Featured Primary Sources

The Gilded Age

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

"The Protectors of Our Industries," by Bernhard Gillam, February 7, 1883  (LOC)

Anti-corporate cartoons, ca. 1900

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Andrew Carnegie to Hiram Hitchcock, January 31, 1889 (GLC02896)

Building Carnegie Hall, 1889

Creator: Andrew Carnegie Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Color Voters Read, broadside, 1894. (GLC09000)

Campaigning for the African American vote in Georgia, 1894

Creator: the State Democratic Party of Georgia Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:

The Haymarket Affair, 1886

Creator: Dyer D. Lum Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
William C. Bryant to Hamilton A. Hill, February 11, 1876. (GLC02595)

William Cullen Bryant opposes the protective tariff, 1876

Creator: William Cullen Bryant Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

“Chicago in Flames,” Harper’s Weekly, October 28, 1871 (Gilder Lehrman Collectio

An eyewitness account of the Great Chicago Fire, 1871

Creator: John R. Chapin Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Literacy and the immigration of “undesirables,” 1903

Creator: Immigration Restriction League Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
Mary Todd Lincoln, ca. 1863 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Mary Todd Lincoln on life after the White House, 1870

Creator: Mary Todd Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
The Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi, ca. 1870 (Library of Congress)

Nominating an African American for vice president, 1880

Creator: James Milton Turner Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
People’s Party campaign poster, 1892. (Library of Congress)

People’s Party campaign poster, 1892

Creator: Populist Party Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Transcript of “O. W. Meier Relates Experience He Had in the Blizzard of 1888”

Recalling the Schoolchildren’s Blizzard of 1888, ca. 1930s

Creator: O. W. Meier Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Anne Brown Adams to Alexander Ross,circa 1880s (GLC03007.53)

The struggle for married women’s rights, circa 1880s

Creator: Anne Brown Adams Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
William Jennings Bryan, 1896 (Library of Congress)

William Jennings Bryan and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, 1895

Creator: William Jennings Bryan Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
America the Beautiful, signed by author Katharine Lee Bates, ca. 1925. (GLC)

“America the Beautiful,” 1893

Creator: Katharine Lee Bates Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: