Gilded Age Web Sites

Newport Mansion Virtual Tours ★★★★★
Explore The Elms, the Hunter House, Kingscote, and more in Virtual Reality with these faithful 3D reconstructions of Rhode Island’s famous Gilded Age manors!

Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie ★★★★☆
Andrew Carnegie’s legacy is that of a hard-driving Gilded Age business tycoon and generous philanthropist. A companion to the PBS American experience video series, this site on Carnegie and his times includes an introduction to the era, a timeline, a teacher’s guide, photos and cartoons, a bibliography, a look at the Homestead strike, and links to relevant sites. Unique features include a virtual tour of a Newport mansion, and an activity where you learn what it took to get a grant from Carnegie. The site also explores the Homestead Mill strike and Carnegie’s steel business.

The Rockefellers ★★★★☆
During his lifetime John D. Rockefeller’s name was synonymous with the “Robber Barron” predatory business practices associated with his Standard Oil company. His only son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., dedicated his life to recasting the family image. A companion to the PBS American experience video series, this site includes an introduction to the Rockefellers and their eras, a timeline, a teacher’s guide, a map of Rockefellers’ mark on America, and descriptions of notable individuals and events. Also of note is a video interview of Princeton economist Paul Krugman discussing the Rockefellers’ relevance in today’s economy. Special features include an activity where you can attempt to create your own oil monopoly. Primary sources at the site include letters and first-hand accounts from the Rockefellers. You are invited to participate in an online poll and vote whether Rockefeller’s methods were legitimate and if the U.S. economy has benefited from the precedent set by the Standard Oil trust.

Illinois During the Gilded Age ★★★★☆
Illinois During the Gilded Age is not only useful to Illinoisans learning about their state’s history, as it also illuminates larger themes in the history of the United States during the Gilded Age as well. Illinois In the Gilded Age is a great site for Gilded Age issues, especially labor and politics. Produced by the Northern Illinois University Libraries’ Digitization Unit, the site offers background articles, analytical essays, lesson plans, and interactive maps. It also features video lectures by experts on Gilded Age topics. A must see!

The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory ★★★★☆
A first-rate exhibition created by the Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University. There are two major parts: the history of Chicago in the 19th century, and how the Chicago Fire has been remembered over time. Included are essays, galleries, and sources.

Coal Mining in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era ★★★★☆
This series of articles by the Ohio State University history department explores multiple facets of coal mining. Among the topics are its importance to the American economy, the work of a coal miner in the 1870s, the special hazards of coal mining, how reformers used the coal industry to persuade Americans to support measures to abolish child labor, and various strikes. Images, charts, and link supplement the text articles.

View J.P. Morgan Battles Coal Miners in 1902 video clip from

Mark Twain ★★★★☆
An online companion to Ken Burns’ PBS film on Twain, it features an “interactive scrapbook” that uses his writing and artifacts to delve into Twain’s life. There are excerpts from several of his books and short stories, as well as a chronology of Twain’s life and classroom resources.

Mark Twain in his Times ★★★★☆
Contained here are dozens of texts and manuscripts, scores of contemporary reviews and articles, hundreds of images, and many different kinds of interactive exhibits. There are sections on Twain’s life and career and his major works featuring an array of text and images — even era advertisements. A quirky feature is an interactive game based on one Mark Twain designed and patented to help remember historical facts. A great site to explore Twain’s identity.

Immigration in America ★★★★☆
The Library of Congress feature provides an introduction to the study of immigration to the United States. There are student activities, educator guides, photos and links to useful resources. The presentation was shaped by the primary sources available in the Library’s online collections and probing questions such as “Why did each immigrant group come to the United States?” and “How did United States government policies and programs affect immigration patterns?”

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 ★★★★☆
A Harvard University web-based collection, this site contains a huge collection of primary sources on immigration to the United States, including 1,800 books and pamphlets, 13,000 pages from manuscripts and 9,000 photographs. The collection has very broad coverage and though the amount of information could be overwhelming, the web site is easy to navigate. Included is material from Jacob Riis, who exposed the horrible living conditions New York City slums, and Jane Addams, a social worker and activist who created the Hull House. Other Gilded Age documents include the Alien Contract Labor Law and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Capital and Labor ★★★★☆
This Annenberg Biography of America video companion centers on capital and labor at the end of the 19th century. A central feature is an interactive map of the 1896 and 1900 elections that prompts users to examine geopolitical patterns. There is also a full transcript of the video program.

