A concept that many are familiar with. Oftentimes, the picture of history that is provided in K-12 education is very Eurocentric and is not representative of the wide range of backgrounds that students come from. Personally, I did not begin to receive a multi-perspective version of American history until I sought out those classes in college. As a future social studies teacher, part of my philosophy has always been to give students the opportunity to consider history from a new perspective that they may not have been exposed to before.
In light of current events, during the course of this class we focused on marginalized groups. I would also say that “change” has been a major theme of this class as well, both in subject matter and being a natural consequence of the unprecedented current events that we are living through. As a result, I got to dive deeper into these subject areas as a student.
Coincidentally, looking at racial issues and social change have always been topics I’ve wanted to emphasize for my future students. These topics happened to become more relevant than ever this year, and the following posts are a reflection of my own growth and learning within these themes as well as examples of lessons that I could use with my students to help them develop their historical thinking skills while being challenged to engage with topics they may be unfamiliar with.
Three of my favorite posts, which can be seen below, all have the common theme of addressing social movements throughout American history.
In addition to giving me the freedom to dive deeper into my areas of interest, this class also pushed me to explore new tools and different ways of looking at history. Below is a link to my favorite post that is the result of an assignment that pushed me to research New Deal HOLC maps and the 1940 Census. I have never researched this kind of primary source material before, and the fact that I was able to build such a personal connection to this assignment made it incredibly interesting. I will definitely be doing something like this in my own future classroom so that my students have the chance to explore their own personal history.
My posts from this semester are not only a reflection of how I have progressed as a student, but also an example of how my future students will learn and grow when they get to take on similar assignments.
This lesson would come near the end of the year in an 11th grade US History class. Since it is covering multiple time periods and social movements, it would not come at the end of a particular unit or need a specific historical context – it would be asking students to draw upon their background knowledge that they acquired over the course of the year and would challenge them to connect movements from different time periods.
Using a class of 30 students as an example, the students would be divided into three groups of 10 students. Each group would be focusing on a different movement and within each group, the students would be split in half (5 and 5) so that each team of five would be assigned to a different person/side. Each group would be given some background information and assigned a document to read as homework to help prepare them. They would have class time to develop their argument with their group.
Some questions that students will be asked to think about during this lesson are… (1) What features made one argument more convincing than the other as you watched the debates? (2) Are social movements ever totally unified? (3) Is division within a social movement always a weakness? Can it ever be a strength? (4) Did any of these people have something in common with their adversary, despite their differences? (5) What parallels do you see between any of these situations and something going on in our modern world?
During this lesson, students will be asked to develop their argumentation skills by constructing an argument in defense of the position that they are assigned. They will also be asked to be active participants in their peers’ debate presentations and thoughtfully contribute to a reflection activity.
Debate 1: Black progress post-slavery/reconstruction a. DuBois v. Washington b. Scaffolding Questions: 1. What is the author’s perspective? 2. Why was it written? 3. What claims does the author make? 4. What language (words, phrases) does the author use to persuade the audience? 5. How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?
This document is a chapter entitled “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” coming from DuBois’ book “The Souls of Black Folk.” This is a great chapter for students to use since DuBois is directly speaking to the idealogical argument between him and Washington.
This document is a chapter from Washington’s book “Up from Slavery.” This chapter is about his Atlanta Exposition Address, which includes his “cast down your bucket where you are” argument which stands in stark contrast to DuBois’ beliefs.
Debate 2: The Suffrage Movement a. Chapman Catt v. Paul b. Scaffolding Questions: 1. What is the author’s perspective? 2. Why was it written? 3. What claims does the author make? 4. What language (words, phrases) does the author use to persuade the audience? 5. How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?
This document is Carrie Chapman Catt’s Presidential Address of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1902. She talks a lot about the years of struggle and disappointment that they have already faced and that they will continue to face but stresses how important that they continue to move forward so the younger generation can eventually do the same.
This document is a speech by Alice Paul in 1916. Paul uses phrases like “a power to be feared” and talks about what can and should happen in a matter of months. Paul’s urgency and strong language is a far cry from Chapman Catt’s talk of the long fight by past and future generations.
Debate 3: The Civil Rights Movement a. King v. X b. Scaffolding Questions: 1. What is the author’s perspective? 2. Why was it written? 3. What claims does the author make? 4. What language (words, phrases) does the author use to persuade the audience? 5. How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?
Pages 31 and 32 of this document compiles MLK and Malcolm X quotes and excerpts on various issues that they had differing opinions on so that students can read them right next to each other.
