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H-SHEAR is dedicated to enhancing scholarly communication on the history of the early American republic, during the period 1775 to 1860. The network is sponsored by SHEAR, the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, and is owned by H-Net, Humanities & Social Sciences Online, currently centered at Michigan State University.  Click here to learn more...


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Re: Primary readings on antebellum reform movements

If you want to make some selections from reform and anti-reform pamphlet literature, the American Antiquarian Society's  Teach US History has a useful collection of links to plain-text versions of them, sorted by topic.  I've found the Clements Library's assortment of primary sources on female education, evangelism, and culture to be really i

Secondary works on 19C social movements

Dear all,

Piggybacking on the discussion about antebellum reformism, I'd like to ask for suggestions for undergraduate-appropriate secondary works on social movements in the nineteenth century. I'm particulalry interested in books or articles that address strategy and organization. I'm also looking for good treatments of illiberal movements such as temperance and nativism.



Ariel Ron
Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions

Re: Primary readings on antebellum reform movements

I always try to expand students' understanding of reform by including causes and movements that do not strike them as progressive or even humane, but nonetheless shed light on the ideological themes that connected and underlay antebellum reform activities -- so for example anti-masturbation campaigns and even anti-Catholicism. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz's Bedford volume on Attitudes Toward Sex in Antebellum America teaches well in this regard.

Re: Primary readings on antebellum reform movements

I've used Joshua Rothman's Reforming America, 1815-1860: A Norton Documents Reader (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010) with good results in an upper level course on antebellum America. His intros are easy to understand and it's a nice overview of the various reform movements in the US during the antebellum period.