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Social and Economic Development
in Iowa 1870 - 1940

Teachers' Guide Table of Contents

This guide provides teacher direction for use of project materials related to the post -Civil War period 1870 - 1940. These materials explore the social and economic development that shaped Iowa's transition into the twentieth  century. These materials are structured around the following themes:

  The Rise of Technology (1870 - 1896)

  The Golden Age ( 1897 - 1918 )

  The Depression ( 1919 - 1940 )

Sub-themes are identified for each unit and highlight significant social and economic trends:

  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation/Communication
  • Women
  • Cultural Minorities

Each lesson includes specific objectives, procedures, student activity sheets and references to primary source materials listed below:

Theme: The Rise of Technology (1870 - 1896)

Life In A Lumber Camp
File: LumberCamp.pdf        Size: 547 k
George Austin Woodward describes life in the lumber camps of the northern pineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The logger's clothing, job, food and living conditions are included as well as a description of the various jobs done by the lumbermen.

Lumber Rafting on Wisconsin River
File: LumberRaft.pdf           Size: 519 k
Simon Augustus Sherman details an 1849 lumber raft trip down the Wisconsin River .This account describes   the early process of transporting logs to the sawmills along the Mississippi.

The Memories of a Raft Pilot
File: RaftPilor.pdf                   Size: 147 k
J.M. Turner, a steamboat captain, provides a look at life on the Mississippi during the later years of lumbering when rafts were towed down the Mississippi by steamboats.

The Dubuque Lumber Reporter
File:  Reporter.pdf                   Size: 1.5 Mb 
The facsimile of a Dubuque Newspaper for the 1880 includes articles and advertising applying specifically to the seasonal  fluctuation of the lumber industry in Dubuque.

Musser Lumber Company
File: Musser.pdf                      Size: 815  k
This publication provides a look at the inside workings of a lumber mill. Included are photographs and a narrative description taken from the Muscatine Weekly Journal for 1871.

M.A. Disbrow & Company Catalogue
File: Disbrow.pdf                    Size: 1 Mb
This catalogue illustrates the millwork produced by the many wholesale dealers of the day. Included are pictures of doors, windows, porches and other wood   "fancywork" produced during the late nineteenth century.

The Iowa Agriculturist
File: Agriculturist.pdf                Size:  3Mb     
The post-Civil War technological advances in farm machinery are illustrated in numerous photographs throughout this booklet.

The Iowa Housewife
File: HouseWife.pdf                 Size: 4.7 Mb  
The weekly schedule of the nineteenth century Iowa housewife is chronicled each day of the week. Monday was washday, Tuesday reserved for ironing, . . .

Growth of the Iowa Railroad Network
File: RailroadGrowth.pdf           Size: 2.2 Mb
In addition to the brief description of the railroading in Iowa, five Iowa maps are included illustrating the development of railroading in Iowa.

Theme: The Golden Age ( 1897 - 1918 )

Coal Mining in Iowa
File: Coal Mining.pdf                   Size: 865  k
Using photographs, charts and narrative, the pamphlet describes the development of coal mining in iowa, how miners lived and what their work was like.

A Tour Through an Albia Coal Company Mine
File: Albia Mine.pdf                     Size: 661 k
A Monroe County mine is described from the point of view of a visitor to the mine. The underground aspects of  the mine are described in a typically nineteenth century dramatic style.

As I Remember
File: As I Remember.pdf                Size: 880  k
Minnie B. London describes her experience as a resident and school teacher in Buxton, one of Iowa's most unique and enduring coal communities.

The Iowa Farmstead
File: Farmstead.pdf                        Size: 3.6  Mb
The impact of economic prosperity on Iowa's farm economy during the early years of the twentieth century is detailed in a description of technological advances during that period.

Theme: The Depression ( 1919 - 1940 )

Five Families in Dubuque: The Urban Depression
File: Families.pdf                           Size:  446  k
This packet of five pamphlets summarizes the feelings of five unemployed Dubuque workers during the Depression.

The Depression Diary of Elmer Powers
File: Elmer Powers.pdf                   Size: 158 k
Farming in south central Iowa during the Depression, Elmer Powers describes the difficulties encountered on the farm during these troubled years.

The Depression Diary of Mrs. Clara Ackerman
File: Clara Ackerman.pdf                Size: 148 k
Mrs. Ackerman chronicles her daily experience during the Depression. She describes the difficulties encountered by the farm community from the viewpoint of an Iowa woman.

The Depression in Waterloo: The African-American Experience
File: African-AmerExperience.pdf  Size: 23 k
Included are interview summaries of three residents of Waterloo recalling their experience during the Depression from the African-American point of view.

You will need Adobe Acrobat reader 4.0 to view the files for download. Note: Some files are very large. Please be aware of possible extended download times. Click the picture below to go
to the Adobe Acrobat download site.

Explorations in Iowa History Project
Malcolm Price Laboratory School
University Of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
ęCOPYRIGHT 2003 University of Northern Iowa
Duplication for Instructional purposes only.
Credits: Logo and site design by ITS CET
Documents courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa

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