Side 1: Introduction Time: 3 minutes Goal: Introduce your topic and state your main claims. Side 2: Questioning Time: 3 minutes Goal: Opportunity to cross-examine Side 1 and ask questions in regards to their points. Side 2: Introduction Time: 3 minutes Goal: Introduce your topic and state your main claims. Side 1: Questioning Time: 3 minutes Goal: Opportunity to cross-examine Side 1 and ask questions in regards to their points. Side 1: Clarification Time: 2 minutes Goal: Clarify points as needed, make any desired additional arguments/claims. Side 2: Clarification Time: 2 minutes Goal: Clarify points as needed, make any desired additional arguments/claims. Side 1: Rebuttal Time: 3 minutes Goal: Explain why the other side is wrong/yours is better Side 2: Rebuttal Time: 3 minutes Goal: Explain why the other side is wrong/yours is better Side 1: Conclusion Time: 2 minutes Goal: Wrap up your argument, reiterate main points Side 2: Conclusion Time: 2 minutes Goal: Wrap up your argument, reiterate main points
As students debate, 20 of their peers will be watching. They will have a rubric where they can write down notes on how each group did on facts, persuasiveness, organization, and teamwork. This will help them decide who “won” at the end and make sure they are actively following the debate.
When I first opened up the “Mapping Inequality” website, I was excited to see my hometown of Tacoma, WA and immediately opened up the following maps.
I started zooming in on the different neighborhoods and I began hunting for my street. I was surprised that I was quickly able to find the exact outline of my house (marked below with a red star) and I was also intrigued to learn that the dividing line between the A1 and B1 neighborhoods went down the middle of my street, putting my house on the blue side by a matter of feet.
I find the progression of green, to blue, to yellow interesting because I think it lines up really well today with property value in my neighborhood. The closer you get to the Puget Sound (the white area on the map) the more the price of your home goes up, and as you drive away from the water the condition of the houses noticeably deteriorates in a matter of blocks. The legacy of redlining can definitely be seen around Tacoma, while green areas like the A1 “Laburnum Park” district pictured above are predominantly white, red areas such as the D5 district pictured on the first map known today as “Hilltop” have dramatically higher minority populations (although nowadays Hilltop is also suffering the impacts of gentrification). While I found all of this to be fascinating, things got even more exciting when I decided to rewind eighty years and see what I could learn about the history of my house in 1940.
My House in 1940
The red star on this map shows my block in the year 1940. Knowing that my house was clearly included in the HOLC’s appraisals, I decided to hunt for my address in the 1940 census. After inputting my street and then our cross-street, the census website still gave me 32 pages of results. I almost didn’t go through them, but as I started sifting through I started to recognize street names and addresses and I began to be able to tell what order they were going in. I finally found my address on the very last line of page sixteen.
I immediately recognized the last name “Rosenberger” and that my parents have mentioned we are only the second family to live in our house. I called my mom and she began telling me everything she knew about the history of the house, going back to a woman named Elma Rosenberger. I realized that Rollin Rosenberger’s family was probably listed on the next page, and when I flipped to page seventeen, sure enough I found Elma Rosenberger and their two daughters, Elma and Gretchen. They can be seen on the first three lines of this page.
The Rosenberger Family
From this census information and everything I was able to gather from my mom, here is the story of the Rosenbergers, the former inhabitants of my house in the North End of Tacoma, Washington.
Rollin Rosenberger was born in 1883 in Iowa and attended college for one year. He got married to Elma Rosenberger, who was born in 1886 and had a high school education. The two of them decided to move to Tacoma, Washington. When they were expecting their first child, they decided to buy a brand new home in Tacoma’s North End to prepare for their growing family, which cost them $3,500. The house was finished in 1911, the same year that they welcomed their first daughter, Elma, named after her mother. It’s a good thing the house was finished because rumor has it that Elma was born right on the kitchen table. When Elma was four years old, the Rosenberger’s added another member to the family, their youngest daughter Gretchen. The daughters went to school locally and graduated from Stadium High School.
The Rosenbergers had been living in their home for just shy of thirty years when the 1940 census came along. All four members of the family still resided there. To me, it appeared that Rollin’s occupation states “proprietor grocery store.” Sure enough, the obituary I found for Rollin’s daughter Elma confirms that he owned “Rosenberger’s Grocery” on Market Street. Rollin’s wife Elma as no occupation listed, although she likely helped Rollin run the store. Their daughter Elma also has no occupation listed, but their daughter Gretchen was a secretary. In the year 1940, Elma would have been 29 and Gretchen would have been 25 and they were both noted to be single.