Listen to William Jennings Bryan’s Cross of Gold Speech

Jim Crow Online ★★★★☆
Jim Crow Online is the official companion Web site to the PBS documentary, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow. The Web site, exploring segregation from the end of the Civil War to the onset of the Civil Rights Movement, uses interactive features that enable visitors to learn more about the history of Jim Crow in the United States and the real-life crusaders of the period who fought against it. There are first-hand narratives and interactive maps and in the Tools and Activities section students can analyze images, post their comments online, and explore the legacy of Jim Crow.

The Centennial Exhibition: Philadelphia 1876 ★★★★☆
The Philadelphia Library has digitized artifacts from the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which featured the wonders of the Industrial Age and exhibits from 37 countries. The most lasting accomplishment of the Exhibition was to introduce America as a new industrial world power, soon to eclipse the might and production of every other industrialized nation, and to showcase the City of Philadelphia as a center of American culture and industry.

Digital History: Gilded Age ★★★★☆
Digital History features resource guides by topic and period. Reference resources include classroom handouts, chronologies, encyclopedia articles, glossaries, and an audio-visual archive including speeches, book talks and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and images.

Big Money and Politics A Century of Corporate Influence on Campaigns ★★★★☆
Listen to a National Public Radio report on campaign-finance reform that draws parallels between 21st-century reform efforts and Gilded Age reform.

Inventing Entertainment ★★★★☆
The collections in the Library of Congress’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division contain an extraordinary range of the surviving products of Edison’s entertainment inventions and industries. This site features 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other related materials, such as photographs and original magazine articles.

Haymarket Riot Trial ★★★★☆
Part of the Famous Trials series, this section explores the trial of “anarchist” strikers in Chicago whose bomb in a crowded square in 1886 left eight officers and many civilians. dead The site features an introduction to the case, biographies of the Haymarket 8, news articles from the period, and other key participants, a chronology, a map, and more on the controversy.

Haymarket Digital Collection ★★★★☆
The Chicago Historical Society has created this digital collection to provide online access to its primary source materials relating to the Haymarket Affair, a controversial moment in Chicago’s past and a pivotal event in the early history of the American labor movement. The digital collection presents images of key documents and artifacts in their historical context with a minimum of interpretive information. Much like the witness testimony and exhibits introduced during the Haymarket trial, these primary sources are pieces of evidence which enable the user to reconstruct and interpret the historical events to which they relate. See also The Dramas of Haymarket.

American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920 ★★★★☆
The American Variety Stage is a multimedia anthology selected from various Library of Congress holdings. This collection illustrates the vibrant and diverse forms of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville, that thrived from 1870-1920.

A History of American Sweatshops ★★★★☆
This Smithsonian exhibition explores the history of American sweatshops. There are three History sections: 1820-1880, 1880-1940, and 1940-1997. View images of artifacts from each period accompanied by historical context.

Technology in America – The Telephone ★★★★☆
This PBS companion site focuses not only on the telephone but on other important inventions in American history as well. Go to Special Features to see an array of (mostly forgotten) Gilded Age technological inventions and visit The Gallery for images of telephones throughout the years.

America Comes of Age: 1876–1900 ★★★★☆
This section from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History Timeline explores the “American Renaissance” in the Gilded Age through images of civic monuments, grand mansions, public sculptures, furniture, and other objects

Steve Fraser on the Gilded Ages ★★★★☆
In this Bill Moyers video interview, historian and author Steve Fraser discusses the modern parallels and differences between the first Gilded Age and today’s Gilded Age.

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1870-1885  ★★★★☆
This Library of Congress research collection includes 47,000 pieces of sheet music from the post-Civil War era. Included are popular songs, piano music, religious music, instructional materials, and more. See also related presentations, such as Greatest Hits, 1870 -1885 and Music Published in America, 1870 – 1885.

Inventing in America ★★★☆☆
This website is based on an exhibition at the Smithsonian that covers historical inventions in American history–some famous, and some less well-known. The site offers photographs of many turn-of-the-century models and prototypes.

Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities, and more

Child Labor in America (Library of Congress lesson plan)
Using historic photographs and primary sources, students will research and learn about child labor in America with this LOC lesson plan. The plan provides its own printable handouts and discussion questions. Recommended for grades 7-12

Lesson Plan: Child Labor in the United States
This lesson plan (from the American Social History Project) asks students to examine photographs of child factory laborers at an online exhibit about southern factory mill towns from the early twentieth century.

The Industrial Age in America: Sweatshops, Steel Mills, and Factories
This lesson plan from NEH asks: Where do we draw the line between acceptable business practices and unacceptable working conditions?

The Industrial Age in America: Robber Barons and Captains of Industry
This lesson plan from NEH asks: Does the industrialization of America at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century hold any lessons for us today?

After Reconstruction: Problems of African Americans in the South (Lesson Plan)
Designed by The Learning Page of the LOC, this lesson plan focuses on the problems that went unsolved throughout reconstruction. Students are encouraged to conduct research using primary sources. Recommended for High school aged students.

African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings
In this three-part Library of Congress lesson, students analyze primary sources from different topics of the African-American experience in the Gilded Age and answer select questions.

Social Darwinism: Reason or Rationalization?
Presented by Small Planet Communications, this lesson plan encourages debate over the theory of Social Darwinism. Students are also asked to write a short follow-up essay on their position. Includes necessary material. Intended for 11th grade

The Great Migration: Lesson Plan
In this lesson plan by the Truman Library and Museum, students learn about the Great Migration through discussion, analyzing primary sources in cooperative groups, watching a TED Talk, and reading an excerpt of a secondary source.

Striking a Deal: Learning the History of American Labor Strikes
In this New York Times lesson, students explore the economic repercussions of a potential Major League Baseball strike. Then, through researching other labor strikes in American history, students will consider the importance and impact of labor unions in United States history.

The Immigrant Experience in America
Students grade 5-8 will learn about immigration, Ellis Island, and tenement life from 1890 to 1924. Each student will create an identity of an immigrant and write an essay in the first person. Essays will describe the fictitious immigrants in terms of who they are, where they came from, and what they found when they arrived in New York City.

Digital History Resource Guides
The Digital Resource Guides provide links to American history web sites by period and provide historical overviews, readings (online textbook chapter, Reader’s Companion), primary source documents (documents, maps, cartoons), teaching resources (chronologies, maps, quizzes), audio-visual resources, and additional resources. The Guides are an excellent and comprehensive teaching resource.

Industrialization of the United States: Document Based Essay
This Prentice Hall DBQ is designed to test students’ ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1-6). It asks whether or not the changes that occurred after the Civil War created a more democratic America with greater opportunities for all.

Work. Culture, and Society in Industrial America — DBQs
Part of the Teaching With Documents site, questions feature a selection of primary and secondary documents, graphics, cartoons, tables, and graphs. The titles of the topics are “Rural Americans Move to the Cities,” “Progress and Poverty in Industrial America,” and “Re-Defining the Role of Women in Industrial America.”

Child Labor in America (History Place)
Photos of children in adult work-environment could be the core of a moving multimedia presentation on child labor

New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age
Informative and engaging video interview with Rebecca Edwards, a noted Gilded Age historian. Provided through the Gilder Lehrman Institute, which provides teaching resources and lesson plans on a variety of topics across U.S. history.

Workers and Work in America, 1600-Present
A multimedia course with many useful links

Industrialization of the United States Practice Test
High School level quiz on Industrial American history from Prentice Hall. AP United States History Quizzes
A New York teacher has produced a great general site for history teachers that offers AP-level United States history quizzes on many different periods and topics.

AP United States History DBQs: 1875-1925
These student-created DBQs are part of the excellent site.

Business and Strikes Game
Answer a series of questions from easy to difficult about businesses and labor strikes during the late 1800’s.

Railroads: Blank Map
The companion web site to The American People offers blank maps related to various topics in American history. The maps can be printed or placed in a PowerPoint presentation

Technology in America Timeline (PBS)
From Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod to the Hubble Space Telescope, this timeline covers some of America’s technological innovations and inventions.