1866 – 1904 Industry and Empire Supplemental Materials

Art Activities

Modern Womanhood in Art

When American artist Mary Cassatt traveled to Paris she was invited to exhibit with artists of the Impressionist movement. This movement was organized in 1874 by a group of artists who rejected classical and established styles and embraced new techniques. Impressionist artists depicted scenes of modern, everyday life and often painted outdoors. In her paintings, Cassatt focused specifically on the private and social lives of middle- and upper-class women.

In this activity, students will analyze the paintings of Mary Cassatt and discuss her subject matter and the Impressionist technique. They will then discuss how ideas of identity, gender, and womanhood have changed since the 19th century and use those conversations to inspire their own Impressionist portrait of what womanhood means to them in the 21st century.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia “Wildfire” Lewis was a Black and Chippewa sculptor who combated racism and sexism in the art world to create a successful career. Her first works were small portrait medallions of famous American abolitionists. She later went on to create busts and large-scale marble sculptures. Unlike many artists of the time, Lewis completed the entire process of making her sculptures by herself, rather than creating a small model and hiring workers to complete the final product. Many of her sculptures are known for their activist themes and depictions of her Indigenous heritage.

Students will read the life story of Edmonia Lewis and consider the importance of her identity and artistic process when discussing her body of work. They will then draw inspiration from her pieces to create their own portrait medallions that commemorate women from the Industry and Empire unit of Women & the American Story.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

For supplemental slides to walk you through the art activity, click here.

Vanderbilt Costume Ball

The technological innovations of industrialization led to business opportunities in industries like steel and railroads, increasing the number of millionaires in the United States. Women like Alva Vanderbilt benefitted from this nouveau riche lifestyle. In 1883, she hosted a costume ball. The cost of the party was extravagant and the costumes worn by guests symbolized both the excesses and the inventions of the Gilded Age.

In this activity, students will create a costume for a working class woman of the Gilded Age inspired by the designs worn at the Vanderbilt costume ball. They will consider the styles and industrial innovations of this time period and create a costume from assorted craft, repurposed, and upcycled materials.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

Source Notes

Labor and Industry

Convict Labor

  • LeFlouria, Talitha L. Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

Organized Labor and Strikes

  • Hunter, Tera W. To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

Vanderbilt Costume Ball

  • Broyles, Susannah. “Vanderbilt Ball—How a Costume Ball Changed New York Society.” Museum of the City of New York. Published August 7, 2013. https://blog.mcny.org/2013/08/06/vanderbilt-ball-how-a-costume-ball-changed-new-york-elite-society/
  • Burrows, Edwin G., and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Industrial Work for Women

  • Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982, 2003).
  • Vapnek, Lara. Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865–1920 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

Aunt Jemima

  • Manring, M.M. Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1998).
  • Wallace-Sanders, Kimberly. Mammy: A Century of Race, Gender, and Southern Memory (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2008).

Black Domestic Workers

  • Hunter, Tera W. “Historical Note.” The Philadelphia Negro (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996). https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fhpfb
  • Hunter, Tera W. To ’Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors After the Civil War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  • Jones, Jacqueline. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 2010).
  • Vapnek, Lara. Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865–1920 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

Irish Domestic Workers

  • Diner, Hasia R. Erin’s Daughter’s in America: Irish Immigrant Women in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983).
  • Murphy, Maureen. “Bridget and Biddy: Images of the Irish Servant Girl in Puck Cartoons, 1880–1890. New Perspectives on the Irish Diaspora. Charles Fanning, ed. (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000).
  • Vapnek, Lara. Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865–1920 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

Modern Womanhood in Art

  • Barter, Judith A. Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago in association with Harry N. Abram, Inc. Publishers, 1998).

Shop Girls

  • Kessler-Harris. Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982, 2003).
  • Porter Benson, Susan. Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores 1890–1940 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988).
  • Remus, Emily. A Shoppers’ Paradise: How the Ladies of Chicago Claimed Power and Pleasure in the New Downtown (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019).
  • Vapnek, Lara. Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865–1920 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

Life Story: Lucy Parsons

  • Jones, Jacqueline. Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical (New York: Basic Books, 2017).

Life Story: Emily Warren Roebling

  • Burrows, Edwin G., and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
  • Juravich, Nick. “Emily Warren Roebling: Building the Brooklyn Bridge and Beyond.” Women at the Center. May 30, 2018. https://womenatthecenter.nyhistory.org/emily-warren-roebling-beyond-the-bridge/

Life Story: Edith Wharton

  • Lee, Hermione. Edith Wharton (New York: Albert A. Knopf, 2007).
  • Robinson, Roxana. Introduction to The New York Stories of Edith Wharton (New York: NYRB Classics, 2007).

Life Story: Leonora Barry

  • Levine, Susan. “Labor’s True Woman: Domesticity and Equal Rights in the Knights of Labor.” The Journal of American History 70, no. 2 (Sep. 1983): 323–339.
  • Vapnek, Lara. Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865–1920 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

Fighting for Equality

Fighting Jim Crow

  • Rydell, Robert W. “A Cultural Frankenstein? The Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.” Grand Illusions: Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893. Neil Harris, Wim de Wit, James Gilbert, and Robert W. Rydell (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1993).

Temperance Movement

  • Dubois, Ellen Carol, and Lynn Dumenil. Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005).
  • Tyrrell, Ian. Woman’s World/Woman’s Empire: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880–1930. (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Suffrage and the Fifteenth Amendment

  • McDaneld, Jen. “White Suffragist Dis/Entitlement: The Revolution and the Rhetoric of Racism.” Legacy, Vol. 30, No. 2 (2013), pp. 243–264.
  • Tretault, Lisa. The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848–1898. (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Ca