Where Paths Cross
While Elma has no occupation listed, my personal connection to the Rosenberger family helps fill in some of the gaps. As noted before, Elma was 29 and still living at home, this was because she never got married. Her sister Gretchen did however, she married Ferd Bondy and went on to have three children, Richard, Bruce, and Patricia. The Bondy family attended St. Luke’s Church, the church that my family and I attend, and today there is a room off the parish hall named “The Bondy Room” after Ferd and Gretchen. While Elma was a loving aunt to her nephews and niece, she did not start a family of her own. She remained in the house she was literally born in while she worked by serving as the organist at St. Andrew’s Church and teaching piano lessons in the living room of her home. My uncle, David Bishop, and his father, Don Bishop, also attended St. Andrew’s as a family and they both remember the Rosenberger and Bondy families well. My uncle remembers both Elma’s as “Mrs. Rosenberger” and “Ms. Rosenberger” and even recalls going to Ms. Rosenberger’s house for Jr. Choir lessons, during which they stood around the big piano in her living room that was filled with sheet music. Elma would go on to inherit her lifelong home from her parents, and she lived there for the rest of her life until she passed away at age 94.
The house was left to Elma’s nephew, Bruce. Bruce decided to renovate the home and retire there. As Bruce finished up the renovation and got into his 60’s, he was getting ready to settle in and spend the rest of his life living on his own in his family home, just like his Aunt Elma had. Then, Bruce very unexpectedly met the love of his life, Laura. They soon got married and decided to move in together, so Bruce made the tough decision to put his family home on the market.
The Loft Family
This is where my family and I come into the picture. After Bruce put the home on the market in 2012, we went to a showing and decided to put in an offer on the 1911 craftsman. We remained in contact with Bruce and Laura and they even came to see the house again after we moved in. We haven’t talked to them in years, but I am going to try and get ahold of them to share this post with them – and I’m sure that Bruce can correct me and fill in even more information about the history of the home and the Rosenberger family. There’s no doubt that in a couple of weeks as I’m helping to prepare Thanksgiving dinner in our kitchen, I’ll be thinking about how Elma Rosenberger was born over 100 years ago, right in the same spot where I’ll be standing.
The first time I learned about the history of the Equal Rights Amendment, I could not believe that I had never heard about it before. At the beginning, it seemed as if the ERA was on a foolproof path to success. It was the early 1970s and following the Civil Rights Movement, adding an amendment that barred discrimination on the basis of sex seemed a natural step in the right direction. It was long overdue to be added, having first been proposed in 1923 by the National Women’s Party, and was gaining bipartisan support. 35 of 38 necessary states had ratified the amendment, and the strong momentum behind the ratification process made it seem like they would get three more in no time.
Then, Phyllis Schlafly entered the scene. A member of the National Federation of Republican Women and biological determinist, Schlafly was convinced that the ERA would destroy American family values, remove sexual assault protections, get rid of alimony, take away maternal custody preference following a divorce, and result in a downward slide towards same-sex marriage and free for all abortion. Even though none of Schlafly’s fears were actually backed up with evidence, she was able to organize a shockingly successful grassroots movement called “STOP ERA” (STOP = Stop Taking Our Privileges) that completely halted the momentum of the ERA within a year. She was an effective speaker and debater and knew exactly how to tap into the fears of conservative women. She targeted battleground states, organized huge rallies, and lobbied all the right state legislators. By 1973, the number of states that ratified the ERA stood still at 35, and remained just three states short until it’s expiration in 1982.
As much as I have a personal vendetta against Phyllis Schlafly, the fact that she rapidly organized such an incredibly successful grassroots movement that took down something as monumental as the ERA is rarely talked about in history classes, and I think it deserves a place.
If we had passed the ERA back in the early 1970s, that would have paved the way for all sorts of major sex-based issues such as Title IX, same-sex marriage, and transgender rights to come to the stage decades earlier than they actually did. It also would have acted as extremely strong constitutional evidence in all of these cases when they did come about. This year, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA (a few decades late) but nothing has happened yet because no one knows what it means to have an amendment be ratified so long after it’s technical “expiration” date. I guess we are still waiting to see if we will ever get an Equal Rights Amendment.
Feature Image Source: Annie Goldsmith, “Revisiting the STOP ERA Movement—and Its Leader, Phyllis Schlafly—in Photos,” Town and Country Magazine, Apr. 26, 2020.