Renovating my U.S. history course this spring, I added audiovisual primary sources to many class periods that didn’t use them before. Here’s a complete annotated list of the film and audio clips I have presented this semester, should they be useful to anyone else.
In most cases, these clips (or excerpts from them) served as bases for class discussions. A few of these clips, however, were merely illustrative of points I made myself in a lecture.
Gilded Age, Progressive Era, and World War I
“Sky Scrapers of New York City, from the North River” (1903)
This Edison film is simple: It depicts the Manhattan waterfront from the perspective of a boat floating down the Hudson River. I played it before and at the beginning of class in order to convey some sense of the texture of American cities in the Gilded Age.
“A Trip Down Market Street before the Fire” (1906)
This film shows a teeming San Francisco street in the early 20th century from the perspective of a motion picture camera mounted on the front of a streetcar. The scene is chaotic and potentially frightening; pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, automobiles, and streetcars share the road without any traffic controls at all. For years, I have invited students to discuss this scene as a way to understand Progressive reformers’ desire for new structures of urban order and rationality.
“Why the Trusts and Bosses Oppose the Progressive Party” (1912)
Here, in his own voice, Theodore Roosevelt explains what Progressivism means to him—as a political movement that he believes he leads. The clip provides some insight into Roosevelt’s character as well as into the political era.
“The Third Liberty Loan” (1918)
Richard Augustus Purdy, a New York banker and dramatist known for his Shakespearean lectures and readings, delivers a speech as one of the “Four Minute Men” who whipped up public support for American involvement in the First World War.
Jazz Age, Great Depression, and World War II
“Billy Sunday Burns Up the Backsliding World” (ca. 1926)
This British Pathé newsreel gives a great sense of both the electrifying effect of a Billy Sunday sermon from the 1920s and also the ways spiritual, social, and economic issues intersected in the early fundamentalist imagination.
“Happy Days Are Here Again” (ca. 1930)
Annette Hanshaw’s version of the Franklin D. Roosevelt campaign song, from the film Chasing Rainbows, recorded under the name Gay Ellis.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first Fireside Chat (1933)
A thirteen-minute explanation of the U.S. banking system and the initial steps Roosevelt’s new administration took to address the financial crisis. I played approximately the first 90 seconds in class.
Continue reading “My Audiovisual Semester: Using Media in U.S. History II” →