The First Age of Reform

The essays in this section have been written by leading scholars of American history. They provide additional depth on events and ideas referred to in the introductory essay and, in some cases, different interpretations by historians looking at the same events. These essays are particularly useful as informational texts to introduce your students to one of the most exciting aspects of studying history—understanding the past from a variety of perspectives.

Detail from a Harper’s Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast, February 26, 1870. (LOC)

Education Reform in Antebellum America

Author: Barbara Winslow Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:
Wounded soldier with diagram of path of the bullet, ca. 1861. (GLC05111.02.1293)

Medical Advances in Nineteenth-Century America

Author: Bert Hansen Curriculum Subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Sylvester Graham, Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making (Boston, 1837). (Google Bk)

Sylvester Graham and Antebellum Diet Reform

Author: Cindy Lobel Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Peabody (LOC)

Transcendentalism and Social Reform

Author: Philip F. Gura Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Essays from Other Sub-Eras

Abolitionist flag, ca. 1859. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Abolition and Antebellum Reform

Author: Ronald G. Walters Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Angelina Grimke, Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, 1836. (GLC08642)

Angelina and Sarah Grimke: Abolitionist Sisters

Author: Carol Berkin Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Frederick Douglass: From Slavery to Freedom

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, ca. 1890. (Library of Congress P&P)

Nineteenth-Century Feminist Writings

Author: Anne Firor Scott Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“An Appeal to the Women of the United States” (Washington DC, 1871) (GLC08999)

Reconstruction and the Battle for Woman Suffrage

Author: Ellen DuBois Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“The Life and Age of Woman,” by A. Alden, Barre, MA, ca. 1835. (LC-DIG-pga-0350)

The Legal Status of Women, 1776–1830

Author: Marylynn Salmon Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Nathaniel Hawthorne, ca. 1860–1865. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs)

The Scarlet Letter and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s America

Author: Brenda Wineapple Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Detail of a broadside promoting women’s suffrage. (GLC08963)

Why We the People? Citizens as Agents of Constitutional Change

Author: Linda R. Monk Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The County Election, based on a painting by George C. Bingham, 1854. (Gilder Leh

Winning the Vote: A History of Voting Rights

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+