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Teaching Guide

Teaching Muckrakers & Reformers

Who you callin' a muckraker?


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

In this exercise, your students will read excerpts from Carry A. Nation’s autobiography and consider her role within the temperance movement.

1. 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 

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

  • 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?
  • What, in addition to alcohol, did Nation challenge?
    • In her church?
    • In her town?
  • What do you think of her efforts?
    • Was she a “crazy woman?”
  • Does reform need people like Nation?
    • Or do people like Nation hurt reform?

2. You might couple this activity with the Jane Addams document analysis activity. Compare the two women's approaches to reform and explore which is more effective.

Instructions for Your Students

One of the most colorful temperance crusaders of the nineteenth century was Carry A. Nation. Impatient with more cautious tactics, she smashed saloon windows and whiskey kegs with her trademark hatchet. (Check out this poster!) 

You will be reading from Nation's autobiography and considering her role in the temperance movement. To get ready, quickly review the basics of the temperance movement here.


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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