Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Because of standardized testing in Louisiana, the high school American history curriculum has been reduced to a long list of facts. Students no longer learn the story of American history – the people and events that have defined America as we know it. Instead, it is presented to them in fragmented pieces. Teachers move so quickly from subject to subject that they fail to explain the origin and transformation of ideas. This paper proposes teaching a period of history through the life of an important historical figure, in this case, Jane Addams. Through the life of Jane Addams, students can negotiate the issues of the time period from her childhood in the 1880’s to her work in the First World War. Jane’s life can provide the framework for teaching the Progressive Era in a way that will make students think about how the work done by reformers in 1890, still affects our lives today. The reformers of the progressive era pushed for legislation on the local, state, and federal levels so that all people, regardless of sex, race, social class, and religious affiliation, could receive the assistance they needed to live in the new industrial society. Jane’s personal philosophy about society and social reform became part of a larger philosophy that we now identify as American pragmatism. American pragmatism and the different variations provide the philosophical basis for the progressive movement at the turn of the century. Students will be encouraged to discuss topics like social ethics, democracy, and experience. They will see how Jane Addams put philosophy to practice in her work at Hull House. Learning about the Progressive Era through the life and accomplishments of Jane Addams provides a platform for future discussion of issues both past and present.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Petra Munro Hendry



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Education Commons