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Teaching Guide

Teaching Muckrakers & Reformers

Who you callin' a muckraker?

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Who doesn’t love progress? (Progress reports, on the other hand…that’s a different issue entirely.) Let’s dig up some dirt on the progress from turn of the 20th century.

In this guide you will find

  • lessons on the big names of the time period, like Carry A. Nation and Jane Addams.
  • an activity analyzing iconic images of the age of muckraking photojournalism.
  • modern resources on how people are still fighting for progress today.

Students won’t stress their progress reports after digging into the lessons in our teaching guide.

What's Inside Shmoop's History Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring history to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes to be sure students are looking at the material through various lenses.
  • Resources to help make the topic feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the topic and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

Objective: What does it take to carry a nation? (See what we did there?)

Today your students will learn about one of the most colorful temperance crusaders of the nineteenth century: Carry A. Nation. Impatient with more cautious tactics, Nation smashed saloon windows and whiskey kegs with her trademark hatchet.

Your students will read a few chapters from Nation's autobiography and consider her role in the temperance movement. Then they'll follow up their reading with a class discussion. 

NOTE: You may want to pair this activity with the Jane Addams document analysis activity (Housekeeping in the City), asking students to compare the two women's approaches to reform and explore which is more effective.

Length of Lesson: One class period.

Materials Needed:

Step One: Ask your students what they know about the temperance movement and help them fill in any gaps with this quick review of the temperance movement, found in the second section of Shmoop's "Gender in Muckrakers and Reformers" page. 

Step Two: Direct your students to the following pages, where they can read excerpts from Carry A. Nation’s autobiography, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation:

  • Pages 34-37: on Nation's marriage and her husband's alcoholism 
  • Pages 55-59: on Nation challenging church and town leaders
  • Pages 60-63: on Nation raiding a local drugstore 

Step Three: Following your students' reading, lead a discussion focused on these questions:

  1. What does Nation’s courtship reveal about her and her times?
    • Who/what would you blame for her unwise marriage?
    • Was alcohol the cause of her marital disappointment?
  2. What, in addition to alcohol, did Nation challenge?
    • In her church?
    • In her town?
  3. What do you think of her efforts?
    • Was she a “crazy woman?”
    • Was she effective? Why or why not?
  4. Does reform need people like Nation, or do people like Nation hurt reform? Explain your answer.

Step Four (Optional): Follow this activity up with the Jane Addams document analysis activity (Housekeeping in the City). Encourage students to compare the two women's approaches to reform and explore which is more effective.

Instructions for Your Students

What does it take to carry a nation? (See what we did there?)

Today you're going to do a little research on one of the most colorful temperance crusaders of the nineteenth century: Carry A. Nation. Impatient with more cautious tactics, Nation smashed saloon windows and whiskey kegs with her trademark hatchet

You'll read a few chapters from Nation's autobiography and consider her role in the temperance movement. 

  • Was she effective? 
  • Was she a wacko? 
  • Are the two mutually exclusive? 

Step One: Check in with your teacher and classmates to see what you already know about the temperance movement. You can fill in any gaps by checking out this quick review of the temperance movement, found in the second section of Shmoop's "Gender in Muckrakers and Reformers" page. 

Step Two: Time to get into Carry A. Nation's head. Check out the excerpts below, which come from Nation’s autobiography, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation:

  • Pages 34-37: on Nation's marriage and her husband's alcoholism 
  • Pages 55-59: on Nation challenging church and town leaders
  • Pages 60-63: on Nation raiding a local drugstore 

Step Three: Follow up your reading with a class discussion focused on these questions:

  1. What does Nation’s courtship reveal about her and her times?
    • Who/what would you blame for her unwise marriage?
    • Was alcohol the cause of her marital disappointment?
  2. What, in addition to alcohol, did Nation challenge?
    • In her church?
    • In her town?
  3. What do you think of her efforts?
    • Was she a “crazy woman?”
    • Was she effective? Why or why not?
  4. Does reform need people like Nation, or do people like Nation hurt reform? Explain your answer.

Step Four (Optional): You may want to follow this activity up with the Jane Addams document analysis activity (Housekeeping in the City). After learning a bit about both women and their tactics, take some time to compare their different approaches to reform and determine which, in your opinion, is more effective.

WANT MORE HELP TEACHING MUCKRAKERS & REFORMERS?

Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary & Analysis    Timeline    People    Facts    Photos    Best of the Web    Citations    
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