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Reshaping the Nation and the Emergence of Modern America: 1877 to the Early 1900s
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USII.4 The student will apply social science skills to understand how life changed after the Civil War
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a) examining the reasons for westward expansion, including its impact on American Indians;
b) explaining the reasons for the increase in immigration, growth of cities, and challenges arising from this expansion;
c) describing racial segregation, the rise of “Jim Crow,” and other constraints faced by African Americans and other groups in the post-Reconstruction South;
d) explaining the impact of new inventions, the rise of big business, the growth of industry, and the changes to life on American farms in response to industrialization; and
e) evaluating and explaining the impact of the Progressive Movement on child labor, working conditions, the rise of organized labor, women’s suffrage, and the temperance movement.

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US History SOL ConnectionTitleGenrePublisher Copyright DateAuthorReview
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USII. 4a Girl is hired as a companion for a mail-order bride.May B.F in verseYearling, 2014Caroline Starr Rose12-year-old dyslexic girl named Mavis Elizabeth Betterly… May B. for short. Between May and her brother Hiram, she's the dispensable one: "Why not Hiram? I think, / but I already know: / boys are necessary." Ma and Pa, hurting for money, hire out their daughter to the Oblingers, a newlywed couple who've just homesteaded 15 miles west-just until Christmas, Pa promises. May is bitter: "I'm helping everyone / except myself." She has trouble enough at school with her cumbersome reading without missing months… and how can she live in such close quarters with strangers? A misshapen sod house, Mr. Oblinger and his wife, a miserable teenager in a flaming red dress, greet her as "Pa tucks money / inside his shirt pocket." This sad-enough tale crescendos to a hair-raising survival story when May is inexplicably abandoned and left in complete isolation to starve… just until Christmas? Snowed in and way past the last apple, May thinks, "It is hard to tell what is sun, / what is candle, / what is pure hope."
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USII.4b History of immigrationThis Land is Our Land: A History of ImmigrationNFAbrams Books for Young Readers 2016Linda Barrett OsborneFocusing primarily on developments since 1850, this large-format book looks at American immigration practices and the political, economic, and social concerns that have influenced them. The presentation is chronological within each of six thematic chapters that consider “Germans, Irish, and Nativists,” “Italians, Jews, and Eastern Europeans,” Asians, Latin Americans, refugees, and the period from WWII to 2015. While acknowledging the differing points of view and different forms of discrimination in immigration in various periods, Osborne makes a plea for fairness and compassion as well as recognition of the continuing contributions of immigrants to America. Well researched, clearly written, and informative, the discussion is particularly useful in offering the broad look at immigration over time, showing how similar arguments and legal restrictions have been used against different groups in different periods. Throughout the book, the perspectives of individual immigrants emerge in paragraphs detailing their personal stories and including quotes. Handsomely designed, the book offers many captioned period illustrations, especially photos. A strong introduction to American immigration.
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USII.4c George Washington CarverCarver: A Life in PoemspoetryFront Street, 2001Marilyn NelsonA collection of poems--told from the point of view of Carver and the people who knew him--provides an account of the life and times of African American botanist, inventor and founder of Tuskegee Intitute, George Washington Carver. Good for read-aloud and readers' theater.
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USII.4c The real John HenryAin't Nothing but a manNFNat. Geographic, 2008Scott Reynolds NelsonGrades 6-9. Not many history books are written in first person, but this is no ordinary history book. It traces a historian’s quest for the man behind the legend of John Henry. Nelson’s research involved listening to hundreds of variants of the song John Henry, learning about post–Civil War railway construction projects, visiting possible sites for the legendary contest between man and steam drill, and in one groundbreaking moment, glancing at the 1910 postcard on his desktop, hearing the lyrics of a version of John Henry in his mind, and making a connection that no other modern historian had considered. Based on Nelson’s Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend (2006), this large-format volume retells the story for young people. Many period photos, paintings, and engravings, reproduced in shades of rust and sepia, are shown to good advantage in this handsomely designed book. Appendixes include suggestions for further reading and Nelson’s notes on his sources and on the John Henry song variants, as well as the ongoing search for information about John Henry. Marc Aronson contributes a section on How to Be a Historian, using Nelson’s search as a model. A lively, insightful introduction to the active pursuit of history.
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USII.4c Two friends, one black, one white witness a murder in Alabama in 1917. The Best Bad Luck I Ever HadFG.P. Putnum & Sons 2009Kristen LevineTension builds just below the surface of this energetic, seamlessly narrated first novel set in small-town Alabama in 1917. Twelve-year-old Harry, aka Dit, has been looking forward to the arrival of the new postmaster from Boston, said to have a son Dit's age. The “son” turns out to be a girl, Emma, and to everyone's surprise, the family is what Dit calls “colored” and others call “Negras.” Emma, bookish and proud, impresses Dit with her determination (he calls it stubbornness) when she decides to learn to throw a ball or climb, and when Emma's mother upbraids him, Dit begins to rethink what he's been taught about the South's sorrowful defeat in the War Between the States. Levine sets up a climactic tragedy that will challenge the community's sense of justice;
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USII.4c The Johnstown FloodThree Rivers Rising: a novel of the Johnstown FloodF in verseAlfred A. Knopf 2010Jame RichardsTold in free verse with multiple voices, this novel dramatically recreates the impact of the historic tragedy of the Johnstown, Pa., flood on the lives of six people from 1888 to 1889. At the heart of the story is Celestia’s love for Peter, an illicit romance between a young girl of high society and the resort’s hired boy, which her father forbids. To save the family’s reputation, her father arranges to send her to Switzerland with her aunt, but when it’s discovered that Celestia’s pretty, engaged sister is pregnant, Estrella is sent instead. When the dam literally bursts, the tsunami is both physical and emotional, uprooting all their lives, including those of Maura, the wife of a railroad conductor, and Kate, a trained nurse scarred by the drowning of her beloved. As the three rivers converge, so do the lives of the characters in their efforts to survive.
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USII.4e Struggle for women's labor rights in the early 20th century in New York.AudacityF in versePhilomel, 2015Melanie CrowderFrom the shtetl, through the Russian Empire pogroms and steerage, Clara Lemlich and her family finally arrive in teeming New York City. Crowder's verse novel tells the eastern European immigrant story at the turn of the last century. Here, whether in the Old or New World, the men study Torah and the women work. Clara not only endures her hard labor in abysmal conditions but feels deeply for those women and children suffering around her. After the workday, Clara studies English, always reaching for her destiny. In short order, it is the labor movement that will be her calling and unionizing that will be her vehicle. Crowder develops Clara's education from the mean streets through persuasive verse: I have only been in this country two years but quickly, I learned you have to fight for what you want you have to take what you need. It is Clara who claims that all she has is audacity. Thanks to audacious Clara, this Fal narrative, based on Lemlich's real-life experiences, illuminates the labor-union movement, especially the women's strike known as the Uprising of the 20,000.
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USII.4e Child laborCounting on GraceFWendy Lamb Books 2006Elizabeth WinthropGr 5-8 –Inspired by Lewis Hine’s haunting photograph of a French Canadian girl in Vermont in 1910, Winthrop’s compelling story vividly captures the mill experience. Grace Forcier and her friend Arthur, both 12 and the best readers in the mill school, are forced to suspend their educations to doff bobbins for their mothers’ frames in the spinning room. While this is difficult for left-handed Grace , Arthur is desperate to escape the stuffy, sweaty, linty, noisy factory. Miss Lesley, their teacher, helps them write a letter to the National Child Labor Committee about underage kids, as young as eight, working in their mill. Grace understands the dilemma a response will cause. If the children don’t work, the families won’t have enough money to survive. Lewis Hine is the answer to the letter. He comes and photographs the mill rats, as the kids are called; no one will believe the conditions without pictures. Arthur, however, can wait no longer to carry out his escape plan. In a horrifying scene, he jams his right hand into the gearbox of the frame, painfully mangling it and losing two fingers. Miss Lesley’s interference causes her to be fired, and she encourages Grace to be the substitute teacher, leaving readers with a sense that she will escape the mill and have a better life. Much information on early photography and the workings of the textile mills is conveyed, and history and F are woven seamlessly together in this beautifully written novel. Readers won’t soon forget Grace .
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USII.4e Child laborUprisingFSimon & Schuster 2007Margaret Peterson HaddixGr 6–8— This deftly crafted historical novel unfolds dramatically with an absorbing story and well-drawn characters who readily evoke empathy and compassion. Haddix has masterfully melded in-depth information about the history of immigration, the struggle for women's rights, the beginnings of the organized labor movement, and the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 within a narrative that will simultaneously engross and educate its readers. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Bella, an Italian immigrant teen; Yetta, a Russian Jewish immigrant; and Jane, the daughter of an upper-class American businessman. Yetta is opinionated and aware of how immigrants, especially women, are mistreated. She is outspoken and ready to work toward improving conditions. Bella is a new immigrant and easily taken advantage of. She only wants to earn money to send home so the rest of her family can join her in America. Though wealthy, Jane is influenced by college girls who are starting to work for women's rights. The three girls meet during the strike at the Triangle factory. Jane bravely leaves home when she learns that her father was involved in trying to break the strike. This absorbing and informative read is a wonderful companion to Mary Jane Auch's Ashes of Roses (Holt, 2002).
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