question is why was the old narrative accepted for such a long period of time?

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Description

11-12: Primary and secondary titles representing the changing narrative in twentieth century textbooks on the Reconstruction era. This list of books can be used to accompany Common Core Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH 11.1-4, 6, 8 & 9 along with WHST.11.1 and Historical Thinking Skills. In addition, this list can be used for Scope & Sequence Grade 11 Unit 3: Industrialization of the United States.


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