National History Standards
Here are some of the ways the "Catholic Responses to Industrialization" website can be used to help teachers meet United States history curriculum standards. The following standards are based on the National Standards for History, created by the National Center for History in the Schools.
"Catholic Responses to Industrialization" documents can be used to expand curriculum content related to Era 6, Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900) and Era 7, The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930). Standards from these two eras emphasize teaching how the rise of corporations and industry transformed the American people, the impact of the post-1870 immigration on national development, and how problems of industrial capitalism were addressed.
The documents on the site illuminate the effects of Era 6 industrial development in their focus on a range of Catholic responses to the development of the industrial United States. Document 6, for example, an excerpt from The Autobiography of Mother Jones, describes how disease disproportionately affected the lives of the poor in industrializing America, Mother Jones' own work after the death of her husband and children, and her observations of the disparities of between the rich and poor in Gilded Age society. The speeches of Mother Jones offer a window into the rise of the American labor movement (Era 6, Standard 3) from one of the movement's greatest leaders. The articles and addresses of William O'Connell and John Ryan, offer Catholic perspectives on the lives of industrial workers in ways that standard textbooks do not (Era 6, Standard 2). The site, moreover, is peppered with photographs of industrial era workers designed to give students a visual understanding of the impact of industry on the lives of workers.
The "Catholic Responses to Industrialization" website is especially suited to fulfilling Era 7 standards, particularly Standard 1, "How Progressives and others addressed problems of industrial capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption." Documents 1-5, for example, are taken from the writings of John A. Ryan, often considered the leading "Catholic Progressive" of the period. The Ryan documents enable students to gain a distinctly Catholic perspective, influenced by the Progressive movement, on how industrial problems should be addressed. At the same time, several documents are taken from the writings of William O'Connell, a church leader with a very different perspective on industrialization and reform than Ryan. Finally, the writings and addresses of Mother Jones provide a lay Catholic view of how problems of industrialization should be addressed. Hence the Website can be used fruitfully to meet Era 7 standards in ways standard textbooks cannot, given their emphasis on mainstream Progressive developments.
Not only does the "Response to Industrialization" enable teachers to offer students a refreshing range of primary documents useful for instruction related to Eras 6 and 7, it offers resources that can aid teachers in meeting historical thinking standards. The site provides a chronology that situates the documents and events occurring around the creation of the documents in historical time. The documents themselves deepen students' understanding of change over time in that they are, collectively, a response to the phenomenon of industrialization. The site can be used, then, to foster chronological thinking (Historical Thinking Standard 1).
The documents comprising the "Catholic Responses to Industrialization" website were selected to convey a divergence of Catholic perspectives on a single issue. When students read the addresses and autobiography of Mother Jones, the writings of John Ryan, the recollections and addresses of William O'Connell they must think about the range of perspectives, use imagination to situate the different views historically, and in the end exhibit more advanced abilities of comprehension, thus meeting Historical Thinking Standard 2, Historical Comprehension.
Each document contains a brief introductory statement and a series of student questions designed to illuminate historical meaning. Document 5, for example, a 1909 article from The Catholic World written by John Ryan, makes several assertions as to the role of women in the workplace. Students are asked questions, first, to clarify the meaning of the document, then questions that more broadly address the role of women in the church and the economy in general. Gender as a category of historical analysis becomes evident through question. Hence students are prodded through the document-based questions to engage in historical analysis and interpretation (Historical Thinking Standard 3, Historical Analysis and Interpretation) and in historical issues-analysis (Historical Thinking Standard 5, Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making). Reading through the site's introduction, the document introductions, and answering the questions, then, can effectively promote more sophisticated historical thinking in the classroom.